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# GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread

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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]

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09 Jun 2008, 07:57
kidderek wrote:
ryguy904 wrote:
financial analysis of stocks
financial analysis of bonds

Does this fall under the "research" department of and investment bank? Or is it for the IM leg of the firm?

It can actually be either. Research by an i-bank is typically referred to as sell-side. IM (actually taking  and making decisions) is generally referred to as buy-side and are most often at investment management firms. Nevertheless, the functions are the same: understand/research Security X and generate an investment thesis/opinion based on the analysis. Some i-banks have both buy-side and sell-side departments. For example, Neuberger Berman is a buy-side company that is part of Lehman Brothers.
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]

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09 Jun 2008, 11:13
Audio wrote:
Hey sudden, hope it worked out for you. In my test center there were a lot of people who were in dismay after the AM session - apparently it was a nightmare. PM was ok though.

Took level 2, hope it went well - PM session was difficult though.

Here is my impression of Level II this year: AM seemed very easy, PM was more challenging.
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]

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09 Jun 2008, 11:35
wow, this is one of the best posts i have ever seen on any forum, thank you ryguy. kudos to you. and congratulations on passing -- it sounds like your ordeal was just as challenging and draining as the one i have experienced.

i feel your pain on GIPS -- i had the exact same experience. no GIPS in the morning is an "uh oh" since the multiple choice GIPS are much harder than the fill in the blank GIPS (it's ironic since you would think the MC would be easier). the GIPS section was the last 6 questions and it required calculations. i must have dropped the ball on that, because i don't remember seeing that the LOS required calculations. anyway, i think i backed into the correct answers using logical reasoning and understanding the basics of the calculation even if i could not remember the formula. in the other sections, it was like scrapping for points -- it seemed like almost every question had a trick or some twist that made it hard. for example, i work in equity and had the hardest time answering a question about the justified PE multiple (they decided to hide one of the inputs in an unlikely place). the VWAP and IS stuff, as your friend noted, were also challenging (note that this entire item set was approximately 3 pages in the curriculum but they decided to test the heck out of it). basically, the whole exam was a confidence buster of epic proportions.

your post made me feel somewhat more optimistic -- even if i feel badly about my score, it doesn't mean that i failed. thanks for the kind words. since i study alone, sometimes it feels as though i am the only person going through the pain that this program dolls out, so in that respect it's nice to know that some other people understand what it's all about. i have to ask you though, would you do it again? it may be too soon for you to answer that since your wounds are still fresh and you have not enjoyed the full benefit of having the charter yet. congratulations on passing and conquering the beast.

also, did you get into school this year? i would not mind hearing your impressions about the value of the CFA in the b-school application process.

ryguy904 wrote:
sudden wrote:
did you go 3/3 ryguy? how long did it take you to get through? how many hours do you think?

i just took level 3 and i am a bit disappointed. i studied *really* hard but the morning section was a trainwreck. i went 2/2, so i knew what it would take to get through the 3rd one, but there was no way to prepare for that section. i took the 2006 and 2007 official tests available on the website and they were pretty straightforward. nothing too funky -- even the IPS questions were manageable. 2008 was a monster though -- the IPS questions especially were just terrible 1.5 pages worth of details to come up with a return calc?? brutal. i crushed the afternoon, but i don't know if it will be enough.

have you seen a lot of benefit to having a charter? i am not sure that i want to go through this again in the event that i failed. i haven't failed yet, and i am optimistic, but i was shocked at how poorly the test was written. it's what, 1500 pages of material... there's one, ONE question on immunizing bonds which came out of a 50+ page reading (it was THE major topic for fixed income this year), and then they decide devote an entire item set to reverse cash and carry arbitrage, which is an obscure topic that they devoted like one page to in the readings. i mean, wow, how do you prepare for that? it's devestating to spend hundreds of hours studying and then feel like you failed some random, arbitrary "test" that doesn't even represent the material (i actually thought i was in the wrong test in the morning LOL!).

good luck on the results for everyone else who took the exam.

