You want to break into investment banking and know you need to be well read in order to do so.
But what the heck do you read?
There are 1000s of books out there on all things investment banking – career books, IB life books (aka banker porn!), financial modeling books, brainteaser books, and not to mention all the investment banking history books!
Although our friends have tried to distill every insider secret about investment banking into one resource, you may need do some more reading yourself. (PS Take a minute to check out their free live resume review).
To help you decide what to read and what to forget about here is a definitive list of the best investment banking books out there.
Most importantly, they’re split up into categories based on interest.
So if you want to learn more about the life of an investment banker pop down to ‘Banker Porn’, whereas if you want to brush up on your job hunting skills scroll on down to the next section. Easy.
How To Get A Job In Investment Banking
1. The Best Resources On This Topic
2. The Best Book on Getting An IBanking Internship: Written by A Former Banking Intern At UBS, JP Morgan and FT Partners, by Erin Parker
Ever wanted to sit down with a friend fresh out of their 12-week summer ordeal at a top bulge bracket and just ply them with questions? How did you break into banking? What are your top tips? Oh, and how did you turn in a top internship performance? Well, here’s your chance as Erin has taken the time to write a personal mini guide for aspiring bankers. What you’ll love most about it is the personal touch as Erin tells you exactly what she did to get in and impress once in. So even if this book is quite short, consider getting it and devouring it over two tasty Ethiopian espressos! Nice.
3. Working The Street: What You Need To Know About Life on Wall Street, by Erik Banks
Despite being a few years old now, this is a top read for aspiring bankers, because Banks takes you from start to finish. He first looks at how to get a job in investment banking, then how to survive it (hugely useful!) and finally when to leave. As a former MD at Merrill, Banks is well positioned to walk you through the ‘life’.
4. Killer Investment Banking Resumes, by Wetfeet
Wetfeet guides are usually worth consulting, and their banking resume guide is no different. Short and sharp, this guide stands at above 70 pages and it’s filled with 80-20 advice on how to turn your IB resume into something resembling a banker-friendly product. There’s some talk in the guide about investment banking cover letters too. You should be able to pick up a free copy of this through your careers center.
5. How to Get A Job on Wall Street: Proven Ways to Land a High-Paying, High-Power Job, by Scott Hoover
Do you want to know how to break into investment banking today? Right now? Then pick up this book because it will take you on a fast pace ride through investment banking recruiting, starting from the very beginning (what is investment banking?) and going right through to the end (how to perform in banking). As a recent publication – 2011 – you’ll also have the fortune of learning how to launch your career in investment banking in today’s changed world. Valuable stuff here!
6. Student To CEO – 97 Ways To Influence Your Way To The Top In Banking & Finance, by Simon Dixon
You have probably come across Simon Dixon before as he is one of the leading IB Jobs Gurus on the Internet, with videos on YouTube and articles aplenty. If you are interested in hearing more from him then this list-style guide is a smart buy. You can devour it in an hour or two, and pick up a bagful of helpful tips. And priced at just a few dollars it seems an easy decision to make.
7. Beat the Street: The WetFeet Guide to Investment Banking Interviews
It’s a classic interview guide and at north of 150 pages it contains real information to help you crush your investment banking interviews this year. There aren’t too many students out there that haven’t read this. If you want to know everything about interviews from the very start (superday drinks) to the end (wrapping up) you’ll love this book by WetFeet. Check with your careers center, because you should be able to get this free with them.
8. The Best Book on Goldman Sachs Investment Banking Jobs, by Lisa Sun
It’s 11pm at night and you’re surfing the net trying to find out how to get into Goldman Sachs internship program. What do you do? Check out Lisa Sun’s little book on IB recruiting at Goldmans. As a former GS banker she’s well positioned to teach you the tips and tricks that could make a difference between you getting into the bulge bracket behemoth and getting into a 10-man shop in South Dakota! Perfect late night reading in bed.
Career in Investment Banking Books
1. Vault Career Guide to Investment Banking, by Tom Lott
If you have 1 hour to learn what investment banking is about, what bankers do and what your investment banking internship salary will be, then this is the resource for you. It’s a very quick read, presented in plain English and something every aspiring banker should read…and as a Vault production almost every aspiring banker does! Although you should get it, don’t expect it to blow you away. This book shows you the first 10% of how to get a job in investment banking. Keep going after you read this one.
2. The WetFeet Insider Guide to Careers in Investment Banking
Can’t decide whether to get the Vault or WetFeed guide? Welcome to the number one dilemma every aspiring banker has. But if you are anything like most successful candidates you’ll end up with both, because they emphasise different aspects of careers in investment banking. Ie they are complementary, not substitutive. So pick up this WetFeed guide too, and find out things like investment banking intern salaries, interviewing tips and more banking goodness.
