Where Top MBAs Work In Finance

by John A. Byrne on Print Print

consultantThe biggest bucks in the MBA world typically go to graduates who venture into Wall Street. That’s where the big bonus money tends to be, the kind of cash that can dramatically inflate one’s income, particularly if you are anywhere near high stakes deal making.

If you want to work in finance, it makes sense to target the business schools that send graduates to the firms for which you want to work. Looking at a school’s latest employment report is certainly a start. But we’ve done something better. Poets&Quants has dug through the database of LinkedIn member profiles to find out how many MBAs from the Top 25 schools work at the leading financial service institutions.

Though hardly definitive, searches of LinkedIn’s database provide a fascinating and fairly accurate glimpse at what you could call the “market penetration” of a school’s MBAs in any one firm. Sure, not everyone has a profile on LinkedIn, though people who fail to list with the world’s number one professional network are certainly in the minority at this point. It’s also possible that LinkedIn’s search algorithm could be slightly askew and count undergraduate business majors from schools such as the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, which both have large undergrad programs.


In any case, we think the results are worth a look–and we think you’ll find them quite compelling. According to LinkedIn, the big standout appears to be New York University’s Stern School of Business, probably thanks to its sizable part-time MBA program. At Citi, for example, there are nearly 800 Stern grads alone.  At Goldman Sachs, according to LinkedIn, the total is 482, 100 more than Wharton.

The data essentially shows what you would expect: Schools where finance is king do extremely well with these leading companies, especially Wharton, Columbia, Chicago Booth, and Stern. But you’ll also notice that a wide range of schools are sending MBAs into this industry at every major firm. The number one financial employer of Harvard MBAs is Goldman. The same is true of Stanford and Wharton grads.

For Chicago Booth and Columbia Business School MBAs, on the other hand, the number one financial employer is Citi, which respectively employs 172 and 342 grads, according to LinkedIn. For Northwestern Kellogg MBAs, the top financial employer appears to be J.P. Morgan, with 129 Kellogg degree holders.


Of course, ever since the economic implosion in 2008, the financial sector has been struggling to recover. Many firms have laid off thousands of employees and made hiring cutbacks. Some schools have made up for the decline by sending more MBAs into boutique investment banks, private equity, venture capital and hedge fund shops. Those companies tend not to show up high on this list because they are significantly smaller and recruit fewer MBAs. Yet the highest paid grads in recent years have almost always landed jobs in PE firms and hedge funds.

Consider a boutique such as Evercore. Based on LinkedIn data, the investment banking firm has just 15 Harvard Business School MBAs, 48 Wharton grads, and 29 from Columbia Business School. But it rarely shows up on lists of the major financial employers of MBAs because it recruits in far lower numbers than the bulge bracket banks.

(See following page for our table on the Top 25 schools)

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  • JohnAByrne

    That is the way LinkedIn breaks out the data, probably because there are people in the database who identify with one part of the firm before the merger.

  • JP

    Ah, good point, ran into the same issue myself

  • JP

    Doesn’t UNC appear to place better into IB though? Very similar class size (granted Carolina may have an extra 10-20 people per), and likely similar #s seeking IB from personal conversations…

  • Summertime

    It is crazy to see how well Indiana does when you take into account that is in the middle of nowhere and also it is not really known for its finance program. Cornell really disappoints for being a so called “Ivy”.

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