What comes first: the MBA or the job in banking?

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Investment banks are increasingly prepared to hire MBAs without previous financial services experience, according to a leading European business school.

Romuald Gallet, a financial services careers advisor at INSEAD, the French business school, says two thirds of INSEAD MBA students interning with banks this summer have no previous financial services experience.

This is higher than in the past, says Gallet, and reflects banks' increased interest in MBA hires: more and more banks are presenting to students on the INSEAD campus.

However, recruiters challenge the notion that an MBA is a golden ticket to a glittering financial services career.

"We're increasingly finding that an MBA is a nice to have, but that it won't change your prospects completely," says James Heath, managing director of recruitment firm Greenwich Partners.

He adds: "Nowadays, past experience is more important. But people seem to think that if you go somewhere like Harvard of INSEAD, you're automatically qualified for a job in a private equity fund or an investment bank."

Andrew Chancellor, director of the financial services division at Robert Walters, says the most sought after MBAs already have some investment banking experience before they undertake the course: "An MBA is most useful if it adds to your existing skills base."

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