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Here's the thing and the trouble. I have an Arts degree and postgraduate degree in the humanities also- got first class honours in the latter, 2.1 in my degree, so even though it's non-finance I at least have good academic credentials.

I have been really interested in finance for last couple of years and I have decided I really want to become a financial analyst and right now I'm trying to find out what the best possible masters programme I can do is. I want to apply to the top programs (and depending on costs) and take the best one that I get offered. No doubt I won't be eligible for all of them due to my non-finance background. I'm open to studying anywhere in the world, preferably Europe, if not US.

I am from Ireland and we have some decent programs here but I have the additional problem in that I'm not sure if I should go for a general masters in finance, or computational finance. The latter might be tougher as i haven't studied maths before, but doesn't mean i can;t do it.

would appreciate any advice, I'm also going to be sitting the CFAs and hoping there will be work experience as part of the masters course I end up doing.

Any general advice also greatly appreciated!

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Comments (88)

  • CaliforniaAssociate's picture

    no, you cant do the quant stuff.

  • bobbiebrown's picture

    not helpful.

  • BigBucks's picture

    rofl there is no way you're accepted into any reputable quant finance program with that background. You may have a shot with high GMAT at mid-tier regular MSFs

    p.s. at this point you probably need to take some acct/math classes somewhere to show u can do the quantitative stuff.

  • bobbiebrown's picture

    I have already found out that I can do a masters in finance in some universities so you're wrong. I'm asking where are the best ones and which one is best for learning skills and for my CV.

    If you can't help, don't post- this is aimed at first replier.

  • BigBucks's picture

    are u fuckin stupid? that is what we are trying to do is help. Again no REPUTABLE QUANT finance program is accepting some humanities hack with no math background. Idk what programs you're looking into but ppl on this site like to look towards the best. Now, a general masters may be attainable but even that isn't going to be easy (not getting into a good one anyway).

  • CaliforniaAssociate's picture

    my cat can do a master in finance in some universities if i pay for her

    and ya, just a master degree in finance from a random university won't get you a job

  • BigBucks's picture

    Go find a school where you can take calculus 1/2, principles of econ 1/2, and intro accounting 1/2. If you can do well in these classes and do well in the GMAT you give yourself a much higher chance of getting into a MSF (quant MSF would still be hard to get) that will actually land you that analyst job. Do not go to some mediocre school thinking b.c you have a degree you're getting the job u want, especially considering you have NO EXPERIENCE in said field.

  • bobbiebrown's picture

    I acknowledged in my original post that the quant side of things would be very tough for me but I am already doing the MIT free online mathematics course and I'm learning programming and as it happens I have a decent flair for maths, part. theorems. I have a lot to learn but I want to learn.
    Would a MSc in quant finance/computational finance be better than an Msc in finance for someone who wants to be a financial analyst? That is really my question. I don't want to do financial modelling or product bundling modelling - I want to analyse equities.

  • BigBucks's picture

    No. Financial Analyst positions have nothing to do with computational finance. Financial Analysts do modeling, exactly what you don't want to do. Analyzing equities = equity research/portfolio management which are dream jobs for most of the ppl on this site. You are way too late in the game buddy.

  • In reply to BigBucks
    CaliforniaAssociate's picture

    BigBucks:
    No. Financial Analyst positions have nothing to do with computational finance. Financial Analysts do modeling, exactly what you don't want to do.

    spot on and rofl...
  • IlliniProgrammer's picture

    Best programs: Princeton, CMU, maybe MIT

    Good programs worth the money: Cornell, Columbia, Chicago, Stanford, Michigan, Berkeley, NYU, Baruch.

    International: Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, INSEAD, TUM, IIT India.

    Typical prereqs for the good programs:

    -Recent success in either school or work.
    -800Q on the GREs.
    -solid grades in Calc 1,2, & 3, DiffyQs, probability-based stats, linear algebra. (This can be done at a community college; they just want to know that you know what you're doing.)

  • Ravenous's picture

    The issue isn't really the degree (which is largely worthless for real finance -- most of the stuff you will learn is academic finance that doesn't hold outside of the classroom), it's the recruiting. So you either need to figure out how to study whatever math you need to get into an MSF program, or go to an MBA program with good recruiting, or knock on enough doors to get in without going back to school. None of those paths are easy. Whichever one makes more sense for you is up to you. My guess is that it would take you years to go the MSF (due to the pre-math courses required) route and that an MBA would be a better bet. The unfortunate reality is that if you don't figure out what you want to do in life until you are in your mid-20s or later, you are at a big disadvantage unless you have elite credentials or connections.

  • IlliniProgrammer's picture

    Folks need to keep in mind that most Europeans have already taken multivariable calculus and understand stuff like partial differentiation before they even graduate high school. OP may have the prereqs.

    But yes, if this were the US and the kid graduated with an Art History degree and 1 basic calculus course, it's a bit like a 50 year old with a GED asking how he can get into HBS.

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  • Ravenous's picture

    I don't know about that comparison. You can be a math-lite liberal arts major who eeks out a respectable quant score on the GMAT and get into HBS or another top program if you're strong in every other way -- that happens all the time. Obviously you're not going to do well applying for a math-based graduate program though. The issue is more that beyond a point, time gets heavy and starts to weigh you down. Does someone want to take a risk on the 30 year old guy with a humanities degree and no relevant experience? Probably not. Same guy at 22 might have a chance, or at least would have time to point the ship in a different direction.

  • In reply to IlliniProgrammer
    CaliforniaAssociate's picture

    IlliniProgrammer:
    Folks need to keep in mind that most Europeans have already taken multivariable calculus and understand stuff like partial differentiation before they even graduate high school. OP may have the prereqs.

    not true...
  • oR3DL1N3o's picture

    i would suggest you figure out what you want to do... clearly you have NO FUCKING IDEA what being an equities analyst entails. and with your shit-tier background its going to be hard to get into even a mediocre program. and let's be real for a second. people with a good gpa from good schools and real, relevant experience are having a hard time getting into equity analyst positions. im not saying its impossible but you are wayyyyyy behind the curve. my advice to you... learn to deep throat and pray for hotness.

  • In reply to CaliforniaAssociate
    oR3DL1N3o's picture

    CaliforniaAnalyst:
    IlliniProgrammer:
    Folks need to keep in mind that most Europeans have already taken multivariable calculus and understand stuff like partial differentiation before they even graduate high school. OP may have the prereqs.

    not true...

    lol

  • In reply to BigBucks
    Human's picture

    BigBucks:
    No. Financial Analyst positions have nothing to do with computational finance. Financial Analysts do modeling, exactly what you don't want to do. Analyzing equities = equity research/portfolio management which are dream jobs for most of the ppl on this site. You are way too late in the game buddy.

    I agree. You really need to research on the job that you want, in term of what you will be doing on a daily basis. You are getting it all mixed up (in term of Computational Finance, Financial Engineering, Financial Analyst - which can also mean Accounting/BO/MO roles in some firms, and Equity Research - analyzing equities).

    "I am the hero of the story. I don't need to be saved."

  • bobbiebrown's picture

    I had thought that financial analysis was equities research- analysing securities, etc. for value. So I got the terms mixed up but I am here looking for advice. Yes I'm at a major disadvantage but I'm smart and I can do this.

  • bobbiebrown's picture

    Also, thanks for the help, but there's no need for the cursing language.

  • Ravenous's picture

    Then do it. Talk is cheap. A million people have been in your position and thought they were special, but then failed. I've seen several personally. "I'm smart." You know what? Everyone else is smart too. Every single person in this business is smart and brings the noise on a daily basis and most of the ones who prepare from a young age and do all the right things still fail to reach the level they were hoping for. It's even more of a long shot if you're starting late.

    So if you're smart and can do it, do it. I'm not saying you can't or that you won't, but it doesn't count for anything until you do something. There's really nothing else to say about that.

  • Ravenous's picture

    You're right, all of the people on this site who work in the industry are wrong. I can already tell that you aren't going to make it. Go do something else, you'll be better off in the long run.

