by Brian DeChesare Comments (94)

Age and Investment Banking: When Is It Too Late to Break Into the Industry, and What Should You Do If You’re “Too Old”?

Age and Investment Banking

There are few topics as heated as age and investment banking.

But unlike other controversial topics – crypto, the CFA, or social media censorship – this one rarely generates long-running online arguments.

Instead, it mostly produces comments such as: “Am I too old? Do I have any chance if I’m above the age of X? What should I do with my life if I’m too old for banking?”

There were 1,108 comments in the two older versions of this article, and most of them were asking these exact questions.

You probably don’t have time to read them all, so here is the TL;DR version of my responses:

  • It’s not so much about your “age” – which companies in many countries cannot legally ask for – but your years of post-university full-time work experience.
  • If you have more than 2 – 3 years of full-time work experience after university, it will be very difficult to get in at the Analyst level (estimated age cut-off of 25, but it may be more like 27 – 28 depending on when you started the degree).
  • And if you have more than 3 – 5 years of pre-MBA full-time work experience and then do an MBA, it will become difficult to win an Associate-level role (most are under the age of 30, but the upper limit is probably closer to 35).
  • If you are older than these age ranges and still want to win a traditional investment banking role, you should start by asking yourself, “Why?” If the answer is “to make more money” or “to do something more exciting,” there are more feasible ways to achieve these goals.
  • If you’re 40, 45, or 50+, but you’re still convinced that you want to work long hours cranking out pitch books, CIMs, and financial models, there are sometimes very specialized pathways into IB, but your chances are still quite low.

Now that I’ve crushed your dreams, let’s take a look at why banks care about age:

Age and Investment Banking: Why Does It Matter?

If you’re asking this question, you probably don’t know much about the industry, so I recommend reading our guides to investment banking career paths and how to get into investment banking first.

Age matters a lot because:

  1. Banks rarely hire mid or top-level professionals from other industries. Most new hires join at the entry level, and for levels above that, they hire experienced bankers from other firms.
  2. You need to work long hours in entry-level IB roles, and older candidates are less willing and able to do so. There are exceptions, but the average 35- or 45-year-old is far less willing to work 70-80 hours per week than an inexperienced, driven 22-year-old right out of university.
  3. You also need to take orders from crazy and deranged people above you without questioning them. The less experienced new hires are, the easier it is to make them follow orders. But if you’ve already had 10, 15, or 20 years of work experience elsewhere, you’re probably not going to listen to a micromanager who’s much younger than you.

Banks have been making a big “diversity push” to attract a wider pool of candidates.

But don’t be fooled: yes, they want people with different ethnic backgrounds, skin colors, genders, identities, etc., but not different ages.

There is some “wiggle room” because some people start and graduate from university later than others.

So, for example:

  • If you’re currently 28, but you did military service before university and, therefore, have only 2 years of full-time work experience, you could potentially get into investment banking via lateral hiring or a Master’s in Finance program.
  • But if you’re 28, you graduated from university at 22, and you have 6 years of full-time work experience, you’re highly unlikely to get in as an Analyst. You’ll probably need a top MBA at this stage.
  • If you’re currently 30, but you started university late and, therefore, have only 4 years of full-time work experience, you could use MBA recruiting to get into banking, assuming that you get into one of the top programs.
  • But if you’re 30, graduated from university at 22, and have 8 years of full-time experience, along with a mid-level position at a large company, it will be more difficult. It’s still possible, but the success probability is much lower.

There are other confounders here, such as 5-year degrees in some parts of the world, possible volunteer or work experience before you start university, gap years, etc.

Also, these guidelines are less stringent in emerging markets and in cases where you’ve had highly relevant work experience – such as corporate law – or if you’ve already worked in banking, did something else, and now want to return.

If you have a complicated, confusing, or different situation, you should think about your years of full-time work experience after university to quickly assess your chances of getting into this industry.

And before someone leaves an angry comment describing their 45-year-old friend who won an IB job offer after spending 20 years in another career, yes, there are always exceptions and crazy stories.

But the basic point is that it’s fine to experiment and switch careers when you’re in university or just beyond it, and you should do this with your internships and first few jobs.

As you get older, switching becomes more and more difficult, especially if you want to move into an industry that heavily favors younger candidates.

Age and Investment Banking: What Do You Do If You’re Too Old?

If you still want to get into IB after reading the warnings and explanations above, you should start by asking, “Why?”

I’m not talking about the BS that you use to answer the “Why investment banking?” question in interviews – I’m referring to your real reasons for wanting to make the change:

  • You Want to Earn More Money: Fair point, but there are more realistic ways to achieve this, such as starting a side business, becoming a coach/consultant, negotiating a higher salary, or trading/investing in your free time.
  • You Want More Excitement: You should probably seek out non-work solutions for this one, such as bungee jumping or skydiving, because I would not call most banking roles “exciting” in a positive way.
  • You Want to Be Around Wealthy/Powerful People: There are many other ways to “network” with rich and powerful people (conferences/events, non-profit boards, golf, expensive gyms, exotic sports, etc.).
  • You Really Want to Work on Deals, and You Have Relevant Industry Experience: OK, now you have a good reason to make this transition.

“You really want to work on deals” means that you treat deals like football fans treat football: you read about them constantly, examine the legal documents for fun, and form strong views about M&A deals, IPOs, and more.

For example, think about all the drama surrounding Elon Musk’s deal to acquire Twitter and look at all the documents I highlighted in my analysis of it.

Would you do something like this for fun?

Do you find it interesting to look at presentations, articles, and documents about this type of deal and then form your own views about it, backed up by numbers and analysis?

If that is you, you should skip past the next section and go to the bottom part of this article.

