Despite a tentative and somewhat rocky patch in the wake of the global economic crisis, the long-time love affair between the financial services industry and business graduates appears not only to have endured, but also back to its flourishing days.
Given the steadily diversifying fields of concentration within finance, employers from the industry have traditionally represented one of the largest recruiting groups in B-schools across the world. But with close to half a million jobs disappearing during the financial crash of 2008 and the ensuing recession, there were fears of the particular paradise being lost forever. But as economies around the world inched towards recovery, modestly but steadily, MBA employment in finance began to grow and indeed, even outpaced in some cases the recovery in the sector.
If ever at all it had lost its popularity, Finance as a concentration is surely back at the top in B-schools. While many schools have historically been considered to be a favorite among corporate recruiters from the financial services industry as a whole, based on the reported proportion of accepted positions in the sector (among graduates of the class of 2010), here are 5 promising destinations that aspirants eyeing a career in the industry could consider:
Columbia Business School: Finance and Economics is the largest division of Columbia Business School, offering nearly half the courses at the School. Recruiters consistently rank Columbia among the top schools in the country for finance, and more than half of the School's graduating MBAs have traditionally taken up finance-related jobs.
The strength of the Finance and Economics Division lies in its alumni, students, and faculty members and scholars, among whom are several Nobel winning economists. Columbia professors Benjamin Graham and David Dodd are reputed for their seminal work in the field of finance.
Among the graduating MBAs in 2010, 48.4 percent of those reporting placement have taken up positions in the financial services industry as per figures reported according to the standards of the MBA Career Services Council.
Chicago Booth School: The University of Chicago, Booth School of Business is also known for its rigorous academic focus on hard finance and quantitative skills. Its legendary finance curriculum - taught by world-renowned professors who conduct research, collaborate with the entrepreneurial and private equity communities, and bring their own experiences into the classroom - has been a primary factor attracting both aspirants and recruiters at Booth. Close to 45 percent of its 2010 grads has accepted positions in finance, according to the Interim Employment Report published by the School.
Among the student groups on campus, the largest is the Investment Banking Group, which serves as a link between Investment Banks, students, and Career Services. The Booth MBA is also known as one of the most rigorous but flexible programs on offer, and allows its students wide latitude in course selection.
Rotman School of Management: Located in the Canadian financial and business capital of Toronto, which is also the third largest North American financial services centre after New York and Chicago, the Rotman School of Management is another favorite among recruiters in the financial services industry. 48 percent of Rotman's 2010 grads have so far been placed in positions in the industry.
The focus on finance at the School is evident in several ways: it has its very own Financial Research and Trading Lab enabling experiential training for students in using live data feeds to operate in a simulated trading environment. The School has received over $15 million in donation from the business community to fund the activities of the Finance area. It has also recently appointed a Financial Services Advisory Board with the goal of developing new connections between the School and Toronto's financial services firms.
Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania: Wharton's Finance Department has remained at the forefront of developments arising from the radical changes that have taken place over the last 20 years in financial models and asset pricing techniques, widely used in corporations, banks, and stock and bond markets. The close connection between the firm and Wall Street is a widely known fact and traditionally the School has found internships for a large number of its students in these firms, many of whom have later gone on to take up permanent positions. 40.5% of the MBA Class of 2010 reporting placements have found and accepted positions in the financial sector.
The Finance Department at Wharton focuses on four areas of specialization: Banking and Financial Institutions, Corporate Finance, Financial Instruments and Portfolio Management, and International Finance. The School also houses three centers related to financial research - the Financial Institutions Center, the Weiss Center for International Financial Research, and Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
London Business School: Another powerhouse of financial research and teaching, the London Business School - one of the few European schools to offer a two-year program - has posed stiff competition to all business schools in terms of attracting recruiters from the financial services industry. The finance faculty at the School forms one of the most pre-eminent groups of finance academics in the world and enjoys outstanding recognition globally in the practical world of finance. Of course, its location in the one of the world's leading financial centers only consolidates the advantage. According to the MBA Employment Report 2010 released recently, financial services remains the preferred career choice for graduates this year too, with 38 percent choosing this sector.