The Facts About Financial Services

arkadylibmanpicFinance is the most popular career destination for business school graduates according to GMAC’s recent Prospective Applicant Survey. In fact 37% of all MBA wannabes also “wannabe” in financial service when they graduate. If you are one of those 37% or if you are planning a different route to the concrete canyons of Wall Street and the cadres of savvy spreadsheet whizes, this is your lucky episode.

Listen to the recording of our conversation with Arkady Libman of Wall Street Prep to learn more about what a job in finance entails and how to land one.

00:02:43 – Letting future investment bankers know what investment banking is all about: The origins of Wall Street Prep.

00:05:46 – The skills that employers on Wall Street want to see.

00:09:21 – Who should NOT seek a job in finance.

00:11:21 – One piece of advice (sort of) for someone considering a career on Wall Street.

00:15:57 – Different degrees and the positions they lead to.

00:18:52 – Will young analysts continue to put up with the long hours of investment banking?

00:26:55 – Wall Street’s recovery from the Great Recession: Are we there yet?

00:28:06 – The Wall Street Prep approach.

00:30:20 – About Wall Street interviews and how to prepare for them.

00:33:38 – Arkady’s advice for students aiming for financial careers.

00:37:25 – Excellent advice for business school applicants.

Listen to the full conversation to learn more!*Theme music is courtesy of podcastthemes.com.

Related Links:

Where Does Wall St. Hire: U.S. B-Schools Sending Grads into Financial Services
Wall Street Prep
A Comeback for Wall Street Hiring of MBAs?

Related Shows:

Which Schools are Good for PE/VC and VC-Backed Entrepreneurship
Case Interview Secrets and More with Victor Cheng
Business, Law and Beyond: An Interview with John Engelman
How to Become a Management Consultant

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MBA Student Interview – Ben from NYU Stern

Ben Loveland

NYU Stern student – Ben Loveland

Here’s a talk with Ben Loveland who recently graduated from NYU Stern and is now working as an Associate at Credit Suisse in the Global Industrials Group for the Investment Banking Division. Thank you Ben for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us!

This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. We hope to offer you a candid picture of student life, and what you should consider as you prepare your MBA application.

Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself – where are you from? What and where did you study as an undergraduate and when did you graduate?

Ben: I’m from East Setauket, NY (Long Island) and went to Villanova (PA) on a full Army ROTC scholarship. I graduated in 2005 with a political science degree and wished to pursue the JAG corps and attend law school. However, at the time I graduated and was commissioned into the Army as a 2nd Lieutenant, I was diagnosed with a kidney disease that forced me to accept an honorable medical discharge.

With my very short military career over, I had to find another career. I took a position with Accenture, which is an IT consulting firm, and learned a lot about working on client sites, working in teams, and meeting tight deadlines. I wasn’t absolutely enthused by the product of IT, so I decided to make a switch into finance and see what a lot of my classmates were doing in NYC.

I was lucky enough to get hired before the financial meltdown and started at Goldman Sachs in February of 2008 in their Credit Derivatives Middle Office. Of course, a month later Bear Stearns collapsed and Lehman went down not much later. The work was extremely fast paced, I worked with top-notch people, layoffs were almost constant, but I thrived. I joined Goldman as an Analyst, then was promoted to Technical Specialist and then Associate.

After two years, however, I realized that a long-term career in Operations was not what I sought. I wanted a position that was revenue-generating, client-facing, and more macro than Sales and Trading. Investment Banking seemed to fit into my long-term career goals, and fit my personal skill set, so I set up meetings with some GS employees in IBD and quickly learned that to get into banking, especially in the midst of a financial crisis, you must be recruited out of a top business school (Analyst or Associate new hire). I decided that I needed to take the GMAT and get the ball rolling on finding a top business school.

Accepted: Why did you decide to attend NYU Stern? 

Ben: The first thing about Stern is that it’s in the city, so there are a ton of alums around the city, especially in financial services. So I met some alums and had a very favorable impression from them on their experience at Stern and the types of recruiting that happens there. I also visited Stern and immediately thought it was the best fit for me, personality-wise. It’s a top business school, with extremely smart and talented students, however, it was also a place that was collaborative internally, competitive externally.

