Portfolio Management vs Investment Banking

Portfolio Management refers to the management of the portfolio of assets of the client whereas, investment banking refers to the various different type of function performed by the investment banker in the economy by offering different financial services to their clients by mainly dealing in the purchase and sale of the stock and helping in raising the capital.

Portfolio Management vs Investment Banking

Students from finance always get confused about what they need to choose. They get confused as they receive mixed information from different sources. Some authorities say you should choose investment banking as its prospect is much better than portfolio or asset management. Some opine that they should decide to do asset managementAsset ManagementAsset management is a method of managing funds and investing in both traditional and specialized products in order to generate returns consistent with the investor's risk tolerance. read more as a learning opportunity in investment is much broader.

Now here’s the deal. Everyone has a different opinion. You don’t need to go according to them. Take suggestions but make sure that what you choose is the product of your own conclusion.

In this article, we will bust some myths. We won’t tell you what you should choose and what you shouldn’t opt. Rather we will give you a complete overview of these two professions so that you can decide what to do with your skills and inclinations.

We will discuss the outlook of both these professions, what sort of education is required to crack them, primary tasks or roles they play, what kind of compensation you can expect and finally we will talk about the pros and cons of each of the professions. Read, think, and then make an informed decision. It is your life. You need to choose what will propel you higher in your career.
Let’s get started.


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Portfolio Management vs Investment Banking – Outlook

Let’s understand the basic difference between portfolio management (asset management) and investment banking.

Asset management is all about managing clients’ investments. And investment bankingInvestment BankingInvestment banking is a specialized banking stream that facilitates the business entities, government and other organizations in generating capital through debts and equity, reorganization, mergers and acquisition, etc.read more is all about raising the capital for clients.

So, the basic difference between these two is in case of asset management, clients already have the money which you need to manage. Whereas, in the case of investment banking, clients don’t have the money and you need to raise capital to support your clients.

Let’s take an example to illustrate that.

We will take two scenarios and will try to understand how this works.

  • Scenario#1

In the first scenario, Client A hires Bank B to help them with investing their money in different areas. Client A tells Bank B – “Take my money and invest in portfolios where you think our money will grow better and will make us wealthier.” Bank B then takes the money and invests to get better returns on the portfolios they rely upon. This is portfolio management. In this case, clients have money; your job as a portfolio manager is to manage the investment ad try to maximize the client’s wealth.

  • Scenario#2

In this scenario, Client A wants someone to invest in their business. An investment banker will search for the investor; look for capital raising opportunities in the equity marketEquity MarketAn equity market is a platform that enables the companies to issue their securities to the investors; it also facilitates the further exchange of these stocks between the buyers and sellers. It comprises various stock exchanges like New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).read more or via debit or run IPOs or advises companies on Merger & Acquisition deals. So, in this case, the client doesn’t have money; investment banking professional helps the client get the money via capital raising opportunities.

In finance parlance, asset management is also known as buy-side and investment banking is termed as sell-side. (also see buy-side vs sell-sideBuy-side Vs Sell-sideSell-Side refers to those corporations, investment banks and advisory firms who engage in the issuance, selling and trade-in of the financial securities. In contrast, the buy-side involves hedge fund companies, pension fund organizations and investment managers who purchase financial securities.read more)

So, the outlook for these two should be different. And you know now why investment banking needs more inputs as you need to bring the business. In portfolio management, you will learn more about investment.

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Portfolio Management and Investment Banking Differences – Education

To be able to make your mark as a portfolio manager, you need to know a lot. Thus educating yourself with the right qualification is of utmost importance. Even if you have an undergraduate degree in science, technology, computer science, or biology, you can become a portfolio manager.

For that, you need to sit for an MBA entrance exam and enroll yourself for a top-notch MBA school. Your specialization would definitely be financed. This is the prime requirement. Plus, if you can do a course in portfolio management, then it would be an added advantage.