If that’s not you, but you still want to do something finance-related for higher pay, you should think about alternate pathways that let you achieve some of the same goals:

Alternate Pathways into Finance or “Deal” Roles

Your best options in this scenario are:

  1. Apply for Operational Roles at Private Equity Firms or Their Portfolio Companies – These firms are not going to hire you as an Analyst or Associate working on deals, but they will hire you if you have a strong network in a certain industry and a lot of experience with operational turnarounds or new product/business launches.
  2. Move in Through the “Side Door” to Win a Corporate Development Role – Another option is to apply to strategy or corporate finance roles at large companies and then network your way into corporate development roles so you can work on acquisitions, joint ventures, and partnerships. The age requirements are less strict, and more experience usually helps you in corporate development recruiting.
  3. If You Have a Very Technical Background, Consider Certain Equity Research or Venture Capital Groups – “Very technical” means something like medicine, biochemistry, physics, or advanced hardware (semiconductors). If you have a Ph.D. or other advanced degree in one of these fields and you understand the technical side quite well, you could win a role in a group that requires deep technical expertise to evaluate companies (e.g., biotech equity research).
  4. Consider Careers Where Results Outweigh Credentials and Age – For example, search funds, certain areas within commercial real estate, and proprietary trading might qualify. With the first two, you’d be working on “deals” – just smaller ones – and with the last one, many trading firms are open to different ages and backgrounds as long as you can make money.

We’ve covered these options in various other “career path” articles, which I’ve linked to above.

The main point is that while age may be less important, you need legitimate, verifiable qualifications to have a good shot.

For example, no PE firm will hire you as an “operational partner” or “consultant” if you have 2 – 3 years of project management experience at a tech startup.

You should ideally have a mid-to-high-level role in the industry with responsibility for a specific group’s P&L and a solid network of contacts at different companies.

Age and Investment Banking: OK, But What If You Still Want to Do IB?

I have seen a few people get in at the Vice President level after 10+ years of work experience, but only under very specific conditions:

  • They were typically quite senior, such as the VP of an entire division at a Fortune 500 company.
  • They went to middle market or boutique banks.
  • They all had highly relevant industry experience, such as a business development manager at a tech company joining a technology or TMT group.
  • They accepted significant pay cuts and were brought in “below their level,” such as a Manager or VP at a Fortune 500 company joining as a 3rd Year Associate.
  • They all found jobs in strong hiring markets where deal activity was rising, and many groups found themselves understaffed.

There isn’t much to say about the specific tactics because networking is networking, and you should be quite good at sending emails and picking up the phone if you’re at this level.

Are You Too Old?

This is a vague question, so the only reasonable answer is: “It depends.”

You will not win an IB Analyst or Associate role if you’re a 40- or 50-year-old accountant, but if you want to make more money while doing something related to finance or deals, there are options.

And if you have your heart set on banking, it may be possible to get in above the age of 35, but usually only in very specialized situations.

If your background does not match the specialized circumstances described above, you should spend your time on other pursuits:

  • Start a side business.
  • Become a coach or consultant.
  • Invest in stocks, real estate, or other assets.
  • Aim for finance-related roles with less stringent age requirements, such as corporate strategy/finance jobs or prop trading.

These options are not investment banking, but they still take you closer to your goals, and they offer more realistic pathways to get there.

And you’ll never be too old for most of them.

For Further Reading

You might be interested in:

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys lifting weights, running, traveling, obsessively watching TV shows, and defeating Sauron.

Break Into Investment Banking

Free Exclusive Report: 57-page guide with the action plan you need to break into investment banking - how to tell your story, network, craft a winning resume, and dominate your interviews

We respect your privacy. Please refer to our full privacy policy.

Comments

Read below or Add a comment

  1. Anonymous

    I am 36, and joining IB as an Associate. I have relevant technical experience. I love it, and this career is my top priority. With that mindset, you can do it at any age.

    1. Thanks, but I’m not sure how that disproves or argues against anything in this article. 36 is not “too old” to get into IB. Yes, 35 is the “probable upper limit” listed above, but 36 is close enough to 35, and some people do get in at that “upper limit” age. It’s just harder than it would be for a 25-30-year old.

      If you came here and said that you got into IB as a 55-year-old after completing an MBA, maybe we would have to rewrite this article.

  2. Hi Brian, lovely reading all your responses at comments below. Below are my details:

    1. Age- 25
    2. Full time work EX- 4 years
    3. Graduated in 2019
    4. Country – India

    Currently I’m not working. My 4 years of experience in is Not in Finance. Now I’m truly focusing on finance in which I want to build my career in. I’m planning to get an MBA from a top US B-school. Prior to MBA, I’ll be giving CFA Level 1 exam. Hopefully clearing it and then going for an MBA. So After MBA, what are my chances to get myself in IB?

    I’ll be 28 when I complete my MBA.

    1. The biggest issue here is the difficulty in getting a work visa for the U.S. after you graduate. I am not sure of the ease or difficulty at the MBA level since most students with this issue are at the undergrad level. I believe the same OPT program for work experience after graduation is available for MBAs, but some banks may be less willing to sponsor at that level. Most of the U.S.-based bulge brackets appear to sponsor visas at some level, and so do most of the elite boutique and middle market firms (but not all).

      So, I would say you should have at least a decent chance if you can get into a top MBA program, but you need to research the work visa issue and also ideally gain more relevant experience pre-MBA or otherwise give yourself a crash course in the technical skills.

  3. Hi, Brian,
    I am closed to 50 years old and have been in banking sector for 22 years. My most experience is involved into the corporate banking and project financing sector, was once in a division management role but now as a consultant. And, I have around 4 years working as a Project Financial Controller. All these experience are with one of the Fortune 500 companies or banks.
    I once looked for an opportunity in the IB. But today I think I should stop doing so when reading your advice. I still hope to do something valued in my life.
    Could you please give me some guidance that where will be my next stop?

    1. Honestly, you’re unlikely to move into IB at this point, sorry. I would recommend following one of the other options outlined in this article and thinking about ways you could leverage your experience to earn more, start a side consulting business, etc. Another option might be to target Project Finance roles at infrastructure companies / investment firms since it’s very specialized and a hot area currently. There are plenty of things you could do in finance/investing, but traditional IB roles will be quite difficult at this stage.

  4. shaik madarbi

    Thank you

  5. I’m 54, passed CFA level 3, BBA Finance, & driving taxi for the last 10 years. So far, I could not made an entry into investment management space, not ready to give up, & going for Master of Finance at Smith’s Business School at Queens university in Canada. I am wondering after MFIN, would I be able make it to related jobs, if not strictly IB.

    1. Not sure if your comment is actually serious, but I don’t think you will be able to win any entry-level finance jobs at age 54. You just have too much work experience, and too much of it is not relevant. There are other options, such as starting a business or side hustle or maybe joining a smaller/local firm that needs finance expertise, but I don’t think you would be a candidate for traditional entry-level finance roles.

