With thousands of financial services professionals now out of the market, it’s no coincidence that a lot more bankers than previously are interested in doing an MBA.
But by an unfortunate quirk of MBA recruiting policies, the more financial services professionals who want to study an MBA, the harder it is likely to be to get onto a course.
Most of the top schools aim for MBA classes comprised of people with a range of different experiences. Although they could probably fill entire classes with financial services professionals, they are therefore not going to do so.
“Because the diversity of the overall class is so important to us, (and more importantly to our students), there will never be a dominant group from any particular employment sector in our MBA class,” says David Simpson associate director, marketing & admissions, for the full-time MBA programme at the London Business School.
In a typical year, LBS, INSEAD and IESE each fill around 20% of their MBA classes with financial services professionals.
This year, however, bankers are likely to account for a far higher proportion of applications than usual. Javier Muñoz, admissions director at IESE, says interest from bankers is ‘tremendous’ compared to others years. The Spanish school has around 200 places on its MBA course and receives 2,000 applications. Bankers now account for more than 20% of those.
Evidently loathe to put people off, most schools are unwilling to say explicitly that it will be harder for bankers to get in (although we wholeheartedly expect this to be the case).
LBS insists that it’s flexible, that bankers are generally high quality people, and that it wants to “recruit the most talented individuals.” INSEAD says admission is competitive for everyone and that bankers who apply for its MBA will be benchmarked against all other candidates, not just members of the same species.
IESE has come up with a novel solution to the problem. This year, for the first time, it has added an assessment centre stage to its recruitment process. Muñoz says this will make it easier to differentiate between candidates like bankers who all look
identical excellent on paper.