Excel at the Job Mar 14 2011

Five Best Books to Read for a Career in Investment Banking

By julie steinberg

Whether you're thinking about a career in investment banking or want to advance at a bulge-bracket bank, it's always advantageous to learn more about the business.

With that in mind, we spoke with five investment bankers -- players from big Wall Street firms as well as high-end boutiques -- to bring you the most useful books for your i-banking career.

1. Liar's Poker, by Michael Lewis

Published in 1989 by Penguin, this book is a perennial classic for anyone who wants an idea of what it's like to be a bond salesman at a major firm, in this case, Salomon Brothers. Lewis chronicles his experiences in mind-wrenching detail, down to the cultural differences between trading desks, how much bankers eat, and how to become a "big swinging Richard."

Key takeaway: Fit is more important than technical competence (though you need to have that as well).

2. Vault Career Guide to Investment Banking by Tom Lott

This book will give you an overview of every aspect of the business, a crash course in equity and fixed income offerings, M&A, corporate finance, sales and trading, research and syndicate. Whether you're new to investment banking or need a refresher on an area in which you aren't an expert, the book, first published in 2007 by Vault, will take you through everything you need to know to sound intelligent in front of HR at your next interview.

Key takeaway: Industry basics, delivered as in a college text book.

3. Investment Banking: Valuation, Leveraged Buyouts, and Mergers and Acquisitions by Joshua Rosenbaum and Joshua Pearl

Written in 2009 by a managing director and director at UBS and published by Wiley, this book is useful for anyone who conducts valuations. Those interested in M&A transactions, IPOs and restructurings will learn frameworks for how to get deals done. The book delves into primary valuation methodologies, which you'll need in your arsenal to succeed on Wall Street.

Key takeaway: Basic and sophisticated methodologies for valuation explained.

4. Market Wizards by Jack Schwager

This collection of interviewers with traders published by HarperCollins in 1988 covers their backgrounds, techniques and tips for how to be successful. Schwager interviews commodities traders like Michael Marcus and Bruce Kovner, as well as stocks and index futures traders like William O'Neil and Marty Schwartz. The book is a useful guide that imparts both recommendations and background into the world of trading.

Key takeaway: Everyone has a different trading strategy that works for them; self-discipline and the ability to cut your losses is essential.

5a. The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Freres & Co. by William Cohan
(Doubleday, 2007)

5b. The Partnership: The Making of Goldman Sachs by Charles Ellis
(Penguin Press HC, 2008)

Reading books about specific banks will help inform you of the culture before you join on. "The Last Tycoons" reveals some uncomfortable history regarding Lazard's treatment of women and is a must-read for those applying to work at the bank, while "The Partnership" stresses the importance of recruitment for Goldman.

Key takeaway: Thorough histories of two firms that will inform your decision to become a part of their worlds.

Write to Julie Steinberg

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