My impression before visiting was that there was no secluded campus and therefore a diluted community of commuters. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I found a community that was supportive and engaged, almost tighter in the space that occupies Stern because of all the madness of the city surrounding it. I found the faculty to be top-notch, student-body to be down to earth, the career opportunities stellar, and a surprising amount of international engagement (students, faculty, travel, global learning, etc.). After visiting other schools in the area, and considering a jump to the west coast, it turned out to be a no-brainer for me.

Accepted: What are some of your favorite things about living in New York City? What were some of the advantages of studying in the Big Apple? 

Ben: I’m very biased, but I think NYC is the best city in the world. The amount of cultural, social, and academic activities here are incredible. I thought Stern did a great job of utilizing all of the resources the city has to offer. The center of the financial world is here, so for me personally, that was a huge advantage. NYC also has some great advantages for students wanting to study strategy, entrepreneurship, brand strategy, media, etc. There are so many companies and industries here it really is amazing. Also, getting keynote speakers to address the student body is fairly simple, since a lot of executives are either based here or visit here frequently. I also think the quality of the faculty is in large part due to the awesome location, many adjunct professors can run their business and teach at Stern in their free time. Pretty impressive.

Accepted: I see you’re now working as an Associate at Credit Suisse. What role did NYU play in securing that position? 

Ben: NYU set it up completely. I was on a pretty standard track of Investment Banking, so all of my initial meetings with banks were on campus. All of the bulge bracket banks and many mid-tier investment banks come to Stern to recruit, so the opportunities for IB are tremendous. The standard tracks (Consulting, IB, S&T, Marketing) are mostly setup by NYU through their “on-campus” recruiting. Stern set up the corporate overview sessions, the meet and greets, and interviews, which are critical to getting a job at these places.

Accepted: How has your experience in the U.S. Army contributed to your business skills?  

Ben: Due to my abbreviated stint in the Army, I can’t really speak about my huge amount of leadership experience, but I can speak of the Army training and how relevant it can be in business. I think firms like to recruit ex-military because there seems to be a lot of critical business qualities in military candidates: loyalty, respect, discipline, leadership, integrity. I think humility and eagerness play a large role as well. In organizations where chain of command, organization and leadership are important, such as Investment Banking, military candidates will do extremely well. Also, firms recognize their ability to handle pressure well, make quick decisions and be quantitatively strong, so S&T also seems to be a good fit. For me personally, I think the military helped instill a sense of discipline and maturity that seems to be rare for students coming out of college. I think having some training grounds to practice leadership and taking command of a unit can certainly help in a workplace when a project needs a push to make a deadline or meetings that tend to end in chaos, it can certainly help to have someone who can seize control and guide a group toward a decision.

Accepted: Do you have any advice for some of our applicants who will be applying to NYU Stern? 

Ben: I think more than any other top program, Stern looks for candidates that have strong EQ. For future business leaders, just being smart and analytical is not enough. They have to be able to lead people, to deal with clients, shareholders, employees and on and on. Stern has a process for measuring EQ which tends to work extremely well in the classroom. Certainly by coming off as respectful, hard-working, down to earth and sociable, in addition to being smart and ambitious, it will help your case. Be prepared for the interview, although it is a friendly interview, they are looking for a candidate that has done her homework on the school and her future career plans. If a potential candidate does not appear to be ready for a job interview, it is unlikely that candidate will be prepared for on-campus interviews in the fall, so that will not reflect well.

For specific advice on how to create the best application for NYU Stern, please see Linda’s NYU Stern 2013 MBA Essay Tips.

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MBA Applicant Blogger Interview: Motown, Ms. HR, and Mads Mom’s Journey

  

Next up in our series of featured MBA applicant bloggers are Motown, Ms. HR, and Mads Mom from the blog, “Fortune 800: Our Journey to an MBA.” Please enjoy their thoughtful answers and use them to help you make your way through the MBA admissions process.

Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself – where are you from, where did you go to school and when did you graduate; and what prior degrees do you hold?

Ms. HR: I was born and raised in Michigan. I grew up right outside of Ann Arbor (Canton) so it was no surprise that I wanted to attend the University of Michigan. I graduated from the University of Michigan (GO BLUE!!!) in December 2007 with a BSE in Electrical Engineering.

