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Hi there, I graduated 3 years ago and have been working at a top investment manager in quantitative fixed income research. I am trying to figure out if an MBA is worth it for me and what my options now.

Brief background about myself, I graduated from Cal (Berkeley) Engineering 2 and a half years ago, and have been working at the investment manager in research since. I have passed all three levels of CFA and waiting for the charter (need another 1 and a half year of experience to receive charter).

I have been admitted to HBS but I am having second thoughts as to whether I should even do the MBA. My main concern is that I am making 170K all in this year and should break 200 in no time if I stay on. Does it make sense to forgo 2 years (400K) of income + pay 2 years of tuition and living expenses to get the MBA? Would it open up more options for me? Help me advance in my career? Another consideration is that I only need 1 and a half year more of work experience to receive my CFA charter, should I at least wait till then?

My end goal has always been to be a PM at THE Top funds like Blackrock/PIMCO or a top hedge fund.

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Comments (56)

  • Dr Joe's picture

    I have no idea, but congrats on HBS!

    Curious to see what others say...

  • NYorker's picture

    Sounds like you're doing fine already, but I would still go. Yes, you give up money to attend, but that's small potatoes for you over the long run if you reach Blackrock/PIMCO/HF.

    If you want to be a top guy at a fund like that... the HBS pedigree will make it easier for you to get there. Also, if you ever want to start your own fund, the HBS network and brand name will help you attract institutional investors.

  • BankMonkey21's picture

    Congrats man your doing great to be only 3 years out especially in this economy. I would say go as well when considering your main goals. HBS will put you over the top. I would also explore the HBS deferement program and see if you can hold off your spot for a year or until u can get that charter or save some money and see if you if you can advance where you are first. Just my 2 cents.

    I Got a dollar and a dream...

  • HFFBALLfan123's picture

    Should come down to a few things... Do you like your job? and, Can you move up without an MBA? If the answer to both of those is yes and you just want to go to Harvard for the prestigue than you seriously need to rething your situation.

  • Clarkey's picture

    HBS admitted you only three years out of college and one firm/industry on your resume?

    What was your motivation for your application? It seems strange that you could persuade Harvard that you want to do an MBA there but that you can't persuade yourself?

    An MBA is a while off for me, but some of the guys on here would kill to have an offer from HBS. If you don't really want it then you can be reassured that your place won't go to waste.

  • In reply to Clarkey
    What-to-do-What-to-do's picture

    Clarkey:
    HBS admitted you only three years out of college and one firm/industry on your resume?

    I don't think it's that uncommon. Another kid who started at the same time as I did in my class (although there's really no such thing as a class where I work since they only recruit a few a year) will be attending Wharton. Someone who started a year before I did is currently attending HBS. I also think having interned in BB front office sophomore and junior year helped? I have no idea but I don't think it's that uncommon. I also got into Wharton so I don't think it's an exception or anything.

    Clarkey:

    What was your motivation for your application? It seems strange that you could persuade Harvard that you want to do an MBA there but that you can't persuade yourself?

    Well I am just having second thoughts when I realized the lost income, price tag and living expenses. I am just trying to compare what I am forgoing/paying to what I will get back in return and trying to make a sound "investment" decision :D
  • GOB's picture

    Is your lifestyle going to change much? Will you feel the lack of income?

    If not, then you mind as well go to HBS (lol that sounds funny out of context)

  • WellsFargoBaker's picture

    no point in going if you can reach where you want without it

  • Notepad's picture

    HBS will hands down help you if you are trying to transition away from pure quant. Otherwise, you'll have to feel it out based on what you think your promotion opportunities are.

  • ILOVENYGUY's picture

    Business school is a great place to pause and think what you want to do. It is also an opportunity to meet with a lot of employers and figure out what is really out there. While most of the HBS student body is a bunch of obnoxious pricks there are also some truly talented and cool people the likes of which you haven't met yet. If you make it to PM you will be easily making seven figures which means whatever income you are losing will make zero difference in your lifestyle 10 years down the road. Go to HBS, enjoy yourself, don't worry about the money, you also might learn something!

  • Midas Mulligan Magoo's picture

    If your goal is to be a PM the MBA is a waste of your time. The CFA will open up a lot more doors for a guy with your profile. If you do decide on HBS, wait until you have the charter in hand.

  • DJ Long Straddle's picture

    You learn more in the trenches than you do in the class room.

    This applies to all MBA programs, except for HBS.

