Does school name matters in mutual fund/money management careers?

I am an international student from India. I am an econ major and going to take GMAT this summer. I am planning to move to the US for my masters. Earlier I had plans of Europe but it won't be possible now. I looked for some schools in USA for which I think I am fit. My career goal is to end up in money management. I am not looking for any quant investment jobs.

I am going to apply to UMaryland's MS in Finance program. I know it doesn't have the reputation of Vanderbilt or McCombs or MIT or BC but I thought of it being close to T Rowe Price, Legg Mason in Baltimore and other opportunities in DC area. I intend to stay in US and DON'T want to go back. I understand that it is very difficult for international students to secure full time placements in US but I am willing to deviate from my goals if necessary.

I am a little worried about the job opportunities in US as an international student because I fear being rejected by asset management firms because they could source citizens easily from undergrad programs. Do you think it would be a good idea to join a F500 firm if I fail in getting a gig at AM shops and gain experience in industry then move on to fund management later as I could have industry knowledge to offer to AM firms? Esuric @TNA" I have followed some of your threads and comments and I request you to help me because I am very confused. A lot of information is available on IB but not on money management careers.

I also request other professionals working in AM for suggestions. I am planning to take CFA L1 too by June next year.

Comments (16)

Jun 4, 2018 - 11:27am
Esuric, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You wont get a job at either T Rowe Price or Legg Mason. Baltimore is a shit city. Basically hell on earth. Opportunities are very limited. I think there are a few big 4 due diligence teams, however.

There are no direct AM recruiting channels from MSFs. I ended up in AM after graduation but that was really due to my effort.

There may be more opportunity in DC.

“Elections are a futures market for stolen property”
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Jun 4, 2018 - 11:38am
Blackbriar-nonEU, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thank you for answering and saving me. I had no idea Baltimore is dangerous.

I cannot deny that I am desperate. I want to live in the US because of better living standards and opportunities there in comparison to where I live. Do you think it would be a good idea to do masters and get a job in a random company and be happy with it? I am ready to put down my ambitions to have a peaceful life. I am sorry for asking a personal question and not an industry related question.

My goal in life is to live a life without domestic violence, have a home in future with electricity and water supply regularly. I would be fine with one day without one any of these things and financial security. Do you think I should focus less on finance and more on better management/business programs for the sake of finding a job. I am after one year masters because I cannot afford MBA in future and I have a way now to make my life better. Please guide me.

Jun 4, 2018 - 1:43pm
Blank999, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Maryland has a decent reputation and brand. Issue is Bmore has limited AM opportunities. I'd expand where you look, mainly on the east coast as that is where Maryland's brand will carry the most weight.

Baltimore is a fine city, albeit small and with issues. The places where people who make decent money life are not near the war zones. Same with a Chicago. If you like smaller cities on the east coast, it might be fun.

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Jun 7, 2018 - 4:13pm
traderlife, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Bill Miller is in Baltimore. He had a bad stretch but of the mutual fund guys I love his thought process. My portfolio usually owns the same stuff mostly by coincidence

Jun 4, 2018 - 3:44pm
breeshbroosh, what's your opinion? Comment below:

School definitely matters in AM but I feel like I see more PMs than bankers from non-top schools. Some of it is probably due to the meritocratic nature of managing assets. But yes, if you go to a top tier school the path is there for you (Equity/Credit Research Associate -> PM). If not, you will probably need an MBA or advanced degree to get to where you want to be.

let's see Paul Allen's card
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Jun 4, 2018 - 5:31pm
Blackbriar-nonEU, what's your opinion? Comment below:

@TNA" Thank you for answering my question. I dont know much about how things work there. I used to think companies usually hire grads from local universities except for top schools. Which cities on east coast I should look at if I go to Maryland?

I have one more question for you TNA. Do you think going to a school which dominates a particular city for example, SMU in Dallas increases the chances of finding a job? Also, I read somewhere in news articles about Dallas being a white dominated city so being brown won't give me much advantage in terms of networking even if I go to SMU Is it possible?

breeshbroosh Thank you for informing me. I was thinking the same thing about majority of successful portfolio managers in mutual funds come from lower ranked schools. I was deluded before.

Jun 4, 2018 - 7:34pm
xyzzz, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Quality of school and actual fund/AM/ER performance over 10-15 years are more or less statistically independent events. Sure, many PMs may come from top schools and elite backgrounds, but that is because these institutions attract these kinds of intrinsically motivated individuals to begin with.

Most Helpful
Jun 4, 2018 - 7:59pm
Blank999, what's your opinion? Comment below:

1) Brand is going to impact your career. That being said, Maryland isn't horrible, especially within its geography. Just adjust your expectations accordingly.

2) An international student from India is going to face a lot of hurdles. Getting sponsored is very, very hard. Adjust your networking and applications accordingly.

3) IMO, I would apply to a number of programs, but especially Vanderbilt, UTA, MIT, BC, etc. Assuming you have the right profile. All are "better" than Maryland from a brand and recruiting perspective.

