12 secrets (or not so really?) career advice from (ex or not yet?) Top Investment Banker

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Photo credit: uair01

If you are looking for a successful career, here what some of the top industry expert think:

1/ Balance your emotional and rational intelligence

“You need a reasonable amount of intelligence, but you don’t need to be that clever to manage people.  It’s more important to have respect, emotional intelligence and to not be scared.”

Martin Gilbert, CEO, Aberdeen Asset Management

2/ Be yourself (easy?)

“We’ve heard anecdotally that some undergrads feel that ‘If I’m LGBT, I can’t work on Wall Street. There is a perception among some people that Wall Street is a hyper-masculine, ‘frat-like’ culture. The reality is that not all of Wall Street is like that. You don’t have to be able to see yourself as the archetypical trader or banker to be successful here.”

Johann Shudlick, VP within Goldman Sachs’ investment banking division and the co-head of the firm’s LGBT network

3/ Your are heading for a 2 career move

“Being a trader is like being a footballer – you don’t meet many who stay in the job well into their 30s as people tend to burn out.”

– Ziad Awad, former Goldman Sachs managing director and head of consultancy Boardroom Metrics

4/ Connect, connect, connect

“It’s not as bad as before the financial crisis, but there’s still a tendency for junior bankers to move around, often for marginal financial gain. People underestimate the importance of internal connections to their own career success and these connections are lost when you move. I don’t like bits-and-bobs CVs.”

Nicholas Johnson, an MD at J.P. Morgan in Hong Kong

5/ Do something you like (you are going to spend lots of time doing it)…be honest with yourself

“Try and align your passions with your job and steer your career in that direction. Be honest about what you don’t know and diligent about filling gaps. Learning is a career-long process and I see far too many people who become afraid to admit they don’t know something.”

Simon Holden, MD, global head of cross asset programs at Morgan Stanley

6/ Love your mentor (find him first…)

“My primary piece of advice for women looking move up the career ladder is to find themselves a sponsor. If you’re not an alpha male type, and are relying on the organization to recognize the work you’ve been putting in rather than championing your own achievements, then it really helps to have someone acting as an ambassador for you in the senior team. People who worked with me, and who were leaders and shapers in the organization, were critical.”

Louise Brett, partner, head of FSI Analytics at Deloitte

7/Network (you know that one, right?)

“The greatest piece of advice is to be proactive. Approach the process like you are a private wealth adviser and pretend you are looking to land a client. Prepare for the process, network with alumni and proactively reach out other professionals in private wealth.”

Kate Martuscello, head of MBA recruiting for Goldman Sachs’ private wealth management division

8/ Go where is the opportunity 

“I was living in Hong Kong for a number of years and had no plans to leave, but suddenly found myself back in Europe working for Deutsche Bank because it was the right opportunity. I worked in London, Hong Kong, Sydney and Tokyo while at the bank and for the past few years, I’ve been working in the Middle East. The point I’d emphasize is to be willing to move as and when the opportunity arises.”

Philip Southwell, CEO, boutique investment bank Exotix

9/ Trust is key to success

“An essential skill in ECM is instilling confidence in your clients. Corporate clients trust you to help them through the process of raising money in the equity markets, which can be a daunting process (particularly for first-time issuers). You have to make them feel comfortable with the process. On the other side, institutional investors rely on you to manage the whole process and find the right investors at the best price. Having both parties walk away feeling good about the outcome is much more of an art than a science.”

Ashley Delp, Managing director and head of US equity syndicate, Jefferies

10/ Think with your head, choose with your heart

“We follow vigorous processes and go through deep data analysis before taking a decision and on occasion I’ve followed this route, even though it didn’t feel quite right to me, and it’s been the wrong move. Sometimes, I wish I’d followed my gut instincts, but perhaps that’s something that only comes with a few grey hairs.”

Simon Moorhead, chief information officer, Bank of England

11/ Be ready to change

“When I began I had no idea just how quickly the industry can change. The financial crisis taught us that you have to be nimble in banking. Nothing is set in stone and there will always be challenges on the horizon, so you should regularly step back from the market and evaluate the risk, see if you can find the next problem. If you can spot about 60 to 70% of these obstacles, you’re doing well.”

Clifford Lee, managing director and head of fixed income at DBS in Singapore

12/ Sharpen your (big or small) skills

“I think that if you want to get broader experience, smaller firms give you more opportunity. Large firms tend to develop specialists. If you are somebody who is very bright in mathematics or someone who is brilliant at logarithms, you can use those skills and competencies to your advantage at a larger firm.

On the other hand, if you are looking more broadly into investment banking or deal making, you may be better off at a mid-market firms.”

David Mahmood, founder and chairman of mid-market investment bank Allegiance Capital Corp.

Good luck!

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