A conversation with an Investment Banker by Baluka Hannah Stacey

On Saturday 10 April, 2021 we were privileged to host Eric Musau, the Executive Director at Standard Investment Bank in Kenya.

Eric grew up in the western part of Kenya in a family that was involved in farming. He was active in the family’s farming business. He later joined Kenyatta University where he undertook a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce. He specialised in banking and finance. His career in investment banking began in an interesting way. While he was still at University, he learnt about the stock market and decided to invest in the stock market by buying shares. This granted him the opportunity to attend different annual general meetings which enabled him to appreciate and understand how the stock market worked. This experience further augmented his interest in investment banking.

After completing his degree at Kenyatta University, he was privileged to join Standard Chartered Bank in Kenya. Eric explained that he entered into the banking world because he believed it was a prestigious and admirable field to venture into. Eric believed that commercial banking was still growing in Kenya, but as fate would have it, he still found his way into the investment banking world.

Eric had been vigilant enough to send out emails to various institutions and prospective employers in the investment banking field. He was later called for an interview where he was successfully selected for an entry job which paved his way into investment banking. This explains Eric’s interesting journey into the finance world. His first job opened up prospects for him to explore and expound his knowledge in the industry.

Eric describes an investment banker as an intermediary that bridges the gap between an investor and investment opportunities. He further stated that the various components that make up investment banking are: stock brokerage which entails trading of shares, asset management, research and corporate finance. He argued that investment banking was important for any country’s economy.

Eric gave a distinction between investment banking and commercial banking. For instance, there is a difference in the regulatory regimes. Commercial banks are regulated by a central bank, while investment banks are regulated by capital markets authorities.

Throughout the narration of his experiences, one of the most outstanding lessons learnt is the need to keep an open mind. One should always consider all opportunities as important and equal. With contemplation to Eric’s story, he kept an open mind in regard to which field and institution he would work in. Although he started in a commercial bank, this experience led him closer to investment banking. Therefore, one of the most valuable virtues to consider for success and excellence in life is to have an open mind.

Secondly, we learnt that one also needs to create their own luck. This entails that one must use their available skill, ability and available resources in order to capitalise and multiply one’s opportunity. Eric used the available time and opportunity to email various CEOs of different companies which indeed created paths for his success in investment banking.

Creativity and curiosity are also credible skills for success in any career. Creativity is attained through finding solutions to the challenges that one faces. This skill is important because the world presents challenges every day and one must have a creative mind to navigate these challenges. These skills can be attained through various trainings, advancement in education standards or through individuals and other ways.

Eric’s journey into the financial services can be considered as a success and an example for those that wish to venture into investment banking.

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