How to start your career in finance without a financial background?

A question asked by many internet users seeking the glory/thrill of a career in high finance as seen in blockbusters such as the Big Short or Wall Steet (1987). A question I typed into the Google Search bar many times myself when I was lacking in confidence to actually nab that first role in an industry that changed my career and life.

The financial industry offers a plethora of opportunities, and it can be overwhelming to decide which path to pursue. In this blog post, we will provide you with some essential suggestions to help you embark on your journey in the world of finance.

Choosing a focus in the Finance industry

The world of finance is vast and diverse, with numerous career options to choose from. Before you start your finance journey, it’s crucial to figure out what specific area within finance aligns with your interests and goals. The two primary sectors we will explore at GeoLBO.com are high finance, including investment banking and private equity.

  • Investment Banking: Investment banking is a highly competitive field that involves advising corporations and institutions on financial strategies. It’s a fast-paced and dynamic career that often involves working long hours, but it can be incredibly rewarding in terms of both compensation and career growth. If you’re drawn to analyzing market trends, mergers and acquisitions, and financial strategies, investment banking might be the right fit for you.
  • Private Equity: Private equity involves investing in privately held companies, often with the goal of acquiring, restructuring, and eventually selling them for a profit. This field is known for its strategic approach to investments and its focus on long-term value creation. If you are interested in making strategic investment decisions, working closely with portfolio companies, and seeking substantial returns, private equity could be your calling.
  • There are other paths in the finance world such as private wealth management, financial advisory, estate planning or corporate development. While we don’t have expertise in these internally there are many great resources we will gladly direct you to, so please give us a follow on twitter.

Research Companies in Your Chosen Field

Once you’ve determined your preferred finance path, it’s time to identify the companies that align with your career goals. Extensive research is key to finding the right fit. Look for firms that have a strong reputation in your chosen field and are known for their commitment to employee development and growth.

Take the time to consider the company’s culture, values, and work environment. Are they known for mentorship and career progression? Do they offer a good work-life balance? Evaluate whether these aspects match your expectations and personal preferences.

In blogs such as mergersandinquisitions.com or Wallstreetoasis.com, you will often see a breakdown of investment banks into tiers. We have our own little version of this here:

  • Bulge Bracket banks: such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanly, JP Morgan, Citi and Bank of America. Once upon a time, this list included names such as Deustche Bank and Credit Suisse, but these days, these banks are largely considered a tier below, although this can vary over time and depending who you ask. These guys usually advise on large capital raises, including IPOs, and also lead mega M&A and other strategic processes.
  • Elite Boutiques: includes the Evercores, Lazards, Qatalysts and Rothschilds of the world. they are known for taking on complex situations, usually with comapanies of slightly smaller sizes than the bulge brackets.
  • Middle Market Banks (top tiers): the Wlliam Blairs, Cowens, and Bairds of the World that are getting assignments to lead sales of excellent middle market businesses that are looking to take on new private equity ownership or fit the objectives of other strategic buyers.

There are plenty of other banks out there. For free list please reach out using the form below!

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Networking and Informational Interviews for Finance

In the finance industry, networking is invaluable. It’s not just about what you know but also who you know. Building a strong professional network can open doors to various opportunities. To get started:

  • Utilize LinkedIn: Create a well-structured LinkedIn profile that highlights your education, skills, and aspirations within finance. Connect with professionals in the industry, join finance-related groups, and follow relevant companies to stay updated on industry news.
  • Cold Emailing: Don’t hesitate to reach out to individuals in your desired field for informational interviews and coffee chats. While it may feel intimidating, many professionals are willing to share their experiences and insights with aspiring finance enthusiasts. Craft a concise and polite email introducing yourself and explaining your interest in their career.

During these conversations, make the most of your opportunity to ask questions, gain insights, and build relationships. Remember to express your gratitude for their time and advice.

Push Push Push until something breaks or you land the gig

If I was to attribute my success to one thing it would be grit, tenacity, and a bit of luck. The luck only helped me convince myself to push one more day before I finally got my first offer in finance, my first offer in M&A and my first offer in an investment seat.

Navigating a career in finance can be a challenging but rewarding journey. By following these suggestions, you can make informed decisions and set yourself up for success in the field of high finance. Whether you choose to pursue investment banking or private equity, the key is to stay focused on your goals, conduct thorough research, and leverage the power of networking to advance your career.

If you’d like more information on technology investment careers, feel free to reach out. While our blog is oriented towards technology investment careers, we can provide you with additional insights into the finance world. Don’t hesitate to direct message us for further guidance and support on your finance career path. Good luck on your finance journey!

Interested in Careers in Investment Banking?

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Or here if you are looking to move from Ops to private equity.

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