It’s often very rare for corporations to ask for a covering letter in the 21st century as many companies only require a candidate’s resume. The resume is a way to identify whether or not the candidate has the required skills to perform the job’s roles and responsibilities. However, there are still some businesses or organizations that require a cover letter and investment banks are one of them. This can be daunting because you will come across a lot of material on how to make a cover letter but very few on investment banking covering letters.

Yes, investment banking covering letters is different than the usual covering letters that you make and send over. It has all the elements and skills an investment bank seeks. So, how does one go about making an investment banking covering letter?

There are a couple of things that we will guide you with to help you stand out among the sea of candidates applying for that position. Writing an investment banking covering letter by simply talking about your personality, past job roles, and your hobbies will not make the cut.

Also, even investment bankers don’t read the complete covering letter as they simply do not have the time to read hundreds or thousands of candidates covering letters. A quick skim let them know if you’re worthy of an interview or not.

Here are some tips that you can follow to have a good chance of being called to an interview.

Investment banking covering letter should open with a stellar introduction

Investment banking covering letter should open with a stellar introduction

Capital markets and investment requires a lot of commitment and dedication to work late nights occasionally in a fast-paced and equally challenging environment. Employers look for dedicated candidates who have the passion to enter this field and climb the career ladder. They need to know if you have the right work ethics to excel in this space. So how do you do that? How do you open your investment banking covering letter with a bang?

Your opening defines your investment banking covering letter. Let the company you’re applying to know about you and your skills. They can read your resume to understand if you’ve got the knowledge but you need to demonstrate your skills with examples in your cover letter. This gives them a good playing field to analyze your skills and see if it is the right skill for you.

Many people start their investment banking covering letter stating that they’re passionate about it but that’s the same case with almost 95% or more of the candidates. What makes you stand out from the rest of these “passionate” folks?

You need to prove your point and prove that you’re passionate by giving real-life examples from your work experience with other companies. If it’s your first job and you don’t have any work experience, prove your passion through your life experiences. Any incident that may have pushed you towards the field of investment banking? Write it down.

Many employers want to see the desire to be the best in the candidates. They want to see if a candidate is thirsty for the job and is eager to learn or it’s just another cover letter looking for a job.

The reason why employers don’t hire anyone is that an investment banking job is very stressful and they need someone who can cope up with this pressure. If they were to hire any other candidate with the motive to find any job, the candidate will leave upon learning that the stress is too much for him/her to take.

Giving examples is another great way to let your employer know that you’ve accomplished things in this field using your skills. For example, you may have increased a client’s portfolio value by 17% annually. That’s an impressive feat and mentioning that can hook your employer to read more on how you were able to do that. This example with a supporting point will be the defining moment of your investment banking covering letter.

Always give numbers in your investment banking covering letter

You’re applying at an investment bank and they love feeding on numbers. So if you don’t have any numbers on your investment banking covering letter, it becomes less credible. Numbers are there to prove a point or create a strong argument. For example, “managed a portfolio of 40 high net worth clients with a total of $1 billion in assets under management” is a good way to show that you are capable of managing high net worth clients.

Another great example, if you’re on the research side, could be “performed research and analysis of a $4 billion acquisition that was successfully executed”. Notice the trend in these statements. They introduce your achievement and backs it by numbers. The numbers put weight on your achievements and give an idea to the employer of the magnitude of the task conducted by you. It helps them determine whether or not you’re a good fit and thrive in their competitive environment.

Your investment banking covering letter should highlight your soft skills

As mentioned earlier, investment bankers do not have the time to go through the entire cover letters of all the candidates that apply. A quick skim lets them know whether a candidate is good enough to work in the investment bank. You as a candidate need to highlight your strengths or your soft skills to stand a chance of being shortlisted.

Highlighting irrelevant skills like graphic designing will not help you in securing a time slot for an interview. Mentioning skills like sales, teamwork, communication and other related soft skills is a great way for employers to understand that this is what they’re looking for. These skills are also mentioned on a CV but given more emphasis with examples in your investment banking covering letter.

Besides soft skills, employers in investment banks need to look at hard skills that will help them in assessing whether or not they have the right knowledge. Hard skills in the field of investment banking include analytical, understanding capital markets and more will be your golden ticket to an interview. It will grasp the attention of investment bankers as these skills are a big priority when looking for a candidate to fill a position at the bank.