Hey Sudden,

I'm really really sorry to hear about your frustrating experience with the exam this weekend. I had very similar experiences at both Level II and Level III. Before I get to that, I spoke with one of my friends that took LIII this weekend as well. He felt like he got torn apart on the morning session. The afternoon was slightly better, but he was pretty beat down emotionally and felt like he had no confidence after lunch. This was his second time taking the exam, after having failed last year. He even read both the CFAI materials and the Schweser. He said there were some very challenging questions on VWAP and implementation shortfall. He also felt like the IPS questions, in terms of calculating required return, were tricky. As far as the afternoon goes, he said the ethics was brutal.

Level I
A bit on my experience. I passed Level I in Dec 2004. I had planned to take Level II in June 2005, but there was no chance after I saw the material. I'm averse to accounting, so there was no way I could pass with only 4 months of studying (results released at the end of Jan.).

Level II
I started studying for Level II after Thanksgiving 2005, leaving me with about 6 months of studying, including 3 weeks of review. My strongest area without a doubt was equities. When I got to that section in the afternoon, I read through the passage and completely understood everything. However, when I got to the questions, I thought what the ^&@*!!! What do these have to do with the passage that I just read? I still remember the basics of the case. It has something to do with a Swiss watch maker. Going into the test, I was banking on getting at least 5/6 from that passage, since I knew that if I were to pass the test, it would be by a slim margin. I walked out of the Level II exam and was completely devastated. Not only was the equities section difficult, but ethics, and FSA were also brutal. I felt that I could have gotten anywhere from 6/12 to 12/12 on the ethics (I ended up scoring in the 50-70 range in that area). I walked out of the Level II exam and was completely devastated.

I had studied for 300-350 hours (maybe more, who knows!) and I thought that it was all a waste. I even thought to myself that maybe this CFA thing was not for me. Seriously, I’m not kidding. I beat myself up over the exam for about 2 weeks. How can somebody study so hard and have such a poor outcome. Nevertheless, when the results came out in August, they read, ryguy904: PASS. Un-believable.

Level III
Now to Level III last year. First of all, last year was the lowest passing % in the history of Level III. I think only 50% passed. I'm not trying to toot my own horn, I just believe that people really underestimate Level III and it’s staring to show in the results. I had two friends that I went through the first two levels with, and sadly, both of them were sitting in Pomona (Los Angeles test center) again last Saturday. I felt that I did OK on the essay portion, but definitely below what I was capable of. The individual IPS required return calc was very difficult (which I ended up getting wrong) and the portfolio attribution section was a bear. I knew the formulas like the back of my hand, but somehow the questions were asked in a way in which I came up shooting blanks. In the afternoon, I wanted to cry. I felt like I was getting my *ss handed to me. I seriously felt like all of my study time had gone to waste. I put in the most time for this exam, maybe 400 hours+. I felt like I was 50/50 on every question that I “should” know. For Level III, the section that irked me was risk management (VaR, etc.) I felt that I knew the section well and had read it maybe 4-5 times (it was relatively short, maybe only 60 pages for the entire study session). When I got to the questions, I was hoping for at least 4/6, if not better. I thought that at best, I only managed 2/6 - and that was if I was lucky. Meanwhile, GIPS appeared in the afternoon section of the test, for the first time since--I don’t even know when! I reviewed the previous exams from 2003-2006 (four stinkin’ years!) and the format was virtually the same each year. Also, it was in the essay portion in those years. When I got to lunchtime, and hadn’t seen GIPS yet, I was a little worried. I knew it would be in the pm for sure, but in what format?? GIPS ended up being the last six questions on the exam. I basically got ripped a new one. We had to calculate the return for a portfolio….HUH?!?! I had skimmed through these sample questions in the reading, because I was like “no way, these questions take like 5 minutes each to solve.” Yet there were two questions in the pm that had us do this. I walked away praying that I hit 3/6 in GIPS, although 1 or 2 was more likely. And of course, ethics was a monster, as usual. I thought 9/12 would’ve taken a miracle. Ironically, Level III was the only year in which I scored >70 in ethics. Go figure. End result LEVL III: PASS. And to answer your question, I did go 3/3.

