It’s no secret that investment banks have target schools, and that only the top students within those universities make the cut for front office jobs. But which college is most likely to secure a front office job in investment banking? It’s not Oxford or Cambridge. Nor is it Harvard or Yale. Our research suggests that London School of Economics, Columbia University, and the University of Pennsylvania are most likely to feed students into the ‘interesting’ high-paying, client-facing jobs in investment banks.
Being at a close top school in close proximity to major financial centres – and therefore being able to easily intern – also seems to help. New York University is fourth in our rankings, while University College London (UCL) and Imperial College both make the top ten.
The top 50 list below has been created through analysis of the profiles on the eFinancialCareers CV database which have been updated over the past year. Over 63k people on our database work in front office positions – these include areas like M&A and capital markets, as well as derivatives trading, equities, fixed income sales and trading, quantitative analytics and equity research. The rankings are comprised of a weighted score based on the proportion of students from a particular university who have gone on to work in a front office role together with the absolute number of students from an individual college now working in a revenue-generating role in an investment bank.
This creates some interesting comparisons between the top ranked schools. LSE, Columbia and Penn are both dominant in M&A – with close to 30% of all the alumni who are front office employees working in this area – while Ecole Polytechnique (one of the French grandes ecoles known for producing highly-quantitative graduates) has the largest proportion of alumni (22%) working in derivatives trading roles.
Given the amount of time bulge bracket investment banks spend buzzing around the campuses of these colleges, these might seem pretty obvious outcomes. However, there are a few surprises. The data suggests, for example, that MIT or Cambridge are not among the top schools for getting into front office jobs in investment banks, coming in at 17th and 29th respectively.
Similarly, Harvard only scrapes into the top 15. This does not necessarily mean that 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. By comparison, the LSE, Penn and Columbia have close ties with financial services organisations and a high proportion of their graduates decide to enter the financial sector.
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