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What Are Investment Banks?

What are Investment Banks


The investment bank is a significant financial institution specializing in high finance. The firm assists businesses in gaining access to capital markets like stock and bond markets—this aids in raising funds for growth or other requirements.

A financial services organization or corporate division that participates in advisory-based financial transactions on behalf of people, corporations, and governments is known as an investment bank.

Please find out more about investment banks, including how they operate and their function in the financial markets.

What Do Investment Banks Do?

A financial organization known as an investment bank is a unique sort of financial institution. Its goal is to assist businesses in gaining access to capital markets to obtain funds and meet other business demands.

A typical investment bank would do the following:

• Increase your debt capital.

• Raise equity capital.

• Obtaining insurance for bonds or launching new products.

• Trade on your account. Teams of in-house money managers have the authority to invest or trade the company’s funds for its account.

For example, let’s imagine RST wanted to sell $20 billion in bonds to fund the construction of new plants in Europe. An investment bank, working with a team of attorneys and accountants, would assist it in finding purchasers for the bonds and handling the paperwork.

The difference between an investment bank and a bank’s investment banking division (IBD) might be confusing at times. Underwriting, M&A, sales and trading, equities research, asset management, commercial banking, and retail banking are just a few of the services offered by full-service investment banks. A bank’s investment banking section provides only underwriting and M&A consulting services.

Initial public offerings (IPOs) can also involve investment banks (IPOs). When a private market goes public and is listed on one of the exchanges, it is known as a public market.

What Are Investment Banks for?

Traditionally connected with corporate finance, a bank like this might help a customer raise money by underwriting or serving as the client’s agent in the issue of securities. An investment bank may also provide ancillary services such as market making, derivatives and equity securities trading, and FICC services to corporations involved in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) (fixed income instruments, currencies, and commodities). In addition to their investment research activities, most investment banks have prime brokerage and asset management sections.

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

These companies also have community banking locations and divisions that cater to high-net-worth customers’ investment needs.

How Investment Banks Work

The buy-side and sell-side are frequently separated in investment banks. However, many companies provide both buy-side and sell-side services. Selling shares in newly issued IPOs, placing new bond issues, providing market-making services, and assisting clients with transactions are all examples of the sell-side.

On the other hand, the buy-side works with pension funds, mutual fundshedge funds, and individual investors. The goal is to assist customers in maximizing their returns, whether trading or investing in stocks and bonds.

Many investment banks are split into three groups based on the services they provide and the responsibilities of their employees:

Front desk

• Office in the middle

• Back-office services

Front-office services often include: 

• Assisting businesses with mergers and acquisitions.

• Business finance (issuing billions of dollars in commercial paper to help day-to-day fund operations).

• Institutional or high-net-worth individuals can benefit from professional investment management.

• Banking for merchants.

• Professional analysts develop investment and capital market research reports.

• Creating a strategy.

Middle-office Services 

Compliance with government laws and constraints for professional clients such as banks, insurance firms, finance divisions, and capital movements are all part of middle-office investment banking services.

These folks keep track of how much money comes in and out of the company; this helps establish how much liquidity it has to keep on hand to avoid financial trouble. The capital flows team can utilize this information to limit deals by limiting the buying and selling power accessible to other divisions.

Back-office Services

The investment bank’s nuts and bolts are included in the back-office services.

It deals with issues such as:

• Ensuring that the appropriate securities are purchased sold, and settled for the appropriate amounts.

• Ensuring that the software and technology platforms used by traders are up to date and fully functional.

• Inventing new trading opportunities.

Back-office occupations are frequently regarded as unappealing. They do, however, allow the whole event to go. Custodial firms are one type of specialty shop that some investment banks outsource to. Nothing else would be possible without them.

An investment bank can also be divided into private and public activities, with a screen between the two to prevent data from being shared. The bank’s private portions deal with confidential insider information that isn’t publicly available, while the public areas, such as stock research, deal with publicly available information. To provide investment banking services in the United States, an advisor must be a registered broker-dealer with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) regulation.

Difference Between Investment Banks and Commercial Banks

Investment Bank

Commercial Bank

Doesn’t accept deposits

Accepts deposits

Doesn’t provide loans

Provides loans

Targets larger corporations and high net worth individuals

Targets all consumers, small to large size corporations, and governments.

Regulated by the country’s security agency

Regulated by the country’s central bank


The distinction between investment and commercial banks is significant. Investment banks specialize in assisting firms in gaining access to capital markets. Commercial banks generally deal with personal and business deposit accounts and loans. Investment banks, unlike commercial and retail banks, do not accept deposits.



Investment banks in the United States were not permitted to merge with larger commercial banks until recently. This is because the activities were considered riskier than regular commercial bank lending. They might, however, be highly profitable if adequately handled.

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