High School....now what? AM career??

I currently attend a high school in Arizona (current Junior), and I'm interested in entering the PM field (in particular the HF industry).

Hear me out. I know it's borderline stupid to set one's mind on HF or PM when you're only in high school, but honestly, PM is the only industry I see myself entering and finding the job intriguing. So I figured I'd plan ahead.

With that said, I have a few questions regarding my next steps. Please feel free to answer any of them.

I believe I have a fairly decent shot at any of the target colleges due to very strong EC's, demonstrated interest, solid test scores, and summer programs. I'm planning on studying some combination of Finance and Computer science, Finance as the primary.

  • Out of all of the colleges on my list (MIT, Upenn, Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Yale, NYU, Duke, UCLA, Princeton), which are optimal for an undergrad to exit into an IB/HF role?
  • Looking at most of these college's courses + majors offered, most of them don't offer Finance as a major, rather Economics or Economics with an emphasis/concentration on Finance (which is totally fine). However, none of the colleges seem to go as in-depth in financial markets/instruments as MIT or Upenn (probably partially because they offer Finance as a major). Is that significant? Is there an advantage to majoring in Finance vs Econ? Advice from alumni of any of the colleges would be appreciated.
  • If I intern or get an analyst position for ER or IB during undergrad, will it be easier to find a HF job out of undergrad?
  • How strong is California for HF? Boston?
  • How important is it to obtain an MBA in the AM world? Versus a CFA?
    Thank you!

Comments (18)

Apr 28, 2020 - 8:54pm
Five Star Man, what's your opinion? Comment below:

To be less flippant - I changed my major like 5 times between high school and college graduation. Then I changed my career 3 times before getting an MBA and ending up where I am now. If you go to a great school for you, work your ass off in and out of the classroom, and have a little fun - you'll be all set. Don't start stressing out now, you have your whole college career to lose sleep over stress.

Most Helpful
Apr 29, 2020 - 12:09am
EVADCFer, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Okay, look. first you have to decide if you want to do quant-driven job or fundamental analysis-driven job. For quant driven job, as I know, it is quite possible to recruit out of undergrad, and for fundamental analysis driven, you would usually go to ER first and spend couple years there - HFs don't like training folks on basic stuff IMHO.

For a quant-driven job, it is all about math, stats, and a decent piece of programming, all of that applied in portfolio management. You would definitely need Python, and then, as far as I know, either Java or C++. Search 'WorldQuant jobs' for instance, to look at the requirements of the funds that are heavily quant-driven. I recommend you start brushing up your math and stats, then go learn Python and take following Coursera offerings: Machine Learning for Trading from Google Cloud and NYIF, and Investment Management with Python and Machine Learning from EDHEC. Get a book called Python for Financefrom Yuxing Yan, this will prepare you decently well for an entry-level quant job.

As for fundamental analysis job, I recommend the following readings:Security Analysis by GrahamInvestment Banking by RosenbaumBest Practices for Equity Research Analysts by ValentineEquity Valuation by Fabozzi, CFA Institute Research Foundation

Generally, I recommend you reading a lot about the industry, the market, and the history of markets. And good luck.

Apr 29, 2020 - 12:29am
Bear Necessities, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks man, this was solid advice. Right now, I'm more interested in fundamental analysis. I'm just starting Security Analysis by Graham, and I'll definitely check out those other books.

Do you think a HF would consider a summer analyst position in ER (that I can get during my undergrad) to be enough experience to cover all the basic stuff?

Apr 29, 2020 - 2:56am
gthhfyufyuf, what's your opinion? Comment below:

While I can't comment on the AM bit, I can definitely give you some tips for the incoming college app season, which is 10x more important than anything else you can do right now.

First of all, forget about the specifics of what you're career is going to look like. That's all fluff and pointless, I doubt it's going to help. Right now, 100% of you're pre-professional focus should be on getting into college. Based on what you've said, it seems to me that you are way underestimating the difficulty of getting into the places you mentioned. It's good to have confidence, but simply having good grades and ECs does not guarantee you a spot unless your dad donated a building, you have triple legacy, or your a URM. Even then it's a crapshoot. I had a very similar app as a middle class white male, and I was rejected from all the Ivy's and most of the T20s I applied to.

My biggest tip would be to expand your college list significantly. You can keep all the schools you mentioned, but make sure to add some of the lower Ivy's + top public's (mich, uva, unc) as reaches. I would aim for about 15 reaches if you're serious, where a reach is any school in the US NEWS T30. It's a huge crapshoot, and it's incredibly difficult to get into even just one of these schools. Be prepared to write lots of essays tho, and kill it in the interviews. And most importantly, don't take any of these places for granted.