  6. Hi Brian. I am currently 24 and employed in the export import credit agency of the India. I am currently working in the corporate banking division. Do I have a chance to enter in Investment banking or private equity after doing an MBA from USA?

    1. Potentially, yes, but it depends on what the rest of your profile looks like. India is a terrible market for IB, but you can improve your chances by moving to another region. But even if you get into a top MBA program, that doesn’t guarantee anything – it’s maybe a 50/50 shot at an IB role, assuming you do all the preparation beforehand.

      1. What preparation I can do to increase my chances for investment banking jobs outside India after my current corporate banking profile ?

        1. Try to work on as many “transactions” as you can within corporate banking and do some self-study to learn IB-related skills such as valuation and transaction model. But, honestly, it’s mostly about finding a better market with more jobs.

      2. What preparation I need to do inorder to venture into investment banking jobs outside India after my current corporate banking profile?

      3. Is Venturing into Hedge funds after being in investment banking and private equity more beneficial?

        1. I don’t understand your question, sorry. What does “more beneficial” mean? Can hedge funds pay more? Yes, but there are almost no HFs in India, and the finance industry there is basically terrible for anyone starting out, so avoid it if at all possible and move to another country to pursue IB.

  7. HI Brian,
    Thanks for the insightful read!
    My background is that of a mechanical engineer with a Master’s in Oil & Gas. I have been a data/business analyst for the past 5 years. I am 35 and wanting to get into finance. I am looking into becoming an analyst for capital markets or aspire to be a quant researcher. Is my age gonna hold me back and is there any other avenue you’d recommend. I don’t want to shoot for something that is categorically our my reach for reasons beyond my control, like my age.

    1. I think it would be quite tough to win a traditional investment banking or capital markets role, given your age and experience level. You would have better luck doing something like pivoting to corporate finance / business development within an oil & gas company or maybe going the quant route and applying to firms that care less about your experience/age and more about your ability (much more common to see this at quant funds/research than large banks).

      You could do something like a top MBA if you really want to pursue IB/capital markets roles, but I’m not sure I’d recommend it at this stage because it is still risky and expensive.

  8. Hi Brain, thanks for creating this website, it has answered many of my questions regarding investment banking. I’m curious about your opinions on my situation. I’m currently studying at the online LSE program for a bachelor of Finance, and plan on transfering to campus LSE in my second year. My situation gets more sticky around my age. I’m 31(look 25) and will finish the degree when I’m 34. My experience between 18 and now has been an unfinished music degree, playing music around North America, bartending, and starting companies (landscaping business, equities trading, and online marketing). I’m interested in getting into investment banking because I’m about to start a family and want a more traditional job specifically in finance. My end goal would be an easier day with low hours(8-10hrs a day) with high pay(between $300,000-$600,000) and hopefully something more remote, maybe something in corporate development? I want to start in investment banking as the exit opportunities give me the highest chance of winning a good job after. I know investment banking has extreme hours, but I’ve talked about it with my significant other and we’re both on the same page that it’s okay for a few years to get started out.

    I guess my questions are: Is my age a limiting factor? Should I downplay or disregard my previous experience? Is there another avenue to reach my goal without having to rely on side businesses?

    1. The biggest issue in this case is that you will get a lot of questions about your previous experience, as it’s highly unusual to leave your own business or independent gig to go into investment banking. You could try to downplay some of this by portraying it as side jobs or internships or something like that, but I think it will be tough to dodge completely if you had almost 10 years of experience doing other things.

      You would face fewer questions about your background/work experience if you targeted roles in something like real estate (REPE, RE lending, etc.) where they care more about ability/results than your pedigree and exact work experience. And they would actually view something like a landscaping business more favorably.

      You could still potentially get into IB coming from LSE, but I think you do need a backup plan in this case (RE, corporate banking, maybe corporate finance at normal companies – they all pay less, but they are also more plausible to get into).

  9. Hello Brian,
    I’m 22 and taking a gap year before university. My grades are strong, and I’m applying to both target and semi-target universities in the UK. I anticipate completing my MBA by the age of 27-28. I’d appreciate your opinion on whether my age might impact my chances of securing an analyst or associate role. Additionally, could you share any advice on how I can set myself apart at an interview. Whether it’s through projects while I’m at university or any specific insights that could enhance my standing in interviews.

    1. I think you should read the coverage of MBA recruiting and university-level recruiting on this site first because it seems like you don’t quite understand the typical recruitment process/cycle at banks. Normally, you want to apply to IB roles *in university* because it’s cheaper and easier to get in like that. An MBA is more of a “Plan B” option if you couldn’t win IB roles right out of undergrad.

      Plenty of people get into the industry at age 27-28 or even older, but, again, you want to get in as early as possible to avoid paying for an MBA later.

      As far as standing out in interviews, there are dozens of articles on this site with tips, interview prep strategies, accounts from readers who did, etc. I would suggest reading some of those to get ideas.

  10. Hi Brian

    I am 25 yrs old. I graduated with a 2:1 STEM degree from a UK target uni, passed CFA L1, did a summer audit internship @ Big4, and have 1 yr full time work experience (MO ops-adjacent role under Wealth Management in a BB bank); both work experiences were in Hong Kong. I am a HK citizen fluent in English + Mandarin + Cantonese.

    Due to personal circumstances I moved to Canada a few months ago. I am now working part-time in an irrelevant retail banking role. I am open to starting a CS or Finance masters 1-2 yrs down the line, aka when I am 26/27 yrs old.

    I will be staying in Canada until I am at least 28 yrs old but open to relocation afterwards. I do not mind starting as an analyst if given the opportunity to do so.

    1. Is there any realistic chance for me to enter IB, either in Canada or elsewhere?

    2. If so, what viable pathways are there to do so? I’m thinking of Big4 (Audit) -> TAS -> IB, or MS internship -> (adjacent role) -> IB, not sure how viable these are tho.

    3. If not, are there other finance career options you would recommend given my circumstances?

    Thanks! (And sorry for the mini essay :P)

    1. To clarify: by MS internship I mean doing an internship while working on my masters, not specifically an internship at Morgan Stanley (though of course I wouldn’t mind)

    2. 1) Yes, but I don’t think your chances are great if you stay in Canada because the market is too small. See our previous coverage on this site. Also, you need something better than a retail banking role to do this.