Now, let’s say you want to reach the top 5% of the portfolio managers in the world. Then, you need to do a course which is not for faint-hearted. You need to enroll yourself for CFA (US). If you can clear three levels of this tough exam, with little help from your network, you can reach a level where very few reach. Also, remember, along with upgrading your education, you can look for an internship in portfolio management to get some experience. You won’t earn much, but whatever you will learn during your internship days, it would be tremendous. You can learn more about CFA examsAbout CFA ExamsThe Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) Program offers a graduate-level curriculum and examination program designed to expand your working knowledge and practical skills related to investment decision-making. read more here

Let’s come to what you need to do if you want to be an investment banking professionalInvestment Banking ProfessionalInvestment bankers play diverse roles and responsibilities in a company as analysts, associates, vice president and managing director. They handle the front, middle, and back-office responsibilities to cater to the clients with all sort of financial services.read more. The investment banking profession is more about corporate finance and business. So, you need to have the depth of knowledge in financial models and valuation. At the same time, you need to know a lot about business as well. So, what should you do? Simply go for a top-notch MBA in finance. Then use your network to do some internship in investment banking. Generally, get the internship experience before you enroll for MBA or as you prepare to sit for an MBA entrance. An internship in any investment bank will add tremendous value to your resume and may hire you for a full-time gig.

Portfolio Management vs Investment Banking – Primary tasks or Roles to Play

  • Portfolio Manager

If you want to be a portfolio manager, you need to know which tasks or roles portfolio manager plays on a regular basis. First of all, know that you may be the first person who enters the office as your job starts as soon as the financial marketFinancial MarketThe term "financial market" refers to the marketplace where activities such as the creation and trading of various financial assets such as bonds, stocks, commodities, currencies, and derivatives take place. It provides a platform for sellers and buyers to interact and trade at a price determined by market forces.read more opens. So, once you get in, you need to look for the status of financial markets. You need to be always at the top of current events. You also need to talk to your analyst on regular basis to get updates about any market development and to understand and discuss the trends of current events that are relevant to your business. Here, you need to realize that the analyst has to be the person who is thorough with his understanding of the market and can do research simultaneously. Because on the basis of your analyst’s recommendation, you’re going to take a call about whether to buy or sell! Remember your job is to maximize the wealthMaximize The WealthWealth maximization means the maximization of the shareholder’s wealth as a result of an increase in share price thereby increasing the market capitalization of the company. The share price increase is a direct function of how competitive the company is, its positioning, growth strategy, and how it generates profits.read more of your clients and you can’t afford to miss out on any new events or any new information that can affect your portfolio.

You, as a portfolio managerAs A Portfolio ManagerA portfolio manager is a financial market expert who strategically designs investment portfolios.read more, also need to meet your high-value investors or you can connect them over the phone. You also need to make sure that during your work, you need to conduct interviews with media. As portfolio managers, normally you will handle large funds. People who handle small funds are usually called fund managers. So, to handle large funds and to leverage it in the market, you need to do some publicity and at the same time, you need to take responsibility to publicize the firm which you work for.

  • Investment banking

As an investment banking professional, you need to do three things – Investment Banking pitch bookInvestment Banking Pitch BookPitch Book is an information layout or presentation used by investment banks, business brokers, corporate firms, and others to provide potential investors with the firm's main attributes and valuation analysis, which helps them decide whether or not to invest in the client's business. A pitch book is also known as Confidential Information Memorandum, which is used by the firm's sales department to help them sell products and services to a client.read more creation, modeling, and administrative support. Investment banking professional first concentrates on pitch book creation. The real meaning of pitch book is creating a presentation with all the data and graphical representation. Your job as an investment banking professional, your job is to be able to convince to invest in your client’s business. So, you need to pitch. The second part of your tasks would be to handle modeling. Especially mergers and acquisitionsMergers And AcquisitionsA merger and acquisitions (M&A) agreement refers to an agreement between two existing companies to merge into a new company, or the purchase of one company by another, which is done generally to benefit from the synergy between the companies, expand research capacity, expand operations into new segments, and increase shareholder value, among other things.read more, though you may need to handle another sort of modeling as well. Lastly, you need to take care of some of the administration. But that’s often not your primary task. So, to summarize, the basic things you need to do in a day is to create pitch-book and to handle modeling.

