- 750 GMAT
- 3.9 GPA
- Undergraduate degree in economics and French from (Swarthmore, Brown)
- Work experience includes three years of commodity trading experience at a global, but not top investment bank (Societe Generale, BNP Paribas)
- Extracurricular activities include outdoor activities, leadership and financial literacy tutoring for high school students, organic farming in France
- “My current job has me involved with some of the more unusual areas of finance like weather derivatives. It’s pretty interesting, but I feel like I’m being exposed to a narrow sector of the economy and am only developing my quantitative/analytical skills”
- Goal: To move into consulting for exposure to a broader range of industries and projects in Asia and Europe
- 26-year-old Asian American
Odds of Success:
Harvard: 30% to 40%
Sandy’s Analysis: OK, let’s focus: you got a 3.9 from Brown and a 750 GMAT. Well, you could be the poster boy for my theory that HBS and Stanford do not like traders — of stocks, or weather derivatives, or baseball cards.
My guess is, not all that many pure traders apply, and of the gang who do, acceptances would be below expectations given the underlying stats.
In other words, if the HBS acceptance rate for applicants with a 3.9+/750+ is 40 percent (I am making that up, but it is an interesting question) the acceptance rate for traders with a 3.9+/750+ could be 35 percent, which is saying something.
I would be tempted to wise-crack that traders applying to HBS and Stanford have low alphas, but some finance nerd would write in and tell me why I am actually misusing the term. (Write in anyway, maybe you can explain it to me).
The reason H and S do not like traders is because trading has nothing to do, in their minds, with leadership, innovation (beyond innovating new trading formulas), teamwork, people skills, social impact, yadda, yadda. So, you ask, is somehow working as an analyst at an investment bank and doing diligence on deals more humanistic to the adcom mindset than trading? Yes and no, Those analyst programs have a more rigorous selection and training process in general, and, yes, you often do work in teams, and once in a blue moon get to talk to a client. If you do that as a trader, make a big deal over it.
At any rate, you seem to agree that trading is limited (“It’s pretty interesting, but I feel like I’m being exposed to a narrow sector of the economy and am only developing my quantitative/analytical skills”) because you want to leave what is often a 9-5 job with the potential of making gazillions for an often 8 to 10 hour-a-day as a consultant which also has lots of travel to places you do not want to go and only the potential of making a million or so.
Given your stats, Tuck, Wharton (!), Columbia (!), Kellogg, and Chicago (!), should admit you if you give a clear account of how you got into this biz, what the good stuff has been, and how that, in part, is motivating you to become a consultant, and what else is driving you.
Those schools don’t consider trading to be a dirty word. Some of them even teach it. At HBS and Stanford, you are going to have to get lucky or really leverage your international experience, organic farming, and finance mentorship to high school students (and whatever else you got) into some compelling story. Working for a “global, but not top investment bank” could also be another reason you don’t get into Stanford. They may take your twin from that top bank (he exists, don’t worry about that).
You seem humanistic and likeable enough that HBS could bite. Stanford might require that some powerful alum give you the thumbs-up. Many Stanford admits with stock picking and trading backgrounds come from Stanford affiliated firms, e.g., the firm hires lots of Stanford grads and the partner is an alum or FOD (‘Friend of Derrick’). The frequency of this happening ‘tapered’ (calling Ben Bernanke) post-2008, along with the market contraction, but is now crawling back up, or ‘untapering,’ if you will.
If you want to go to Stanford, knowing one of those guys could help.