No matter your career or specialization, it is paramount to constantly read books and learn from your industry’s top leaders and practitioners.
This is especially true for investment banking, where complex concepts and trends continuously evolve. So to succeed in this highly lucrative but competitive industry, you must learn from the best thinkers.
This article offers our must-read books for current and aspiring investment bankers. Use these resources to grow your career as a finance professional or an aspiring deal-maker looking to enter the profession.
If you are a beginner new to investment banking and looking to break into the industry, you must be well-versed in basic finance concepts since interview questions will test your financial knowledge. This includes knowing how to build a discounted cash flow (DCF) model, create a comparable company analysis, conduct due diligence, value a company, etc. By understanding the main technical concepts in these books, you will be better positioned to succeed as an analyst or associate.
If you are a senior banker or managing director, some of these books will provide you with a refresher or help you become more efficient at driving business and closing more deals.
(Note: We link to each book’s page on Amazon, but these are not affiliate links. We don’t earn a commission or any other compensation if you choose to buy one.) Most of these books are also available as Kindle eBooks.
1. Investment Banking for Dummies
Investment Banking for Dummies by Matthew Krantz isn’t a deep dive into investment banking, nor does it dive into unique investing philosophies or tell personal stories. Nevertheless, it’s a solid primer on the subject, presented easily. As a result, you’ll learn critical fundamental deal-making concepts applicable throughout your career.
Investment Banking for Dummies is an excellent place to start if you are new to the industry since it covers all core concepts that will make further learning more accessible. Moreover, according to a review on Amazon, this book is even helpful for experienced investment bankers to “solidify base concepts.” Therefore, we recommend reading this book before starting to network or applying for investment banking internships.
This book by Ray Dalio, a legendary investor and the founder of Bridgewater Associates, a multibillion-dollar hedge fund, is a must-read for anyone in the finance industry.
Even though Principles is not about investment banking, it’s a powerful read that every investment banker should consume at some point because of Dalio’s ability to learn from his mistakes and turn failures into successes. According to him, successful individuals are guided by principles that guide their actions and help them achieve their goals. In this book, he goes over those principles that have been key to his success in business.
The book comprises his journey, life principles, and work principles. Dalio covers over 500 principles and sub-principles to help readers succeed in life and work.
Bill Gates, an avid reader, has this to say about Principles “Ray Dalio has provided me with invaluable guidance and insights that are now available to you.”
3. The Intelligent Investor
Even though Benjamin Graham first published The Intelligent Investor in 1949, this book remains applicable to modern finance professionals and everyday investors.
Known as the father of value investing, Graham explores time-tested strategies to evaluate a company, review its fundamentals, and minimize risks.
The Intelligent Investor is also an excellent resource for those looking to learn more about investing in the stock market. Despite changes in the economy and the investing world, some of its core tenets, including fundamental analysis and determining value, are practical concepts for investment bankers and financial analysts to understand.
Warren Buffett calls it “By far the best book on investing ever written.” Frankly, if you are only going to read one book on investing, this is it. We recommend you read one of the most recent editions that include modern commentary.
4. Investment Banking: Valuation, Leveraged Buyouts, and Mergers and Acquisitions
This comprehensive book on investment banking by industry practitioners Joshua Rosenbaum and Joshua Pearl excels at breaking down complex technical concepts into accessible lessons. That is why it’s been called a teaching manual for aspiring investment bankers.
It offers a detailed but straightforward step-by-step approach to valuation methodologies, leveraged buyouts (LBOs), and corporate mergers and acquisitions. Although a good resource, the book limits its scope to basic investment banking transactions.
Some reviews consider the book too basic, but this is it if you are looking for a resource to learn the core technical principles. It also comes with an accompanying website with downloadable Excel templates. Some job seekers claim to have used it as an interview guide when recruiting for investment banking jobs.
5. Investment Banking Explained: An Insider’s Guide to the Industry
This text is excellent if you want a high-level view of the investment banking industry.
Author Michel Fleuriet, a professor at the Wharton School, explains how the investment banking industry works by offering an insider’s perspective on the operational aspects of the most successful investment banks.
In addition, the latest edition includes need-to-know information on how to develop strategic relationships, understanding the role of technology in investment banking, and a chapter on startup financing.
If you are in the process of networking for an entry-level role at an investment bank, we recommend you add this book to your reading list.
6. The Business of Investment Banking
Like the previous two books, this text by K Thomas Liaw is a comprehensive guide to the investment banking industry.
It includes everything, from complex concepts such as underwriting, mergers, and acquisitions to broad concepts like the role investment banking plays in the global economy. The book has four sections: the basics of investment banking, international capital markets, trading, and risk management, and special topics such as regulations, trends, and ethics.
First published in 2011, Liaw goes over how the investment banking industry changed after the 2008-2009 financial crisis, especially after 3 of the top 5 investment banks disappeared. In addition, it discusses options for professionals looking to enter the field or advance their careers in the post-2008 era.
7. Financial Modeling & Valuation: A Practical Guide to Investment Banking and Private Equity
Paul Pignataro is an acclaimed author, banker, and M&A consultant who has written several books on these topics. This text is a practical guide to understanding and performing fundamental analysis.