Mads Mom: I grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, but was never an Ohio State fan, although everyone assumes that I should be because I am from Ohio. Obviously, I did the complete opposite and went to the University of Michigan where I graduated in 2007 with a BA in Sociology.

Motown: I was born and raised in Detroit, MI. I also went to the University of Michigan and graduated in 2008 with a degree in Civil Engineering and minor in History.

Accepted: When do you plan on applying to business school? Which schools will you apply to? Do you think you’ll apply to a “safety school”?

Ms. HR: I’m planning on applying this year in either round 1 or 2. It depends on when I complete the best application possible for me. I have about 7 schools on my list as of now but I plan on narrowing that list down to 5 schools. My top 3 schools are Cornell, Vanderbilt and Kellogg. I’m DEFINITELY planning on applying to a safety school. I know where I want my career to go and I need an MBA to get there so I’m anxious to get started.

Mads Mom:
I am planning to apply to business school for Fall 2012, during round 1 or 2. I have not narrowed my list of schools down yet, but some possible schools include University of Michigan, UCLA, Berkeley, NYU, and Cornell. I will definitely be applying to a “safety school” because I ultimately want to go back to school next year no matter what.

Motown:
I’m pretty set on Round 2. That’s when I will have my transcript available for the class I am currently taking and when I know I will be very confident in my application. Also, I want to interview and apply at the same time. Not to mention, I want to visit some schools this Fall before apps are due. I feel like a lot of business schools are great, and I will be happy attending any of the schools I’m applying to, which is why I don’t have a ‘top’ choice. I am applying to 6 schools, 2 are Consortium and the rest are a range of safeties and reaches.

Accepted: Why do you want to go to business school? What are some of the factors motivating you?

Ms. HR:  I want to build some fundamental knowledge on business and HR. Coming from an engineering background I feel like it’s a necessity in order to be successful in my career change to HR Management. The main motivating factor for going back to school is most HR leadership rotational programs require an MBA or Master’s in HR. I know that an MBA will give me that fundamental knowledge so I can be successful in my future career. Another motivating factor, is just my pure passion for HR. I’ve had to work on some projects with HR and after every project I felt like running straight over to HR. I know without a doubt that’s where I’m supposed to be.

Mads Mom:
I am a career changer, so I want to go back to business school because I plan to break into the new career field of high tech marketing. Some of the factors that are motivating me include the fact that I want to get into a career that combines my two passions for technology and design. Going back to school will give me the foundation I need, and the possible pay increase doesn’t hurt either.
 
Motown: I’ve always had a passion for helping out Detroit. So once I looked at my grad school options and did some research, I realized that an MBA was the best fit for me. I would love to increase my business acumen, expand my network, and hone in on my leadership skills. I desire to first pursue non-profit consulting and then eventually open a non-profit back in Detroit that focuses on urban and economic development.

Accepted: Does cost play a factor in where you’re applying? Do you plan on applying for financial aid or scholarships? Has your current job offered to pick up part or all of your b-school tab?

Ms. HR: Cost is a factor but at the same time it’s not really. If I get into my top choice school I doubt I would turn it down due to cost. I’ve done some research and there is money out there that you can get. I will be working extra hard to try and nail down some scholarships. I also plan on applying for financial aid. My current job does tuition reimbursement but I would have to go to school part time. I would like to take the time off and just focus on school and take in all a full time MBA has to offer as well as expand my network.

Mads Mom:
At this point in time, cost is not really playing a factor in where I am applying. I definitely plan on applying for financial aid and scholarships, but I pretty much don’t want the factor of money to deter me from going to a great school. My current job has not yet offered to pick up part of my tab, but I haven’t asked or persuaded them yet either.

Motown:
Cost definitely plays a factor, which is part of the reason I am applying through the Consortium. I also looked into schools that have loan forgiveness programs since I am interested in the non-profit/social enterprise space, which does not pay as lucratively as some other jobs. I will be applying for financial aid and seeking out scholarships/grants as well. My current job doesn’t offer to pay for business school for people that want to go FT.

Accepted: Do you plan on returning to your pre-MBA job (in a more prestigious/lucrative position) after you finish business school? Or do you plan on moving to a new function or industry?

