Tomorrow's is A Level results day for students in the UK. The event is causing excitement, not just because it will determine students' university admissions but because the British Labour Party is promising to scrap predicted A-Level grades as the key determinant of university entry if it's elected.
Irrespective of whether A-Levels will get you into a Russell Group University, will your grades get you a future graduate job in an investment bank? Most banks don't stipulate minimum A Level grades, but the people they hired ten to have performed extraordinarily well in the exams taken by British 18 year-olds.
Senior bankers don't give their A Level grades on their CVs. Once you're a managing director at J.P. Morgan or a partner at Goldman Sachs, who cares what you achieved at A Level? We know that Michael Sherwood, the former head of Goldman Sachs in Europe, sat his A Levels prematurely at 16, but we don't know what he scored.
Students joining banks in London do specify their A level results, however. Wajih Ahmed, the associate-level inflation trader at Goldman Sachs with a reputation for completing his internship project in two hours, scored 99% in his maths A level aged 10 before scoring 97% in further maths A level aged 11. Aged 13, he got an A in his chemistry A level. Aged 14, he got an A* at physics A level. He began studying economics at Southampton University aged 14, and aged only 17 was the university's youngest ever graduate, with a first class degree and an 86% overall pass rate.
Ahmed is some sort of exception, but most juniors in banks have impressive A level results. The average number of UCAS points for summer interns? Around 530. For anyone not immediately familiar with the UK points system, that's about 3 A*s and an A as you leave high school (top grades, in other words).
Nor can you get away with bad A levels if you want to work in an operations or accounting job in an investment bank. In operations, UCAS points are lower, but not low. For example, interns working in Goldman Sachs' control division have 320 UCAS points. Operations and collateral management interns at J.P. Morgan have 360 and 480 UCAS points respectively.
There are occasional exceptions to the A Level rule in banking. For example, Joanne Hannaford, the EMEA head of technology at Goldman Sachs, didn't do A levels at all, but studied a more vocational BTEC and HND before going on to do a PhD in computer science at University College London.
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