    Head to Cambridge. PIMCO and Blackrock are not going anywhere (soon).

  • mr1234's picture

    Yeah, I am going to call BS on this post. So you're saying you graduated in 2008 and are already making $170K/yr already, and you're probably 24-26 yrs old.

    Assuming this is for real: no, it wouldn't make sense to go back school. You're making a salary that most HBS grads hope to make when they graduate.

    Why would you come to an anonymous internet forum to ask this question? You have access to quality PM's already, you should be asking them, not the internet.

    ---
    man made the money, money never made the man

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  • Sterling Archer's picture

    If you like what you're doing, then by all means stay on. B-school is best for those who need to pivot or need to figure out what they want to do.

    @mr1234: 170k/year for a 2008 grad is toppy but not unrealistic.

  • karypto's picture
  • ILOVENYGUY's picture

    CFA is completely irrelevant for being a PM unless you work for a firm that requires it, hedge funds couldn't care less if you have one as long as you can pick stocks. The value of HBS diploma lies in unparalleled recruiting opportunities and meeting people, the education itself is pretty bad, particularly for finance. But as far as taking a two year break, hard to beat - and yes, you will make all the money that you didn't earn back in 3-5 years

    Wharton is actually much better education, but people's egos are too big to pick Wharton over Harvard - I personally like Wharton grads undergrad and grad the best. Best skills and knowledge, human sized-egos. HBS people are smarter but often not so great to work with

  • ILOVENYGUY's picture

    CFA is completely irrelevant for being a PM unless you work for a firm that requires it, hedge funds couldn't care less if you have one as long as you can pick stocks. The value of HBS diploma lies in unparalleled recruiting opportunities and meeting people, the education itself is pretty bad, particularly for finance. But as far as taking a two year break, hard to beat - and yes, you will make all the money that you didn't earn back in 3-5 years

    Wharton is actually much better education, but people's egos are too big to pick Wharton over Harvard - I personally like Wharton grads undergrad and grad the best. Best skills and knowledge, human sized-egos. HBS people are smarter but often not so great to work with

  • In reply to mr1234
    What-to-do-What-to-do's picture

    mr1234:
    Yeah, I am going to call BS on this post. So you're saying you graduated in 2008 and are already making $170K/yr already, and you're probably 24-26 yrs old.

    Yes, I am 26. But dude why don't you stick with what you actually know about? I graduated 3 years ago, joined as an equivalent position of a research associate, and got the bump (a little early) to junior research analyst a year and a half ago, which automatically bumps my salary up to 100K, got raised to 110K this year. My bonus for the past year was 65k, and hopefully would go up this year...

    mr1234:

    Assuming this is for real: no, it wouldn't make sense to go back school. You're making a salary that most HBS grads hope to make when they graduate.

    Because traditionally it is usually harder to advance your career in the investment management field without the MBA, typically at the transition from junior analyst to full fledge analyst. I also want to make the switch to the top dogs like PIMCO or BLK (actually those are the only firms in the traditional asset management field I would trade up to... I am at one that is in a tier right below these two).....or a switch to top hedge funds..... plus even if I were to stay, going from research to associate PM is by no means automatic.... I know that the MBA MIGHT open some more doors than I currently have access to.. I just dont know how much more and if it's worth the trade off

    mr1234:

    Why would you come to an anonymous internet forum to ask this question? You have access to quality PM's already, you should be asking them, not the internet.

    because your superiors and your PMs are more inclined to advice you to stay and it is hard for them to give you an honest answer? If you perform well, the last thing they want is you leaving and having to go through the trouble to training a new person to do your job.

  • In reply to ILOVENYGUY
    What-to-do-What-to-do's picture

    ILOVENYGUY:
    CFA is completely irrelevant for being a PM unless you work for a firm that requires it, hedge funds couldn't care less if you have one as long as you can pick stocks. The value of HBS diploma lies in unparalleled recruiting opportunities and meeting people, the education itself is pretty bad, particularly for finance. But as far as taking a two year break, hard to beat - and yes, you will make all the money that you didn't earn back in 3-5 years

    I work for a traditional asset management firm that highly recommends it. In fact, every PM I worked with that came from the research rank has it, except for one that has a Phd in Finance

  • In reply to GOB
    What-to-do-What-to-do's picture

    GOB:
    Is your lifestyle going to change much? Will you feel the lack of income?