I really feel your pain, Sudden, and understand what you just went through. That’s why I wanted to post you comprehensive note on my personal experience. There’s a long way to go until the results come out. Trust me, I was as anxious as anyway to get them. I was literally having nightmares a couple weeks after the exam was over. For instance, I had a dream that the person next to me was cheating of my exam, and we both got in trouble! I had another dream that there were 30 minutes left on the essay section and I was just starting question 2!! Ultimately, you really did the best that you could. If I had put money on how I did after I left the test centers, I would have lost EVERY time. I really didn’t even have much of a glimmer of hope for Level II and Level III. As far as your test goes, you put down YOUR best answers on paper. You can’t go back and change them at this point. With that in mind, do not pick up any CFA materials. You will only make matters worse. Try to take your mind off of the situation as much as you can. Go on vacation, read books, rent movies, play Halo, or whatever floats your boat. It’s a long way until the results come out. Enjoy your free to and remember what it’s like to have a “normal” life.

All the best,
ryguy
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]

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10 Jun 2008, 10:50
hey rguy,

are you applying for an mba program? if so which schools?
are there any buisness schools do you think are specifically good for investment management?
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]

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11 Jun 2008, 10:56
some of you may roll your eyes when i ask this, but is a CFA beneficial for folks interested in VC or PE? Or pretty much limited to buy side/sell side/investment management? thx.
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]

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11 Jun 2008, 11:05
hotdog wrote:
some of you may roll your eyes when i ask this, but is a CFA beneficial for folks interested in VC or PE? Or pretty much limited to buy side/sell side/investment management? thx.

A charterholder will have a better answer for you, but I have to think that a CFA body of knowledge will give you tools to evaluate companies that would be helpful for VC/PE. As for landing the jobs? Not sure.

While I was consulting at a top bulge bracket bank, I saw the resumes of the summer associate interns and noticed 2 things:

1)majority had gmat scores of 700 +/- 20pts
2)many were CFA candidates (oddly no charterholders)
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11 Jun 2008, 11:48
1
KUDOS
I went 3/3 on the CFA exams. I did Dec 2005 level 1, June 2006 level 2, and June 2007 level 3. As far as the CFA and getting into B-school, it will help much more at a finance related school. Sadly, the adcom at many schools know what the CFA is, but they don't REALLY know what it is and what it takes to get it. The finance related schools have this problem to a lesser degree because members of those schools are much more familiar with the CFA program. If you're hoping for the CFA to help you get in, you'd be best served applying to Wharton, Chicago, NYU and other good finance heavy schools. I applied to NYU part-time on May 15th and was accepted June 4th. The CFA wasn't the only thing that got me in but I'm sure it helped. If anyone reading this is wondering if they should take the CFA exams, basically think of that exactly like your goals essay. Why do you want to enter the CFA program and why will it help you achieve your goals?

Go to the CFA website and check out the learning outcomes for the 3 levels.
http://www.cfainstitute.org/cfaprog/res ... sions.html

Don't just look at the topic, open the PDF files and read the learning outcomes. You have to know every one of those things for each study session to pass the test. Know what you're getting into before you start. I also don't recommend taking this test if it doesn't line up with your goals because it is NOT an easy test. However, if the CFA does line up with what you want to do and it teaches you things you won't learn in the MBA program, I highly recommend it. The CFA is an excellent program and you will learn a ton. It will not, however, get you into B-school by itself just like an amazing GMAT score won’t. Like an amazing GMAT score though, it will certainly help your chances.
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Re: Has anybody taken/passed the CFA level I? [#permalink]

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11 Jun 2008, 15:50
sudden wrote:
wow, this is one of the best posts i have ever seen on any forum, thank you ryguy. kudos to you. and congratulations on passing -- it sounds like your ordeal was just as challenging and draining as the one i have experienced.

