Investment Banking Cover Letter Tutorial (with FREE Word template)
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Investment Banking Cover Letter Tutorial (with FREE Word template)

bjbj In this video, you’re going to learn
how to properly use the sample investment banking cover letter template. Now, the first
question I want to address here, before moving into anything else, is whether or not cover
letters actually matter in investment banking, because you’ve probably heard different things
about them. Some people say they matter a lot. Some people say that banks don’t even
read them, they just tear them off when you submit your resume. I’ve seen both scenarios
happen. The short answer, in my view, is that cover letters can do you a lot of harm if
you write them incorrectly, but a great cover letter, on the other hand, will not really
help you all that much. So, similar to GPA and test scores, it’s important to have at
least a basic cover letter, looking appropriate so that you can submit it. But don’t go overboard
and try to do everything perfectly because it really doesn’t matter. At bulge bracket
banks, often times, they don’t even read the cover letter at all. Sometimes, at smaller
banks, they care more, but for the most part, don’t stress out too much over the cover letter
because it doesn’t matter nearly as much as your resume, networking, and other factors.
Once again, cover letters tend to matter more if you’re applying to boutiques or smaller
places. They also matter more if you have an unusual background. Maybe you went to medical
school, you started doing a residency, and then you stopped and decided you wanted to
become a banker. Well, in that case, you might have to do some additional explanation in
your cover letter. Cover letters can also matter more outside the U.S., especially in
Europe, where banks place more of an emphasis on online applications, cover letters, CVs,
and everything like that. Those are some scenarios where you might want to pay more attention
to your cover letter, but regardless, to get started with this template now, just to point
out a couple things overall, you see here that I’m using size 11 Times New Roman font
throughout. The margins here, I’m using one-inch margins around the entire page, and I recommend
doing this for any type of cover letter that you have. Don’t set the margins to be too
low. I would say at least half an inch to three-quarters of an inch on each side of
the page. The font size should be at least 10 to make everything legible. With resumes
and CVs, if you have too much information, you can make the font size smaller to fit
everything in. I would recommend against doing that with cover letters. Try to make it always
at least size 10, 11, 12 font, somewhere in that range. Also note that this cover letter
is just one page. We have four paragraphs here, the address and other information at
the top, an introduction, and then a signature conclusion at the bottom. Never go over one
page. Sometimes people argue that, if you have a lot of experience, you can get away
with it. From what I’ve seen in investment banking, you just do not want to do this.
Keep it to one page or else it will not get read. It may actually even hurt you if you
go beyond one page. So always stick to one page here. Aside from that, also note that,
whereas with resumes, we saw that we had a couple different templates depending on whether
you’re a university student, or currently working full time, or you’re in business school.
With cover letters, we really just have this one template and it works for pretty much
all those situations. You have to change it around a little bit. But it’s not worth the
effort of going through different templates and trying to pick what template to use, because
cover letters are really pretty much the same no matter where you are applying from and
what your background is. So to actually jump into the mechanics and the structure of this
cover letter now. We see at the top, we have your name, your address, phone number, and
email address. Of course, make sure that all this information is correct. It goes without
saying. But you would be surprised how many people have typos or don’t write down their
correct email address or correct phone number here. You want to right align your information
here at the top and then the company that you’re applying to, the bank that you’re applying
to, their information and the date should be left aligned here, as should the rest of
the cover letter. One question that comes up here is, what if you don’t have a specific
person’s name at this bank? What if you don’t know the recruiter’s name? In that case, you
can write in something like “Dear Sir or Madam”. You could do that. You could write “To Whom
It May Concern”. I think “Dear Sir or Madam” is probably better. In any case, don’t stress
out too much if you don’t have the person’s name. It’s not worth doing hours of research
to find this because, once again, a lot of banks don’t even pay close attention to cover
letters. Don’t worry too much about that. If you don’t have it, just use “Dear Sir or
Madam”. Now moving into the body of the letter now. The first paragraph, this is really an
introduction, and this is where you can go in and do some name dropping. You want to
give your own name, of course, right here. After that, you want to immediately tell them
what your status is. Maybe you’re a third year economics major at Wharton, or maybe
you’re a business school student at Columbia, or maybe you’re working at IBM in their business
development division. So you would write something like that in this first sentence here. Especially
if you have large, well-known companies or universities or business schools, you definitely
want to put those names here. Because they grab the person’s attention and the first
paragraph here is really all about name dropping and attention grabbing. But even if you’re
not in that position, even if you go to a lesser known school, business school, or you’re
working at a lesser known or smaller company, you still have to list them here. In those
cases, you may want to place more of an emphasis on the next part of this paragraph which,
as you can see right here, is how you came across this firm, how you were introduced
to them. In this case, ideally, you want to be able to cite a specific person at the firm
who you met at an event or through networking or through other means, as I have right here.
So you could say that “I met John Smith at a presentation that you gave at our school
