Why an MBA may not be enough to get you the banking job you desire

Before the financial crisis, investment banks were some of the biggest recruiters of MBAs. I was one of the people recruiting MBAs on their behalf, writes Derek Walker, an independent careers consultant, a former director of campus recruitment at Barclays, and a former director of staffing for the investment bank Merrill Lynch.

Picture: Tiberius Gracchus / fotolia

In 2008, Lehman Brothers’ many investment banks were amongst the top hirers of MBAs globally. Eight years on, and the picture is very different. Now consultancies have taken over as main employers. London Business School’s most recent MBA employment report for 2014 shows that the biggest hirers of its MBAs were McKinsey & Co, the Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Co and A.T. Kearney. Collectively, these firms hired 71 students. By comparison, the biggest banking hirers (Citi, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Nomura) hired as few as 25 people.

Ten years ago, banks often hired MBA associates into IBD - that means M&A and corporate finance roles – and also into sales and trading, equity research, private banking and wealth management. Now, most MBAs are mainly hired into IBD. Trading floors rather focus on students from financial masters programmes and undergrads.

If you think you have a strong academic and professional background and still want to go into banking, Walker suggests a number of areas where to put the focus of an application:

  1. Demonstrate some understanding of financial modelling. If you aspire to work in banking after the course is over, you really need to attend some extra-curricular or online modelling classes while you’re studying.
  2. You need to know about the firm and the deals they’ve been doing - and be able to discuss market reaction to the aspects of the firm’s recent transactions.
  3. Be able to describe why you want to join a particular firm and what makes it different from its competitors. This can be hard - until you work at an employer, it’s very hard to figure out what it’s like from the outside!  Ask recent alumni to share their experiences and insights.

Find full report here:
Why an MBA won’t get you the banking job you want. And what you can do about this

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