Taking part in a finance-focused competition is the new way to show that you have the right stuff for investment banking. There's no shortage of these on the market, particularly in the trading sector as banks and hedge funds alike rolling out trading games to unearth new talent and banks like J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley setting up competitions in M&A.
These competitions are now moving across to digital. Harvard Business Publishing offers web-based HTML finance simulations, some of which involve mergers-and-acquisitions case studies. And students from the investment banking clubs at four elite U.S. business schools – Brandeis, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton and Yale – are currently competing in a deal-making competition using the M&A Game for smartphones and tablets.
“I’m definitely going into finance, and while it’s too early to say with 100% confidence that I want to go into M&A, it is certainly an option,” said Dean Citrino, a student at the Wharton School pursuing a B.S. degree in finance, accounting and statistics who is participating in the game called M&Asters 2016.
The app was created by ansarada, a virtual data room for M&A bankers and private equity professionals,and runs February 15-21. It is offering cash prizes to the top three finishers.
“It’s impressive how competitive my classmates are, and anytime you’re competing with the entire Wharton student body, not to mention three other tops schools, and you excel, and especially if you win the competition, it’s impressive and a definite resume-booster,” Citrino adds.
The M&A Game is designed to be as realistic as possible, with players running their own company as the CEO. They can negotiate deals to buy, sell or merge with another company.
In a crowded, competitive field, business students who win such competitions targeted to an area of finance that they want to work in could separate themselves from peers who appear to be equally qualified on paper.
Marcia Katz, the director of career development at Brandeis International Business School, says: “They’re going to have fun and learn no matter what, but they understand this will help their marketability and distinguish them as an applicant in their job search.”
Katz recalled a Brandeis alumnus who, not long after enrolling at the university, participated in an online competition sponsored by a private equity company that was open to all business students. He ended up finishing in the top 20 in a competitive field, and the firm sponsoring the contest offered him a high-paying internship. After he graduated, the company offered him a job.
“This kind of thing distinguishes people – finance games like this are part of a wider spectrum of experiences, including simulations and case competitions judged by professionals in this area, which can really set students apart,” Katz said.
Currently the M&A Game has close to 40,000 active unique users across 25 countries worldwide, with U.S. representing the large majority. For the virtual data room provider, the motivation is branding and establishing relationships with future M&A investment bankers and private equity professionals.
At an awards ceremony in New York on Feb. 26, ansarada announced the winners of The M&Asters 2016 Intercollegiate M&A Game Competition: Xiaomin Han, a Master of Science candidate studying finance, took the top prize, while Mengyun (Angela) Wu placed second and Riddhish Rege finished in third place. All three of the top finishers are attending the Brandeis International Business School (IBS) in Waltham, Mass.