Most recruiters at Bulge Bracket Investment Bank only need a resume to filter full-time candidate targets such as top-school students, tier-1 internship or MBA-ers. However, there are still some investment banks requiring a cover letter for their online application such as Goldman Sachs, Citi or Barclays

If you are spending too much time writing a perfect cover letter, you are highly recommended to put more effort in networking and resume. A cover letter might be more important for candidates applying for an internship in Bulge Bracket Bank. Besides, entry-level in Middle Market and Boutique Bank mostly need a cover letter as a proof for motivation, personality or some ambiguous points in resume. 

Unlike applications in the U.S, Investment Banking recruiters in the United Kingdom always require a cover letter in their resume round. 

This article is an ultimate guide for writing the most persuasive cover letter in investment banking.

 

1. What is on Bankers’ Mind when scanning a Cover Letter?

Although a cover letter may be less important than resume, it still plays an indispensable role in giving an entrance ticket to Investment Banking. A perfect cover letter (without a strong resume) will not get candidate an interview, but a bad one will certainly knock you out of the process.

Like a resume, the first impression of a cover letter in investment banking will decide the opportunity for the interview round. Good impression is not only about the format but also candidates’ ability to bankify their cover letter. Our Investment Banking Resume Toolkit (Sell-side) provides a system of banking words and detailed guidelines in crafting your story so that you can speak the same language with bankers. 

HR department hands off all the applications to bankers to choose interviewees for the next round. This is the reason why applicants should network with bankers instead of HR people. Most bankers spend the last minutes of their hectic day to scan hundreds of resumes and cover letters with 20-30 seconds for each application. As all cover letters have the same format which hardly catches his/her attention, the only way to stand out is developing an interesting story. Visit our Free Guide including 6 steps of breaking into Investment Banking for practical tips in crafting your story. 

Recruiters always expect to see qualifications as well as culture fit in a cover letter. 

 

1.1. 4 Qualifications Recruiters Looking for in a Cover Letter 

Interest in finance

There are many ways to prove an interest in finance such as participating in an investment club, having an internship in investment banking, wealth management or finance-related position. However, a common mistake among applicants is mentioning what is already on their resume. A cover letter is a space for a story behind work experiences. It helps to show how candidates did NETWORK before application while a resume hardly supports this. 

For example, some applicants reveal their interest in finance by talking about how motivated they are to work in the Sales & Trading division after having conversations with bankers at a diversity program of Goldman Sachs.

Quantitative & analytical ability 

Cold email for internship

This is to assess applicants’ ability to process a large amount of data with a formulation of hypothesis and propose solutions. If recruiters identify a quantitative & analytical ability of a candidate in his/her resume, they will definitely need more information in a cover letter. What are the difficulties in performing that job? What are the learning points?

Result oriented

MMBThough recruiters already catch specific achieving numbers in resume, they need more “evidence” of candidates’ strong motivation to achieve higher results. Does this candidate perform better than requirements? Do they pay attention to details while involving multiple tasks or under time pressure? Does he/she always take an innovative approach to problems?

Leadership 

Investment bankers work with multiple stakeholders such as colleagues, clients, leaders, and experts. Showing the ability to handle surrounding resources and trying hard to meet expectations are more important than simply mentioning words such as “lead” or “leadership” in the cover letter. Leadership also requires strong communication skills and ability to inspire others

Showing culture fit by being personal 

Besides getting straight to the most banking-relevant accomplishments, a cover letter should be personal and conversational with hiring managers. Candidates should understand the firm’s culture by networking with bankers in that firm or doing little research on its website (blog, articles or job announcements). 

Start your own hedge fundIn order to make it personal and conversational with hiring managers, start the cover letter with his/her name instead of a random “Dear Mr/Mrs” or “To whom it may concern”. On top of it, applicants should mention something in common with the firm such as a mutual connection, talking with Mr X, joining an event in that firm, etc. Be open to share personal goals and passion is another tip for making a cover letter more “personal”. Interviewers love to see how their firm aligns with candidates’ career path. 

There are many factors that recruiters look for in a cover letter while it has to be SHORT and CONCISE in 1 page only. The next part shows how to persuade recruiters in the most effective way. 

A common structure for a cover letter in Investment Banking includes: 

1. Introduction: Why that company? Why that position?
2. Experience & fit: Why you?
3. Conclusion

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2. How to write an Investment Banking Cover Letter?

As bankers spend only 20-30 seconds to choose interviewees for the next round, any mistakes in a cover letter will fail candidates for the resume round. So make sure you triple-check or ideally have an experienced banker to review the cover letter for you. 

2.1. Format 

– Length: A cover letter for investment banking should be kept within 1 page (around 200-300 words). Investment bankers have no time for multiple page cover letters.

– The margin should be 0.75-1 with at least 11 font size.

– At the top of the cover letter or the right-aligned up at the top: Candidates can write their name, address, phone number and email address. 