i feel your pain on GIPS -- i had the exact same experience. no GIPS in the morning is an "uh oh" since the multiple choice GIPS are much harder than the fill in the blank GIPS (it's ironic since you would think the MC would be easier). the GIPS section was the last 6 questions and it required calculations. i must have dropped the ball on that, because i don't remember seeing that the LOS required calculations. anyway, i think i backed into the correct answers using logical reasoning and understanding the basics of the calculation even if i could not remember the formula. in the other sections, it was like scrapping for points -- it seemed like almost every question had a trick or some twist that made it hard. for example, i work in equity and had the hardest time answering a question about the justified PE multiple (they decided to hide one of the inputs in an unlikely place). the VWAP and IS stuff, as your friend noted, were also challenging (note that this entire item set was approximately 3 pages in the curriculum but they decided to test the heck out of it). basically, the whole exam was a confidence buster of epic proportions.

your post made me feel somewhat more optimistic -- even if i feel badly about my score, it doesn't mean that i failed. thanks for the kind words. since i study alone, sometimes it feels as though i am the only person going through the pain that this program dolls out, so in that respect it's nice to know that some other people understand what it's all about. i have to ask you though, would you do it again? it may be too soon for you to answer that since your wounds are still fresh and you have not enjoyed the full benefit of having the charter yet. congratulations on passing and conquering the beast.

also, did you get into school this year? i would not mind hearing your impressions about the value of the CFA in the b-school application process.

First of all, thank you for the kind words. As someone that went through this (recently), I understand your pain. I can't tell you how amazing it was just to relax this last Memorial weekend for the first time in three years! Ah, the simple things. Sometimes in the routine of our daily lives, it is hard to appreciate those things. Strap on the CFA, and those things can become a distant memory.

For the strong-willed and successful people like yourself, you live and breathe CFA for six months out of the year. According to my girlfriend, the only season longer than “CFA season” is baseball season, and if I had to choose, it’s a toss up on which one she prefers. You wake up in the morning thinking about it and lay down in bed at night worrying about it (and if you're like me, you have bad dreams about it too!!). It's something that you can't get away from.

I think that only somebody that has taken/passed one of the CFA exams can truly appreciate what a feat it is to be in your shoes. Making it past the first two levels is a huge indicator of your skills. The thing is, you WILL be a Charterholder at some point, Sudden. It's not a question of if, just a matter of when. Clearly, you'd like it to be all said in done this August, but take satisfaction in knowing that you are down the homestretch. I’m not one to say that it’s all downhill after Level II, because it’s not! I think Level III is equally challenging, if not more so, than Level II. However, my honest to goodness opinion is, I truly don’t have much of a distinction between a Charterholder and a Level III candidate. That’s not to say I don’t place great value on Level III or the Charter, because I do. It just goes back to what I said about “when” you will become a Charterholder. Others may feel differently about this, but that’s not my take.

A tangent story in this area... I met a fellow CFA Charterholder at our annual member meeting (for my local society) about two months back. He said it took him three tries to clear Level III. One of the attempts had some personal issues related to it, but again, nevertheless it gets back to my point: it’s not if but when you’ll become a Charterholder after passing Level II. And for good measure, the CFAI can’t hold you accountable for thinking of yourself as: Sudden, CFA. Go ahead, say it to yourself. It sounds pretty darn nice, doesn’t it?

As I may have mentioned in a previous post, I mentor Level candidates and am the co-director of a program with my local CFA Society. It’s very easy to spot the tell tail signs of success and failure. What I “hear” from your comments are very clearly signs of success. Your attitude is as optimistic as it can be. You don’t blame the system, the CFAI, or make excuses. And you put in the NECESSARY time. Very encouraging factors. For that matter, I think they are good attributes in general.

Would I do it again? Without a doubt. I learned so much from going through this process. For starters, I mastered an extensive and comprehensive curriculum. I learned how to manage my time. I learned to “find it in me” when there was nothing left at 1am on a weeknight and I needed to go to work in six hours. I discovered what fueled me and what motivated me. There are those lonely Friday nights when you wonder to yourself – why?!? I learned discipline to say “no” to grabbing drinks with friends. I also learned that sometimes you need to go out and just get a damn drink, though! I think I’ve matured tremendously over the course of three years. There’s more to it than simply reading some books and taking three exams. It’s easy for me to say looking in the rear view mirror.

