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How To Write An Investment Banking Cover Letter (With Template)

Cover letter

First, don’t stress out over the cover letter. Most candidates clearly overestimate the importance of this document. 

The truth is: recruiters probably won’t read their cover letter. And in the rare cases they do read it, it likely won’t make a difference on the way they perceive your value as a candidate. 

They will mostly evaluate you based on your CV. That being said, many large investment banks do ask for a cover letter, in which case you have to write one to comply with their application guidelines. Now, before I tell you how to write a great cover letter for investment banking, let me share with you a couple of key pieces of advice…

Key tips to have in mind before writing a cover letter
  • Don’t spend too much time on it. Focus your time and efforts on high ROI actions, like networking, cold emailing, interview prep, etc. 
  • Don’t try to write letters that are 100% unique to each and every bank. I know, it probably goes against everything you’ve heard so far. But I can tell you from experience that you don’t have to write letters that are that unique to land interviews at top IBs. Personalizing your cover letters for each bank is extremely time consuming, and won’t have that much of an impact on your odds of success. You do need to include a few lines in your CL that justifies your interest in a specific bank, but besides these “why your bank” lines, the rest of the CL can be the same for every bank you apply to.
  • Don’t make mistakes. Retain this: a bad cover letter will hurt you far more than a great cover letter will benefit you. If you write a good enough cover letter that is free of typos, and relatively well-written, you have a shot. If you write a spectacular cover letter that contains several errors and grammatical mistakes, you probably won’t make it. So my advice to you is this: keep it simple and clean. 
  • Have some respect for yourself. By reading the initial cover letters of some of my students, I feel like they would be ready to sell both of their kidneys, abandon their family, and be whipped 247 times just to have the pleasure of being an intern at a top bank. It’s good to show that you’re motivated and committed, but don’t overdo it. Have some respect for yourself. Recruiters can tell when what you’re saying is not authentic. So stay reasonable when you explain why you want to work for a place. Less is more. Favour purely rational reasons over meaningless emotional language. 

Now, to help you write a great cover letter, I’ll share with you an example of structure which I’ve personally used to land interviews at top-tier investment banks.

The optimal investment banking cover letter structure
cover letter structure

Here is a personal structure that I personally recommend (I’ll give more detail on each of these sections below):

     1. First paragraph

  • Salutations
  • Brief presentation of your background
  • Name dropping to introduce your interest in the firm
  • Explain why would you like to apply for this position

     2. Second paragraph

  • Briefly describe your previous experiences
  • Explain what skills you developed from these experiences
  • Emphasize one specific, concrete achievement that you believe is impressive


     3. Third paragraph

  • Demonstrate that your skills are relevant for the job
  • Show what value you expect to bring to the table


     4. Fourth paragraph

  • Formalities
  • Salutations
  • Signature
First paragraph

The first paragraph should be dedicated to 1) presenting yourself, 2) demonstrating your interest in the firm and 3) formally announce your intention to apply for the program (internship/full-time offer) or, if there are no such programs (spontaneous application), simply explain what you’re looking for.

In the first sentence, mention your name, and then your school and major, if you’re a student. If you’re a working professional, mention the school you’re graduated from, followed by your current job.


  • My name is John Smith, I am a second-year finance student at ABC Business School
  • My name is John Smith, I am a finance graduate from ABC Business School, currently working as a junior analyst in coverage finance at XYZ Company in London

In the second sentence, you should ideally introduce and demonstrate your interest in the firm.

To do that, forget the “I like your firm for your values of integrity and excellence with which I resonate” or “I am really impressed by your rankings in the Extel survey and the Institutional Investor”. Cut the BS. No one cares about any of that.

The truth, no matter how hard banks are pretending to be special, they are not. Culture is broadly the same across these institutions, and claiming cultural uniqueness is just a marketing tactic employed along with many others.

Same thing for big institutional funds. Smaller hedge funds with truly differentiated strategies might be the exception.

So what’s the best way to convey your interest?

Well, nothing is more powerful than social proof. The most efficient way to demonstrate your interest in the firm is to show that you’re sufficiently interested in spending some time speaking to some company’s insiders. So use name-dropping.

Not only should you name-drop someone who works for the firm, but you should also say something that you learned from this person about the firm that makes you particularly interested.

If you met this person during an official networking event organized by the firm, mention it.

I’ve read hundreds of cover letters, and I interact on a daily basis with people who’ve read thousands, and I can guarantee you that there is nothing more powerful than using name-dropping intelligently to demonstrate your interest in the firm.

This obviously implies that you must have spoken to at least one person working for the firm, but if you’ve followed and applied my advice so far, you should have hopefully spoken to a lot of them already.                                   


  • I had an opportunity to learn more about your firm by speaking with John Doe at your virtual networking event on September 20XX, and was really impressed with what I learned about your deep sector expertise in the TMT M&A.

