IB-Courses

Best Investment Banking Courses ranked by Bankers (2021)

In Finance Courses & Certifications by Gaurav SharmaUpdated On:

Investment banking still remains notoriously hard to break into. Its not uncommon for recruiters to receive thousands of applications for a single Investment Banking job opening. In this sea of candidates, you need something to stand out. You need something that makes your CV pop. Something that shows you are committed to this career and you know what it takes. That is why stellar academics and building a perfect resume are essential. You need every advantage you can get. 

Success depends on a lot of factors and there are some you can’t even control (like a deflated job market for example). But there is plenty you can and should do to get ahead. Soft skills, academics, extra curriculars, certifications etc. are all just part of the overall package. 

What to look for in an Investment Banking Course/ Certification?

  1. Brand Value for CV Building – Research suggests that recruiters spend on average just 7 seconds to glance at your CV and that is all the time you have to make an impression. Your academic pedigree and work experience matters here the most, but you can’t change that. What you can do though is add relevant certifications that showcase your interest in the field and demonstrate a minimum level of capability.
  2. Specific to your Role – There are dozens of certifications out there, but not all of them are relevant to the role you are interested in. Some are suited for risk managers (FRM), others for traders (like the CFA) etc. This is the list of the ones that are relevant to investment bankers – meaning M&A, financial modeling, Debt & Equity Capital Markets, coverage and so on. Read my summary below to find one suited to what you are interested in.
  3. Available at the very start of your career –  Certifications like the CFA & FRM are indeed prestigious but they require  several years to complete and a lot of prior work experience. I cleared the CFA and FRM Level 1 exams within two weeks of each other while in B-School but it wasn’t really helpful because it would be YEARS before I would earn the certifications. You need something NOW, not 2-4 years in the future.

1. Investment Banking Certification from NYIF

Who is it for?

Graduates or finance interns interested in breaking into IB. Professionals in other verticals looking to make a switch to IB.

Why take this certification?

  1. Investment banking is notoriously hard to get into and you need every edge you can get. This formal Investment Banking Certification from one of the stalwarts of Wall Street training is one way to get that edge. There are other finance courses out there, but this one is laser focused on Investment banking and that is what makes it the ideal pick for most.
  2. This is a self-paced, fully online program offered by the New York Institute of Finance that offers the most comprehensive look at Investment Banking for interns, analysts and associate level roles. It takes about 70 hours to complete, depending on your skill level. This means you don’t have to wait around for years to earn a certification. You need these certifications at the beginning of your career, not 4-5 years later! This is a strong point in favour of this certification. 
  3. The course covers all relevant topics ranging form modeling and analysis to derivatives, valuations, structuring and deal making. Which makes this well suited for professionals looking to get into all Investment Banking roles. You also get to choose a specialization that allows you to better prepare for specific roles. 
  4. In addition to showcasing your skills, this certification will also showcase your commitment to the field of Investment Banking as it is specifically focused on it. As a recruiter, you want to know if the candidate is actually interested in a long term career or not. The firm spends considerable capital and time training their recruits and taking the time to earn a formal certification showcases to them that you are just as committed. 

Summary

Duration60-70 hours
FormatFully online, on-demand
LevelIntermediate

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2. Certified Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA)

Who is it for?

Most versatile certification suitable for all investment banking and finance roles. May be customized as per your requirements.

Why take the FMVA?

  1. What I like most about the highly popular FMVA certification from CFI is that you can use it for almost any role within investment banking. Early on in your career, you might not want to straitjacket yourself into focusing specifically on a very niche role like M&A, debt capital markets, coverage etc. but simply want to get in. The FMVA is what you need for that as it can be whatever you want it to be because it has elective courses that you can use to tailor it to your needs.
  2. For example, if you are interested in M&A, you can pick the M&A elective. But if you are interested in Commercial Real Estate, you can pick the Real Estate Financial Modeling elective. Other such options include LBO modeling, mining, renewable energy, startup or eCommerce modeling and so on. So you get to pick and choose and get what you want from it.
  3. This can be quite an advantage in a tight job market when you can’t afford to go after just one specific IB role. The FMVA is inherently versatile and it is that versatility that makes it highly appealing for investment banking hopefuls and even for corporate finance roles.
  4. The Corporate Finance Institute is well known in the finance community and the FMVA is their flagship certification. So you would be adding significant brand value to your CV and LinkedIn profile with this certification. Of course your academics still matter the most, but such certifications are your best at getting that extra boost in a  highly saturated job market.

Summary

Duration100-150 hours
FormatFully online, on-demand
LevelIntermediate

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3. Mergers & Acquisitions Professional Certificate from NYIF

Who is it for?

