What does it take to make it into an investment bank these days? Impeccable grades, multiple internships, 'executive' positions in university societies, the CFA level I? Maybe, but now that junior bankers are more qualified than ever, will spending tens of thousands of dollars on an Masters in Finance qualification really give you the edge?
Masters in Finance qualifications are far from being de rigueur among front office analysts. Our own analysis of nearly 800 analysts who were hired in top investment banks in 2017 suggests that around 20% possessed these post-graduate degrees. They are typically most common for UK analyst classes and among analysts in sales and trading roles, but more recently Masters in Finance qualifications have sprouted up in Continental Europe and the U.S. and they're gaining traction.
Masters in Finance courses aren't cheap: they typically cost tens of thousands of pounds, euros, or dollars per year. If you're studying a Masters in Finance with the intention of moving into banking, you therefore need to make sure it's the right one. So, which course is most likely to land you the job?
Our analysis of the eFinancialCareers CV database suggests that the MSc Finance course at London School of Economics is now most likely to land you an investment banking job. This is followed by the Masters in Finance course at London Business School. Imperial College London, the University of St Gallen and Warwick Business School, which has risen rapidly up the rankings this year, make up the remainder of the top five.
The league table is based on the proportion of people with finance-focused Masters degrees in our CV database who have gone on to secure a ‘front office’ investment banking job upon graduation. This means those who have moved into M&A, capital markets, sales and trading or equity research. Since the rankings are simply based upon individuals’ moves upon graduation, we’ve included both pre-experience courses (which make up the majority) as well as the small number that recommend students have industry experience before undertaking them.
We’ve allocated a greater weighting to those gaining a position in a tier one investment bank (Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley), followed by tier two banks (Barclays, Credit Suisse and UBS) and finally tier three institutions (BNP Paribas, HSBC, Nomura, Royal Bank of Scotland and SocGen) and, together with the proportion of people securing a job, have assigned a score to each college.
While it's not easy to get a front office investment banking job anywhere, the U.S. investment banks still attract more applications and hold more prestige. Our weightings have worked in favour of those schools which feed into the U.S. firms, therefore. Some of the French schools, which have very highly-regarded MSc Finance courses, would have ranked higher were it not for the fact that so many graduates go on to work for French banks. The means that the likes of HEC Paris, Edhec Business School and Grenoble School of Business, which tend to feature highly in the FT rankings, are all out of our top ten. At HEC, for example, 43% of people working in banking on our database are at tier three institutions.
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