on January 11th and I enjoyed speaking with him about such and such about your bank.”
If you can, it’s good if you have bank specific information here that you discussed. You could
always say something generic like your culture or working environment or deal flow or clients
or something like that. But if you have some kind of bank specific information that doesn’t
sound too artificial, you can certainly throw it in here. Some banks like to pride themselves
on having global reach. Some of them like to brag about having the smartest, most capable
people. Some like to talk about how they can use their balance sheet well to win deals,
for example. So those are the types of things that you could potentially mention right here.
And then to close off the first paragraph, say that you’re interested in pursuing an
investment banking analyst or associate positions at your firm, and you’ve enclosed your resume
and background information. So this is just to make it perfectly clear of what you’re
actually applying for, especially at smaller places, where recruiting is not as well organized.
Now you’ve already listed your year in school and major up here at the top in the first
line, but it’s good to reiterate. If you’re applying for summer internships, you would
change this to investment banking summer analyst or summer associate position right here. Now
the second paragraph – this is probably the most important one in the cover letter – this
is where you go into your work experience and say what you’ve done in terms of internships
or full time work. You also want to highlight the skills that you’ve gained that are relevant
to investment banking. For this one, for example, let’s say that you’ve had internships in private
wealth management. You could say, “I’ve completed internships in private wealth management at
UBS and Bank of America. Through this experience, leading teams, working with clients, and performing
analysis on investments, I have gained analytical, leadership, teamwork, finance, accounting
skills.” Anything of that nature. Don’t go overboard here. Maybe list two or three, so
pick a few skills out of the ones that I have listed here and you can go into them. Then
you can close by saying that you honed any other relevant skills. So if you did something
particularly technical, you could talk about how you honed your accounting or finance or
valuation skills or something like that. Usually, you can use the first part here to talk about
qualitative skills and then the second part here to talk about more technical skills.
It doesn’t matter too much, but that’s the basic idea, that’s the basic outline for this
paragraph. Now, if you are well beyond university level, you have many years of work experience;
don’t go into everything here; don’t write your life story. What you want to do is pick
the one or two most relevant full time jobs that you’ve had, full time experiences that
you’ve had, and simply go into them in a bit of detail here and talk about the skills that
you’ve gained. If you have no work experience or minimal work experience, then what you
could do instead is talk about clubs you’ve been in, talk about activities that you’ve
done, talk about any kind of independent investing you’ve done on your own, if you’ve done any
day trading of your own. Anything like that. Shift the focus from work to activities and
clubs if you don’t have much in the way of work experience. Then, at the end here, one
other thing I like to do in this paragraph is have something on any high-impact projects
or high-impact clients or transactions or anything like that that you worked on. Maybe
if you did a wealth management internship, going back to that example, you came up with
a portfolio or an investment strategy that got your client a 20% return. Maybe if you
were working in banking, you had to take over for a full time analyst on a major $10 billion
deal, let’s say, and you did much of the modeling work on that despite the fact that you were
only an intern. So you want to go into detail on something like that and talk about any
kind of high-impact project. If you don’t know all the results, that’s fine, but if
it’s some kind of deal or some type of case or anything like that that was very well known
especially, then you definitely want to list it here, once again, fitting in with our theme
of name dropping here. After you’ve gone into your work experience in the second paragraph,
in the third paragraph here, what you want to do is tie together your work experience
and background to the position that you’re applying for. This is pretty simple and paragraphs
three and four here are really the easiest part of the cover letter because you can really
just copy and paste this template. What you want to say here is something like, Given
my background in wealth management and accounting and my analytical, teamwork, and leadership
skills, I am a particularly good fit for the investment banking analyst position at your
firm. I am impressed by your track record of transactions or clients or deal flow, or
anything like that at, and put the banking name right here, and the significant responsibilities
given to investment banking analysts or associates, and I look forward to joining and contributing
to your firm. So really, this is just a templated few sentences right here. You’re just tying
together and summarizing your work experience and saying, Hey! I’ve gained these analytical
or teamwork or leadership skills and they would be a good fit for being an investment
banking analyst or associate. Then in paragraph four here, hits is the conclusion. This is
just where you’re closing out and saying that your resume is attached, that they can contact
you. Your contact information is here, your phone number and email. You’re listing it
here. It’s good to have it twice on your cover letter, once at the top right here, and then
once in the final paragraph, just in case they’re reading it on a computer, they don’t
have to scroll up again. Bankers do tend to be lazy. HR tends to be lazy. The easier you
can make their job for them, the more likely they are to actually call you. But once again,
paragraph four here is really just a template that you can copy and paste and fill in your
own information. Now, when you’re going through and creating cover letter templates and swapping
in firm names, make sure that you do this correctly. Make sure that you’re not leaving
in Morgan Stanley if you’re applying for Goldman Sachs, for example. So you do want to be careful
of that as you’re going through and creating templates here. Once you have this paragraph