3. The Fast Track: The Insider’s Guide to Winning Jobs in Management Consulting, Investment Banking & Securities Trading, by Mariam Naficy
You’re probably wondering from the title how ‘focused’ this book is. And you’d be right to be suspicious, because this book does cover three very different industries – and as a baby banker in the making you aren’t interested in all of them, right? So should you consider getting this book? Probably not. There are enough highly focused books on getting a job in investment banking out there. But if you are tossing up between management consulting and IB then give it a flick read. With solid coverage of the resume and interview stage, you’ll appreciate that this book goes beyond a mere birds eye view of the industries.
4. The Harvard Business School Guide to Careers in Finance
With a huge collection of bank/company profiles you may be thinking this is a must read. But given that Enron is amongst the companies profiled, you’d be wrong. It’s an old book no doubt, but it’s also quite threadbare. You would be better advised to pursue a Vault Career Guide (eg the Vault Guide to the Top 50 Banking Employers) if you are interested in up-to-date company profiles.
5. Goodbye Gordon Gekko: How to Find Your Fortune Without Losing Your Soul, by Anthony Scaramucci
Don’t be mistaken. This is not a how-to book on launching your career in banking. Rather it’s a collection of life lessons that aspiring bankers ought to vacuum up now, before it’s too late (read: before they get suckered into the greed game). If you need convincing, Scaramucci has both Goldmans DNA and worked on Wall Street II as an advisor. He knows his stuff, and you should too.
6. Career Guidebook for IT in Investment Banking
When a student interested in getting into the IT side of investment banking asks you for a book recommendation you know you have a challenge on your hands. But here it is. THE book on IT careers in finance. No one on the GetIntoInvestmentBanking.com team has read it though, so we offer this listing merely as a pointer – a please explore more recommendation.
Investment Banking 101
1. Investment Banking Explained: An Insider’s Guide to the Industry, by Michel Fleuriet
Gordon Gekko was a terrible teacher. “Lunch is for wimps” just isn’t very useful when you want to know what this whole investment banking game is all about. Step in Mr Fleuriet – a half banker half academic. In this book he breaks the IB industry apart and shows you exactly what everyone does. By the end of the book you will know the history of banking, the difference between S&T v M&A v Capital Raising, plus how it all inter connects. For aspiring bankers this may not be the most exciting read, but it’s definitely one of the most important. And hey, at just on 300 pages you can knock this off between classes!
2. Investment Banks, Hedge Funds and Private Equity, by David Stowell
Although not as well focused and easy to understand as “Investment Banking Explained” this book is another worthy addition to the IB 101 curriculum. Penned by a Kellogg Professor, it too aims to demystify the world of IB for aspiring bankers. But with so much focus on hedge funds and PE, you can leave this on the maybe list. That said, there is much love for the fact that it goes into the financial crisis somewhat (unlike Fleuriet’s 2007 written book). Case studies too. End conclusion: get it if you are still confused after reading Fleuriet’s.
3. Wall Street Lingo: Thousands of Investment Terms Explained Simply, by Nora Peterson
Get this book. If you want to avoid looking like an idiot thanks to misusing financial terminology then you’ll love this term-by-term playbook! Nora has gone to great lengths to not only explain a 1000 of the most common & useful terms, but she’s organized them all into chapters. This is not your freaking typical dictionary. Perhaps the reason you should get this most is that it’s aimed at individual investors – not industry types or investment bankers in particular. That means it starts at beginners level and goes slowly. As an aspiring banker without experience, this is great. By the end of this book you will be able to keep up with any banker talking at 1000 words a minute, you’ll understand everything those talking heads on CNBC are yammering on about and you’ll be able to lace your interview answers with terms bankers love. This is your definitive book of financial dirty talk.
4. Dictionary of Finance, Investment and Banking, by Erik Banks
If you want more of a real dictionary than Wall Street Lingo – something more like your traditional reference piece – then this might be for you. It is super comprehensive (to the point of extreme), but a handy resource to have for those hoping to get to grips with all the complicated terms in banking. But then again, you might be better served by just getting Wall Street Lingo (a book you can read chapter by chapter) and simply using an online dictionary service for all your referencing needs!
5. The Business of Investment Banking: A Comprehensive Overview, by K Thomas Liaw
This is another 50,000 feet overview of investment banking. And although in the same vein as Fleuriet and Stowell, Liaw’s book is fresh out of the financial crisis frying pan! Not only does Liaw incorporate the regulatory changes and other post 2009 fall outs into this book, but also casts an eye to investment banking in China, India and Russia. Before recommending this outright, know that this is once again for aspiring bankers only. Meaning, if you have experience in banking forget about it, because this will be as close to valium as you can get. But for college students or B-schoolers put this on your shopping list.