Serious M&A candidates including B-School graduates, interns and those looking to make a lateral  shift into M&A.

Why take this certification?

  1. M&A is one of the hardest fields to break into in Investment Banking and you need every edge you can get. This certification provides a healthy mix of academic insight, real world practical knowledge and some solid CV building opportunities. 
  2. If you are applying for an M&A role, you are probably already familiar with the main academic concepts. This course provides more in the way of actual deal making insights, transactional due diligence and other considerations that come into play in a live deal. Documentation, legal issues, tax considerations and other such topics are covered in great detail. These will give you a bit of an extra edge during the selection/ interview process.
  3. You receive a formal certificate from NYIF upon completion. NYIF has been providing financial education to bankers for almost a century. So this certification will have an impact on your CV or LinkedIn profile. With recruiters having to sift through hundreds of CVs for a single role, you need something that makes you stand out.

Summary: 

Duration40 hours/ 5 days
FormatFully Online or Classroom
LevelAdvanced

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4. Professional Certificate in Corporate Finance from Columbia

Who is it for?

Corporate finance roles and those looking to add a solid brand to their CVs.

Why take this course?

  1. Columbia University is a great brand to have on your Resume. This is the same course that is taught in the first year for Columbia’s core MBA program so you know you are learning what the pros are learning. I wish we had online learning opportunities like this back in our day!
  2. The introduction focuses on basic corp fin concepts like time value of money, capital budgeting, NPC and IRR etc. Then you get a good look at how bonds, stocks and companies are valued using free cash flows, ratios and multiples. Lastly, there is a section on risk, return, cost of capital and a case study. This course covers the basics but it does that really well.
  3. The quality of the content is excellent and you know this is a course made by the people at the top of their field. Its an experience feel almost everyone in finance should go through once, irrespective of your preferred role. This is corporate finance 101. 

Summary

Duration35-40 hours
FormatFully online, on-demand
LevelIntermediate

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5. The Complete Investment Banking Course on Udemy

Who is it for?

Ideal for beginners and those willing to get a feel of what it’s like to work in IB without making a much bigger commitment beforehand. 

Why take this course?

  1. This is a great basic course that will help beginners get a solid understanding of Investment banking core principles and concepts. The presentation of the course content is done in a very user friendly format which is what makes it great for beginners.
  2. Topic coverage is wide and you will learn about M&A, Debt and Equity Markets, restructuring, asset management, valuation, DCF model etc. Some nice case studies will help cement your understanding. This is not a deep dive for experienced professionals but rather an introductory course so keep that in mind. 
  3. There are plenty of resources including hours of video, dozens of downloadable resources like Excel models, articles and infographics. 

Summary

Duration10-12 hours
FormatFully online, on-demand
LevelBeginner

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6. Professional Certificate in Valuation from NYIF

Who is it for?

Investment Bankers, researchers, equity and bond analysts who need to learn advanced valuation techniques.

Why take this course?

  1. You can’t sell something unless you know what it’s worth. In investment banking, pricing and valuing assets is the name of the game. M&A bankers try to price business divisions or entire corporations, capital market bankers try to figure out how to price equities or bonds which also involves figuring out the value of a business. Eventually, it all boils down to corporate valuations and this is the best course to teach you that.
  2. You can tell this course was made for investment bankers as there are specific sections on equities, fixed income, derivatives, corporate credit analysis, business valuations, financial statement analysis, and even M&A considerations like financing acquisitions, managing their risk and even post-merger integration.
  3. The course itself is of high quality and is delivered by industry experts. You get a professional certificate from NYIF on completion which you should use for min-maxing your CV for investment banking roles.

Summary

Duration45 hours
FormatFully online, on-demand
LevelAdvanced

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7. Capital Markets & Securities Analyst from CFI

Who is it for?

Anyone interested in a markets/ securities role like traders, financial markets, institutional sales, FICC, structuring, asset and portfolio management, wealth management etc.

Why take the CMSA?

  1. The Corporate Finance Institute (CFI)  offers a few key finance certifications and the Capital Markets & Securities Analyst (CMSA) is their answer for all market related roles. It is relevant for anyone in markets related role like securities sales, trading, analysis, market risk, portfolio management, asset management, private banking, and so on.
  2. The best part is that you don’t have to spend several years to complete it. It takes about 60-100 hours of effort which means you can complete the whole thing in a few months and get your designation when you need it the most – at the very beginning of your career.
  3. One thing I really do love about CFI courses is that they are highly modular in nature. For example, if you are a beginner you can opt to take some of the optional prep courses like Bloomberg Essentials, Economics for Capital Markets or Financial Math for Capital Math. but you can skip them altogether if you already this stuff.
  4. Similarly, there are a bunch of electives that you can pick to tailor the course to your specifications. You can pick Technical Analysis if you so choose or perhaps you are more interested in Convertible Bonds, Behavioural Finance or Subordinated Debt? Pick and choose what you want and focus on the stuff that is relevant to you.

