Im not a banker, but do work at an investment bank on the sales & trading side. many people lump 'investment bankers' as anyone who just works at an investment bank. i'll assume you mean bankers who do corporate finance / M&A and such.
and i take it you mean the top invesment banks (goldman, morgan, lehman, merill, bear). breaking into the field if you havent gone to an ivy league school...or have a relative in the business....is extremely difficult....the old-school, blue-blood, mentality is the norm there.
what is the job like? depends on your level. (the following is from my experience from working on wall street and from some of my friends who are in the field as well)
analyst (entry-level/just out of college); do lots of tedious, mundane number crunching/spreadsheets, and prepare pitchbooks that no one really looks at. u work 7 days a week, around 80 to 100 hours per week, and travel ALOT. pay is 65K base/35K bonus. do that for 2 or 3 years, then go to B-school for your MBA.
got an MBA?, u become an associate. u supervise maybe 3 or 4 analysts, work the same hours, your function is still tedious and boring but your work is looked at by your higher ups. base is 120K/bonus 80K. do that for 2 years...or more...and u become a VP. work maybe 70 hours a week, u could possibly get the weekends off, dont travel as much, supervise 3 associates. you present all the ideas your associate/analysts did. base 150/180K, bonus 200K+...total comp varies from 500K to 800K.
do that for again for a few more years and you become an executive director. work 50-70 hours a week, get the weekends off, go to meetings mostly. base 250K/bonus 1-3mio.....and after 3 years (assuming youve navigated all the right political circles in your firm...thats a big "IF"), you attain the holiest of holies....MANAGING DIRECTOR. you go to lunches at the best restaurants with CEO's, go to aspen for ski trips and golf with your CEO customers, boss around everyone, everyone kisses your behind, work 50 hours a week, get 6 weeks vaca a year. total comp; 3-7mio.
is it worth it? thats for YOU to answer. i know many people who did it for 3 years and quit cause no amount of money is worth not being able to have a life beyond work. but i also know people who live for this stuff, who are 30 years old and VP's now and live in a million dollar apartment in manhattan....of course, theyre never there to enjoy all the money thay have.
may i suggest you look at sales&trading (what i do)...much better hours and in most cases....much higher pay. though they do have an elitist mentality there as well, breaking into it is easier than in the banking side (i never went to an ivy league school). you can start off as a clerk or in the middle office and then work your way up.
also, dont set your sights on JUST the top 5 places that i mentioned in the beginning. there are many other firms (JPMorgan, Citi, UBS, Deutsche....) that are great places to start out in. getting your foot in the door is the hardest part. once thats done, you can move around more easily.
one last note; in order to succeed, your motivation has to be something besides money. you are up against people who live off this stuff, who eat/breat/sleep for this stuff, they DO NOT care about money...they like the "challenge" of it all. i also know many people who did it for the money and now they are miserable, they never see their kids, they cheat on their wives (and their wives cheat on them), abuse drugs and alcohol, and they are stuck working cause they have major bills to pay. my best advice, do what YOU LOVE to do and you will be rewarded for it. heck, if anything, go to law school....a much more flexible degree than an MBA.
good luck to you.
Answered By: peter p - 4/5/2007