Is an MBA relevant? Yet another perspective

A question that frequently pops up here is whether one should suspend a short yet thus far successful finance career for two years, and spend a load of cash on a top MBA program. In a recent discussion, a very insightful user provided 5 arguments against it: cost, lack of relevant skills taught, students already have what they are buying, no job guarantees and dubious effect on career progression.

This user typically comes with very good insights, and this one specifically motivated me to try and offer a different perspective on his arguments. Bear in mind that I do hold an MBA so my speech may be biased. But I honestly believe these opinions are path-agnostic. Here, I try to take a career-centric view, as opposed to the job-centric view that prevails (which is natural given WSO's recruiting-heavy focus).

(1) The argument: "The cost. Opportunity cost + tuition will easily break 500k if you are leaving a relatively well paying job."

S&T Interview Coming Up? Read This First

mod note (andy): this was originally posted 9/30/12
It's interview season, time of great joy and nostalgia: over the past decade, I have been in both sides of many interview tables, BB, consulting, HFs, you name it. If you are interviewing for S&T, today is your lucky day, I will share a few thoughts and tips on S&T interviews.

But remember: this is only my opinion, and I make no claim as to the helpfulness of any of this. Plus, I accept no responsibility for anything that happens to you if you take my tips at face value. That's for symmetry: you won't send me a check if they get you to your dream job.

Lessdoit.

The Great Strategic Game of Life (2/2)

In the first post in this series I was talking about big strategic decisions in life. I made the point that maybe small decisions drain a lot of time and energy from us, and that could make us lose track of the big picture.

Some comments pointed out that the big picture is nothing but a sum of the small parts. I beg to disagree. If your option space becomes too narrow and all you can think of are small decisions such as which desk to apply for in a S&T internship, you lack the time to see some choices that are available to you, like a start-up or a different industry. But that requires you to believe that transformational shifts are not forbidden in life. Anyway, I owed you a few life stories, so here we go.

The Great Strategic Game of Life (1/2)

Discussions that center upon issues such as "which b-school is better", "M&A, ECM or DCM" and "which desk within S&T" usually make me uneasy. Don't get me wrong, I am not a madman, and I realize the importance of getting as many right choices as possible. In select cases I will even stand up for your right to an opinion (unless you're a douche).

My point here is that putting too much effort in issues that are tactical in nature will drain precious time that you could be employing in learning how to be better at something that I will call, for the lack of a better name, the great strategic game of life. Let me share a little framework that I use when I get to fate-changing professional bifurcations and follow up with a few stories.

Hedge Fund Breakfast – Part 2: Morning Reads

Moderator Note (Andy): SenhorFinance is a hedge fund partner based out of Brazil and has worked in basically everything: PE, IB, S&T, management consulting and hedge funds. See part 1 in this series.

I started this series up with my Bloomberg morning routine and configuration, along with a few Bloomberg tips for you fellows. I still haven't had time to go over your questions, but I promise I shall do that whenever possible.

But specifically, one of you asked me about what I read in the morning. That was obviously the next topic in the agenda, so here it goes. Since I am based in another country (and my fund does most of its trading locally), most of what I read is local, so my "global" reading list is quite generic. I invite you to add stuff you think is missing, as well as stuff that is relevant to your product/market/geography.

Hedge Fund Breakfast– Part 1: Bloomberg

Moderator Note (Andy): SenhorFinance is a hedge fund partner based out of Brazil and has worked in basically everything: PE, IB, S&T, management consulting and hedge funds.

IB folks spend some of their evenings in business dinners/drinks, guiltlessly enjoying overpriced food and booze (and depending on local etiquette, drugs and hookers as well). Been there, done that and yeah, it's lotsafun, because (1) it all runs on expense accounts, (2) it leaves less time for "fuck my life" ruminations and (3) it makes you feel less guilty about skipping gym the morning after.

In HFs, hours are different. For the better, of course. I go home at ~7pm but I can't party or drink like I used to, because by 8:30am a week's worth of work must be already done. In this series, I will share my pre-open routine: how I organize myself, what I look for in my screens to generate ideas, what I read. And I call fellow HF/S&T folks to join: how do you prepare for your daily random walk down Wall St.?

1. Bloomberg: A prelude

City Smackdown - Part 3: São Paulo, Brazil

After a few years abroad, I had an offer to go back to my native country, Brazil, to do some PE work. That wasn't so long ago: the European economy was already showing signs of deceleration (oh, how I love those market-related euphemisms!). Actually, shit was hitting the fan real hard in our London-based businesses.

It seemed to me like a sound plan: accepting an offer to work for a solid international firm, doing high-impact/high-visibility work, and best of all, in a country I was really looking forward to go back to. Some have asked me whether Sao Paulo is an urban paradise, overflowing with money, raving nightclubs and awesome women. Well, sorta. Let's get to it.

City Smackdown – Part 2: Across the River Thames

So one day it was time to move. For some very weird reasons, a chair was waiting for my butt in London. I don't know how those things work, but the whole relocation process was taken care of real fast. Suddenly I was in the waiting room of some crazy visa expediting service in Lexington Ave, then boom, a work visa appeared in one of my passport pages. A few hundred drinks later, I endured a severely hungover mission in a cab to JFK, and ultimately landed in Heathrow in late June.

It was my second move in less than two years, and I was yet again to jump into the overworked chimp shoes, taking a lot of crap in order to enhance the profits of some soul-sucking financial institution at the Queen's town. Awesome! So how was it? What's London like?

City Smackdown - Part 1: Empire State of Mind

This is my first post here in Wall Street Oasis. [Applause]. In order to get some inspiration, I have been reading a bunch of forum threads in an effort to find a good and interesting topic to write about. I noticed endless discussions about the long hours endured by the IB folks, the whole PE/VC mana, the European crisis fallout and a bunch of other crap, all of which I intend to address in due time.

But the post that caught my attention was someone thinking about relocating from the US to Europe. As a finance professional who lived in New York, London and Sao Paulo over the last 6 years, I might have a bit to add to the whole geographical/cultural/career discussion that takes place here.

Therefore, geographies and relocation choices are the first subjects I will cover in my first few posts. In this #1 specifically, I will go on a bit about how I look at New York in the greater scheme of things. Certainly, most of you either live or have otherwise been to New York, but your perception of the city tends to shift a bit when you have performed the young, overworked monkey role in a few stages around the world. And finally, yes, it is sort of an easy topic to write about, so here we go.

New York, US: