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Why are students at this top college so particularly prized by banks and hedge funds?

Find a college where no one wants to be a banker

Find a college where no one wants to be a banker

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?

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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.



Comments (10)

  1. Imperial is full of socially inept geeks. Show me an Imperial student with charisma and I will eat my own head. Cambridge students are as mathematically capable as Imperial students, but they actually have personalities. Oxford is full of liberal artsy people who suddenly decide they want to be bankers once they realise philosophising doesn’t pay, natch.

  2. Exactly, Cambridge students are more mathsy than Imperial students. There are lots of finance and banking societies in Cambridge.

  3. Cambridge (not Oxford) have the brightest economists/mathematicians/engineers in the country and most are socially aware unlike Imperial neeks.

  4. This article written with intention of promoting Imperial college and looks like writer has been paid for it.

  5. Is it just an advertisment of Imperial College?

  6. Cambridge is clearly full of arrogant twats who think they’re the best

    From previous comments… Reply
  7. Imperial definitely offers a better course structure which is highly numerate and analytical as has been correctly highlighted in this article. While Cambridge has its fair share of quite capable students too, it definitely loses to Imperial’s proactive, hardworking and ambitious students. This makes sense as Imperial is a college of technology and specifically focuses on this one area. Imperial’s constant mention in several high- tech projects from IBM, JP Morgan or NASA proves Imperial student’s technical aptitude which is no wonder in high demand from the investment banks.

    It’s not just the studies, Imperial is in London and not in some small town. Imperial students live right next to the financial centre, experience a highly multi-cultural environment and see and aim for the higher things in life.

    On the topic of sociability, Imperial has a large number of international students who’s background and idea of being social might be different to the usual British standard – this does not make them socially inept. The various successful social societies at Imperial show that Imperialites know how to balance both fun and work.

  8. Haha, sounds like sour grapes to me from the oh so reputable oxbridge

  9. You obviously don’t know what you’re talking about because financial firms don’t hire people based soley on academics and having charisma is key. I know many other Imperial students with charisma and would personally love the opportunity to watch you consume your own overly inflated head, so please leave your details so we can set up a meet. Cheers

  10. Typical comments from sour oxbridge students. You’d be surprised at how socially adapt many Imperial grads. The proportion of Imperial students that have got jobs in top city firms speak for themselves…

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