4) Baltimore is a small city with a limited financial sector. Be prepared to dig deep if that is where you want to be. Also realize you will largely have to look elsewhere for a job. Don't let Baltimore be the only reason you go to Maryland. You'll most likely be disappointed.

5) IMO, CFA is the gold standard with AM and ER type jobs. The MSF is nice and all, but the CFA still rules the day.

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Jun 19, 2018 - 10:53am
repeezus, what's your opinion? Comment below:

From Maryland here. Can definitely attest to no. 4- downtown is essentially six blocks by six blocks, so if you're looking for a bigger city, it's probably not your bag. Its size and proximity to DC mean Baltimore gets overshadowed a lot as far as firms choosing to place an office there. If you really want to go fish, there are several smaller shops further outside of town, but they're largely PE and venture firms under a billion AUM.

That being said, Baltimore isn't "hell on earth" at all, though there are some very rough patches of town. You kinda find your niche and get a feel for the city- it's a fun town. Definitely less safe than average, but as long as you know where you're at, you'll be safe.

As far as nos. 1 and 3, definitely be brand-conscious but it's not the end all/be all. UMD is a science and journalism school, and Smith certainly isn't a big brand name for MBAs, but it's a good school nonetheless. If you're specifically interested in an MSF and the Southeast, look at places like Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, UNC, and UVA. Most of the best schools in the region are public (with the exception of Vandy, Hopkins, Emory, and Rice).

Aide-toi, et Dieu t'aidera.
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Jun 7, 2018 - 5:00am
RealSlim, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think OP meant that he's applying to Maryland only because it's near the AM shops he wants to work for. Like others in the thread, I would go with brand of school over the location of "local" AM shops because BlackRock has expanded all over, DFA in CA/TX, Fidelity in Boston/RI/NH/Texas.

Jun 8, 2018 - 3:42am
sx-70, what's your opinion? Comment below:

International here, finished undergrad and grad school (MSF) in the states, now work in asset management (account management, though trying to move over to the PM side or business management). Here are my 2 cents. Take them with a grain of salt.

1) School brand matters, though only to a certain extent for analyst level jobs. My firm doesn't screen candidates based on schools for analyst level positions. You see students from all kinds of random schools in the analyst class. This may vary depending on firms;

2) Getting sponsored is very difficult---it has a lot to do with luck. We don't screen candidates based on that, and my team is staffed globally (we've had people remote in another country for a year due to visa issues). My firm has decent mobility (geographically and across different business functions) from what I have observed;

3) Landing a job in AM has a lot to do with luck... As an international, most likely, only large firms would be willing to give you an interview, meaning that it would be ULTRA competitive. So if you don't get that job at BlackRock/JPM/GSAM/PIMCO, it could simply mean that there's a better candidate out there (not because you're an international);

4) There are many different functions within AM, what do you want to do? Account Management? Product Management? Portfolio Management? Analytics? I'd say don't be picky, get your foot in the door first at a firm with good mobility.

Don't worry too much---focus on making yourself indispensable instead (CFA, specialized knowledge, or whatever it might be). If you are THAT good, visas would be the last thing you need to worry about. That's always been my philosophy.

Hope this helps

Jun 22, 2018 - 8:35pm
123..., what's your opinion? Comment below:

So I'm an international student and I'm of Indian ethnicity (raised in a different country though).

Getting sponsored right now is INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT. I managed to, but I had to sacrifice an entire semester to prep for recruiting. I would recommend you adjust your expectations because realistically getting an AM role from a no-name college in India and non target masters in the US is close to impossible.

You also really underestimate the difficulty of fitting in -> I know many kids fresh from India who really struggle getting jobs in finance simply because your soft skills matter much more versus industries like technology. Judging by your posts, I assume you fit in this mold and there's nothing wrong with this - just make sure you temper your expectations and try and find ANY gig that sponsors you.

Jun 23, 2018 - 2:12am
wso23, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Here is the best answer.

I am an MBA and have hired MBAs. I like your idea of focusing on location of the school. Many people are focusing on the brand and ranking of the MBA program. That's great if you can get into the top 10 programs, pretty good if you get top 20. Not really worth much otherwise.

If you don't go top 20 the single most important thing is the location of your program. This is because there will be lots of alumni wherever you are, and they will be accessible, largely willing to help, with contacts throughout the city. There are so many people in this industry that didn't come from a top 20 program and would prefer to hire someone "more like them".

I don't see why Baltimore wouldn't have a good alumni network for Maryland. It's the big state school and everyone will love the football/basketball teams. I really like your plan.

Vanderbilt you mention. Nashville is experiencing some nice growth. I'd keep that on your list too.

Jun 28, 2018 - 2:57pm
ChloeOrc, what's your opinion? Comment below:

In Columbia MD, which is outside of Baltimore there is a Wells Fargo corporate truste business. If you can get in, you can later transition to a operation/product management/risk role at one of their client AM shops. Operations at a shop is mostly overseeing a couple outsourced vendor doing their work so it's not as menial as doing it at a BB.

Jul 3, 2018 - 8:46am
DanielHardman, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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