As far as school goes, here’s my situation.

p414035#p414035

It has been a very humbling experience for me. I’m still waiting to hear from UCLA, but if I don’t get the green light, I’m going to decide between USC and a reapp. I felt like I was really close with Columbia.

I’ll follow up with an additional post later on with my impressions on b-schools’ take on the CFA.

ryguy
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19 Jun 2008, 07:24
Hello there,

I am considering a career change and go into IM. But I am wondering whether that is realistic: I am planning of going to B-school and will be 32 by time I finish. I know it would be difficult to move into IB at that age. What about IM?
I have 6 years finance experience (finance as in accounting in industry, not banking). I could go and do the CFA 1 before B-school, but need to know first whether there would be opportunities for someone with my profile...
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09 Jul 2008, 07:59
lumone wrote:
Hello there,

I am considering a career change and go into IM. But I am wondering whether that is realistic: I am planning of going to B-school and will be 32 by time I finish. I know it would be difficult to move into IB at that age. What about IM?
I have 6 years finance experience (finance as in accounting in industry, not banking). I could go and do the CFA 1 before B-school, but need to know first whether there would be opportunities for someone with my profile...

Anyone maybe?
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09 Jul 2008, 15:47
lumone wrote:
lumone wrote:
Hello there,

I am considering a career change and go into IM. But I am wondering whether that is realistic: I am planning of going to B-school and will be 32 by time I finish. I know it would be difficult to move into IB at that age. What about IM?
I have 6 years finance experience (finance as in accounting in industry, not banking). I could go and do the CFA 1 before B-school, but need to know first whether there would be opportunities for someone with my profile...

Anyone maybe?

Hey lumone,

I don't think the age factor will be an issue at all. 32 isn’t old to take a position at any of the sell side firms. One of my contacts at Columbia has about 7 years of work experience plus a couple of years in the military, so I’d peg him at around 31-32 by graduation. He was able to get an internship at a momentum driven hedge fund this summer. He does have a little bit of IM experience under his belt, which may have helped his case slightly. Perhaps some of the more “senior” members on the board can address the age issue a little better, though.

As far as your background goes, IM firms love people that understand accounting (unless by accounting you mean working at H&R Block ). If you can read, understand, and interpret financial statements, that is a big plus. CFA Level I under your belt will definitely show your dedication and interest in IM. If you can take it without it affecting your essays, GMAT studying, etc. please do so by all means. Although if you are applying THIS fall, your only chance would be for the June 09 exam. I'd focus on getting in first and then CFA L1.

Another of my contacts at Columbia just graduated and is going to work on the sell-side at MS. He comes from a marketing background and had zero experience in finance prior to school. By default, you already have a leg up on someone like him (or others in this career switch type of profile). The guy has a great personality and is really bright, but he still had to do the stock pitch and other necessary interview preparations.

My suggestion is to take a look at schools that have a strong presence and recruiting in IM and apply to those schools. Your list won’t be very long. If you aren’t drooling over the coursework and opportunities that they have to offer, than IM isn’t the field for you. Most likely you will fall in love, though. Also take a look at Cornell and NYU. Cornell has a state of the art trading floor and real time data feeds from something like 30 sources. Anderson is a good choice if you want to be in California. C/W/H/S are also usual suspects, but quite honestly I think the lack of presence in NY is a big disadvantage (undoutably the hotbed of IM). Yeah, people say H/S/W can get you in anywhere, but frankly that’s not the case in IM. I know that those schools have trips to Boston, San Fran, NYC, etc, but the fact is the recruiting process for IM is so disjointed that you need to be a subway ride away to take advantage. djhouse can probably back me up on this.

I hope this helps a little. Let me know if you have any more questions and keep me posted.

