How To Choose A B-School for an Investment Career
The investment world is difficult to predict. For those students interested in pursuing an investment career, an MBA education can help them develop foundational skills and qualities that are valued in any market.
Ilana Kowarski, a reporter for US News, recently discussed 10 traits applicants should look for in business schools if they intend on pursuing an investment career.
1.) Cutting-edge training
Technology is always evolving and it has influence in nearly every industry. Experts say it’s important for applicants to look for schools that can train them in new investment technologies.
William Goetzmann is a professor of finance and management studies at the Yale School of Management. Goetzmann tells US News that traditional methods, like “fundamental stock selection is something that’s being replaced by more quantitative investment methods – even high-tech, big data methods.”
Choosing a school that can train students in new methodologies is important, Goetzmann says.
“So for a career that’s positioned for the future,” he tells US News. “I think students have to think about whether they are going to a place that offers them the opportunity to learn about new methodologies – new investment techniques – as well as traditional techniques.”
2.) Innovative Faculty
Similar to how practicing medical faculty can indicate the quality of a medical school, investment practicing faculty are also key indicators that a business school can provide solid training.
Goetzmann says applicants should seek out schools with faculty who actively write for practitioner publications and are doing influential research.
“There are opportunities to actually study with people who have changed the way that the world invests,” Goetzmann tells US News.
3.) Investment-related extracurricular activities
Investment-related extracurricular activities can often be found through a school’s investment club. These clubs will typically invite industry leaders to lecture at campuses and help members to explore career specialties.
Victor Zhu is a second-year MBA student at Yale and co-president of its Investment Management Club. Zhu tells US News that club members regularly compete in stock pitch competitions — which is often a way to attract hiring managers. “This club is crucial in terms of guiding students through the recruitment process,” he says.
4.) Student managed investment portfolio
A number of schools also offer students the opportunity to manage an investment portfolio. Student-run investment funds often are hands-on opportunities for students to make investment decisions.
“Students with interest in post-degree asset management positions should determine if schools have a portfolio they can co-manage – preferably a real money one tied to a class, but a virtual fund managed by a student organization can substitute,” Helen Dashney, director of the Financial Markets Institute at Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business, tells US News.
5.) Active and practicing alumni network
A strong active alumni network can help students gain access to the industry. Moreover, strong alumni networks can serve as an indicator of how many grads go into the industry.
According to efinancialcareers — a financial services careers website — New York University’s Stern School of Business has the largest proportion of MBA grads who go into finance, with 28% of the class of 2015 choosing investment banking.
Seeking schools with a high number of practicing alumni can give you an understanding of how successful a school is in sending its students into the industry.
6.) Relevant coursework
Another key strategy is to seek out schools that offer relevant coursework in investments. Courses in behavioral finance, risk management, and data science are often indicators that a school can offer investment training.
According to Investopedia, behavioral finance “seeks to combine behavioral and cognitive psychological theory with conventional economics and finance to provide explanations for why people make irrational financial decisions.”
Topics like risk management can teach students “how to decide whether the potential reward of an investment outweighs the risk of that investment,” Kowarski says. Data science, according to Investopedia, “combines different fields of work in statistics and computation in order to interpret data for the purpose of decision making.”
Christine Bolzan is a career advisor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and founder of the Graduate Career Coaching company. Bolzan tells US News that courses in these topics can teach students hot skills that are in demand.
“These students will graduate not only with deep finance knowledge, but also an ability to leverage machine learning techniques and artificial intelligence to create complex technical solutions and investment strategies,” Bolzan says.