With the prospect of middle office roles and smaller pay packets: why would MBAs take a finance job?

eFC logo

MBAs have been falling out of love with finance. Investment banks are recruiting fewer business school graduates, while MBAs themselves are instead looking to more stable career options in consulting.

However, MBAs that are going into finance are not taking the traditional M&A roles in the large investment banks. According to the new QS Top MBA jobs and salary trends report released today, MBAs are going into global markets, structured finance, on-and-off balance sheet hedge funds and, perhaps more disturbingly, risk and compliance.

“Market risk and compliance departments are seeing increased MBA hiring as banks seek greater security and control of risky investment classes,” said the report. The upheaval in the financial regulatory landscape has created more job opportunities in risk and compliance, but banks have also been hiring MBAs into financial control and technology positions, it suggests.

More optimistically, hedge funds and private equity firms have also been increasing their recruitment of MBAs. Rather than relying on hiring more experienced business school graduates through alumni networks, they are “recognising the need to recruit younger MBA graduates to meet growing market opportunities”.

From a pay point of view, consulting still lags the financial sector, with average total compensation of $104.2k and $107.4k respectively. However, the financial sector is fourth overall with metals/mining ($191.2k), pharmaceuticals/healthcare ($123k) and energy ($110.3k) all leading the sector league table outlined below.


Where should you study if you want bring in a big pay packet? According to QS’s rankings – based on submissions from the business schools themselves – Ashridge Management School in Hampshire, UK has the highest earning graduates with an average salary of $163k, beating the likes of Stanford ($129.6k), Harvard ($120k) and London Business School ($113.7k). However, generally, top US business schools outstrip their European counterparts for pay potential.