Cheers,
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10 Jul 2008, 02:32

Concerning my experience, I have worked for a number of years in Accounts Receivable – Credit Control. That’s basically checking that clients have the financial « power » to pay before we deliver and making sure that they pay us. So, I do have some understanding of accounting, even though I’m not a qualified accountant as such. I considered this option : become a qualified accountant (it takes a few years PT or distance learning, here in Europe). I was told a few times by colleagues and friends that I would be really good at this : I generally think in a logical and organised way . But the opportunities for MBA’s are maybe better as for Chartered Accountant’s and I do not want to spend the rest of my work life working on invoices and ledgers. An yes, I am applying in R1 and R2 and applications are my top priority. Hopefully, I will be accepted somewhere, and thus would have some time to prepare for CFA L1 next June.

Something I did not mention : my language skills : native French, fluent English and German. I spent the last 10 years abroad : Netherlands, Germany, UK and Ireland. Do language skills and international experience help in a career in IM ?

I do not know yet whether I want to stay in Europe or go to America for an MBA. USA have definitly more choices for excellent programs, but they take generally longer. I have to make up my mind, and soon. If I understand, it'd be better to be in Columbia/NYU or LBS, but I am concerned with the cost of living in NYC or London with almost no income for 2 years. I might consider HEC Paris :shorter, cheaper program and they provide 4 month exchange to top US and European programs (including Columbia, Wharton and LBS) at the end of the course. It wouldn’t hurt my debt too much and I’d be able to look for jobs directly from there. There is also Oxford/Cambridge (both 1yr, within reasonable distance from London). However, even if HEC and Oxbridge are good programs, top US ones or Insead/LBS are probably in their own league.

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10 Jul 2008, 02:51
efinancialcareers.co.uk wrote:
CFA or MBA: Which is right for you?
18 April 2007

Emma Johnson

A lot of people are wondering whether they should seek a CFA in place of the more traditional MBA. In large part, the answer depends on your focus.

The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation has been enjoying a heightened profile and increased popularity in light of surging private equity activity. So far In 2007 - the program's 44th year - 140,000 people from 156 countries have registered to sit for the three exams that determine, in part, whether one is permitted to tag those three letters at the end of their signature.

A lot of people are wondering whether they should seek a CFA in place of the more traditional MBA. Which will get them ahead? Which will make them more marketable? Which will attract a bigger compensation package?

Whether you should seek a CFA, an MBA, or both has everything to do you’re your professional goals, says Joshua Wimberley, a client partner in recruiter Korn/Ferry's financial officers practice. Simply put, if your goals include anything but asset management, a CFA isn't for you.

Focus on Asset Management

"The CFA is of huge importance in the asset management industry," Wimberley explains. "An MBA is more for investment banking or business in general. It's the standard educational background on Wall Street. If you want to go into investment banking, there is no need for a CFA. It's really comparing apples and oranges."

In short, the CFA gives you the technical skills to succeed in investment management, while an MBA prepares you for a broad range of challenges in the business world. Even for those dedicated to investment management, the big-picture business know-how an MBA affords can propel your career and earnings.

Even executives with the CFA Institute encourage an MBA for those seeking their designation. Bob Johnson, managing director of the CFAI's education division, says the MBA and CFA are "complimentary, not competitive" designations. "I do realize people have a limited amount of time and need to prioritize what educational opportunities they avail themselves of," says Johnson. "For a young person who is preparing for a career in investment management, both educational opportunities are something they should consider."

'The Ideal Career Path'

Johnson lays out what he considers an ideal career path for a recent college grad committed to asset management: Enter the CFA program while working full-time. With the work experience and the CFA designation, enter a MBA program - also while working. "Think about it," he says. "You are 28, 29 years old with both a CFA and an MBA and six years of work experience." In addition, he notes, "most employers in the investment management business will subsidize the cost of a CFA program and an MBA."

Meanwhile, Korn/Ferry's Wimberley believes a junior-level asset management professional with a CFA alone should succeed. "If you're talented and a high performer and all you want to do is asset management, I would say get an CFA," he says, adding that the treasurers of many Fortune 1,000 companies, CFOs and controllers have Level 3 CFAs only.