Curating the perfect investment banking covering letter for particular banks

Curating the perfect investment banking covering letter for particular banks

Many people believe that all investment banks are the same and due to this mindset, they can’t be asked to tailor-make a cover letter for their application. What many do in this situation is copy and paste a single generic investment banking covering letter and send it to all the companies or on all job postings.

This can be annoying for an employer as skimming through these resumes and cover letters take a lot of time. Nobody wants to hire a candidate who can’t make the effort to distinguish between the companies and send a tailor-made investment banking covering letter.

Put yourself in their shoes. You’ve got KPIs to achieve and having the right team to push the company forward and help you achieve your KPIs is in your best interest. Will you consider an investment banking covering letter that seems generic just by giving it a first glance? If you’ve got KPIs to achieve, you will not even take a second look at these kinds of cover letters. You might even get annoyed at the types of candidates applying.

Take the time to apply to the companies and let them know how you can fit in their organization. This lets the employer know that you are applying for the position because you’re passionate about it. You exactly know what you want which is a plus for any covering letter.

Whether you’re applying for JP Morgan or Morgan Stanley, your investment banking covering letter should be curated according to these businesses. Those that don’t make the effort to tailor their covering letters would think that both these investment banks are the same. However, that is not the case.

Although both these financial institutions offer financial services, JP Morgan aims at providing these services to consumers while Morgan Stanley specializes in providing these services to multinational companies, wealthy individuals, and more. In doing so, they might have different investment strategies and different departments too. Hence, do your research on the investment banks you are applying to and take the time to make separate investment banking covering letters.

To stand out, mention why you want to apply for a particular position, why this investment bank, and how you can add value if you were to be added to the team. These are some of the main points any human resource hunts when shortlisting candidates. Identifying what the bank does also lets them know that you’ve done your research in shortlisting companies.

You will realize why we’re saying this once you start to curate the perfect investment banking covering letter. Tailoring your covering letter for an organization takes a lot of time and attention to detail. If you send a generic cover letter to organizations you may be able to apply to 30 companies in a couple of minutes, however, a tailor-made cover letter will take more time. Not only that, but the result would be applying to a single company rather than many.

Keep the covering letter short and to the point

Nobody wants to go through every aspect of your life and all your achievements. In doing so, it may take more than a couple of pages. This can be highly irrelevant because identifying a couple of skills and giving examples according to that is more than enough.

Is there a particular number of words a covering letter should be? Not really. Each candidate is different and has different experiences to share. However, that doesn’t mean that one should take their time in writing in detail of their experience that has allowed them to further cement their skills.

You need to be able to convey your message in the least amount of words. This is also a skill that many employers want, keeping things short and to the point. Investment banking has a fast-paced work environment and nobody has time to hear long stories, you need to know how to break down financial concepts and situations in a few sentences to your reporting manager. Think about it this way, is a 5-minute presentation more grasping than a 20 minute one?

Your covering letter is a kind of a sales pitch to the employer that highlights why a company should hire you. Put all the other details about your education and work experience in your resume. Keep your covering letter short and simple by only explaining how experiences have helped you gain skills.

If you’re still looking for how many words a covering letter should be then ideally it shouldn’t be more than a page. If you feel like you can’t stretch it out to a page, don’t be discouraged as a few paragraphs are more than enough to convey your message to the employer. 300 to 400 words are sufficient for an ideal covering letter.

In short, final thoughts…

In short, final thoughts

Let’s summarise what you have read in a few points.

  • Your cover letter should specify why you’re a good fit for the company. It is not a writing project where you start to explain your life story.
  • Your sentences should be short as reading long sentences can lead to a diversion of your train of thoughts. Keep it short and simple.
  • One page is more than enough to deliver an impactful investment banking covering letter. Break it down into digestible paragraphs with a proper structure. Each paragraph should have its theme or deliver a single point to the employer. It shouldn’t be a mixture of different facts and life experiences.
  • Investment bankers have great attention to detail and you should as well. Go over your cover letter multiple times before handing it in. You should be looking for spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, sentence structure, and so on.
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