– The left-aligned of the page contains date and information of the recipient such as hiring manager’s name (optional), company name, company address and email (optional) 

– Greeting: 

  • As mentioned before, candidates should research about hiring manager’s name to make it personal: Dear Mr/Ms [Hiring manager’s name] 
  • Dear Sir or Madam or Dear Mr/Mrs  are alternatives if applicants are not sure about the recruiter’s name. That is the worst case if they could not find the name of the hiring manager. 
 

2.2. Introduction 

The introduction part should briefly show candidates’ basic information including background, company name they used to work in and the position they are applying for. Even if the university/business name is not prestigious, they should mention that information. 

Introduction part is the starting point to show candidates’ interest in finance through their story: How they make an effort in networking to apply for this position. This way catches bankers attention when mentioning something relevant to them. Applicants can write about the participation in an event or a conversation with bankers that motivates them to apply for this position. Additionally, reaching people on LinkedIn to grasp the financial world is another way to show your interest.

Example: 
“My name is Peter. I am currently a fresh graduate in finance major at University of Southern California. I am writing in support of my application for an investment banking summer associate position in Goldman Sachs. I recently talked with Tom Linzmeier – Sale Vice President at Goldman Sachs in the Vendor diversity program. I was motivated by your culture and recent Q3 2020 earning during the pandemic. While being a leader of an investment club during university time enabled me to raise $200,000 AUM within  1 month, summer internship in Bank of America furthered my expertise.” 

2.3. Experience & fit

This is the space for candidates to demonstrate their interest in finance through practical experience. An investment banking cover letter is not used to show off all the banking-relevant  experiences but the most outstanding ones. The best way to pass the resume round is to utilize the name of Bulge Bracket Banks, large PE firms or big-4 companies. 

When describing responsibilities at a firm, it is important to highlight the achieving number of that job, quantitative & analytical ability, leadership skills

After showing the most relevant experience, it’s time to reiterate the suitability of candidates to that position. Insights about the firm are utilized from networking that is hardly found on the internet. Our networking guide provides practical tips in how to talk with bankers in the most insightful way.

Example: 

During my first three year at university, I was able to deepen my knowledge of financial markets, derivatives and fixed income products through trading simulations at Champion Investment Club. Then I became a president of a 15 member Investment Club. Our team coordinated to raise $200,000 AUM within 1 month. 

 

My internship experiences at Bank of America represented a chance to explore different fields which enabled me to understand my career path. I gained strong exposure to FX products as well as a good understanding of  the needs of a large company’s financing and treasury department. Furthermore, I proposed 5 investment ideas to my leaders and 3 of them are taken into account.

 

I strongly believe that working in your firm will not only support my future plan as an experienced trader but also a chance for me to make a great contribution to your long-term goal. 

This part seems to be less “nerve-wracking” than others as candidates can use a template. They only need to remind about resume attachment and availability at any time. Giving a sincere thank you for recruiters’ time and reiterating contact information.

3. Investment Banking Cover Letter Example

Peter Anderson
100 MAIN ST
PO BOX 1022
SEATTLE WA 98104
USA
3476563112
Peter3221@gmail.com

October, 19th 2020
Jones Kenedy
IB Hiring Manager
Goldman Sachs
200 West St, New York, NY 10282, United States

 

Dear Mr Jones,

 

“My name is Peter. I am currently a fresh graduate in finance major at University of Southern California. I am writing in support of my application for an investment banking summer associate position in Goldman Sachs. I recently talked with Tom Linzmeier – Sale Vice President at Goldman Sachs in the Vendor diversity program. I was motivated by your culture and recent Q3 2020 earning during the pandemic. While being a leader of an investment club during university time enabled me to raise $200,000 AUM within  1 month, summer internship in Bank of America furthered my expertise. 

 

During my first three year at university, I was able to deepen my knowledge of financial markets, derivatives and fixed income products through trading simulations at Champion Investment Club. Then I became a president of a 15 member Investment Club. Our team coordinated to raise $200,000 AUM within 1 month. 

 

My internship experiences at Bank of America represented a chance to explore different fields which enabled me to understand my career path. I gained strong exposure to financial statements and making investment recommendations. I also had a good understanding of  the needs of a large company’s financing and treasury department. Furthermore, I proposed 5 investment ideas to my leaders and 3 of them are taken into account.

 

I strongly believe that working in your firm will not only support my future plan as an experienced trader but also a chance for me to make a great contribution to your long-term goal. 

 

I enclose my curriculum vitae and photographs as required, and I would be happy to supply you with further details should they be required. I thank you for considering my application and I am willing to attend an interview at any time. 

4. Conclusion

Although a cover letter might be less important than an outstanding resume, candidates still have to write a perfect cover letter to increase a chance of landing a job in Investment Banking. If writing a cover letter as well as resume is challenging for you, visit our Investment Banking resume toolkit (Sell-side) for a detailed guideline.