    If not, then you mind as well go to HBS (lol that sounds funny out of context)

    That's one thing that I am worrying about. I was born in a pretty well-off family, my dad being a banker and all, until my high school age. My dad decided to quit his job and start businesses and ended up losing all his fortune. I went through college through work, outside scholarship and financial aid as my family suffered through the worst of time.

    My father is still unemployed with no savings(with his reputation tarnished and all) and my mother has always been a homemaker. The point is, I have been supporting my parents since I started working and starting this year, I have to pay my sister's after-financial-aid tuition at carnegie mellon (which is about 10K a year). Either way I am going to get student loans as I want to conserve the family cash flow. I have some money saved up for living expenses and my family told me that they can make a lot of living expenses cuts and survive and assist me in that regards so I should not worry about them. They told me that I need to do what's best for my career. I am just unsure about whether I should put my family through a tough 2 years because I want a shiny degree that might open more doors for myself. My parents are around 60 and I feel that they might be too old to go through tough times again. I am feeling guilty and think it might be selfish of me. I didn't think about all these things when i applied and now the reality of money sets in.

    On the other hand, I am worried that if I dont do it now or the near future, I might be too old to quit a job and get an MBA in the future. There lies to main dilemma.

  • Big Dreams-Little World's picture

    How about about an executive MBA program? or a part-time one? so you don't have to quit your job

    If it doesn't make dollars, it doesn't make sense.....

    Dear Internet Users, Someday u will regret not reading me. Sincerely, Terms & Conditions....

  • Status_Quo's picture

    Sub'd

    http://ayainsight.co/ Curating the best advice and making it actionable.

  • MPG's picture
  • International Pymp's picture

    You should go to HBS. If it wasn't H/S/W that you had been admitted to I'd consider not going - but in this situation it will be well worth it over the long run. If you want to be a PM at a top firm like Blackrock or PIMCO then HBS can help you to achieve that goal.

    It's worth the money.

  • bearcats's picture

    family first man

  • twopaths's picture

    i am in a very similar situation (except for the admission to HBS). I am a year behind you. PM me if you want to chat

  • Situation's picture

    To echo the others, do you need HBS to advance in your current career? Do you enjoy the path you are on and does a career transition require an MBA? Consider the answers to these two questions. You already attended a great school and I am not a proponent of attending an MBA in the interest of prestige. Money walks, bullshit talks.

    The opportunity cost of attending HBS is pretty high (FV of 600,000 at 10% after 30yrs is over 10 MILLION DOLLARS), so ask yourself, "will I earn an additional 10 million in the next 30 years because of HBS." Maybe you will, but I highly doubt it as you are clearly capable enough as is. Some may receive more gratification and intellectual masturbation through obtaining the HBS credential... But while they are patting themselves on the back and growing their ego, I would be counting my extra 10million.

    But in all honesty, you cannot go wrong. I would assume you will be highly successful regardless, and greater success may be correlated with HBS, but not necessarily caused by HBS. If you are having doubts, do not go. Stay in the industry a while longer until you are firm in your decision to attend an MBA and when you truly need to decompress. It is not like you cannot apply again or suck it up and attend Wharton, Stanford, or Chicago (being sarcastic). Congrats though.

  • In reply to What-to-do-What-to-do
    mr1234's picture

    No need to get worked up. Still don't believe you make $170K/yr. Then again, I wouldn't believe any 26 yr old who says they make $170K. But that's just me.

    What-to-do-What-to-do][quote=mr1234:

    because your superiors and your PMs are more inclined to advice you to stay and it is hard for them to give you an honest answer? If you perform well, the last thing they want is you leaving and having to go through the trouble to training a new person to do your job.

    The idea that your superiors would give you bad advice for a major life decision that may come to change everything about your career is BS. I don't think they are misleading you if they are telling you to pass on the MBA.

    If you still don't trust your superiors, go to your local CFA society and talk to them. I am sure you'll be able to find a PM from Blackrock or PIMCO to network with.

    ---
    man made the money, money never made the man

  • jimbrowngoU's picture

    Why wouldn't you believe he makes $170k? I'm 24 and will make ~$150k this year, and by 26 I'd expect to be treading quite close, if not above, $200k. $170k isn't even a little bit unrealistic.

  • noobstar's picture

    help your family first then worry about the mba (yes, even though its hbs)

  • In reply to Situation
    qweretyq's picture

    Situation:

    The opportunity cost of attending HBS is pretty high (FV of 600,000 at 10% after 30yrs is over 10 MILLION DOLLARS), so ask yourself, "will I earn an additional 10 million in the next 30 years because of HBS."