      2) You could do either of those, yes, but you have to be careful about not accruing “too much” work experience. Once you go beyond 2-3 years total of full-time work experience, IB gets a lot more difficult.

      3) You could consider options such as corporate banking, independent valuation firms, or something related to real estate. It’s also possible to win corporate finance roles at normal companies. It just depends on your long-term goals and how much you want to work to get there.

  11. Hello Brian,
    I have been in the military for 10 years and intend to finish the 20 for retirement. I would like to get into a career in finance, specifically investment banking or private equity post-military but don’t know how realistic that goal is without operating in the right circles of people to get that mentorship. Reading your article, long hours and taking orders won’t be a problem, however, I am concerned about my marketability getting out of the military at 41 as well as how to best prepare for that transition into the financial industry while I’m still serving.

    Best regards and thank you for your time

    1. I think it will be quite tough to enter traditional finance roles at age 41, and I can’t think of a similar example from a reader or interviewee who has done this before. I’m sure a few people have done this, but the odds are definitely against you at that point.

      If you really want to work in finance, you should leave the military sooner rather than later because plenty of people enter the industry in their 30s, especially following MBAs, and it’s easier to switch industries after 10 years rather than 20 years.

      While banks usually care about your years of full-time “work experience” and view military service a bit differently, 20 years of military service would be a different story.

      In short, either leave and start targeting finance roles soon, or if you stay for another 10 years, accept that you’ll probably have to go for finance roles at normal companies (e.g., corporate finance / FP&A) or in areas less competitive than investment banking.

  12. I am 25. I have 3 years of sales experience in the car industry. It was six figure income and I came from a not so financially stable background, so I took advantage of it. I obtained my BS in business last year. I’m looking to get into a higher level position in my industry ASAP because I was seeing the top-level schools typically require around 2 years of managerial experience as I want to do an MBA in Finance. I do not even want to do an MBA if I can’t get into a top school. Overall, am I doing this wrong? Am I going to be too old with irrelevant work experience after I’m done assuming everything goes as planned? If so, is there anything I can do differently RIGHT NOW? I could just sell/rent my house out and jump on something if I had to

    1. You can get into IB after 3-5 years of work experience + an MBA (some people even have more like 7+ years, but the sweet spot is probably 3-5 years). Assuming you can get into a top MBA program, yes, I think you have a shot at IB, but car sales is such a different background that you might want to consider a pre-MBA internship + moving a bit closer via a managerial position in your current industry.

  13. Hi Brian – Found this to be insightful. I am CPA currently enrolled at a top 10 MBA program in NC graduating 2025 from their Executive MBA program. I currently, and have for the last 10 years, worked at BB banks in a corporate finance role. No deal experience but lots of exposure to CIB and broker-dealer expertise from an accounting and corp finance standpoint. I will have 17 years of experience by the time I graduate with the MBA and will be 40 years old. Well aware my age/YOE is a deterrent to many investment banks, but here are some opportunities to consider to know if I should even make the effort in preparing for interviews, networking, technical prep, etc, or refocus to other areas, financial advisory, consulting, etc

    I have full access to campus IB recruiting activities, company presentations, week on wall street, etc. Should I even test my chances given this access or is my age still a showstopper at this point? Even if I was to get a summer internship at my current BB employer or others, would they consider offering me a fulltime role immediately after the internship assuming I perform well? It’s a risk to be unemployed after an internship in hopes of an offer that won’t start until the following year. Wanted to get your thoughts on those questions.

    Thanks for your insight.

    1. I think it will be difficult to win traditional IB roles if you have 17 years of work experience. I won’t say it’s impossible because people have done it before, but you don’t have a great chance even if you’re in a top traditional MBA program. And an Executive MBA program outside the top ~3 makes it even harder because your availability for summer internships may be unclear to recruiters.

      If you really want to do IB, maybe spend a few months attending these events and meeting bankers and see what feedback they give you. If it seems like they consider your experience level to be an obstacle, switch to another field where that’s less of an issue (possibly consulting, maybe corporate banking, an independent valuation firm, maybe corporate development at a normal company, etc.).

      I don’t think it’s worth giving up entirely because in stronger hiring environments, banks are sometimes open to more experienced candidates if they need the help. The hiring market is bad right now, but these things can change quickly.

  14. kim sung jun

    Hi Brian
    I am university student in South Korea. I have a question below. It would be very helpful if you answer my question.

    1. Recently I got two full-time offers. One is Corio generation Seoul office (portfolio company of Macquarie Asset Management and Corio is an offshore wind development company) as a development position and one is Korea local investment banking firm as a ECM/DCM junior position. My career goal is working in PE, IB, Asset Management or global LP (such as a GIC) in Singapore/Hongkong one day. In this case, what is your recommendation?

    Here is my background
    Age: 26 (spent two years for mandatory military service)
    Grade: Senior student
    School: Top 5 school in South Korea

    1. I think it depends on what this “development position” means. Is it more of a project finance / infrastructure role, where you’ll be building models and assessing deals such as asset acquisitions and new wind projects? If so, I think it’s better than a a domestic ECM/DCM role at a Korean bank, especially since you can probably list the Macquarie name on your resume/CV.

      But if you’re not going to do much modeling or deal analysis in that role, the ECM/DCM role might be better. Many people do not consider capital markets “real” investment banking, but it still counts… it’s just that you’ll be doing a lot of market update slides and not much deal work.

  15. Hello Brian,
    I am have an MD, and did medical training for two years in the UK. I am currently doing Dentistry, because of the specialty that I want to get into requires both MD and Dentistry. However, I have decided to quit medicine completely. Do I have a chance of getting into IB as an analyst, or do you recommend doing an MBA?
    Thanks

    1. Depends on how long you’ve been practicing medicine full-time, but if it’s more than a few years, you’re probably not going to get in as an Analyst. This article might help:

      https://mergersandinquisitions.com/medical-school-to-investment-banking/

      An MBA is usually the best option for making a big change after significant work experience.

  16. Hi, Brian, I originally did a bachelor’s in Philosophy and transitioned to an Accounting and Finance Masters at LSE. Do I still have a shot at getting into IBs? I got to the assessment centre stages last year but it didn’t work out from there.