  • Human's picture

    Most people look into Wall Street job because they think it's easy and the pay is good (after accounting for the hours, for entry levels, you are as good as working for minimum wage in the US). Easy as in outsiders (who don't work on Wall Street) think that the barrier of entry is very low, compared to those of more technical fields like Medicine, Technology, and Engineering, with promise of at least six figures salary. Yes, there is no such thing as specific certifications (CFA is trying to establish its creditability for Asset Management and Equity Research, and bankers - Product and Sector Coverage groups, absolutely hate CFA) and if you did manage to get into target schools, your chances are a lot better (due to networking opportunities and on campus recruitments).

    That's being said, getting a Wall Street job is extremely competitive: for every job opening, there are at least several hundred people applying for it. What most people failed to realize is that most technical skills (financial modeling) can be learned, but from my experience, soft skills (how to get rapport from complete strangers, how to network effectively, how to actively plan your career to move ahead) is the hardest to learn. I was discussing with a few friends a few weeks ago that by the time you move from Analyst to VP, you have gutted the majority of the incoming analyst class (most people quit or get fired, go for b-school).

    I believe that most people on Wall Street Oasis, at least have genuine interest in the market and want to succeed professionally on Wall Street. I think you really need that. When you keep hearing that "you are not good enough" or "you don't have the right background", it really helps to have a thick skin and persistence to brush off those comments and move forwards. It is also equally important to ask yourself, "Is this really worth it? Do I really want this?" Personally, I had to go through a lot of soul searching during my career search.

    Without a deep conviction, the drive, the persistence, the humility and the thick skin, Wall Street is really a tough place to work at (crazy bosses and long hours). What we are saying is that know what you are getting yourself into. To most people (including me), it is an insult to say that "it is easy to get a job in Wall Street" without you having really tried (demonstrated your ability) to understand how it works and how competitive this industry is. It is not as easy as people assume it is, to actually get an offer (high paying) job on Wall Street. Hope it helps. Good luck with getting into the program that you want.

    "I am the hero of the story. I don't need to be saved."

  • Ravenous's picture

    Yes, and to add to the above, it is just raw probability. The fund I work for has an 80% failure rate in the first year for new hires. They are all from the right schools, blah blah. 20% make it. Of those, maybe a third go on to actually be worth something long-term. The rest just don't have what it takes. So we're talking about the top 5% of the top 1-2% to even be competitive. Of course there are other jobs in finance, but most jobs, even prestigious front office jobs, are just crank turning. It's a bunch of overeducated people shuffling paper from one side of their desk to the other. They're not really in finance, they're just occupying a chair for a while.

  • bobbiebrown's picture

    Sxh, thank you for the advice. I am someone with good soft skills, i've been told by people that I should do PR, and that I'm a people person, but the other side of me is analytical and more introverted and so I would enjoy a job that gives me the opportunity for both. I'm not trying to prove anything by my comments about being smart- I was simply pointing out to the first posters that I have ability and a certain aptitude for maths. I am no natural whizz but I can learn what I need to learn and anyway like I was saying I'm certainly not crap at maths either. I made the wrong career choices before this, and i've worked in archaeology up to this. Great career and I've no regrets overall, but I want a career where I can meet my potential, be competitive, which I am, and achieve something, and earn a comfortable living. I have a thick skin, but I have to say that Wall Street isn't my ultimate aim or what attracts me. I'd be happy out in one of the european capitals. Yes, U do need to research more about the job specifics. I should also say that by financial modelling earlier I meant modelling for new software/strategies (I said that after I mentioned computational finance which I equate with financial engineering).
    I also read your excellent posts on getting into equity research and I really want this. I love researching as well. I just know I'd be good at the job but I really want to get going with a good masters as at the moment I just have online courses with no certifications and no relevant work experience so on paper I don't look good for it right now. I have just turned 30- I still have another 30 years of work ahead of me! So i'm not writing myself off for this and thinking I'm too old.

  • Human's picture

    Wall Street doesn't mean New York City, New York (as a physical location). FYI.

