The top universities for getting a front office investment banking job

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The top universities for getting a front office investment banking job

Despite recent efforts to broaden their pool of junior candidates, investment banks still have target schools, and only the top students within those universities tend make the cut for front-office jobs. But which college is most likely to secure a client-facing role in investment banking? It’s not Harvard or Yale. Nor is it Oxford or Cambridge. Our research suggests that London School of Economics, Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania are most likely to feed students into high-paying, front-office jobs like M&A and sales and trading.

To generate the rankings, we scoured through more than 60k resumes in our database and identified the proportion of alumni from each university that work in front-office positions. We then looked at the absolute number of students from an individual college now working in a revenue-generating role in an investment bank, taking into account enrollment numbers at each school.

The most glaring takeaway from the list below is that investment banks are still pulling in students from top universities amid speculation that tech companies and buy-side firms are winning the war on talent. While the order would differ, the list would compare similarly to overall rankings for top undergraduate schools. The chart also illustrates how banks appear to favor universities that are in close proximity to major financial centers. NYU and University of College London round out the top five, while Imperial College and New York City’s Baruch College each made the list.

On the surface, the positioning of Harvard and Princeton come as a bit of a surprise. However, it’s important to note that this doesn’t necessarily mean investment banks don't want graduates from these universities, but rather that students with impeccable academics from top-ranked schools are instead choosing to do something other than banking. Both schools ranked much higher (5th and 6th, respectively) in our recent rankings for Goldman Sachs.

LSE, Columbia and Penn graduates fill the most seats in M&A. Harvard and Stanford do particularly well in trading. Meanwhile, some universities have a large number of students working at investment banks generally but not an overwhelming percentage work in the front-office, hence they didn’t make the top 10. Cornell and Baruch would be prime examples.



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