Ms. HR: Eventually I would love to come back and work at my current company. I really enjoy working here but at the same time I would like to work elsewhere for a little bit to gain a different perspective and really see if the grass is greener elsewhere.

Mads Mom:
I do not plan on returning to my pre-MBA job because it is in a totally different industry that I want to get into.

Motown:
I’ve spoken to a few MBA’s at my company, so it’s not totally out of the picture. But for now, I plan on moving into a new company within a totally new function.

Accepted: What courses or experiences or people have motivated you to go to business school? How?

Ms. HR: The main thing that motivated me to go to business school is the exposure I’ve had to HR at my current company. That exposure made me realize HR is where I would like to go with my career. An MBA will help get me there. Another motivating factor was hearing the career paths my HR colleagues took. Knowing that an MBA helped some of them tremendously I’m more than willing to go back to school so I too can have some of those same opportunities.

Mads Mom:
My mother has a number of degrees and if there was someone that motivated me to go to business school it would be her. Personally, I decided that I wanted a career change and to get where I wanted to go I knew I was going to need and MBA to get there.

Motown: As far as coursework, at Michigan I took this really cool class where we worked with a village in the Dominican Republic where we helped them filter their own clean water. That really changed my perspectives on technology and the possibility of leveraging it to help communities. Also, last fall one particular conversation I had with a JD/MBA was really inspiring and made me finally decide that an MBA was for me in order to reach my future goals. For a long time I thought MBA’s were just people that did investment banking, I had no idea about the wide range of careers that MBA’s could have!

Accepted: Why did you choose to blog about the MBA application experience?

Ms. HR: At first I was really against blogging. I didn’t think I would have enough time to write or enough things to say. It was Mads Mom that kept on pushing it and I’m so glad she did. Now that I’m in the groove of things I’m really glad we are documenting our journey. Hopefully it will help current and future applicants out and we will always have detailed memories of our journey. Without question, I’ve learned a lot from our readers. I think the collaboration between us and the readers benefits everyone. Also for me, blogging makes me think long and hard about the b-school process and I hope this in depth thinking will help me build a great application.

Mads Mom: While doing all my b-school research I came across a number of blogs, and just figured that maybe someone would want to read about mine. I knew I was going to be extra busy because I have a little girl, so pushed for Motown and Ms. HR to get into it together and it seems to be working out great. It’s fun to just write a quick note, even if no one reads it, so that you can look back and remember what you went through to get to where you want to go.

Motown:
I personally love blogs and read them all the time. So when Mads Mom suggested it, I was excited about it. It’s great to just document this whole, introspective process and be able to look back and see how far we have all come!

Do you want to be featured in Accepted.com’s blog, Accepted Admissions Almanac? If you want to share your MBA admissions journey with the world (or at least with our readers), email us at mbabloggers@accepted.com.

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MBA Admissions: Yale SOM and Investment Banking

  

This post about Yale SOM and investment banking is part of a series of interviews of top MBA programs called “MBA Career Goals and the B-Schools that Support Them.” Please subscribe to our blog to ensure that you receive all the interviews exploring the elements at each school that support career goals in finance, consulting, general management, entrepreneurship, marketing and more.

Here is the interview with the Admissions Office and Career Development Office at Yale SOM.

What kind of background and skills do you like to see in applicants expressing interest in a career in investment banking?

Yale SOM seeks candidates with experience in a wide variety of industries and functional areas for careers in investment banking. Valuable attributes for applicants include strong quantitative skills and financial acumen, client communication skills, attention to detail, a strong work ethic, and the ability to thrive in a team environment. Desirable applicants must also demonstrate passion for a career in investment banking and be able to articulate reasons for entering the industry.

What aspects of your curriculum are best suited to students who want to eventually pursue a career in investment banking?

In addition to the core Integrated Curriculum which includes Accounting, Economics, and Spreadsheet Modeling, students can declare an ‘emphasis’ in Finance.  The many finance-oriented elective courses include Advance Financial Analysis, Capital Markets, Venture Capital & Private Equity Investments, Financial Instruments & Contracts, Corporate Finance, and Security Analysis & Valuation.

Which school clubs and extra-curricular events are most relevant to people interested in investment banking?