Summary

Duration60-100 hours
FormatFully online, on-demand
LevelIntermedaite

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8. Capital Markets Professional Certificate from NYIF

Who is it for?

Debt and Equity Capital market roles (DCM/ ECM). Suitable for all skill levels.

Why take this course?

  1. This course, also offered by the New York Institute of Finance, focuses more on capital markets (debt and equity). This certification is better suited for DCM/ ECM professionals as well those in trading or research roles related to debt, equity and their derivatives
  2. Most finance courses go broad which means you spend a lot of time learning things that might not be relevant to you. By being laser focused on just capital markets, this course offers unsurpassed value to those who are also laser focused on capital market career options form the get-go.
  3. I couldn’t find any other course that covers all relevant capital market topics with this much detail and with such quality. This is not just another generic finance course. This is what DCM/ ECM guys should be studying.

Summary

Duration35 hours
FormatFully online, on-demand
LevelIntermedaite

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Certifications for Experienced Professionals (4+ years)

These are advanced professional certifications ideal for experienced professionals looking to make a lateral shift into IB. These can also be taken by analysts, interns, associates and even more senior professionals who are desirous of transitioning into investment banking. However, some of them do have minimum work experience requirements which means they kick in a bit late in your career. 

1. Chartered Investment Banking Analyst

  1. One of the few professional certifications that have been custom built specifically for investment banking. The laser focus on IB is what earns this certification a spot on this list. The content is delivered online in a virtual classroom or classes may be attended in-person at a training center. 
  2.  All that you need to know as an IB analyst/ associate or even as a mid-level professional looking to make a career transition, is in here. The course is made up of five meaty modules that each covers a critical component of what you need to know as an Investment Banker:
    • Financial Accounting
    • Credit Risk Analysis
    • Corporate Finance and Valuation Methods
    • Financial Modeling
    • Mergers & Acquisitions
  3. The next best thing to having real on the job deal experience. Having relevant work experience for finance roles is a chicken and egg problem. Certifications like this one that utilize detailed case studies and real world scenarios are your best shot at solving that dilemma.

Summary

Duration175 hours
FormatOnline or virtual classroom
LevelAdvanced

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2. Financial Risk Manager

  1. Risk Management has gained importance since the last crisis and continuities do to so as capital protection is now more important to stakeholders than capital appreciation.
  2. FRM is the gold standard for Risk Management. Take the FRM if you interested in middle-office roles in Investment Banking like, well, risk management.
  3. The best part about it is perhaps the versatility. Everyone from hedge fund managers to wealth managers to asset managers to M&A bankers to corporate bankers require financial risk management. Which is why I think it is a better fit than the CFA.
  4. FRM is a bit more quant-heavy than the CFA and you should know that before going in. But if you are interested in Risk management, you should already be ready for that.

Summary

DurationSeveral years
FormatIn-person exams
LevelAdvanced

3. Chartered Financial Analyst

  1. The CFA is most relevant for markets-related role. Things like trading, selling securities, portfolio/ asset/ wealth management, equity/ fixed income/ market research and things of that nature.
  2. However, the CFA has built such a reputation that it can add value for non-market-related roles as well. Which is why it finds a spot on this list.
  3. The trick with the CFA is to start early so that you have already cleared a level or two before recruitment season. The CFA certification takes quite a while to earn, mostly because of the work experience requirements which means it is more of a mid-level career booster for most.

Summary

DurationSeveral years
FormatIn-person exams
LevelAdvanced

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About the Author

Gaurav Sharma

Gaurav started his finance career as an intern in Citi’s Institutional Clients Group in 2009, eventually ending up as an Associate Director at Standard Chartered Bank’s Corporate & Institutional Banking division a few years later. By 2016, he was an independent consultant helping FinTech start-ups in London with product development and launch. Gaurav also helps banks with their digital banking initiatives and advises PE & VC firms with investments in the financial services and FinTech sectors. Gaurav writes on topics ranging from EU banking regulations and tradional finance to Blockchain startups and the future of banking itself! He has an Engineering degree in Computer Science and an MBA with a double major in Finance and Marketing. He is also a Certified Financial Risk Manager.