    1. It depends on your grades and work experience and other background information, but if you made it to ACs, you should have a chance at IB roles. You probably just need to prepare a bit differently and/or handle the group dynamics more effectively (but I can’t really say since I’m not sure what went wrong).

  17. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for sharing ! I have graduated at 25 in bsc corporate finance, then at 26 msc financial risk management. I’m current 28 currently working in credit research at one of the bulge bracket IBs and just enrolled in the CFA program to enhance my chances in securing a front office role. I’d be interested in IB, trading, LevFin and even buy side roles in PE, HF or any type of fund management. I began to wonder lately if I’m too old for doing a CFA as by the time I would get the charter I’ll be 30-31 already and my chances to secure a front office/buy side role are not that high (as I won’t be experienced enough for senior roles). I currently have 2 years of full time experience. Do you think with my credentials I would still stand a chance at around the age of 30 to get into one of the aforementioned target roles or should I change strategy?

    Thank you very much in advance!

    1. The issue with the CFA isn’t really your age, but the fact that it’s not a great use of time for many roles. I would say it’s not useful at all for IB, trading, PE, and LevFin, for example. It’s more relevant in asset/portfolio management and maybe certain HFs. So, I think you need to narrow down your desired roles first and then go from there… the strategy is completely different for winning IB vs. trading vs. PE vs. HF roles (for example), and it’s not practical to pursue all of those at once.

  18. Hi Brain,
    Thanks for sharing! I got my bachelors in accounting in 2011 and I have 1 year Deloitte auditor experience and 4 years accounting role in commercial banking; 2 year CFO role in property development; 2 year finance role in multination logistics company. I just enrolled my full 2 year MBA of class 2025 in US (top 20) and I really want to go for IB as my career. Will turning to 37 when I graduate from MBA, as a women, do you think I still have a shoot? Really want to shift to deal-related role. Or should I consider consulting?

    1. In terms of consulting vs. banking, I think this really comes down to the quality of your MBA degree. If it’s not one of the M7, you might have a better shot at consulting. It is still possible to win IB roles from other schools, but often you have to target smaller banks (non-bulge brackets) to have a good shot.

  19. Hi Brain!
    Thanks for the sharing. I got my Bachelor degree in accounting in China and worked for Deloitte for one year as auditor; then I moved to South Africa and work as accounting manager in commercial bank for 4 years; later 2 years experience as CFO in property development company; lastly 2 years as corporate finance supervisor in multinational logistic company. I recently enrolled my fill-year MBA in US (top 20) and I really want to go to IB. Turning 36/37 upon my graduation of MBA, do I still got a chance to get in? My passion is not about money, I just want shift to a deal-related role.

    1. Potentially, yes. You might be a bit on the “too experienced” side, but I’ve seen people your age or older get in. But the quality of your MBA program matters a lot because there aren’t that many Associate-level hires. It really helps to attend one of the M7.

  20. You did mention other careers that out weigh skills over age such as a commercial real estate analyst. I was just curious is the pay good as a commercial real estate analyst? Is the any great opportunity to make good money in that industry?

    1. Please see the coverage of CRE roles on this site for a summary. Compensation numbers have probably changed over the years, but the broad ranges are similar.

  21. Hi Brian. Since it seems like you’re still responding to these older threads, wondering what your take on my position is:

    I’m 36, 13 years military experience (just separated, its my only significant professional experience)–right now just landed a back office role at a Major US firm while I complete an MBA from an M7 school that I’m doing part time. Expect to complete at 38–wondering if I can use that completion to leverage a move to front office.

    1. A top MBA will help, but moving from back to front office is always difficult and depends heavily on the specific area of the front office you’re targeting. It’s easier in markets-based roles (sales & trading) and more difficult in deal-based roles like investment banking. The main issue in your case isn’t really age/experience, it’s the “back office to front office” challenge.

      https://mergersandinquisitions.com/front-office-middle-office-back-office/

  22. I respectfully disagree with some of your comments Brian. If the reasons are to move to IB or VC to make money, even after 35 it still is the best option. After all, how better to make money than using other people’s money or utilising a larger/decent pool of capital; rather than risk your own or have to start from pocket money.

    1. “If you are older than these age ranges and still want to win a traditional investment banking role, you should start by asking yourself, “Why?” If the answer is “to make more money” or “to do something more exciting,” there are more feasible ways to achieve these goals.”

      The operative words are “more feasible.”

      No one disputes that you can earn a lot of money in IB or even in VC (lower potential due to small fund sizes, but still a good amount if you stay in it). The question is, are these *realistic* pathways into earning a lot of money above the age of 35?

      And the answer is “no” because banks are not going to hire a 40-year old as an Analyst, or even as an Associate in most cases. VC is a bit different because you can “get hired” there as a much older candidate, but that’s only at the Partner level and it only happens when you’ve had a successful track record as a startup founder / executive. So you are not doing it to “make more money,” but because you’ve already made your money and now want to do something different.

      If you do *not* have that experience, you are not going to win a job offer as a VC Analyst or Associate as a 35 or 40-year-old, sorry.

      There are plenty of things you could do to earn more money in this age range (or above), but starting a traditional finance career path at this age is not feasible in most cases.

  23. Hey Brian, thanks for the informative article. As In my case, I have worked for 3 years in audit after my graduation. I have got offers for Msc finance from top b-schools in UK, which means that I will be 25 by the time I complete my masters and start applying for IB jobs. So will that be considered too late?

    1. The issue here is that 3 years of work experience + an MSF (not an MBA) means that you may be over-qualified for Analyst roles. On the other hand, sometimes these requirements are looser in the UK / Europe, so it may not matter as much. I would say this is doable, but your chances would be higher if you went for an MBA and recruited for Associate roles (I realize this is much less common in the UK).

  24. Gabriel Bertoncini

    Hi Brian. Thanks for this information. I want to know if its too late to try to break into boutique investment banks firms at 29 with a Bachelor degree in Finance and a Msc in Investment Banking (there is an institute in Spain who offer this master). What do you think? Its a realistic scenario or it could be a waste of time and money? I need some advice because I need to decide my next step. Thanks again!

