Is IB only for geniuses ?

Hi everyone, I'm an Italian high school student who's seriously considering to pursue a career in finance, but as I read on this forum IB is a very competitive industry to get in.I have pretty good grades at my school and I'll take the Bocconi test on February, but I'm not sure if it's worth it, I heard of people from Harvard with 10-12% chances to receive an offer, so I think it's out of my league.

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Comments (29)

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Nov 18, 2021 - 4:23pm

People in IB are smart but not geniuses. IB requires a good baseline level of intelligence, but then also a lot of other skills (great work ethic, good social skills, salesmanship, emotional intelligence…)

Most Helpful
Nov 18, 2021 - 4:37pm

The fact that you're even thinking about this + applying to Bocconi /Harvard means you're intelligent enough for the job. Lots of people your age don't have anything planned which is fine also but kudos to you for researching your career early because motivation is what is going to get you through the IB recruiting process. I'd say the difference in skills at the junior level and the senior level is drastic and therefore you could be an absolute math genius but be terrible at IB cause you can't present the information you created. At a junior level, you more than likely need a hard skillset focus, while building up your soft skills. You don't need to know high-level calculus or whatever, but instead accounting, forecasting, modeling knowledge, and that sort of thing. Would I say this is hard? Not entirely no, but building a very complex and well-thought-out model does require some degree of knowledge about finance/accounting and problem-solving. On the other hand, decks require more of an idea of how to strategically position a company. At the senior level, the skills are vastly different and its all about talking to each other and managing people. So back to the question of if you need to be a genius, I would say no, but you need to be motivated, dedicated to the process, and have somewhat of an above-average intelligence to build good models/decks etc. Emphasis on "good" since its pretty easy to see a good deck/model vs a meh one.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Nov 18, 2021 - 7:23pm

Please apply to college in the US, if you can afford it or you can try to get some scholarship you have to at least give it a shot. Going to a target in the US changes day and night from going to European schools. 

What year in high school are you in?

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Nov 19, 2021 - 9:37am

spot on, and people in Europe think that doing a master is the same thing while unless it is an MBA most 1/2 years Masters after undergrad are pretty trash 

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  • Intern in IB - Gen
Nov 19, 2021 - 2:40pm

Bocconi is 100% better but don't forget that very very few people (mostly diversity) get into IB in London after bocconi undergrad. People have already said it, but you need to try to go to the US.

Nov 19, 2021 - 5:09am

No need to go to the US for the Bachelor, also because unless you go to a target school there, you're better off going to Bocconi or other Target schools in Europe. 

My suggestion for the moment in to focus on the Bocconi test and make sure to get in. 
Then, since you're ahead of 99% of the other finance students (which at high school do not really know what IB is, etc.), try to polish your CV in a way to get a spring week next year. 

  • Intern in VC
Nov 19, 2021 - 7:59am

I'm going to a pretty nice middle market in the states and I come from a no name school with a 3.33 GPA. If I can do it I bet you can too. I've seen some idiots get solid offers. Mostly about Drive and being consistent.

Nov 19, 2021 - 5:28pm

No, you don't have to be a genius. What a lot of people don't realize is that it's similar to accounting in that it takes a unique person to enjoy it. I believe the most successful people in IB are the ones who enjoy it the most and are passionate about doing it well. 

Nov 19, 2021 - 11:42pm

I am not sure what you consider a genius but I would say that my smartest friends did not go the IB route because most of them would get bored out of their life, being decently inteligent and well rounded with people is good enough for all (non research) corporate jobs.

  • Analyst 3+ in RE - Res
Nov 20, 2021 - 8:54am

Yes, definitely.

In fact, on my first day at BB I was not only administered an IQ test (those who scored less than 160 were immediately transferred to tech support), but a penis measurement test as well. Fortunately, I told them I identified as a woman and they immediately bumped me to A3 instead. This was at Wells Fargo FWIW

  • Prospect in RE - Comm
Nov 20, 2021 - 5:47pm

kinda offended that they didn't immediately give you a Group Head position, so tone-deaf 

Nov 20, 2021 - 1:41pm

Geniuses do far more exciting & important work than investment bankers. You barely have to be smart for anything in finance. It's not rocket science

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Nov 20, 2021 - 3:32pm

no lol, you basically tinker all day on excel and powerpoint. I interned at IB last summer and it was the most braindead shit I ever worked on; the only redeeming quality is the fact that you have to work a lot. Quantitative trading is a lot more intellectually demanding if that's what you're looking for (I'm a physics and CS major at a target)

  • Intern in IB - Restr
Nov 20, 2021 - 11:38pm

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