    Wall Street = The collective name for the financial and investment community, which includes stock exchanges and large banks, brokerages, securities and underwriting firms, and big businesses. Some people believe that the interests of these big firms contrast those of smaller businesses, or "Main Street." (http://www.investopedia.com)

    To me, Wall Street means Front Office jobs: Sales & Trading, IBD (Product and Sector Coverage), Structured Products, and Equity Research.

    "I am the hero of the story. I don't need to be saved."

  • bobbiebrown's picture

    Very interesting, hadn't realised that.

  • The.RealDeal's picture

    OP,

    The reason why everyone is shitting on you is because of your terrible attitude. In addition, how do you think you'll be able to clearly explain your goals and convey your interest in finance at this point in your life when you don't even know what you specifically want to do? If you are serious about this proposed turnaround, you have an unbelievable amount of research and reading to do. Stop wasting your time assuming hypothetical situations or even searching the web to refute what people actually working in the industry are telling you and just get to work.

    One more thing: if you think you're going to a top Quantitative Finance program, please just stop. I'm telling you this because I went through 2 years of applying and I can tell you this delusion might be either tied to your attitude or lack of awareness. Having said that, this doesn't mean you can't get into a somewhat respected program, even if it has a local presence. Network like your life depends on it, start out with a local no-name boutique, make your way up.
    I managed to get into a couple programs that I shouldn't even stood a chance with. Large part of that was rolling up my sleeves and doing well enough on the GMAT to compensate for my grades, but I'm sure it was the Personal Statement/Essays aspect of these applications that tipped the scale in my favor. I know what I want, I know what it entails and although I made a terrible amount of uninformed decisions, I have done this, this and that to build a track record of constant, substantial improvement to my skillset and profile.

    Fix that attitude. If it's evident on an internet forum that you can't get along with random people, imagine how quickly you'll be discounted by anyone with hiring power outside the virtual world. Wall Street is a completely different enviroment from any other corporate job as far as competitiveness goes and you need to be able to intelligently defend yourself at times, especially in interviews.

    Good luck and don't let a day pass by without somehow improving yourself. With a 2:1 in a Master's degree already I'm sure you'll get into a decent program. If you haven't already, check out MSFHQ.com, the ultimate resource on Master in Finance programs run by ANT (Anthony).

    " A recession is when other people lose their job, a depression is when you lose your job. "

  • IlliniProgrammer's picture

    Can anyone explain what they find wrong about OP's attitude? Maybe I am missing something here.

  • bobbiebrown's picture

    I've a 1.1 in my masters, the 2.1 is in my degree, and I only mentioned that because I am hoping my academic record will count for something- if even only when it comes to getting into the right course. I have already found out that I can get in to two MScs in Finance here in Ireland- both are well enough respected- and that is on the back of my academics and because my masters actually had a strong management focus even though it was in the humanities.
    If I came across as having a bad attitude, it's not the case in reality. I just responded to the posters who said I wasn't going to make it and to pick something else. Like I was saying I am a people person and have met a lot of different kinds of people through my work in archaeology so I've a good idea at this stage that I can get on with people. I definitely take your point about how it is different in the wall street environment. I'm not a bullshitter, I am pretty straight, is that going to be a problem?

  • IlliniProgrammer's picture

    Can you explain what a 2.1 means? I think a few americans here assume it means a 2.1 (C+ average) GPA, which puts you in the bottom 40% of students.

  • bobbiebrown's picture

    Also, realdeal, I have a genuine interest in the financial markets. The highlight of my week (and I have a good life!) is getting the weekend edition of the FT. I am constantly learning.

  • bobbiebrown's picture

    Oh, a 2.1 is the top 12% of students in Ireland at least- it's the highest mark after first class honours. Next one down is a 2.2 which majority of students get.

  • IlliniProgrammer's picture

    Ok. That's helpful. I think we need to focus on the programming and math skills and you would have a shot at a school like LSE. For Oxford or Cambridge, you'll need to have some experience at a Barclays/HSBC/RBS or other global investment bank.