The Finance Club at Yale SOM supports the career pursuits of students focused on investment banking through weekly meetings and workshops in practical areas like resume writing, interview preparation, and gaining insights on specific roles, career tracks, specific banks, and the industry in general. Treks, visits from alumni, and other events are also sponsored by the Finance Club and other finance-related clubs. Related clubs cover Sales & Trading, Investment Management, Private Equity, and Real Estate.

Since “investment banking” is a very broad term, can you break down some of the some of the sub-categories in the field that Yale SOM excels in?

Yale SOM excels in a wide range of areas within an investment bank. “Investment Banking” typically refers to mergers and acquisitions and other financial advisory work. Approximately 50-70% of first-year student students who intern at investment banks work in investment banking. This figure is representative of most top business school programs. The other 30-50% of students who are hired by investment banks work in a variety of areas including research, sales & trading, capital markets, direct investments, investment management, and operations.

Which investment banking firms recruit at Yale SOM? How many graduates of your 2010 class received offers from each of these firms?

Over a dozen investment banks recruit at Yale SOM, including the large banks like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citi, Credit Suisse, and UBS, as well as more regionally-focused and boutique banks including Nomura, Houlihan Lokey, Lazard Middle Markets, Celfin, and Banco Santander. Other banks without an on-campus presence also recruit Yale SOM students as well. Among them are Rothschilds, Brown Brothers Harriman, Jefferies, Macquarie, Piper Jaffray, Bank of New York, and Royal Bank of Scotland. In 2011, the largest employer for summer interns was Goldman Sachs.  15% of the class of 2010 pursued careers in Investment Banking.

Thanks to the Yale SOM Admissions Office and Career Development Office for granting us this interview.

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The Spiced Up MBA

  

When one applies to business school they typically worry about whether they have enough work experience under their belt, or whether they can compete with Ivy League graduates and 4.0 GPAs.  But statistics show that since the financial crisis MBA programs are no longer looking for cookie cutter students. “Diversity” is the name of the game.

The Spiced Up MBAAn article in the Financial Times (“Variety is the Spice of Life”) looks at how recruiters are now focusing on finding all different kinds of students to enroll in their MBA programs.  Schools like Harvard, Wharton and Stanford are enrolling fewer investment bankers and more women, entrepreneurs, military personnel, environmentalists and not-for-profit managers in future classes. In fact, only 12%-14% of the admitted students at Harvard and Wharton in 2011 had investment banking backgrounds.

Even the average age of incoming MBA students is changing! The typical incoming Harvard Business School student is now 27, up from 26 a year ago.

Wharton is also working to diversify its student body. Ankur Kumar, deputy director of admissions at Wharton, explains, “This has been a focal point for the past few years. We wanted to dispel some of the stereotypes and misconceptions [about MBA programs].” Wharton has gone so far as to reach out to high school students and teach them about the importance of a business education.

Stanford has even developed its own approach to incorporating diversity into its program. The school has ensured that one in six accepted MBA students is studying for another degree alongside their MBA.
Although American schools still need to incorporate more international students into their student body (Wharton is only 36% international and Harvard is only 34%), the MBA programs have made enormous strides towards accepting more women, applicants in a wider age range, and out-of-the-professional-box MBA candidates. This openness to diversity, if not commitment to wider definition of diversity, allows future applicants to think more creatively about how to market themselves to business schools.  Getting into MBA programs no longer requires fitting into the investment banking mold, but is more about breaking the mold altogether.

I have seen several articles about the increasing diversity of accepted MBA applicants and we have seen less emphasis on the classic professions with our clients as well. I recently spoke, however, to one admissions director who told me that this openness is driven as much by a change in the applicant pool as by the increased openness touted in this article.

Since the financial crisis and the subsequent layoffs of a few years ago, there are fewer investment bankers, and there are fewer investment bankers applying to MBA programs. There were also fewer college grads hired into investment banking in 2008 and 2009. But over the next few years members of those college classes will apply in increasing numbers. It will be very interesting to see if the trend discussed in this article represents a real increased commitment to professional diversity in MBA admissions, or simply a response to necessity combined with spin.

If the latter, investment bankers will once again have the inside track, and we’ll read that an MBA is a typical stop on the investment banking career track; if the former, professional diversity will continue to reign.

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Linda AbrahamBy , President and Founder of Accepted.com

Photo credit: lju photo