If you’re a student who wants to leave college and get a job in the financial services industry, it might still be worth your while studying in the UK. And – no, you shouldn’t study at Oxford or Cambridge, or even the London School of Economics. Try applying to Imperial College London.
The recently released Times Good University Guide put Imperial Students as the most employable in the UK, above Oxford and above Cambridge and above the London School of Economics. Our own research earlier this year suggested that Imperial is ranked first or second among all European universities for people working in M&A, trading and risk. Hedge fund Brevan Howard is known to hire a lot of Imperial alums and even offers a clean energy scholarship to people at the college. Elspeth Farrar, director of the careers service at the college, tells us that “all the main investment banks are very active on the campus this year,” and that hedge funds regularly notify her when they have junior vacancies.
So, what makes Imperial students so hot?
Farrar points to their quantitative bias.”Our students are highly numerate, highly analytical and good problem solvers.” Antony Sommerfeld, an Imperial alum and former credit analyst at Goldman Sachs-turned venture capitalist, agrees that Imperial students are analytical, entrepreneurial and international. “The people there are very proactive about getting in contact. They have some good private equity groups and a lot of Chinese students.”
We suspect, however, that there is more to it than simple analytical skills and proactivity. From the perspective of finance employers, Imperial students also have scarcity value. Whilst other colleges like the London School of Economics and Cass Business School are overflowing with would-be bankers, students at Imperial have other priorities. “Healthcare is the biggest destination for our students,” says Farrar. “We have a big faculty of medicine. Last year, only 10% of our students went into banking and finance.”
This looks like a good strategy for students choosing where to study. Forget finance-focused institutions and choose a school which banks and hedge funds rate highly and where most of your peers will be looking at careers far beyond banking and finance. You will be all the more sought-after as a result.