  • bobbiebrown's picture

    Right, so can I ask what ye would do if you were me:

    Try for the quant finance now and if i get rejected postpone masters for a year and do graduate diploma in mathematics, and reapply next year for the quant finance masters

    Or go for a general MSc Finance that i can get into now.

    this is with equity research in mind.
    If I have trouble getting into equity research, what other positions are the next best thing for someone with an interest in this area?

  • bobbiebrown's picture

    cheers illini!
    I'm doing the MIT in comp sci and programming for beginners which starts with Python, I am starting into Objective C now as well and am studying the general concepts behind programming. i like languages- I have got basic norwegian, decent French and got myself near native fluency in the Irish language and i would say I almost have a better flair for the programming than I do for maths (so far anyway)
    Maths wise- I was better at the humanities in school, went a bit rebellious, did honours level maths but got a D- terrible, but I have better potential than taht. I spent the morning of my maths exam playing the playstation! Regret not putting in just a bit more of an effort back then but I can now. So I'm doing both Khan academy video tutorials and MIT free maths course, and I have already done another online statistics course which I loved. steepish learning curve but I found it really interesting.

  • In reply to IlliniProgrammer
    The.RealDeal's picture

    IlliniProgrammer:
    Can anyone explain what they find wrong about OP's attitude? Maybe I am missing something here.

    bobbiebrown:
    not helpful.

    bobbiebrown:
    I have already found out that I can do a masters in finance in some universities so you're wrong. I'm asking where are the best ones and which one is best for learning skills and for my CV.

    If you can't help, don't post- this is aimed at first replier.

    bobbiebrown:
    yeah i'm getting a sense of the high calibre on here lol

    bobbiebrown:
    You can already tell? Because I pointed out that i am not the only one to use the terms interchangeably? Come on. I'm starting out and thankfully amn't as bitter and frustrated as some folks here sound.

    I might've been a little to harsh on the attitude part, but what I'm trying to get across rings true regardless of what one might perceive his attitude to be. As a 30-year old postgraduate degree holder with nothing on his resume remotely connected to Finance, you have to strike a balance between being optimistic and realistic. It start with knowing what you want to do exactly. It's great that you're doing all these classes and I'm sure your academic credentials will go far, but just think who you'll be competing with for entry-level positions. OP has a lot of reading and work ahead of him and WSO is full of stories of success. I'm not taking time out of my day to bash him in any way, but I know from experience how much he's going to have to overcome.

    I think it's always helpful to look at the Master of Finance/Master of Quantitative Finance class profiles. Certain programs don't want to see anyone with more then 2 years of works experience and certain ones are designed for working professionals. Again, MSFHQ.com is a great resource.

    " A recession is when other people lose their job, a depression is when you lose your job. "

  • In reply to BigBucks
    bobbiebrown's picture

    BigBucks:
    are u fuckin stupid?

    One of the quotes I was responding to ...
    Another one, was a direct -no you can't- to which i just replied 'not helpful'.

  • CaliforniaAssociate's picture

    well, how come i feel it's a troll thread

  • In reply to The.RealDeal
    IlliniProgrammer's picture

    The.RealDeal:
    IlliniProgrammer:
    Can anyone explain what they find wrong about OP's attitude? Maybe I am missing something here.

    bobbiebrown:
    not helpful.

    bobbiebrown:
    I have already found out that I can do a masters in finance in some universities so you're wrong. I'm asking where are the best ones and which one is best for learning skills and for my CV.

    If you can't help, don't post- this is aimed at first replier.

    bobbiebrown:
    yeah i'm getting a sense of the high calibre on here lol

    bobbiebrown:
    You can already tell? Because I pointed out that i am not the only one to use the terms interchangeably? Come on. I'm starting out and thankfully amn't as bitter and frustrated as some folks here sound.

    I might've been a little to harsh on the attitude part, but what I'm trying to get across rings true regardless of what one might perceive his attitude to be. As a 30-year old postgraduate degree holder with nothing on his resume remotely connected to Finance, you have to strike a balance between being optimistic and realistic. It start with knowing what you want to do exactly. I'm sure his academic credentials will go far, but just think who he'll be competing with for entry-level positions. OP has a lot reading and work ahead of him and WSO is full of stories of success.