In a third sentence, just express your interest in Investment Banking, and articulate your interest in the particular position you’re applying to.


  • Having developed a strong interest in Investment Banking, I would be keen to pursue an Investment Banking Summer Analyst Program at XYZ Bank.
Second paragraph

The second paragraph should be used to display your former experiences and demonstrate that you gained some relevant skills during these experiences.

If you are a student and you have no professional experience, don’t worry: you can talk about non-professional experiences that lead to you to develop skills that could be relevant for the job.

For example, if you run a student investment club, that’s not a professional experience per se, but yet, the analytical skills and interest in the financial markets that you gained doing so are relevant and hence valuable for the job you’re targeting.

Naturally, the more professional experience you had, the better. But my point is that not having any is not an issue if you’re looking for an internship/junior role.

I would recommend the following structure:

First, mention one or two professional experiences that you had very briefly, just mentioning your roles and the name of the firms. Ideally, choose experiences that led you to develop different/complementary skill sets.


  • Previously, I have completed two internships: one as a marketing intern at ABC Wine & Co, another as a data analyst intern at XYZ Analytics.

Second, I would highlight the type of missions that I achieved during each of these experiences, and I would explain the specific skills that I’ve developed through these missions, for each experience.

For each mission, be precise and quantify your accomplishments to the extent possible. We need to know 1) what you did and 2) what outcomes you produced.

For the skills that you mention, make sure to select skills that you genuinely developed AND that are relevant for the job.

Obviously, there must be a logical flow between the first sentence and the second.


  •  […] During the former, I had the opportunity to develop strong attention to detail as well as an ability to work effectively on multiple projects at the same time, by managing 3 digital marketing campaigns designed to improve the reach of the brand among young demographics. During the latter, I have sharpened my analytical and quantitative skills through the production of 5+ in-depth statistical reports on consumer behavior.

Third, I would mention one experience that is non-professional and unique if possible.

The goal of this sentence is to show that you have an “interesting life” or at least that you’re passionate about certain projects.

It can be a personal project that you launched and in which you were highly involved (e.g. humanitarian mission, student investment club, networking club, etc.). Again, be precise and quantify, and show that you’ve developed relevant skills.


  • […] Furthermore, as part of a personal initiative to launch a student investment club of 15 people, I had the opportunity to gain some exposure to equity analysis by producing over 20 investment ideas over the past 6 months, generating an average return of 16% over the period.

Third paragraph

The third paragraph should be designed to explain to what extent the skills that you’ve previously developed would be relevant for the role you’re applying to. You basically need to show that you’re a good fit.

In this paragraph, I would also suggest showing your expectations for the role i.e. what you will do to contribute and what you expect to receive from this position.

In the first sentence, I would simply explain that I am a good fit for the role, by linking the skills that I have gained previously to the requirements of the job.


  • Given the analytical and quantitative skills that I have developed through these experiences, as well as the rigor and time management skills that I have learned to cultivate, I believe I would be a particularly strong fit for the Investment Banking Summer Analyst role at your firm.

In a second sentence, I would explain how I plan to contribute to the firm through this role, and I would reveal what I expect to receive from the firm. This helps build confidence by showing an alignment of interests.


  • […] I see this position as an opportunity to add as much value as I can to your research capabilities, as well as learning from the best practices in the Equity Research industry by working with seasoned investment bankers and industry thought leaders.

Finally, in the last sentence, I would just show my enthusiasm to join the firm, by drawing upon what I’ve said previously.


  • […] For these reasons, I look very much forward to joining and contributing to your firm.
Fourth paragraph

This fourth and last paragraph should be used to close the letter politely and facilitate potential future contact. The value-added of this section is not huge, it’s in fact very boring. Don’t try original things, be boring but do it well and effectively.

Just say that you enclosed relevant pieces to support your application, and that you would appreciate an opportunity to discuss with them. Make sure to use the name of the firm somewhere. Then highlight your contact details.

After that, you just have to thank them for their time, and sign with your name. Pretty standard.

Overall, the fourth paragraph could look like this:

“I have enclosed a copy of my resume for your reference. I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss my qualifications with you and learn more about XYZ Bank at your earliest convenience. You can reach me at [Phone Number] or via email at [Email Address].

Thank you for your time and consideration.




Our investment banking cover letter template
best cover letter template-min

Follow these guidelines rigorously and your cover letter will be of good quality. To make your life easier, you can download our full cover letter template here

With this template, you just have to fill in the blanks, make sure to include relevant experiences, and send the CL to banks. 

This is the template that I’ve used for 4 years, and it works. It’s simple, concise, and effective.


A word about the author

Aurelian Tran is the founder of Alpha Lane and an ex-Goldman Sachs analyst who has spent 4+ years working in the investment banking industry.

He founded Alpha Lane to help students and young professionals achieve their highest professional ambitions, by securing offers at top-tier financial institutions.