Portfolio Management and Investment Banking Differences – Culture and lifestyle

Portfolio managers normally handle big funds and not small funds. Normally they handle over a billion-dollar of funds and thus earn well. Thus, their lifestyle is often top-notch. They often can afford private jets and a great income. Moreover, they have a better work-life balance than investment banking professionals. They work hard too. They have a high-stress job as they need to reach office whenever the financial market opens. But they get enough time in the weekend to connect with their family.

In the case of investment banking professionals, their lifestyle is also above average. They work crazy hours, often 16 hours a day, and they often need to spend their nights in the office. Thus, it’s difficult to find time for anything else other than investment banking. They see their colleagues more often than their family members. They earn top bucks, but there is no work-life balance which makes it difficult for many investment banking professionals to stay at the job for a long time.

Portfolio Management vs Investment Banking – Compensation

For portfolio managers, earning big bucks is natural as they handle big funds and often appointed as partners in the firm they work. So they earn top bucks, usually in millions. But few of them who handle funds who manage more than the US $15 billion funds, often earn in billions as well. But the lifestyle depends on individual choices and preferences. Portfolio managers, who earn in billion, often live a simple life instead of buying big jets or bungalows. And few would go out and live a lavish lifestyle. But if you become a portfolio manager, immediately you can’t expect massive downpour of money. You need to learn the trade and then after a few years of experience, you can expect to earn big bucks. Usually, a fresh MBA in finance starts with the US $65,000 per annum plus bonus. But every firm has its own rule and own compensation. So, you need to figure out what would you accept as your first-time offer.

As an investment banking professional, your earning will sky-rocket once you join. No, you will not earn in million immediately. But, you will learn havoc, often far more than anyone in the finance domain and that’s the reason the investment banking profession has become so popular. But you will have little or no time to enjoy the money you will earn. In ten years down the line, you may expect to earn at least a million in a year on an average.

Choose your career on the basis of what you want. It’s prudent to not base your career decision on the compensation only. You should have an inclination to get prosperity in your career (not only the prosperity in the sense of money). Step back, think, and then make an informed decision.

Portfolio Management vs Investment Banking – Pros & Cons

Portfolio manager


  • It’s a job of investment analysis. You will love every moment of it if your knack is in the financial market and how it works.
  • Even if there’s stress on the job, you will have a great work-life balance. The reason is you will spend 12-13 hours a day working and the rest of the time, you can invest in your family or in a hobby you like.
  • As a portfolio manager, you will earn very good money. You won’t earn millions or billions in a year or so, but if you stick to this career, you may become the partner of the firm you work for which is always a good bet.


  • Even if you get connected to a lot of high net-worth individuals, you are not really the center of attraction always (except for having money). You do your recommendations on the basis of the researches done by your analyst.
  • If you start your career handling low-funds (under a million or similar), you often get stuck in the hole. Though you shouldn’t be called a portfolio manager, if you handle low funds; you should have a growth mindset and you need to always prepare yourself for handling big funds like the US $10 billion and more.

Investment Banking Professional


  • It is a profession where you would be the center of attraction for everything. As you will deal with big businessmen and women and will handle big deals for your clients, you would be the glittering gold in the middle of the crowd.
  • You will earn big bucks from the beginning. The only thing you need to have is knowledge of business and corporate finance. If you are good, you will earn millions in 10 years down the line.
  • You will be able to network with a lot of people and most importantly with people who hold very high positions in the organization like CEOs, CFOs, and MDs. Having a network with high-net-worth individuals will ensure that you will close bigger deals in the future.


This has been a guide to Portfolio Management vs Investment Banking. Here we discuss the differences between Portfolio Management and Investment Banking along with its pros and cons. You may also have a look at the following articles –

Reader Interactions


  1. Rushil Shekhar says

    Thanks a lot .Really helpful to me!

  2. ANUDEEP says