    1. I can’t tell you what to do because I don’t know your previous work experience. 29 is not “too late” to get into IB, but it depends on what you did before/during the degrees. If you have had relevant internships and you go to well-known universities for these degrees, sure, you can get in (but Spain is really not the ideal place for IB – go to the UK).

  25. it’s possible I screwed around for maybe a decade doing fast-food and what not. At 33 I’m a sophomore at a top university through their non traditional program..I’ve been advised to do internships and a junior internship. While I look young and college age im 33..since they can’t discriminate against age directly and i *look* like a sophomore am I pretty ok until it’s too late?

    1. I can’t say because I don’t know how/if you’re presenting your pre-university experience. If you’re acting like you had no work experience or simply not listing anything on your resume or minimizing it, sure, you can probably get away with it.

  26. I had been working in prop trading for past 8 years, but I am planning to quit soon. I had earned some decent money by all standrards, but I don’t want to retire and well, I haven’t earned as much as I wanted (probably never will as the desired number always changes)
    I am considering an MSc in finance as I want to continue working in this industry, I wonder if it is really worth it. Prop trading experience is pretty useless/narrow experience, I am not very sure doing a master’s degree would even give any boost to my background. I really CBA starting at the bottom after wasting 100-150k on master’s degree, might as well retire and live off passive income eventually turning into an alcoholic out of boredom/lack of future.
    What you guys think of my case?

    1. The usefulness of a Master’s degree depends entirely on how you’re going to use it. You’re probably not going to win a deal-based role like IB/PE after 8 years of prop trading + a Master’s, but you could use it to move into some other type of markets-based role if you’re interested in that. Corporate roles such as corporate finance at normal companies, treasury/risk, etc., are also possibilities, especially if the company has to use FX/commodities/other hedging in managing its finances.

  27. Hi Brian,

    Many thanks for your article —I’ve found it pretty interesting and revealing.

    I’m 35 and have spent the last 4 in a start-up/scale-up working in the Strategy Department, doing all sorts of financial analysis, built and own the financial model and budget of the company, business analysis, metric definitions, etc., and working along the CEO and CFO on 5 funding rounds. (Also not investment banking but putting 60-70h/week on average)

    I’ve just learned about the MS Experienced Professionals Program. Do you think given my latest experience and my age that’s something I should invest time preparing it, or the chances are minimal?

    Thanks a lot!

    1. With the amount of work experience you have, the safest/best option is usually to do a traditional 2-year MBA in a top university and use that to get in. Banks often try to incentivize career changers with various programs, but your chances are usually better going through the normal undergrad/MBA recruiting channels. Who knows, this MS program might be different, so it could be worth applying to, but your chances are usually better from other channels.

  28. Hi Brian . Thanks for this detailed article . I am 44 . graduated in economics and finance . have 3 years of undergrad experience in auditing and taxation . switched to IT from 2004 to 2020 . have been a trader of options and futures past 2 years .
    what are my chances in getting IB and how do i go about it . TIA

    1. I think it will be almost impossible for someone in your position because you have 20+ years of unrelated experience. Sometimes non-traditional candidates do get into IB, but usually they’ve done something a little closer to the job and are more junior. Your chances might be better if you targeted something on the trading side, like prop trading firms or anything that requires more of a quant/tech background.

  29. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for all your guidance on the website. Quick question – how does the presence of gap years affect the “too old for IB” question? For example, if I took 2 years after undergrad to explore, working in volunteer and part-time roles (10 hours a week) for the bulk of it, would that add 2 years to my work experience total or less? Either way, how should one portray their gap years in their story so that it reflects growth rather than lack of growth?

    1. I don’t think gap years count toward full-time work experience. Just focus on the skills you gained during that time and make it sound like you were initially more interested in non-profits or other careers outside of finance, but then, after being in the field for a while, realized it wasn’t for you, and that you were more interested in your part-time studies/activities that were related to finance in some way.

  30. Hi Brian,
    Good read, thanks for the article!
    How ever, i couldn’t find my type in any of your comparisons. 39, 15y+ Market exposure, potential market (dubai) who was late in getting the phenomenon, wanting to be an IB.
    (no job at hand now, learning and trying my best to get in). But the excitement is not as you mentioned something like an adrenaline rush or the feel of pleasure a mad fan get on his fav team win. For me, It’s more like a feel of purpose and meaning when as a market executive. I am in to similiar role only, making deals happen, but strongly believe, those deals can have more value to many.
    I also argue with you on your mentioning of taking Junior role and climbing the ladder. I do agree.. yes.. relevant experience matters.. but hoping the experience which i bring along with insights and passion for the new expected role can override most of those workplace issues you were talking about.
    Thanks again for the article
    Confident & Aspiring
    Jaffrey

    1. I’m not sure I understand your comment/question. Are you asking for advice on how to get into IB from your background? Or are you disagreeing with the premise of this article, i.e., that it becomes very difficult to get into IB past a certain age/experience level?

      If it’s the first, feel free to ask your specific questions here. If it’s the second, all I can say is that I’ve been covering the industry in some way for almost 20 years now and have very, very, very rarely seen people with 15+ years of experience get into IB directly from another industry. Yes, it does happen sometimes – there are always outliers – but we prefer to deal with probabilities on the site rather than exceptions.

  31. Hi Brian, thanks for the article.
    I have a 5 years gap post my bachelor’s and I wanted to start a career in investment banking. I figured a master’s degree in the US would help mask the gap. I’ll be 28 by the time I get my master’s. Do you think this is a bad idea? Getting an associate role even with the gap won’t be an issue in my country but the pay sucks.

    1. If you have an actual 5-year work experience gap, I don’t think a Master’s Degree will “mask the gap.” You’re going to have to list something for those 5 years on your resume/CV, so you need to think about spinning it in a way that sounds useful/productive, such as by turning an activity or self-study into something bigger. Also, they’re not going to hire you as an Associate if you have no full-time work experience after university and then pursued a Master’s degree. Hires out of Master’s programs are normally at the Analyst level, and they’re more for people who go straight from undergrad to Master’s or with a few years of work in between.

  32. Hi Brian,
    I always thank you for your insight and products.

    I am currently 27 and have 3-year experience as a coverage(did credit things but usually outsourcing difficult financing tasks. Didn’t build any means drl, just used models by others.) for SMEs in corporate banking. I got an internal transfer offer from a product group in IBD of my current workplace. I can start my new position next March and it is about structuring&asset finance mostly about Aviation/Shipping finance.