done, you simply conclude by writing your name and signature, and then you can put something
at the bottom about enclosure/resume. I’ve used the word “Enclosed” and enclosed here
to refer to the resume. If you’re sending this via email, then you can say “Attached”
or “My resume is attached” or “Attached”, here at the bottom, “Resume”. Something like
that. A couple other points here. One question that comes up is what to do if you have a
more unusual background. Here we’ve assumed that you’re someone in university or business
school or someone who’s been working for a few years. What if your background doesn’t
fit into that exactly? So, going back to the example that I gave in the beginning. Let’s
say that you’d gone to medical school, done your residency, and then quit and decided
you wanted to be an investment banker. Well, in that case, you probably want to have a
couple extra sentences here in paragraphs two and three, explaining your motivation
and saying, “I started out being really interested in medicine and working directly in patients
and solving their problems, but ultimately, I realized that I got more interested in business
and now I want to work in bio-tech or healthcare and apply my industry knowledge to the business
world.” So you want to go in with some type of angle like that and add in some more information
here. Another question is, when you’re actually going in and applying for jobs, do you create
a separate attachment for this cover letter, or do you simply send it in the body of your
email? I think it’s better to send it in the body of your email and to make the email itself
your cover letter. It seems a little bit redundant to actually create an attachment unless they
specifically ask for it. Sometimes, if you’re applying online, they will say upload your
cover letter right here, in which case, you would make this into a PDF and upload it.
But overall, I think it’s much better to simply make your email the cover letter rather than
making a separate attachment. You can just delete the part here at the top with the address
information and just start with, “Dear Mr. or Mrs.” You can also cut down the length
here quite a bit if it’s an email. I would say cut this down to maybe four or five sentences
total, rather than the three or four paragraphs that we have here right now. Another question
is what happens if the bank says that your cover letter is optional? What if they say
you don’t really need to include this? It’s just a nice-to-have, but you don’t really
need to include it. I would still lean toward including it and uploading it and sending
them something. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Just go in and swap in the right information.
Take two minutes, three minutes to do that. It’s just good to have something on record
just in case everyone else happens to submit a cover letter and you don’t. You want to
have something just so that your application is comparable to everyone elses. That is a
little bit about how you can use this investment banking cover letter template to properly
craft your own applications and apply to banks. The top mistakes with cover letters. Sometimes
people try to get fancy with colors or font sizes or background images or photos. Avoid
all that; you really do not want to make your cover letter fancy. If you do, it will get
passed around and made fun of and forwarded endlessly, and you will become a celebrity
in a bad way, and you will never get investment banking offers. So keep it simple. It’s better
to be boring with cover letters than to go overboard and try to be too fancy. Some people
make their cover letters way too long, they go on for pages and pages. Big mistake. Keep
it to one page, two, three, four paragraphs at the most. Another mistake people make is
trying to throw in too many irrelevant facts or too much irrelevant information. So talking
about their interests and hobbies and their favorite ice cream and their favorite movies,
and all that kind of stuff. That is something that you may bring up in an interview if it
comes up and you happen to be talking about it, but do not mention it in a cover letter.
It just takes up way too much space and, unless it happens to be somehow relevant to what
you’re applying for, I would leave those out altogether. It’s better to be too boring with
a cover letter than to go overboard and to get people’s attention in a bad way. Sometimes
you do hear stories about people who write really impassioned cover letters and use those
to win the attention of boutiques, and somehow get into the industry like that. Sometimes
that can work, but again, I would say it’s a bad idea in general. You’re better off spending
your efforts and your time and energy on networking and on interviews and impressing like that
and showing your passion like that versus spending all your time and energy writing
a really fancy cover letter. So I would still recommend against doing that. I’m sure it
does work sometimes. I’m sure some people have used it to break in, but overall, your
time and energy could be spent more effectively on other areas. So that’s a quick overview
of how you use this investment banking cover letter template, how you tailor it to your
own specific situations, some of the mistakes to avoid, and how you can use it to win investment
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4 thoughts on “Investment Banking Cover Letter Tutorial (with FREE Word template)

  1. I come from a medical non-finance background, how do I modify the template to allow myself to be competitive? Do I talk about my experiences in hospital placements and such, with a focus on team work, high pressure etc? Thank you for your assistance and guidance.

  2. Thank you for your reply, one more thing- how would you bring up an extensive travel history (60+ countries) and language skill set (I am trilingual- but apart from English, the other two aren't major European languages, that they tend to desire). Any advice would be sincerely appreciated.

  3. Hey I am going to apply for spring week in London in 2016, I have no real experience but I had two work experience in a retail bank of which one was close to the City. Should I just talk about that in the part you talked about internships in the second paragraph ??

  4. Hey Brian,

    When name dropping a banker on my cover letter, do i need to ask for their permission? And if i didn't ask for their permission but name dropped them anyways, would they view this in a negative light when reviwing my CL?


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