Also, since you only listed reaches, I would suggest doing research into some safeties/matches you'd be happy to attend if you got rejected everywhere. Matches I'd recommend taking a look at would be BC, Northeastern, Wisconsin, UT-Austin. If you're serious about finance, the best safeties are the big flagship state schools, some of which would likely give you big merit. IU Kelley is especially great. Don't underestimate the importance of this, I was very close to not getting into any reaches, even though I applied to 13.

Make sure to also start thinking about your ED school. Don't get cocky here. As tempting as it may be to apply to HYPSW, think long and hard whether you're willing to take the gamble. If you're applying early to these places without a hook, your odds of getting in are tiny, no matter how stacked your app is. I made this mistake. I regret not EDing to a lower Ivy because they are much easier to get into through ED and have recruiting comparable to the T5s anyway. Plus, there's the added bonus of not having to slave over RD apps. Apply to as many EAs too, UNC and UVA both have the option.

Most importantly though, make sure to just relax. The next year is going to be stressful af anyway, take the chance to sleep in while you have it. Have fun with your last year of HS and do all the senior activities with your friends. Sadly, mine was cut short and it absolutely sucks.

You got this. Feel free to message me with any further questions.

Apr 29, 2020 - 11:48am
Bear Necessities, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks! I am applying to some targets as well, considering I'm not exactly a URM, and I'll check out some of the schools you've mentioned.

But I do think my application is strong enough to at least get into a couple of the colleges on the aforementioned list, so I'm trying to figure out which are optimal for my path, and maybe concentrate on those in particular.

As for ED, the school I'm currently leaning to right now is MIT (which doesn't do EDs). That's why I'm not planning on EDing to any other schools.

Solid advice overall, I really appreciate it.

Apr 29, 2020 - 12:27pm
gthhfyufyuf, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Fair enough, but keep in mind that if you EA to MIT you're still allowed to ED to another school. While you can't apply to the REA schools, you can still shoot an ED app to Wharton/Columbia of the schools you listed. Other good schools for finance that do ED are Cornell/Duke/Dartmouth. Unless you're 100% set on MIT and your life wouldn't be complete without it, I'd suggest this path. EAing does not give you much of a boost anyway, and giving up your ED (which can be really powerful) is not a wise trade-off for the small chance that you get into MIT.

Take my advice with a grain of salt, but I know a few people who went this path without EDing and most regret it.

Apr 30, 2020 - 1:24am
Dr. Rahma Dikhinmahas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I can relate to the feeling that investing is in your blood. I felt that way in HS too. Over time, other things caught my attention but by late 20's I realized I had to be an investor. You should still explore other things but your gut may prove right.

Two reasons why Econ is more than fine:

  1. When there are two points of view on an investment, the right and wrong view are often separated by who understands Econ better. Example is housing crisis, you had any number of trained finance people convinced that their models were right because finance taught them to frame the risk/reward a certain way. A smaller number of outside-the-box thinkers saw that the method was totally flawed. Ultimately if you listen to those who got it right and why they did, it was because they understood the underlying economics better.

Or look at today's market where everyone is trying to pick up the pieces and figure out what will do well in the "new" economy, Econ a lot more valuable than finance in answering those IMHO.

  1. Other reason Econ is fine is that no major is going to give you all that you need anyways. Investing is a bet against all odds (Nobel prize winning research saying markets are pretty efficient) that you know so much more than all the other smart people evaluating the investment. To have conviction you need to know that bet from so many angles; operations, management, capital structure, industry dynamics, market dynamics, macro, governance etc etc.

No major will teach you even half of that, so the stakes aren't that high as long as your major is something relevant (finance, econ or even STEM) that you can build off later.

All that being said, I think IBD is generally the best first step for an investing career (esp anything fundamental) so finance is a leg up if possible. But econ has its own advantages which I hopefully communicated a bit.

Apr 30, 2020 - 11:08am
Hanes Jameson, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Have a sibling at MIT, I would just caution that when recruiting out of college, GPA is important, and MIT is a killer. If you went to a softer Ivy with some grade inflation this can help a lot, as you can spend some spare time doing things you enjoy (including things that relate to finance) while not being overwhelmed by schoolwork. Just remember everyone at MIT was a valedictorian, and they curve all grades so that only a certain percent can get an A in each class.

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Apr 30, 2020 - 5:08pm
Hanes Jameson, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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