    My final goal is working in the PE focusing on deals in Asia(because I realized that I have better insight into Asia than others) , and I don’t mind the country I live in, but want to experience Western countries.

    After I work in the products team for 3 or 6 months, I want to move on the next step.

    here are my qustions.

    1) As my next step, should I go for an MBA/Master in the US/UK or move to another bank, probably BB?(I am working for a Tier 2 bank in Shanghai)
    2) If I better to move, Should I stay in the Aviation/Shipping finance or is there any preferred areas I have to focus on?

    3) CFA VS modeling which is more important? I am doing both together (I am pursuing lv1 and planning to be the charter until age 29)
    and I also know if there is any recommended training course for people like me with some solid working experience in the financial industry, but not in IBD.

    4) Should I spend my time improving my language skill- Japanese? I am half Chinese/Korean. Is it meaningful to be fluent in all major Asian languages?

    5) If there is any advice for me, please let me know!

    thank you very much:):)

    1. sorry for editing this comment

      • Didn’t build any means drl
      ?Didn’t build any model

      • and I also know if there is any recommended training course for people like me
      ?I also want to know

      thank you a lot:)

    2. Moving to another bank in an IB group will be more helpful than a Master’s/MBA, especially if you’re already at the Associate level. Aviation/shipping finance is quite niche, so for PE roles, you’d be better off in something broader, such as infrastructure or industrials.

      Modeling is much more important than the CFA. We have modeling courses (https://breakingintowallstreet.com/breaking-into-wall-street-courses/), but other options do exist, including books and live training. The BIWS courses are long and detailed, but you can jump around and complete only the most relevant portions to save time (useful if you already know some of the material).

      It will not be helpful to learn/improve your Japanese skills unless you want to work in Japan. Other than that, the biggest point is that you need to do all this quickly because the longer you stay in CB/IB, the harder it will be to move into PE (maybe not quite as true in Asia, but there’s still a relative limit).

  33. Hi Brian, what a great and insightful article, thank you! Ive got a background in performance marketing and digital acquisition, but also in the voluntary carbon market as a project developer. Is there any realistic path that could move me into finance you think? After reading your article, it’s clear IB isn’t it but wondering if my skills could be valuable elsewhere with 6 years of professional experience now. Best wishes, Lucas

    1. Your best bet at this point is probably to get an MBA and move in like that. If not, maybe look at related roles in the power/utilities/energy sectors for companies that have to deal with carbon markets. You might be able to move into a finance role at one of those firms.

  34. Hi Brian, thank you for your post.

    I graduated at age of 23 with bachelor in engineering. I am currently 25 and have near to 2 years working experience.
    1 year as engineer
    Almost 1 year as a credit analyst in retail bank (my current role)

    I have passed CFA Level 1 and had just attempted CFA Level 2. The reason I started my CFA is to break into IB. I am currently trying to break into IB or investment/asset management firm.

    May I know what should be my next best move?
    I am not qualified for master in Finance as I was told I do not hold degree of relevant field.
    Should I take bachelor degree in finance now? If I were to take degree in finance, I am planning to take financial modelling / VBA excel course alongside my degree
    However, I will be 29 by the time I graduated. I am stuggling to figure this out and would appreciate your advice.

    Thank you in advance, Brian

    1. Your best bet is to aim for something like corporate banking or a bank that has a combined corporate and investment banking group so your credit analyst experience will be relevant. You could try to aim for credit-related roles in IB, such as DCM or LevFin, directly, but I think your chances would be better with corporate banking experience at a larger firm first. I would not do another degree at this stage. Please see:

      https://mergersandinquisitions.com/credit-analyst-career-path/
      https://mergersandinquisitions.com/corporate-banking/

  35. Hey Brian,

    Hope this message find you well. I graduated in 2019 and have no experience in finance besides a degree in finance and minor in math. I’m 34 and am currently taking a financial modeling excel course since I never did any internships either. I know my chances to get into IB are slim to none. My question is, what other entry-level roles can I do as an analyst and how can I go about doing that?

    1. Commercial banking (credit analyst-type roles), maybe corporate banking with more experience, maybe corporate finance at a normal company. If you do a search on this site for these terms, you’ll find some overviews and examples of how to recruit for them.

  36. Hi Brian,

    I’m 30, I have an Operational finance background in Alternative Investments (and a couple other Ops roles) that I worked from 21-24 right out of university but I haven’t been active in the professional world since. I ended in a bad situation and I’ve lived on Investments throughout this time. I have no attachments (i.e kids, limitations to work 80-100 hr weeks) and I understand the necessity of being mentally malleable. What is my best (i.e most efficient/fastest) route to banking? Is it through an adjacent Ops role at a PE firm/strategy corporate development role? Going to school for an MBA and coming out at 32-33? Do I have any reasonable chance applying as an analyst or is it a long shot? If I were to go to an Ops role, which kind would be the best in-between fit from what I did formally to where I’d like to be?

    1. A top MBA degree is your most likely path into banking at this stage, assuming you can get into a top program (hard to say because I don’t know your full background). If you don’t want to do that, you could go for Ops roles or corporate finance/development/strategy roles at normal companies and aim to get in like that, but you will probably get the “too much experience for IB” objection if you go that route. It might be a decent option if you just want to work on deals, say in corporate development, and don’t care specifically about IB.

      I think you will have a really difficult time just applying to IB Analyst roles now if you haven’t had work experience over the past ~6 years or if you list your experience as “personal investing” or something similar – because they’ll then ask why you’re even bothering with IB if you’ve done so well with your own investments. You probably need some type of more recent work experience first.

  37. Hi Brian, I am a recent graduate in London and wish to pursue a career in hf/ib, however I have little relevant internship experience so what do you recommend me to do?

  38. Hi Brian,
    I’ve been reading a lot of these “too old” articles, but none have really discussed my situation which is being 37 and ‘recently’ graduated, (ie I have gone back to school and I am looking to graduate when I’m 37). Would the ‘banks’ consider me too old, or just another new grad? Would a masters make a difference (making me older, but more qualified)?

