What Is An Investment Bank? What Do Investment Banks Do?


A financial services organization that acts as a middleman in large and sophisticated financial transactions is known as an investment bank. When a new firm prepares for an initial public offering (IPO) or when a corporation integrates with a competitor, an investment bank is frequently engaged. Large institutional clientele, such as pension funds, use it as a broker or financial advisers.

JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Bank of America, Credit Suisse, and Deutsche Bank are all among the world’s largest investment banks.

Many of these companies also operate storefront community banking and investment sections that cater to high-net-worth clients’ demands.

Investment Bank’s Operation

An investment bank’s advising branch is compensated for its services. The trading segment is paid for its market success with commissions. Many have retail banking sections that make money by lending money to people and businesses.

Traders, financial counsellors, and salespeople are among the jobs available in investment banks.

The Intermediary Role

Investment banks are best identified for acting as go-betweens for businesses and the financial markets. That is, they assist firms in issuing stock in an initial public offering (IPO) or a secondary stock offering. They also assist businesses to obtain debt funding by locating large-scale investors for corporate bonds.

The advisory role of the investment bank begins with pre-underwriting advice and continues after the securities are distributed.

Before the securities are available for purchase, the investment bank must examine a company’s financial accounts for accuracy and issue a prospectus that summarizes the offering in detail to investors.

Corporations, pension funds, other financial institutions, governments, and hedge funds are among the investment bank’s clients.

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  • Investment banks specialize in helping corporate clients with intricate financial transactions such as initial public offerings (IPOs) and mergers and acquisitions.
  • Modern investment banking is usually a division of a larger bank, like Citibank or JPMorgan Chase.
  • To avoid conflicts of interest, a ‘Chinese wall’ is supposed to isolate investment banking from the company’s trading section.

For investment banks, size is a valuable advantage. The more contacts a bank has in the global financial sector, the more probable it is to benefit from connecting buyers and sellers, particularly for one-of-a-kind transactions.

The three major functions of an investment bank:

Financial Advisors

An investment bank may provide strategic guidance on a variety of financial matters as a financial advisor to major institutional investors.

They achieve this goal by combining a deep awareness of their customers’ goals, industries, and worldwide markets with the strategic vision required to recognize and analyze short- and long-term possibilities and challenges.


Investment banks have research divisions that evaluate companies and provide studies on their prospects, usually with the buy, hold, or sell recommendations. Although this study does not directly create income, it does benefit the company’s traders and sales department.

Outside clients who can complete a trade through the bank’s trading desk, generating money for the bank, are also given investment advice by the research section.

Credit research, fixed income research, macroeconomic research, and quantitative analysis are all utilized internally and externally to advise customers, and research keeps an investment bank’s institutional expertise up to date.

Mergers And Acquisitions

Mergers and acquisitions are an important part of an investment bank’s job.

The investment bank determines the worth of a possible acquisition and assists in negotiating a reasonable price. It also aids in the structuring and facilitation of the acquisition to ensure a seamless transaction.

The 10-step mergers and acquisitions procedure is outlined below.

  • Acquisition strategy
  • Acquisition criteria
  • Searching for target
  • Acquisition planning
  • Valuing and evaluating
  • Negotiation
  • Due diligence
  • Purchase and sales contract
  • Financing
  • Implementation

Other Activities

Trading And Sales

Most large corporations have a trading department that can execute stock and bond transactions on their clients’ behalf. Some banks have previously engaged in proprietary trading, in which they essentially bet their own money on securities; however, the Volcker Rule, enacted recently, has put a stop to this practice.

Wealth Management

Retail investors are served by several of the same institutions that provide investment banking services to Fortune 500 companies. They assist individuals and families in saving for retirement and other long-term goals through a team of financial consultants.

Asset Management

Asset management departments at firms like J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs manage massive portfolios for pension funds, foundations, and insurance companies. Their professionals assist their clients in determining the best mix of equities, debt instruments, real estate trusts, and other investment vehicles to meet their specific objectives.

Securitized Products

Companies nowadays frequently aggregate financial assets — from mortgages to credit card receivables — and market them as fixed-income products to investors. An investment bank will suggest ways to “securitize” revenue streams, put together the assets, and sell them to institutional investors.

Criticism of Investment Banks

Investment banks have two divisions: one that advises external clients and the other trades their own money. This could be a conflict of interest.

Investment banks must maintain a Chinese wall between divisions to prevent this. This symbolic barrier is intended to prevent information sharing that might allow one side or the other to profit unfairly at the expense of its clientele.

Underwriting Services in Investment Banking

Underwriting is the process of generating funds on behalf of corporations or other entities by selling stocks or bonds to investors (e.g., through an initial public offering, or IPO). Businesses require capital to run and grow, and bankers help them in obtaining that capital by endorsing the company to investors.

There are three forms of underwriting in general:

1. Firm Commitment

The underwriter agrees to acquire the entire issue and bear full financial obligation for any shares that remain unsold.

2. Best Efforts

The underwriter agrees to sell as much of the issue as feasible at the agreed-upon offering price, but the issuer has the right to return any unsold shares without incurring financial liability.

3. All or none

The deal is called off if the entire issue cannot be sold at the offering price, and the issuing corporation earns nothing.

As soon as the bank starts marketing the offering, the following book building phases are taken to price and complete the deal.

  • A prospectus with a price range
  • Institutional investor commitment at a firm price
  • Book of demand built
  • Price is set to ensure clearing
  • Allocation

Banking clients

Investment bankers provide capital raising and mergers and acquisitions advice to a wide variety of clients. Clients can be found throughout the world.

Investment banks’ clients include:

Governments: Governments use investment banks to raise funds, trade securities, and buy and sell crown corporations.

Institutions: Banks help institutional investors manage other people’s money by assisting them in trading securities and providing research. They also assist private equity firms in acquiring portfolio companies and exiting those positions through sale to a strategic buyer or an IPO.

Corporations: Bankers assist private and public corporations in going public (IPO), raising additional capital, expanding their businesses, making acquisitions, selling company segments, and providing research and general corporate finance guidance.


Investment banks play a vital role by assisting companies and government entities make educated financial decisions and raising needed capital.

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