Where Wall Street Gets Its Finance MBAs

Of 32 programs examined by Poets&Quants, IESE’s finance-bound MBAs nabbed the biggest sign-on bonuses, at a median of US$50,916. UCLA’s Anderson School of Management was the top U.S. school for bonuses, reporting a median $47,750. Courtesy photo


There are other rewards in finance besides salary, of course. Sign-on bonuses have been creeping upward in the last few years (as has “other” compensation — moving expenses, stock options, benefits, etc.), and here, Harvard, Wharton, and Columbia not necessarily have the edge. In fact, Columbia has among the lowest reported median sign-on bonuses, at $32,500, though Mendoza ($23,000), the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management ($31,000), and — somewhat surprisingly — Stanford ($25,000) are lower among the schools reporting bonus data.

The highest median bonuses were paid to MBAs from IESE in Barcelona, Spain, who earned the equivalent of US$50,916 just for signing on the dotted line. In the U.S., UCLA Anderson ($47,750), MIT Sloan School of Management ($47,625), Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business ($47,500), and Michigan Ross ($47,500) led the way in median bonuses.

Of course, greater rewards await a lucky few who get into a few selective sub-sectors of finance that pay among the highest compensation packages to MBA graduates, such as private equity and venture capital. The schools that sent the most MBAs into those two fields? Stanford, Harvard, and Wharton — the same three schools that have fueled those fields for years. Booth (6.7%) and Columbia (6.6%) also give generously to the PE/VC sub-sector.

At Columbia, the top finance fields are investment banking (13.9%) and investment management (10.9%). But NYU Stern dominates investment banking, sending aa whopping 28.2% of its MBAs into this sub-sector. And in a bit of a surprise, UCLA Anderson sends almost as many MBAs (10.5%) into investment banking as Yale SOM (11.7%).