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The top five MBAs for financial services

Nearly half these MBAs will be bankers one day

Earlier this week, we looked at the Madrid-based IE MBA, after IE itself ranked top of the Financial Times' list of European business schools.  If you study an MBA at IE, the FT says your postgraduate compensation should increase 139% - but as we pointed out, very few MBAs from IE go on to work in financial services. Industry and consulting appear to be their careers of choice.

If financial services is your chosen profession, you may instead want to study at one of the five schools below. These are taken from a list of  the top 60 MBA courses compiled by QS Consulting based upon a survey of 300 employers in banking and financial services.  You can see the full list on our German site, here. 

1. Wharton, University of Pennsylvania 

Wharton is the best MBA for financial services professionals according to QS. The school's own information, shown below, indicates that an impressive 41% of its students go into financial services, of which 17.5% go into investment banking or brokerage roles.

Wharton careersWharton finance 2

Source: Wharton 

In 2012, the average Wharton MBA going into a financial services roles earned a salary of $110k and bonuses of $80k. Pay was by far the highest for Wharton MBAs going into the private equity/buyouts sector - here, it average $255k.

wharton pay

Wharton pay finance

Source: Wharton 

2. The University of Chicago Booth School of Business 

QS says the University of Chicago Booth offers the second best MBA for financial services careers. The school's own employment report suggests 17.6% of its MBAs (82 people) went into investment banking this year. 9.5% (44 people) went into investment management or research. Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse each hired 14 people from Chicago Booth. Morgan Stanley hired 12. Goldman hired 9. Citigroup, Deutsche and JPMorgan each hired 7. UBS hired 6 and Barcap hired 5.

Chicago Booth doesn't break out how much its MBAs earn when they go into financial services.

3. London Business School 

London Business School is the third best destination for aspiring financial services MBAs. The school's 2011 MBA employment report (the most recent one that's available) says that 34% of its students go into financial services, divided between sectors as indicated below.

London business school careers

Source: London Business School 

Key financial services employers at LBS are as follows:

LBS finance employers

Source: London Business School 

Average pay for LBS MBAs going into financial services roles is given in the table below (in sterling). In dollar terms, the salary numbers look very similar to those at Wharton: the median base salary for an LBS MBA is $112k. However, bonuses for LBS MBAs appear to be higher at $100k, compared to $80k at Wharton.


Source: London Business School 

4. Harvard Business School  

Contrary to popular perception, Harvard Business School does not appear to be the best in the world for finance MBAs: it ranks 4th. The school says that 35% of its MBAs went into financial services in 2012. Median total compensation for MBAs going into the industry was nearly $200k. Again, pay was highest for MBAs going into private equity.

Harvard pay

Harvard MBA pay 2

5. Stern School of Business 

Stern School of Business is fifth in QS's list. The school says that 22% of its MBAs went into investment banking. 6% went into investment management and  hedge funds and 3% went into private equity.

Full pay figures are available here, and appear to be very slightly lower than elsewhere - even in private equity.

AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • at
    11 December 2012

    I attended SMU's MBA program and am currently a successful investment banker. Don't get caught up in the marketing ploy of business schools. If you are smart, work hard, focused, persistant and will find the best job that fits your goals and personality.

  • an
    10 December 2012

    Having worked for a number of the leading investment banks, I have a great deal of experience of working for MBAs. I can state, absolutely categorically, that the worst I ever worked for had an MBA from Harvard and was a former McKinsey consultant. He could write a brilliant SWOT analysis, but could not manage his way out of a wet paper bag. Management ability, in my view, has zero correlation with academic qualifications.
    I have worked with, and for, a number of outstanding managers over the years. The best have been largely intuitive, with natural leadership skills. If an MBA could teach you that, I would be a huge fan.

  • ML
    ML Veteran
    9 December 2012

    Interestingly compensation in investment banking seem to lag behind the rest.

  • ji
    jim jones
    7 December 2012

    What about Stanford, MIT, INSEAD, Cranfield, Brunel?

  • HF
    7 December 2012

    Stern better than Columbia? Very surprising, to say the least...

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