    ... But while they are patting themselves on the back and growing their ego, I would be counting my extra 10million.

    This is a little misleading
    Can you achieve consistent 10% return through 10 mil?

  • dongeiss's picture

    Opportunity cost is high for you but if you're already accepted either defer if possible and save some coin then go, or just go now. It's a great opportunity and will certainly open doors for you (especially if you decide to switch industries for whatever reason). You never know what will happen in your career and you'll find the decision won't get easier the more money you make and the more senior you get so the HBS door will close for good. Just go and don't look back. There are always student loans etc.

  • In reply to jimbrowngoU
    mr1234's picture

    jimbrowngoU:
    Why wouldn't you believe he makes $170k? I'm 24 and will make ~$150k this year, and by 26 I'd expect to be treading quite close, if not above, $200k. $170k isn't even a little bit unrealistic.

    You're in IB, the OP is in IM. You're probably a 2nd or 3rd yr analyst about to break into pre-MBA associate. Those numbers makes a little more sense.

    Basically, if i don't know you and I don't see you, I probably wont believe you. Again, that's just me. This shouldn't be such a big deal.

    ---
    man made the money, money never made the man

  • SAC's picture

    Take care of your family first

  • In reply to mr1234
    Buster McGillicudy's picture

    [quote=mr1234]No need to get worked up. Still don't believe you make $170K/yr. Then again, I wouldn't believe any 26 yr old who says they make $170K. But that's just me.

    Dude, if you work for a bank you would expect to make this by the time you are 26. Assume you graduate when 22, first year base is 70k plus ~30-60 bonus. At 23 you are 80k base and a higher bonus. 24 you are at 90k and higher bonus. 25-26 you should make the associate jump and be making a lot more. I dont know where your reasoning is coming from.

  • pathsofglory's picture

    Agreed. Support the family. Just out of curiosity, what does your sister study at carnegie mellon?

  • ivoteforthatguy's picture

    In all seriousness: family first.

    You should explain your situation to HBS. They might put your acceptance on ice, and even if not, if you're good enough to get in now, you surely will be X years from now.

  • What-to-do-What-to-do's picture

    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for all your inputs. I really appreciate them.

    Just a little update for those who care (I feel obligated to let you guys know since I asked for your opinions and you guys have been helpful), I have decided to forgo the HBS opportunity at this point. My parents are 60 and I just feel guilty putting them through tough times because of a little perceived marginal gain for myself. (I didn't try to get the admissions offer deferred or anything because it is highly unlikely for my family situation to change drastically in the next 2 or 3 years anyway). I also had a sit-down chat with my boss and a couple PM I work for and they told me I am on track to advance in 2 years or so to a full research analyst position, and that I don't really need the MBA to advance given the fact that I'll be getting my CFA charter soon enough. I guess I will be putting my PM dreams on hold or hope to get lucky and have APM spots open up internally

    Here's to another worthy individual taking the spot that I so reluctantly have to give up :-p

  • dongeiss's picture

    Your PM dreams won't be on hold - you can still get there for sure. I totally respect your decision to put family first and as someone else mentioned, if you got in once nothing says you won't get in again if you find yourself needing to get an MBA down the line for whatever reason. Good luck.

  • In reply to Buster McGillicudy
    mr1234's picture

    Buster McGillicudy][quote=mr1234:
    No need to get worked up. Still don't believe you make $170K/yr. Then again, I wouldn't believe any 26 yr old who says they make $170K. But that's just me.

    Dude, if you work for a bank you would expect to make this by the time you are 26. Assume you graduate when 22, first year base is 70k plus ~30-60 bonus. At 23 you are 80k base and a higher bonus. 24 you are at 90k and higher bonus. 25-26 you should make the associate jump and be making a lot more. I dont know where your reasoning is coming from.

    IB and IM are two different fields. That's where my reasoning comes from.

    ---
    man made the money, money never made the man

  • In reply to What-to-do-What-to-do
    mr1234's picture

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    ---
    man made the money, money never made the man

  • mr1234's picture

    ---
    man made the money, money never made the man

  • In reply to mr1234
    bfin's picture

    The answer to your question is 1) network 2) get involved 3) beef up your resume 4) repeat -happypantsmcgee

    WSO is not your personal search function.

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