6. Doing Deals: Investment Banks At Work, by Robert Eccles and Dwight Crane
Welcome to the pipe & jacket aspiring banker’s favorite guide to investment banking. This 23 year old book remains a true gem, because it approaches the IB 101 viewpoint from a unique angle. It looks at all the parts of investment banks, how they’re structured and even the practicalities like bonuses. It also manages to go from 50,000 feet to 5 feet, meaning you get both the broad picture and the detailed points. So don’t be put off by the age of the book. Consider it if you have already read the Vault Guide and have the time/money.
1. Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco, by Bryan Burrough and John Heylar
If you don’t want to go out and buy a box of cigars after reading this book there’s something wrong with you! It is one of the most engaging books written on IB/PE/M&A you’ll ever come across. And in case you were wondering…no, no the film does not compare to the book. Although it’s about a past era (the 80s) this book is essential reading for today’s wannabe investment banker. Just don’t get too carried away by the big tales in this book.
2. Monkey Business, by John Rolfe and Peter Troob
This is the book you read with a heavy Scotch, because you’ll need it in order to digest the insane picture painted of investment banking and the madcap bankers that inhabit this world. You’ll also need it for courage, because after reading this you might seriously reconsider a career in banking. Should you read it? Well of course. It’s hilarious – at least if you like good banker style banter. And it does a good job at setting expectations – on the floor!
3. Liar’s Poker, by Michael Lewis
You’ve probably already read it, and if you haven’t go out and do yourself a favor now. Whether you are interested in S&T or M&A or whatever, as an aspiring banker you should check this out, because it’s infotainment at it’s best. You’ll laugh when you read the crazy stories and you’ll learn when Lewis talks about organizational life. This is a street level education on the world of banking that every students needs to have. So even if it’s somewhat old now – documenting an earlier era (late 80s) – and quite possibly older than you, pick it up. Ie Don’t just jump for Lewis’ latest, start with the original.
4. The Accidental Investment Banker: Inside the Decade That Transformed Wall Street, by Jonathan Knee
This is true banker porn! Written by a Goldman-Stanley lovechild who experienced both the eye popping heights of the dot com boom and the crashing lows immediately after, this is a must read for aspiring bankers. You’ll get a good sense of the life of a banker when you read this and a clearer view of what it’s like to do a decade plus in the industry (a rare feat it must be said). Although the book slows in parts, it’s got more than enough juice to inspire even the most jaded candidate to give it their all this recruiting season.
5. Damn It Feels Good To Be A Banker: And Other Balla Things You Only Get To Say If You Work On Wall Street, by Leveraged Sellout
Another hilarious look at Wall Street, but this time cast with 100% imagination. Unlike Monkey Business and other classic IB Life books, this isn’t actually written by a banker or former Excel Monkey. Instead it’s penned by the outrageous Amit Chatwani – who you can see beating up a team of management consultants here. You should buy this book, or at least check out the blog by Leveraged Sellout, because it makes for hilarious study-break reading. The elitist rants about the peasants working on the sell side will have you hurting from laughter. Just remember when you read it…this is satire…enough said. Enjoy!
6. Den of Thieves, by James Stewart
Disappointed you didn’t graduate in the 80s and into the ‘great decade’? Well, here’s your chance to realize how good – and bad – it could have been. Stewart’s book makes for an interesting read with it’s Hollywood-esque storyline (FYI all true!), but above all else it provides a cautionary tale. Excessive greed is not good. If you watched Boiler Room you’ll enjoy this quick and dirty read too. PS Like with most Banker Porn books, this is not required reading – just a bit of fun to help push you through the tough recruiting environment.
7. House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street, by William Cohan
Want to read up on the fall of Bear Sterns and the beginning of the financial crisis, but don’t want to be fed a dry account? Then this bestseller is for you, because it approaches the crazy last days of Bears with extreme pace and storytelling. Cohan’s book is essential reading for any student fascinated by the crisis and in search of the reasons why it went down the way it did. However it must be said, this is less educational, than it is entertaining. So if you decide to pick it up don’t expect it to dramatically boost your chances of breaking into banking or anything like that! Also consider Street Fighters: The Last 72 Hours of Bear Sterns by Kate Kelly.
8. Black Box Casino: How Wall Street’s Risky Shadow Banking Crashed Global Finance, by Robert England
Do you know how the financial crisis came about? Will you be able to discuss it with bankers in your interviews in great detail? Well, if not, then get this book now, because you’ll emerge from the other side with the deepest of deep understandings of the financial crisis, and you’ll have reasoned answers and ideas that will blow bankers away come Superday time! Plus England has managed to write about it all with great pace and skill, meaning this is not just a lesson you need to have, but one you will want to have. Must reading for aspiring bankers. PS Just don’t beat up on Wall Street as much as England does come interview time!
9. Too Big To Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System-And Themselves, by Andrews Sorkin
It’s the same details you’ll get with all those other books, but it’s delivered in true banker porn style – ie a racing narrative that’ll get your inner banker feeling a little too excited! We could have filed this book under IB History, but that would be unfair, because the book is a page turner. This is aspiring banker crack!
Investment Banking History Books
1. Investment Banking: Institutions, Politics & Law, by Alan Morrison
If you identify yourself as a baby Charlie Munger or perhaps a future Harvard professor of investment banking, then this book is for you. It takes a look at the evolution of banking over the past 300 years. Laced with extremely dense story telling and theories, this is no bed time reading. But if you decide to take the plunge into Morrison’s work you’ll be richly rewarded with a deep understanding of investment banking.
2. The Future of Finance: A New Model For Banking And Investment, by Choudhry, Landuyt and Fabozzi
Flying under the radar since release, this book is worth your time if you want to understand where the financial industry went wrong with the financial crisis (if you don’t already fully understand this) and where it needs to go to heal itself. Although the second part of the book looks at solutions, it doesn’t make for easy reading. It might just turn you off this whole IB life! So if you want to look at their recommendations for reform please wear some rose tinted glasses. I imagine if Ben Franklin was an aspiring banker now he’d check this book out at his local library.
3. Goldman Sachs: The Culture of Success, by Lisa Endlich
If you want to work for Goldman Sachs or you are lined up to start a summer internship at Goldman Sachs (or even their analyst/associate program), then sure, go ahead and read this. For everyone else, leave this one on the Amazon Wishlist or perhaps check it out of your college’s library. However interesting the history of GS, Endlich’s recounting of it is sanitized and definitely as close to official biography as it gets.
4. The Partnership: The Making of Goldman Sachs, by Charles Ellis
Unlike Endlich’s work, Ellis has managed to pen a more engaging history of Goldman Sachs. So if you had to choose, go with this one. But like above, leave this one alone unless you are close to joining the ‘family’.
5. Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World, William Cohan
Got the Goldmans hunger? Here’s your fix! Out of all the books on the history of GS, this one is the only one you’ll probably need. It’s a lot harder to put this book down and you get the added bonus that Cohan managed to wrangle the cooperation of senior Goldmans bankers when writing it. And hey, no one does a better job of analyzing the increasingly complex structure and relationships of the GS machine. Delicious!
6. The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance, by Ron Chernow
Need to get your history fix? Then as an aspiring banker you should read Chernow’s historical masterpiece – a masterpiece as far as IB history books go that is! It’s not a book you read just to learn more about the development of JP Morgan over the past centuries, but one you read to gain a deep and rich knowledge about the history of the global finance. If you have time on your side then go nuts and get this book. You’ll enjoy the takeaways.
7. When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management, by Roger Lowenstein
Lowenstein is a seasoned writer in the finance category, and you ought to pick up one of his books (eg Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist). But should it be his LTCM book? Probably not, as you have no doubt heard the story of the failure of LTCM many times at college or in talks. If you haven’t, then consider this book in order to learn about how hubris can lead to failure – something bankers more than anyone need to take on board.
Practical Investment Banking Books
1. Investment Banking: Valuation, Leveraged Buyouts, and Mergers & Acquisitions, by Joshua Rosenbaum
If you want to be a big swinging banker in M&A then you have to buy this book. Most importantly for you is the first part on valuation. Not only is it clear and easy to understand, but it’s oh so succinct. You can eat this book for breakfast. Result? You will be able to answer the biggest questions bankers ask in interviews on valuation, including on the 3 major valuation methodologies (comp/prec/DCF).
2. Security Analysis and Business Valuation on Wall Street: A Comprehensive Guide to Today’s Valuation Methods, by Jeffrey Hooke
As an aspiring banker you need to know how to value companies like a pro. Now Rosenbaum’s book can help you, but Hooke’s book can turn you into an insanely switched on baby banker. Why? He focuses exclusively on valuation and approaches it from both the qual and quant angles. You’re not just learning the how-to from some superficial level, but rather you’re getting an in-depth education on it. Unlike say Grahram & Dodd’s classic, Hooke’s is up-to-date and reflective of today’s approach to valuation. This is the perfect book to supplement your college studies or any online financial modeling courses you are taking. Go grab a copy today!
(Photo by the very cool LifeSupercharger)