Do you want to know how investment bankers make money? It's a question that many people are curious about, and for good reason. Investment banking is a complex field, and there are many different ways that bankers can make profits. 

In this guide, we will break it down step-by-step and explain exactly how these professionals generate income. We'll also take a look at the different branches of investment banking and discuss where bankers tend to make the most money. 

How do investment bankers make money

To get started, let's go through the ways that investment bankers make money. Broadly speaking, there are four main ways:

1. Underwriting 

2. Trading 

3. Sales & Trading 

4. Advisory Work

We'll go into more detail about each of these methods below. But first, it's important to understand that investment banks don't just make money for themselves. They also play an important role in helping companies and governments raise money by issuing securities. 

Investment banks typically make a percentage of the total amount raised, so it's in their interest to help their clients raise as much money as possible. This is one of the reasons why investment bankers are often paid such high salaries - they can generate a lot of revenue for their firm if they're good at their job. 


The first way that investment bankers make money is through underwriting. When a company wants to issue new securities, it will typically hire an investment bank to help them with the process. 

The investment bank will then agree to buy the securities from the company and sell them to investors. This process is called underwriting. The investment bank will make a profit on the difference between the price they paid for the securities and the price they sold them at.


Investment banks also make money through trading. They buy and sell securities for their own account, in the hope of making a profit on the difference. Investment banks typically have a team of traders who buy and sell securities all day long. 

This is a high-risk, high-reward business, and the best traders can make a lot of money for their firm. 

Sales & Trading

The third way that investment bankers make money is through sales and trading. This is similar to trading, but instead of trading for the bank's own account, they trade for the accounts of their clients. 

For example, an investment bank might help a client buy shares in a company that the client is interested in. Although there are many self-directed investors these days, many people still use investment banks to help them with their trades. 

Investment banks typically have a team of salespeople who work with clients to understand what they want to buy and sell. They then execute trades on behalf of the client and charge a commission for doing so. 

Advisory Work

The fourth and final way that investment bankers make money is through advisory work. Investment banks often advise companies on mergers and acquisitions and help them to raise capital. 

Advisory work is typically less risky than trading or underwriting, but it can still be very profitable. Investment banks typically charge an hourly rate for their advisory services. This work is important because it ensures that the deals that are done are in the best interests of the client. 

So those are the four main ways that investment bankers make money. As you can see, there are a lot of different ways to generate income in this field. And, as we mentioned before, investment bankers often make a lot of money. But which branches make the most money? 

Different branches of an investment bank and how they make money

The different branches of an investment bank each have their own way of making money. The most profitable branch is the one that provides the most services to its clients. This includes things like providing financial advice, issuing loans, and underwriting securities. 

The other branches of an investment bank include the trading desk, which makes money through buying and selling securities, and the research department, which provides analysis of companies and industries. 

Asset management is another branch, which manages money for clients. Commercial banking as well as retail banking is when an investment bank provides services to consumers. Some retail services include credit cards and checking accounts while some commercial services include things like loans for businesses. 

These services are a simple way for banks to make money but they are not as profitable as the other ways that were mentioned. An investment bank can also make money through fees charged for services, as well as through the sale of products. 

For example, an investment bank may charge a fee for underwriting security, or it may sell products such as mutual funds and insurance. Each of these branches has different ways of making money, but the most important thing for an investment bank is to provide services that are most beneficial to its clients. 

By doing so, an investment bank can maximize its profits. Banking services is a competitive field so it's always advantageous to be bringing in new clients. This is how they make the majority of their money. 

They do this by providing services that their clients need and want, as well as by always being on the lookout for new opportunities. An example of how Investment bankers are looking for new opportunities is how Citibank is looking for ways to the custody of digital assets for their clients. 

Although these assets may go against the interest of the banking system, the demand from clients is what will likely drive this change.

We shared a framework on how these different banks make money depending on the type of service they provide their clients but each bank has different fee structures. Although generally, the branches of investment banking make their money by providing services to clients that bring in revenue. 

This is accomplished through different means, whether that be through fees, product sales, or commission. Investments can also bring in money to the firm by providing returns to shareholders. 

For example, a bank can invest in a company and then sell its shares for a profit later on. As you can see, there are many different ways for an investment bank to make money. 

Where do investment bankers make the most money?

How Investment Bankers Make Money

JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley are the top three firms where investment bankers make the most money. These firms are known for their influence and brand which attracts a lot of clients. 

They are also able to command higher fees because of their reputation. Another reason why these firms generate so much revenue is that they have a large number of employees working in different parts of the world. 

This allows them to serve more clients and provide more services. However, the best physical place to earn the most money as an investment banker is on Wallstreet. This is where the most action is taking place and where the most money is being made. 

Wall Street is home to the New York Stock Exchange, which is the largest stock exchange in the world. It's also where most of the major banks are located. If you want to make a lot of money as an investment banker, working on Wall Street is the best place to do it. 

This is where you'll find the most opportunity and the most potential for earnings. With capital flows constantly moving and changing, there's always room for profit. 

Underwriting, M&A, and trading are just a few of the many ways that investment bankers make money on Wall Street. The average salary for an investment banker at Wallstreet earns about $150,000 to $250,000 after 4 years of experience. 

The starting salary is also quite high at six figures ($100,000). The larger the deals, the more money an investment banker can make. For example, an M&A deal can earn a banker millions of dollars in fees. And the biggest banks usually handle the biggest deals. 

So, if you want to make the most money as an investment banker, working at a large firm is the best way to do it. Of course, there are many other ways to make money in investment banking besides working on Wall Street. 

But if you want to earn the big bucks, this is where you'll find the most opportunity. Finding a branch and firm that matches your skills and goals is the best way to maximize your earnings potential in this competitive field. 

Some investment bankers might excel at sales while others might be better at analysis. There is a lot of room for success in investment banking, no matter what your strengths are. 

The most important thing is to develop self-awareness, gain connections in the industry, and learn how to work productively but still precisely leave clients happy and better off. After all, a satisfied client is a returning one.

How does an investment bank get paid?

To summarize, there are four main revenue streams for banks:

Underwriting fees

Charged when a bank assists a company in issuing new equity or debt. For example, when a company goes public, it will often hire an investment bank to help with the process.

M&A advisory

Fees are collected from clients when a bank provides advice on mergers, acquisitions, or divestitures. This advice helps clients determine whether or not to pursue a certain transaction, and how to structure it.

Asset management

Investment banks often have their own asset management divisions, which charge clients fees for managing their money. Clients are also charged for buying and selling securities. This is often done through mutual funds and other investment vehicles.

Lending products and services

Interest is earned through loans to companies. An example of this is if a company takes out a loan of $100,000 with an interest rate of 12%, the bank will earn $12,000 in interest over a year. Investment banks also offer other lending products and services, such as lines of credit and letters of credit. 

These are the four main ways that investment banks make money. In most cases, it is a combination of these revenue streams that make up the bulk of a bank's earnings. Of course, there are other ways that banks can make money, such as through market making, trading, and other activities. 

However, the four revenue streams mentioned above are the most important for banks. As someone that might be interested in entering this field as a career, it is important to be aware of how banks generate their revenue. This will give you a better understanding of the business as a whole and how it works. 


Investment banking is a complex and ever-changing industry, but knowing how banks make money is a good place to start. With this information, you will be better equipped to make decisions about your career in investment banking.