For those looking for a career in investment banking, it helps to know where investment banks are looking for employees. So where do investment banks recruit? As it happens, the search field for the major investment banks such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) is relatively narrow.

Roughly 60% to 80% of university graduates are drawn from a list of "target schools" where investment banks concentrate most of their recruiting efforts in terms of regularly showing up on campus and offering multiple interviews and summer internship opportunities to undergrads.

Attending one of the top target schools makes getting an interview with multiple investment banks a fairly simple process, while students at other, non-target schools may find it difficult to line up even one or two interviews, and have to put forth considerably more effort to land those interviews.

Key Takeaways

  • Breaking into investment banking is easier done if you go to one of the top “feeder” schools where the major investment banks recruit.
  • Three of the top schools that investment banks consistently interview and hire from including the University of Pennsylvania, New York University, and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.  
  • Beyond the top schools, the Ivy League schools, such as Harvard, are also key spots that investment banks look to hire from. 
  • Students looking to get a permanent job at an investment bank should consider trying to get a 12-week internship that many of these investment banks offer.

Investment Banking Profession

It is generally well known that investment banking is one of the hardest career fields to break into. This is partially because investment banking involves, along with exciting merger and acquisition (M&A) deals, exceptionally high salaries and bonuses, which makes an investment banking career attractive and one where there is a lot of competition for the available entry slots each year.

Investment banking is a relatively small niche within the overall financial services sector. There are simply not that many jobs available in the field as opposed to, for example, the field of accounting, or closer to home, that of retail banking. Attending a school that is an established source for employees of investment banks is, therefore, a key advantage.

Top Schools

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania, home to the famed Wharton School of Business, is the number one feeder school for the investment banking industry. However, the recruiting statistics for the overall number one university reveal an important point about investment bank recruiting, which is that each investment bank has its own individual list of preferred schools. 

The University of Pennsylvania is one of the top schools for Goldman Sachs, Citigroup (C), Barclays Capital (BCS), Morgan Stanley (MS), and Blackstone Group (BX), among others, but it’s historically not been a top 10 school for Credit Suisse (CS) or UBS Group (UBS).

New York University

New York University (NYU) is right with the University of Pennsylvania in terms of where investment banks most frequently recruit new employees. NYU is a top 10 school for many investment banks, including being a top school for interviews given by Nomura Holdings (NMR), and NYU students are a top pick for investment banking positions at JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and UBS.

The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor is another top feeder school. The University of Michigan is a top school for boutique investment banking firm Evercore Partners (EVR), as well as for French firm BNP Paribas S.A. (BNPQY) and KeyBanc Capital. 

Other Top Schools

The Ivy League dominates many other spots for schools that investment banks target, including:

  • Harvard University
  • Cornell University
  • Princeton University
  • Columbia University
  • Boston University 

Other notable schools include Canada's University of Toronto and Queens University, the University of Texas at Austin, Villanova University, the University of Virginia, the University of Maryland, and Georgetown University. 

For individuals aiming to get on with a certain bank, it is important to keep in mind each bank has its own preferred recruiting sources. For example, Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC) tends to grant more interviews to students at the University of North Carolina and at Vanderbilt University than it does to students at Harvard.

The Importance of Internships

Nearly all the major investment banks offer summer internship analyst programs that last approximately 12 weeks. Students who can land one of these internships not only gain valuable experience but also have the opportunity to develop networking relationships at the bank that can give them a substantial advantage when it comes to final hiring decisions.