    1. It’s hard to answer this question because I don’t know what you did before the degree. If you had something like 10-12 years of work experience before your undergraduate degree, that might be pushing the boundaries of what banks usually accept. But if you had military service or something like that, it might be fine. I don’t really think a Master’s degree would help if you’ve already had over a decade of work experience before the degree (with that much, an MBA might be your best bet). But the short answer is I would need more information to tell you anything specific.

  39. Hi Brian,

    I am in need of your valuable advise. I’m 27 with 2 years++ of combined working experience (6 Months finance intern + 1 year plus non-IB banking + 6 month M&A intern at boutique).

    Would doing a master helps? Or should I just keep trying o search for more internship / full time role in anyway I could? Also, given the opportunity in my country (Non SG, & HK Asia country) is super limited. Thus, from your point of view, what’s my best chance in getting into full time IB role? It will be best if I get land a role in Sg or HK, but I doubt they will take me.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. At this point, yes, a Master’s degree in a different region might help because you could get stuck doing more internships and non-full-time roles otherwise, especially if you’re in a country without many full-time roles. I would not even bother with HK given the current situation there. Singapore might be a bit better, but I have no idea of the quality of Master’s programs there or which ones are best for IB in the country. If you can, a Master’s degree in Europe or the U.S. is probably your best bet because those markets tend to have more job openings in general.

  40. Hey Brian!
    Thank you for this article and website! I enter the top 5 university in Russia at the age of 20, I will receive a diploma at the age of 23, 10 months, thanks to your article, I realized that I have a chance to even build a career in finance) I used to think that I was hopelessly behind my peers …
    I’m from Russia, my English is at B1 level.

    1. Good luck! I think the bigger issue is that you probably don’t want to start working in Russia – not just due to “recent events” but because it’s not a great place to start working in IB. London is much better if you can go there.

      1. Just wondering, with brexit. Is London still a good financial hub to work in?

  41. Any thoughts on going from experienced buyside mid-level (VP) professional at a stagnant fund to a relevant banking product group as VP. Cash comp is good in banking but how would you think about promotion risk to SVP, hours, but also longevity at a bank (i.e how long will that high cash income stream last if you come in as experienced VP). For someone around 35 years of age.

    Lastly, are VP hours at MM platforms more than 60 hours a week (outside of big deal execution milestones)?

    Thanks!

    1. It’s always possible to move back into IB, but you’re going to get a lot of questions about why you’re doing it instead of just moving to a better/different/newer fund or even a startup fund. If you have good answers to those questions and you’ve had previous IB experience, sure, you can do it, but it will still be difficult, especially given the current hiring market.

      VP is probably the toughest role in IB because you have to balance so many different tasks, so there is considerable risk in advancing to the SVP level. If they bring you in as an experienced VP, there is a risk that you could be forced out in 1-2 years if they decide not to promote you.

      You will probably be working less than 60 hours at most middle market banks outside of busy periods for deals (maybe 50-55? Estimates vary widely).

  42. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for making this site and its products. I am currently on your Excel/VBA course, and feel like it gives me a good start for learning advanced modeling. The sheer number of content in Financial Modeling Mastery looks like a lot to me, though. Considering that I already passed CFA Level I, and my aim is to gain deeper and more practical knowledge about accounting and valuing companies, what would be an effective way for me to study the materials? Could it be trying to finish the -before Excel files while following the notes/guides instead of the videos?

    I also have a career related question that I’d love to hear your thoughts. I have a somewhat odd background: dual Bachelor degrees in Econ & CS, Master’s in CS; have been a data scientist at a small company for more than a year since graduation. However, I want to transition to something that is more business oriented. I know my chance for IB is probably cooked, so I wonder if there are some niches of jobs on the buy-side, corporate strategy or corp dev where I have reasonably good odds if I emphasize my Econ and CFA I background to offset the lack of relevant experience. Thanks!

    1. Thanks. So you don’t need to finish everything or close to everything in the course. You could finish 15-20% of it and still be well-prepared for interviews. I would recommend following the 20-hour study plan in the first lesson of the course, and if you have more time than that, follow the 3-week plan. Anything labeled “Advanced” or “More Advanced” is not relevant for interviews, and most of these case studies are very specialized.

      And yes, you can skip the videos and just look at the Excel files and notes and written guides to save time. The videos can be helpful for some of the trickier formulas and calculations, but are not necessary if you already know the main concepts and just want more practice.

      I think you might have a good chance at something on the corporate side, maybe in strategy, corporate finance, or even corporate development (but you’d probably have to work somewhere else at the company first and then transfer there). Another option might be to switch into a data science role at a larger company and then use that to move into one of these other roles.

      And potentially, you could still get into IB at this stage, but you would probably need another Master’s degree (in Finance) or maybe a massive networking effort to win a role at a smaller firm first. I’m not sure that’s worth it, especially if you take a pay cut in the process, but it is possible if you’re willing to put in that amount of effort.

      1. Hi, Brian

        I’m currently subscribed to your courses, and not sure whether I should post the following question here, but please kindly let me know if I should bring the discussion somewhere else:

        I’m currently 27 and a leveraged finance associate at a local investment bank in Korea. I’ve been working for 3.5 years (3yrs as analyst + 0.5 yr as associate). I’m planning to apply for mba next fall and aiming to land at a M&A advisory division at a bulge bracket investment bank / elite boutique (preferrably in US). Given that I have completed two years of mandatory military service, thereby ending up competing with younger mba grads in the future, would you find myself a competitive candidate for the associate position at BB? Would also like to hear your holistic opinion on the feasibility of getting a banking job in US via MBA as well.

        1. You’re free to post any questions here, but you will get faster answers if you leave a comment on the BIWS site or go through the email contact form there.

          Yes, you should still be competitive for post-MBA investment banking roles even if you’re slightly older. They understand that some people have to complete military service in some countries. The ease or difficulty of winning an IB job in the U.S. depends on your visa/immigration status – if you need sponsorship, it gets quite difficult at the MBA level. It’s not impossible, but it’s definitely more difficult because there are fewer Associate slots, and you don’t want to do anything that might make it harder for banks to hire you.

          Many international students on F-1 visas use the OPT program to get work permission at the undergraduate level, but I believe you need a STEM MBA to take advantage of this at that level (https://www.topmba.com/blog/remaining-us-after-your-mba-opt-and-h-1b-visas).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *