What Is The Actual Acceptance Rate for IB?

As someone who never went through the recruiting process I'm curious to know what you guys think the actual acceptance rate for IB is. Like they always say 'x bank has 1% acceptance" but we all know that includes some kid who just randomly filled out an application and has absolutely zero chance of getting in. So let's say all else being equal you have candidates who (with no connections) networked a ton, got good GPAs, were involved, basically did everything they're supposed to do. Now the last thing it comes down to is what school they went to and their interview. What do you think the acceptance rate is for non/semi- targets who do all of the above? Targets? To clarify, I mean that what are your chances of receiving an offer, before you do your interview (obviously that's the deciding factor) if you went to Wharton? IU? Additionally, even if the acceptance rate given your circumstances is like 5%, shouldn't you have an expected value of at least 1 offer if you apply to like every known bank? Or is that not feasible given the time it would consume? I understand there are still so many variables but I wonder if you guys would be able to give a rough estimate of what you think it is.

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Comments (51)

Mar 4, 2021 - 11:34am

Varies widely depending on how you define the IB universe. Something people don't realize is just how many random boutique/mm firms there are. I'm currently working FT and have college first and second years reach out to me, and no joke almost all ~50-60 kids I've talked to during the past couple recruiting cycles have had "(incoming) investment banking summer analyst" at random boutique places all around NY, Boston, DC, LA, etc. Based on that I think the success rate for someone who "networked a ton, got good GPA, was involved, basically did everything they're supposed to do" is pretty high. Whether they accept a random offer versus pursuing another career path entirely is a different question. 

If you define it more narrowly (BB/EB), acceptance rate nosedives. I'd say for BBs the acceptance rate is lower because although they hire many more people than the EBs (usually 2-3x more per analyst class), you get way more people networking and "doing everything they're supposed to do" for these firms, versus EBs many people don't bother applying in the first place since there aren't as many alums, don't have the same recognition, etc. (nothing to with the quality of hires, which I think is actually higher for EBs usually). Based on your criteria I'd probably put acceptance rate around 5% with very wide error bars based on what I saw at my semi-target. 150 or so people at each event, of which probably 100 did all the stuff they were supposed to, for roughly 5 spots per firm. Obviously Evercore is going to have a much lower acceptance rate than UBS or something but on average I'm guessing 5-10%. 

Mar 4, 2021 - 12:13pm

If you're qualified (high gpa, relevant work experience, practiced interviews) I would say it's 70-80% of people will get in. Significantly lower as an international student

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  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Mar 5, 2021 - 1:51pm

??? you are disillusioned. 70-80% of the entire applicant pool would dwarf the number of spots actually available at respectable banks. And it's a low bar to be "qualified" for an ibd analyst position so i imagine most applicants are actually viable, if they are good at interviewing or if there resume goes straight to the bin is a different story though.

Mar 5, 2021 - 1:58pm

??? you are disillusioned. 70-80% of the entire applicant pool would dwarf the number of spots actually available at respectable banks. And it's a low bar to be "qualified" for an ibd analyst position so i imagine most applicants are actually viable, if they are good at interviewing or if there resume goes straight to the bin is a different story though.

I guess I mean at target schools

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  • Intern in IB-M&A
Mar 5, 2021 - 11:07am

I saw a stat somewhere that 7-10% of first-year analysts are international students, so if we assume 10% is the rate to get in for everyone, international students probably have an acceptance rate of 0.7-1.0%.

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Mar 5, 2021 - 11:55am

I mean, under your conditions that they have a good GPA, are involved, networked, prepped etc, its going to be pretty high. I went to Wharton every American I know who met those conditions and wanted to go into IB got a banking job. The ones that were serious about it got top groups. I'm sure at other schools like Harvard, Yale, etc, anyone who actually wants to go into banking (which is obviously not majority) can get an analyst position. Now, that is for investment banking in general, but it's difficult to say the likelihood of being accepted into a specific bank because there is a good amount of uncertainty/luck in each individual process. 

For nontargets, i'm honestly not too sure, but most people at nontargets aren't very qualified. If you're a top candidate at a semi target you'll definitely get a banking job.

Honestly, there's just so many banks and spots that if you can't break in, it's on you. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Mar 5, 2021 - 2:22pm

"Most people are non-targets aren't very qualified"

FYI - interned at top 3 BB a few years ago, the average non target kid SMOKED the average Ivy kid.

Lack of opportunity =/= lack of qualification. I have seen first hand (people at my firm) openly say that they take it way easier in interviews on target students. So what you see as not qualified, I see as an asymmetric game. But it's the game we play.. nothing against target kids, they had to work their asses off (most of them at least lol) to get into the target and they 100% deserve credit there

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Mar 5, 2021 - 3:34pm

I can only speak from my experience. Im at an EB RX group and the nontarget kids we interview typically perform far worse than the target school kids. The interviews we give are highly technical for both targets and nontargets (pretty much ask them all the same questions). Although the group still takes in some nontargets, the target school kids typically come in better prepped and ready to grind. Have spoken to my college mates who are at other EBs and they have noticed the same. Likely varies from bank to bank, but I've always seen better talent at Ivies. 

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  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Mar 6, 2021 - 9:01pm

Thats straight up bs. At my BB, the few (and I really mean few) non target kids have had to work so much to just get a slight chance to make it that they are top bucket. This is not to say that targets are worse or anything (not the case), but if there is one thing I have seen is that non target kids are willing to sacrifice so much more. They know they have no other chance and the only one they got was so hard to come by that they will pull an all nighter with a smile on their faces.

The only thing I have seen non targets be significantly worse at than targets is school pride. Most of then don't want to hear about their school or try to hide where they came from.

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  • Anonymous Monkey
  • Rank: Chimp
Mar 7, 2021 - 10:45am

That's because target school kids have an entire ecosystem that helps them recruit - career center, professors, upperclassmen, a broad alumni base, designated recruiting clubs and pipelines. At my nontarget, all I had was myself and WSO.

Target kids also tend to know what banking is and start prepping earlier, while a lot of nontargets start much later due to lack of knowledge.

Mar 5, 2021 - 12:33pm

Depends on:

  • School (Target? Semi-Target? Non-Target w/ Speciality Pipeline / Street Presence / Regional Presence? Complete Non-Target? - this sets top-line odds IMO rest are a function of this)
  • In-school competition for targets / semi-targets (i.e. no. of serious people recruiting v interview spots earmarked for the school)
  • Tier + Popularity of bank recruited for (BB will be lowest probability, then EB + up-and-coming EB, then top MM, then other MMs + BSBs, then random LMM Boutiques)
  • Profile (GPA, SAT score, URM / ORM / Majority, work authorization, gender, class rank, difficulty / relevance of major [matters less at target / semi-target schools], presence of or lack-thereof leadership positions, presence of or lack-thereof relevant / top internships, presence of or lack-thereof of interesting ECs)
  • Networking efficacy (presence of or lack-thereof alumni at target firms + helpfulness of said alumni, presence of or lack-thereof warm connections at target firms + helpfulness of said connections, response rate on cold-emails, conversion rate on networking chats to resume pushes / interviews [aka what % of people like you enough to help you])
  • Size / Competitiveness of Market (NYC? SF? LDN? CHI? HOU? HK? SG?)
  • Quality of application materials - i.e. CV, CL, App Qs, Automated VIs (reviewed by bankers? crisp + clean format? answers any competency questions succinctly? do you look presentable and sound polished in your VIs?)
  • In markets where this matters: Aptitude Tests (did you hit the minimum benchmark to progress?)

So basically.. it depends... Total applications to offers tells you very little information about what's going on under the hood.

If you're at a target and knock-out everything your chances of interviews are pretty close to 100%. If you're at a complete non-target and do the same, I'd trim that down to maybe ~30-40%.

Offer is largely down to individual performance. A solid candidate on paper could bomb everything whilst a hungry "slightly less accomplished" applicant could destroy every interview they get.

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Mar 5, 2021 - 12:36pm

Largest two variables here are (Target or Non-Target), (ORM, or URM). 

Black women at target school's probably have 25x the odds of landing a job compared to a qualified Asian male. 

If you go to a target, I would say odd's of landing a banking interview triple compared to non-target too. But that clearly doesn't guarantee a spot. 

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Mar 5, 2021 - 12:56pm

My guess is 18% chance of acceptance from a BB. Lots of assumptions, but here is my thinking:

1. Based on data from some articles I saw online, let's assume the acceptance rate for a single BB is 2%

2. If we assume an average class size of 100, there are 5,000 candidates in the applicant pool.

3. Since there are 9 BBs (GS/MS/JPM/Barc/Citi/BAML/CS/DB/UBS), there are ~900 analysts in each class, give or take 50. 

4. Since the applicant pool was 5,000 and 900 get BB offers, the chance of an offer rate at a BB is 18%.

Note, the biggest assumption here is that everyone is applying to all 9 BBs

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Mar 7, 2021 - 12:52pm

Mate GS alone has like 250 kids across IBD in the US. There are a shit ton of IBD analysts across all of the street. Easily 2000-3000+ in the US every year.

Mar 6, 2021 - 7:57pm

Not really sure where you're getting 5000 from. Not entirely sure the reliability of this but estimates at 15,000 + https://www.wayup.com/guide/community/the-bottom-line-land-a-summer-ana….  

But this is one BB alone. While there is overlap, because some of the firms have a limited number of apps you can submit per cycle (BAML, GS, MS off the top of my head), I would argue people are less likely to throw in an IBD app unless that person is at least remotely serious about securing the job.  I would approximate the number to apply  to be at least 20,000, more likely in the neighborhood of 25,000.

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  • Intern in IB - Cov
Mar 6, 2021 - 9:08pm

100/2% = 5,000. Ave. IB class/acceptance rate. Assuming 15,000 applicants, there would be 300 offers and the GS class is definitely not more than 150 max. Not that reliable. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Mar 5, 2021 - 3:52pm

Getting into IB is as difficult as you make it either thought having poor prep, narrow scope, or weak background. If you've ever looked at college acceptance rates you know how deceptive they can be and how hard they can be gamed. You'll hear that GS has a <2% acceptance rate but most applicants had a 0% chance and just threw it in bc they wanna work at the Goldman Sachs

Mar 7, 2021 - 2:34am

Yea I think it's important to note that a large percentage was probably not very qualified. That being said, most high finance jobs are competitive. My current role (commodity trading program) had 400 applicants per spot too. As long as you have been working hard and doing well, your shot of landing something is more likely than a 1/400 would make it seem. 

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Mar 6, 2021 - 8:39pm

Sounds similar to the EB I signed with which I believe said there were ~8000 applicants for the ~20 SA positions in this office. Applicants is definitely misleading though since it costs nothing to just do a resume drop.

  • Intern in IB-M&A
Mar 7, 2021 - 3:35am

When I interviewed with a particular firm, they said "after reviewing hundreds of applications, they liked my background and wanted to interview me". I was the only one to get an offer at that interview cycle (and it was the last interview cycle for the group, and happened some 5-6 months after the previous one), so I would guess it was, at maximum, 1% if we assume they reviewed exactly 100 applications. My guess is it was closer to 3-400, which puts it in the 0.33-0.25% range. 

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Mar 7, 2021 - 4:52am

Not exactly IB but just to give you guys an extra reference point this year I received a 1st round invite for a SA position at PIMCO and in the email they said that my application "has been reviewed by the hiring team, and has been identified as being in the top 5% of applicants. ". Assuming that not all candidates will get to the AC stage and receive an offer, you're probably looking at a 1-2% acceptance rate.

Mar 7, 2021 - 8:29am

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