Pignataro uses Walmart as a case study to teach readers how to perform an in-depth analysis by walking them through all the steps to develop a sophisticated financial model. Each chapter ends with review questions, case studies, and other helpful material.
8. Barbarians at the Gate
Barbarians at the Gate is an investigative journalism bestseller by Bryan Burrough and John Helyaran that chronicles the events of a leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco.
The authors go over the economic climate in the 1980s when businesses were bought out, sometimes for just their assets or the real estate they owned. Once the profit from selling their assets surpassed the purchase cost, these businesses were closed, leaving behind economic despair and unemployment.
This book is a great resource to learn about RJR Nabisco’s corporate finance strategy, the history of leveraged buyouts (LBOs), and the role of junk bonds in LBOs, among other exciting topics. In addition, the book gives insight into negotiations, valuations, and the personalities that inevitably make their way into decision-making, even at a high level. It’s also a warning of the dangers of too much leverage.
Barbarians at the Gate chronicles dozens of main characters and hundreds of side characters. It helps you understand how money, legal maneuverings, and personal relationships affect strategy and finance at the highest level. In some cases, hubris, greed, and egos are appalling.
This is one of the best books if you want to have an intimate look at how the sausage is made – an unpacking of corporate interplay, countless business deals, and how people create change, even at the expense of profit.
9. The Partnership: The Making of Goldman Sachs
Charles D. Ellis chronicles the fascinating rise of Goldman Sachs by telling the personal stories of the people behind the firm that has gone through a tumultuous history in its 140-year existence.
From nearly being wiped out in 1929 to reaching the pinnacle of global finance, this book showcases how the firm has thrived by fostering a distinct company culture focused on finding creative solutions to problems by always focusing on their customer.
10. Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist
Without a careful study of Warren Buffet, the “Oracle of Omaha” and self-made investing billionaire, no investment banking education would be complete. Some say this book is a better telling of Buffett’s life and work than his autobiography. However, this is not a fairytale of a man’s life. Instead, it’s a gritty account of his business and work.
This bestseller focuses on how Warren Buffet followed Benjamin Graham’s teaching of finding companies with undervalued stocks, acquiring them, and holding them until their value was commensurate with the company’s worth. Regardless of your opinion on Mr. Buffet, you should understand his unique investment approach and how he built his Berkshire Hathaway empire.
11. The Accidental Investment Banker: Inside the Decade That Transformed Wall Street
This book is a fascinating account of an investment banker who lived through the exciting times of the 1990s. Jonathan A. Knee discusses the behind-the-scenes effects of the dot-com bubble and how it ultimately led to its bursting during his tenure as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. “The goal was to do deals, generate revenues, and get noticed… whatever the cost, particularly when someone else bore that cost.”
As some reviewers say, “Finally, we have someone lifting the curtain, with refreshing candor and engaging prose; this book takes us inside the world of investment banking in the 1990s.”
12. Liar’s Poker: Rising Through The Wreckage on Wall Street
This book by Michael Lewis is a semi-autobiographical book describing the author’s experience as a bond salesman during the late 1980s.
Considered one of the books that defined Wallstreet during that decade, Lewis jumps back and forth between two different threads. The autobiographical one talks about his life and experience working at Salomon Brothers. The second one explains how Wallstreet firms became wealthy by creating and marketing mortgage bonds.
As with the book above, this text describes how firms operated during “The wild west Wallstreet era.” of the 1980s and early 90s.
13. Investment Banks, Hedge Funds, and Private Equity
Have you ever wondered how investment banks, hedge funds, and private equity firms work together?
This book by Kellogg Professor David Stowell explains the intricate web of how these players cut through the financial system and their impact on corporations, governments, and investors.
Reading this book will show you how these interconnected high-finance organizations create value, manage risk, and influence the financial headlines. As with other books on this list, this text includes case studies and spreadsheet models to allow readers to apply the book’s lessons to real-world- investing and advisory activities.
14. Middle Market M&A: Handbook for Investment Banking and Business Consulting
This handbook is essential for any investment banker, especially for mergers and acquisitions advisors and financial professionals working in private capital markets focusing on the middle market.
This book addresses the processes and subject areas required to navigate transactions in the middle market or companies with revenues between $5 million to $500 million. It’s also a helpful study guide to obtaining a FINRA Series 79 license.
15. The Platform Delusion: Who Wins and Who Loses in the Age of Tech Titans
In this book, Columbia Business School professor Jonathan A. Knee demystifies and explains the success behind the biggest tech companies. Professor Knee goes into their sources of strength, vulnerabilities, and what makes these tech giants work.
Never Stop Learning
To be a successful investment banker or finance professional, immerse yourself in your industry and keep learning. Why? Because in this everchanging world, macroeconomic and technological shifts are constantly changing the landscape and throwing curveballs.
While we think these are the best investment banking books, our list isn’t exhaustive. That is why you should always look for more material to improve yourself and your work.
Please let us know if we missed any book you think should be added to this list.
If you are eager to learn more about other areas of the private markets, read our articles on the top private equity and venture capital books you should read. If you enjoy podcasts, we also published an article on the Top business podcasts you should listen to.