Bankers over 40 are fearful for their employability. And our research suggests they have good reason to be. Younger bankers are often more qualified than they are - especially in London.
But if you want to get a postgraduate qualification that will get you job in banking, should you go for an MBA, or a Masters in Finance? That depends upon whether you're based on Wall Street or in the City of London. If you're in the City, you should be looking at a Masters. If you're on Wall Street, try an MBA.
When it comes to hiring graduates, most banks in London don't actually demand a Masters qualification. At Goldman Sachs, for example, European analyst programmes are open to,'final year undergraduate and graduate level students from any field of study'. The same applies at Deutsche Bank. Faye Woodhead, Deutsche's head of 'global graduate governance, planning and strategy' told us last year that the bank is 'degree agnostic' when it comes to hiring university-leavers: "Whether you chose to go on to study your masters or not, you are eligible for our programs, as long as you have achieved a 2:1 or equivalent."
Nonetheless, Masters qualifications are increasingly common among young bankers in the City. Our survey of 1,181 London-based financial services professionals of various ages reveals that 40% of financial services professionals aged 26-30 have a Masters qualification. Just 15% of those aged 51-55 do.
The message is clear: younger bankers are more qualified. In his 2002 book, The Death of Gentlemanly Capitalism, ex-senior broker-turned author, Philip Augar, described how easy it was to land a job in the City back in 1978 - ‘… a few introductory questions: school (grammar) university (Cambridge) contacts in the City of London(none) sports played (lots)… the next comment was, ‘Well you seem like a decent type, we’ll offer you a job’.’ Even in 2002, Augar said that if he applied, he probably wouldn't get in. His sentiment was shared by another City of London veteran at the time. ‘The people I am turning away are of a far higher calibre than myself when I applied,’ he reflected.
Since 2002, the City has been subjected to further qualification-inflation. Continental European students are partly to blame: Masters qualifications are a lot more prevalent in France and Germany than in the UK. Regardless of what banks say on the subject, a Masters in Finance helps if you want to get into the City now.
If Masters qualification are becoming a prerequisite for jobs in the City of London, an MBA is pretty imperative for a job on Wall Street. Our research suggests that 33% of Wall Street financiers aged 31-35 are equipped with an MBA qualification. As with Masters degrees in London, MBAs are slightly less prevalent among Wall Street professionals aged 50+ - but only slightly so, even 26% of Wall Street bankers have one. This reflects the fact that MBAs are an established route to success for bankers in the U.S. Most banks expect their analysts to do an MBA as a matter of course. If you're a 26 year-old banker at Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley in New York, studying an MBA looks highly advisable.
By comparison, far fewer people on Wall Street have a Masters Degree. Just 8%- 10% of Wall Street bankers aged 26 to 56 have a Masters according to our research. However, the qualification may be becoming more important in the U.S. too - 27% of Wall Street bankers aged 16-25 are Masters-qualified according to our survey. Qualifications are catching on.
MBAs on Wall Street, by age