Q1. I have gaps in between my work experience. There is a gap of 4 months when I joined the Bank after leaving my IT job. During this time I earned money by share trading and I backpacked through the country. Is this gap a matter of concern? How do I make up with it?
Not at all. A four month gap in years of experience is totally normal. Tell them you were backpacking, discovering the world! It will only make you a more interesting candidate.
Q2. Is my profile (the duration and quality of my work-ex) suitable for a top league school like INSEAD or one of the Ivy-Leagues?
Your work experience by matriculation should be about 36, 38 months, which is pretty average. So good there. Your work experience seems good as well, even if a bit "middle-of-the-road"
Q3. Any suggestions to improve my profile or any other areas of improvement.
The big question is why would they choose YOU rather than 20 other candidates with similar profiles???? Your profile is very good! But India is a huge country with many other excellent candidates. And you need to find your unique items that make YOU different to present yourself ina unique manner.
Q4. I want to make a career in asset/portfolio management and start my own fund house someday. I wish to pursue higher education for the same. In light of above can you also suggest would a Masters in Finance in Princeton be a suitable course or should I just apply for MBAs and seek specialization in the same.
The Princeton Masters of Finance as well as any other MF would likely also be a degree that could be very helpful on your way towards those goals. There's no reason for you not to apply to this program simultaneously with MBA programs.
Q5. Further, can you help me prioritize the following B-schools as per my chances of success and suitability. I am looking for a big brand and specialty in finance and I want to limit the number of schools I apply to, at least in the first round.
It's a bit hard to say about your chances without digging deeper into your profile, esp. your work experience. Let's say that with your numbers any of these schools are possible! The question is: What else have you got? But say you were to apply to ALL these schools, I would say that would be a pretty good strategy.
Your list is pretty complete. I would maybe also suggest Johnson, which has a very strong finance program, and resources.
Said Business School, Oxford
London Business School
Columbia Business School
If you like the post, give it a KUDOS!