The Smart Banker

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Vinay Kameswaran Gives You the Scoop on What it’s Like to be an Investment Banker in Citybank’s Investment Banking Division

Job Profile and Responsibilities
I am a 2nd year associate with Citi’s investment banking division in New York City, focusing on financial institutions. I work with senior bankers to advise clients in the sphere of asset management and financial technology.

Best Thing About the Job
That no day is like any other. I have no idea what to expect and cannot really plan for how the day will unfold. I could be ‘in the weeds’ with a solution for a client on one day and tackle myriad smaller problems for a multitude of clients the next. And, thus far, no problem or situation has been like any other. When you add a frenetic work pace and almost impossibly high standards of accuracy to the mix, the concoction can be mesmerisingly exciting.

Additional Perks
Banking, like the rest of the financial industry, tends to be extremely meritocratic. Your pay cheque entirely depends on how well you perform. While I may not be able to enumerate the explicit ‘perks’, working in a highly competitive environment has untold implicit rewards.

Growth Opportunities?
Banking guarantees a steep learning curve. Any young banker will be an industry expert in a few years and will know the ins and outs of the companies she/he covers. A plethora of career options can then open up. Many choose to stick with banking as a long-term career option, while others switch to private equity firms and yet others decide to join erstwhile clients as part of finance/corporate development teams. The skills an experienced banker brings to the table guarantees that doors will open should the banker want to make the switch out.

Remuneration
Analysts, typically in their early 20s, can expect to earn anywhere between $120K and $180K annually, depending on the level of deal activity during a given year. Managing directors, who typically have more than 10 years of banking experience, can take home mid 6-figures to low 7-figures, again depending on the level of deal activity and individual performance.

Educational Background
I have a bachelor’s degree in engineering and an MBA in accounting and finance. Needless to say, my experience with the quantitative aspects of problems – be it in engineering or accounting – are my primary assets.

The Challenges
Long hours, to the detriment of life outside work. A 100-hour work week is de rigueur and 120+ hour work weeks are not uncommon. The environment at work can be challenging, with bankers required to be both fast and accurate all the time.

A Typical Day at Work
Like I said earlier, there is no ‘typical’ day at work, at least not in the lower echelons of banking.

Qualities and Skill Set
Quantitative skills and a comfort with numbers is much needed. A background in finance and accounting usually helps. Successful bankers are incredibly patient, extremely bloodyminded and posses an almost obsessive attention to detail.

Scope in India
Clients tend to seek investment banking advice primarily in concern with capital deployment/capital raising. The deeper the capital markets in a country, the more sophisticated the products on offer are and the greater the demand for investment banking advice. With the caveat that I have little experience with investment banking in India, I would say that the market is nascent and will grow. Getting into the game now will help reap rich rewards down the line.

One Thing You Would Change About the Job?
The hours, for sure!

 

Volume 2 Issue 2

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