To those who suggest the CFA is replacing the MBA, Dave Wilson, president and CEO of the Graduate Management Admission Council, says: "Not a chance." The CFA charter produces "first-class analysts," he says, but an MBA covers the fundamentals of business relevant to every type of organization, from entrepreneurial start-ups, to multinational corporations, not-for-profits, and government agencies. "An MBA prepares someone to work within an organization as it relates to margins, strategy, mission, marketing and human resource issues," he says. "That will always make the MBA a relevant degree."

The Costs

When it comes to the nitty-gritty, there are big differences in each designation. For one thing, the price difference is significant: CFA enrollment and exam fees are $2,200, compared to the more than$100,000 an MBA from a top school can cost. It takes a minimum of three years of coursework - at least 250 hours of self-guided study - before one can sit for the six-hour CFA exam. A typical MBA program, attended full-time, takes two years.

The CFAI limits the number of charters they grant yearly - in 2005 and 2006, 5,752 and 10,045 charters were awarded, respectively. (In 2005, 80,000 people sat for the CFA. In 2006, 91,000 people sat.) Today, the institute has nearly 78,000 members worldwide, with the numbers of registered applicants ballooning in India, China and Hong Kong.

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29 Jul 2008, 04:25
Hello,

I am more and more considering IM .
Next step: where to apply for MBAs?

I have therefore done some research on the M7 B-schools' placement stats (2005, 2006 or 2007):
IM -Columbia 12%
IM- Wharton 11.9%
IM - Harvard 7%
IM / Hedge funds : Stanford 17%
IM / Research Chicago: 10.7%
IM - Kellogg : 4%
IM – MIT : 8.4%

Might do the same for Elite schools later.

EDIT: found the IM only Stanford stat: 10%
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29 Jul 2008, 07:31
lumone wrote:
Hello,

I am more and more considering IM .
Next step: where to apply for MBAs?

I have therefore done some research on the M7 B-schools' placement stats (2005, 2006 or 2007):
IM -Columbia 12%
IM- Wharton 11.9%
IM - Harvard 7%
IM / Hedge funds : Stanford 17%
IM / Research Chicago: 10.7%
IM - Kellogg : 4%
IM – MIT : 8.4%

Might do the same for Elite schools later.

EDIT: found the IM only Stanford stat: 10%

Glad to hear you are considering taking the IM route. I believe that Columbia will provide BY FAR the most opportunities in IM. Consider that ~12% of the class goes into IM, that's about 85 students. They have very close ties with buy-side firms (and the usual sell-side firms) in and around New York. With the exception of some very large players such as Blackstone or KKR, I believe that CBS has a leg up on Wharton, Stanford, Chicago, and Harvard. People that don't understand this will simply say, Harvard will get you in anywhere, Wharton is the best finance school, blah blah....First, the recruiting cycle is much different than IB or MC. It is very firm specific as opposed to a systematic process. Second, since those other schools are not in NY, many (small to mid-size) IM firms will not recruit at Chicago or Wharton (in part because of point #1). The connection is not as easy to make. CBS's has ties to a huge number of firms, from the small 5 person shop, to the Neuberger Berman's of the world. This info is very evident by scrolling through past employment reports.

The advantage of being in New York is huge. Bruce Greenwald's Value Investing course had 16 guest speakers this past Fall, all from IM firms and HFs (besides the trip they took to Omaha to visit Warren Buffett). One class (I can't recall which one) is even taught at an IM firm (Blue Ridge, I think...?)

I would add Cornell to your list. Do some research on their program, it will really surprise you. They have an amazing trading floor and an immersion program that will really set you off on the right foot. I'll be applying there in Rd1.

If you want to be in SoCal, UCLA has some good ties to the very small LA market.
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30 Jul 2008, 06:34
Thanks, RG! Great posts.
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31 Jul 2008, 04:20
ryguy904 -> THANK YOU for the advice.

As I'm considering IM I need to apply to the best MBA programs in that field. I have thought about that during the past few days and I've come to the following conclusion: it's probably best to consider Columbia, Wharton and Chicago as first choices, and forget about Harvard and Stanford. Generally speaking H/S are the best MBA brands, but that may not be true in IM. Also, these two cleary prefer young applicants and I will turn 30 in December. One more reason not to apply to H/S. I should instead concentrate my efforts on W/Chi/Col in R1/ED.

Then, I have a question on IM compensation. I see from the Columbia career report that only 7% of graduates who work in IM received a compensation other that their salary. I assumed that bonuses related to performance were common in IM. Isn't that the case?
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31 Jul 2008, 05:23
Interesting analysis, ryguy. I am surprised to see such a high number out of Stanford -- for a save the world school, 17% to IM and HF is a pretty high number. I guess people are saving their bank accounts first, and the world second. But I digress.

I agree with the comments that Columbia has a better IM program than H or S (I would go so far to say that the Col. IM offerings are leaps and bounds ahead), but I disagree that Columbia is a better choice for someone who wants to go into IM (counter-intuitive, I know). Most of the firms I have looked at have a heavy bias toward H and S grads. If you want to be in NYC, you are probably okay with Columbia, but outside of that, I think you would be crazy not to choose H or S. Personally, I want to live in the Bay Area, so the choice is pretty clear cut for me -- Stanford or bust. If I don't make it, I will probably try for Wharton West in a few years.
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31 Jul 2008, 08:39
sudden wrote:
Most of the firms I have looked at have a heavy bias toward H and S grads. If you want to be in NYC, you are probably okay with Columbia, but outside of that, I think you would be crazy not to choose H or S. Personally, I want to live in the Bay Area, so the choice is pretty clear cut for me -- Stanford or bust. If I don't make it, I will probably try for Wharton West in a few years.

I should have prefaced my analysis by saying that if you want to be in NYC, then Columbia is the best option. If you want to be on the west coast, I think that S/H/W (and lagging well behind is UCLA) are definitely better choices. That said, from a personal experience/growth point of view, I do believe that "Wall Street" experience is invaluable and something that people should experience if they want to be in the IM world. You are closer to the action (traders, bankers, Fortune 500 companies/executives, hedge funds, etc, PE firms, etc.). And as far as the firms that recruit Columbia grads in NYC, they are definitely better than "okay."

I ultimately want to come back to SoCal (but a stint in NYC will definitely benefit my career). I think that once I have 3-4 years buy-side experience, coupled with the Columbia MBA and the CFA Charter, I'll be in decent shape trying to land something in LA, OC, or SD. That's the plan, assuming CBS welcomes me with open arms
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31 Jul 2008, 09:41
ryguy904 wrote:
sudden wrote:
Most of the firms I have looked at have a heavy bias toward H and S grads. If you want to be in NYC, you are probably okay with Columbia, but outside of that, I think you would be crazy not to choose H or S. Personally, I want to live in the Bay Area, so the choice is pretty clear cut for me -- Stanford or bust. If I don't make it, I will probably try for Wharton West in a few years.

I should have prefaced my analysis by saying that if you want to be in NYC, then Columbia is the best option. If you want to be on the west coast, I think that S/H/W (and lagging well behind is UCLA) are definitely better choices. That said, from a personal experience/growth point of view, I do believe that "Wall Street" experience is invaluable and something that people should experience if they want to be in the IM world. You are closer to the action (traders, bankers, Fortune 500 companies/executives, hedge funds, etc, PE firms, etc.). And as far as the firms that recruit Columbia grads in NYC, they are definitely better than "okay."

I ultimately want to come back to SoCal (but a stint in NYC will definitely benefit my career). I think that once I have 3-4 years buy-side experience, coupled with the Columbia MBA and the CFA Charter, I'll be in decent shape trying to land something in LA, OC, or SD. That's the plan, assuming CBS welcomes me with open arms

Or you could really hit the jackpot and land a job at Capital Group straight out of Columbia. It's arguably the best buy-side firm out there and it's right here in LA. Capital Group only recruits research analysts from 5 MBA programs and Columbia is one of them (H/S/W/Chi are the others).
Re: GMATClub's Unofficial Chartered Financial Analyst thread   [#permalink] 31 Jul 2008, 09:41

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