    Is it possible that BobbieBrown does not have a bad attitude and that we might have a bit of an attitude problem (at least some of our first posts)?

    There is nothing wrong with bluntly stating the truth to someone- as long as you offer a solution along with it. I'm not sure we did that here. Bobbiebrown asked a question, the resident forum trolls ganged up on her, THEN she developed an "attitude problem".

    Yes. It is pretentious for an Art History major to think she can become a quant. We can give a bit of a snide response, but it also has to have useful information. So you dump the 30-credit hours of classes she has to take on her and tell her to come back when she's taken the next step. She can still become a karate black-belt, but first she has to learn to paint up and down and how to wax-on and wax-off.

  • In reply to IlliniProgrammer
    CaliforniaAssociate's picture

    IlliniProgrammer:
    The.RealDeal:
    IlliniProgrammer:
    Can anyone explain what they find wrong about OP's attitude? Maybe I am missing something here.

    bobbiebrown:
    not helpful.

    bobbiebrown:
    I have already found out that I can do a masters in finance in some universities so you're wrong. I'm asking where are the best ones and which one is best for learning skills and for my CV.

    If you can't help, don't post- this is aimed at first replier.

    bobbiebrown:
    yeah i'm getting a sense of the high calibre on here lol

    bobbiebrown:
    You can already tell? Because I pointed out that i am not the only one to use the terms interchangeably? Come on. I'm starting out and thankfully amn't as bitter and frustrated as some folks here sound.

    I might've been a little to harsh on the attitude part, but what I'm trying to get across rings true regardless of what one might perceive his attitude to be. As a 30-year old postgraduate degree holder with nothing on his resume remotely connected to Finance, you have to strike a balance between being optimistic and realistic. It start with knowing what you want to do exactly. I'm sure his academic credentials will go far, but just think who he'll be competing with for entry-level positions. OP has a lot reading and work ahead of him and WSO is full of stories of success.


    Is it possible that BobbieBrown does not have a bad attitude and that we might have a bit of an attitude problem (at least some of our first posts)?

    There is nothing wrong with bluntly stating the truth to someone- as long as you offer a solution along with it. I'm not sure we did that here.


    you are rite. sorry i was just trying to use thread as some sorta entertainment...
  • bobbiebrown's picture

    Thanks again illini. I can take straight talking no problem, it's how i am myself. Perhaps i am being overly optimistic and for sure, one thing about being 30 is that I cannot afford to make any more bad career decisions.

  • bobbiebrown's picture

    California analyst -what is your own position in finance?

  • IlliniProgrammer's picture

    I think the point here is that there is a lot of dues-paying that has to be done to become a quant. This is like the SAS or Navy SEALs of engineering. So when some Marine who barely missed the cut sees a 23-year-old punk with no qualifications ask how to pull this off, there is a knee-jerk response.

    1.) Get some experience in finance. Work your way up to a globally recognized bank.
    2.) Do the coursework.
    3.) Do the CFA.
    (1-3 can be done in any order)
    3A.) Apply at LSE, IIT India, Columbia, or another solid put not top-top-tier MFE program.

    4.) Get promoted into a quant role.
    5.) Apply at Oxford/Cambridge/MIT/Princeton/Stanford for a top-shelf MSF/MFE.

  • The.RealDeal's picture

    It's a dose of reality Illini, nothing more and nothing less. I'm not sure how someone can objectively asses their own attitude, but mine has played a central role in everything I have accomplished and overcome in just about every aspect of life.

    I was told I won't get into certain programs myself and proved people wrong and will continue to do so as far as my other ambitions go. I think in her situation it is critical to know what the path will be like and challenges she'll face and to know EXACTLY what she wants and what it entails. That's all.

    " A recession is when other people lose their job, a depression is when you lose your job. "

  • oR3DL1N3o's picture

    why do i get the sense that illini is a complete faggot?

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