April 20, 2003
Mr. Thomas Zacharias
Vice President, Human Resources
6600 Financial Avenue
Austin, Texas 73301
Dear Mr. Zacharias:
It was a pleasure meeting you at the MMB Securities presentation for the Senior Financial Management Association. Of the presentations I attended that week, I was most impressed by the opportunities at MMB Securities. As an award-winning Management Consultant at First State Securities, and an MBA candidate at the Graduate School of Business Administration – Gulf Coast University, I feel confident of the skill I can bring to your firm as an Investment Banking Summer Associate.
While at First State Securities I have developed considerable experience working with clients, including collecting data to determine their needs, conceptualizing and researching creative solutions, selling and defending those solutions, and finally leading and working with diverse teams during implementation while also managing client expectations. One of my proudest achievements was creating a new service team/offering for a troubled Armed Services Program. Through my efforts, the organization was transformed, operating more effectively as based on proven commercial models.
It is this leadership, versatility, and commitment to results that I would like to bring to the Summer Associate position, along with the diversity of my professional career where I have had the opportunity to develop and manage new business, build teams, implement unique solutions, while also becoming a classic generalist who can quickly develop requisite specific knowledge. Academically, as a Gulf Coast University student, I am developing a comprehensive foundation in financial principles, valuation techniques, and quantitative analysis for a career in Investment Banking.
I look forward to further discussing my qualifications, which are fully presented in my enclosed resume, and demonstrating how I will be the perfect fit for the Investment Banking Summer Associate position and your firm. Thank you very much for your consideration, Mr. Zacharias.
Investment Banking Cover Letter Template and Guidelines
I remember writing my first cover letter. I had just finished nervously calling a family friend, asking if I could intern at his company. At the end of the call, he asked me to email over a cover letter and resume. Of course, I got started immediately.
My resume was complete since I had to use it several times before. However, my cover letter definitely needed work. This post aggregates the tips and tricks I learned over the years.
- Big banks don’t have the time to read everyone’s cover letters. So what they do is scan for mistakes (see “common mistakes” section).
- Smaller banks will read your cover letter because fit is more important to them and they occasionally allocate the time. This means it’s important to research the bank and have a connection before you apply.
- When applying to much smaller banks or passing on your resume, the body of your email is your cover letter. Make it much shorter than your formal version (see the “personal template”).
- Restrict your cover letter to one page with no more than 400 words. 1’’ margins with a 12 point font is best.
- Spend more time revising and reviewing your resume than your cover letter. Since a cover letter requires some customization and isn’t nearly as important, just write out your template when you’re applying and then personalize it for each application.
- Writing everything about your life. The purpose of a cover letter isn’t to list all of your accomplishment (that’s a resume), but instead to introduce your self and explain to the bank how you would be a good fit.
- Skills, activities, and interests are cool for the bottom of your resume. Please don’t waste valuable words with your excel proficiency or how you enjoyed watching Wall Street. Just stick to the bear necessities.
- Not personalizing the cover letter for each bank. People often forget to replace company names and information, quite frequently. Proofread your work so this doesn’t happen to you.
- Present you experiences in a logical order. Pretend like you are selling someone yourself. Start by introducing yourself, how you heard of the bank, and then how you’d be able to contribute and assimilate into their culture.
- Forget about making outrageous claims like how you can “bench double your body weight”. Don’t be creative with the fonts, colors, pictures, paper, and so on.
Email vs. Attachment
Don’t bother sending your cover letter via email unless it the person asks for it. Keeping with my introductory story, I was asked to provide a cover letter, so I attached it. For the body of the email I wrote something like, “Ms. Hendricks, As discussed, I attached my resume and cover letter for a summer analyst position at Capital Partners. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Sincerely, Don.”
There is no need for any other addresses or other information. If you weren’t asked for a cover letter and know the person you’re emailing send the same note (without the cover letter part).
On the other hand if your contact doesn’t know you well. Add a three to four sentence paragraph explaining your finance experience and another few sentences for why you’re applying to that bank. See the “organizing experiences” section for more detailed information.
Finally, if the cover letter is listed as “optional”, just attach it. It literally will take two minutes once you complete a generic/ formal cover letter.
Cover Letter Examples
- Personal Cover Letter - Refer to this example if you know a person at the bank or are applying to a bank where fit is more important.
- Formal Cover Letters - These is a standard examples for when it’s required for your application.
Cover Letter Template
Once you’ve looked over the examples, you should have a good idea of the expectations. Similarly, structure your cover letter using these 4 sections:
- (2-3 sentences) Who are you? How did you hear about the bank? - This is where you name drop. Please include your university and your grade, specific people you know at the bank, and the position you’re applying to.
- (4-5 sentences) What’s your finance background - Rule of thumb: write about 1 activity and 1 work experience most relevant to banking.
- (3 sentences) Why this bank? - Explain how your skills and experience would be a good fit for the bank. Additionally, reiterate what makes you interested in the firm.
- (2 sentences) Conclusion - Thank the person for their time and say your looking forward to hearing from them soon.
Depending on your background, you may want to add a couple sentences to section #2 or #3 explaining yourself. Remember the other guidelines, and you’ll have a great cover letter in a short time.