Immigrant seeking advice on breaking into IB in Canada post an MBA at a Canadian MBA program

Hi guys,

This is my first post on WSO. I am an Associate with 4.5 years of experience at a small boutique TMT M&A shop in Sydney, Australia. Deals i've successfully worked on/closed are sales of private Managed IT Services/Enterprise SaaS to larger trade players or PEs, with EVs ranging from A$5m to A$25m.I did my undergrad (BBA - Finance) in Australia, however due to the change in visa laws here I dont see myself having a future in the country. I am in the process of applying to MBA programs in Canada, first one up is Ivey, and I was hoping you could provide me with some advice on:

  1. How someone with my background in the industry would be able to break into IB post an MBA?

  2. Whether the Ivey MBA (given its located in London and not Toronto, and it's structure doesnt allow time for an internship) is the right program to get onto Bay Street? 

Appreciate your advice in advance!  

If you are going through the MBA route:

Ivey/Queens MBA, and for that matter any one-year MBA in Canada (fair to say these are designed for immigrants) is an absolute NO NO to get into Bay Street. Pick Rotman/Schulich. The internship (I know it sounds lame given you are more exp than most kids doing the same, but it's a step breaking into the door) is critical. Rationale is simple - banks look to convert most of the interns before release headcount for hire from the outside.

Happy for others to critique my view.

Thanks for your response! To be honest, the lack of an internship period is of great concern to me. I got my current job by converting an internship I started in between my junior and senior undergrad years, so I know the process works. I am also applying to Rotman but their term starts in September 2021 and I'd want to get to Canada and get back to the industry as soon as possible.   

'fair to say these are designed for immigrants', except Ivey has the lowest ratio of non-Canadians of any MBA and Schulich is more than 60%.  How many Schulich grads make it to bay street exactly?  If you're trying to attract immigrants, do you think pitching them a school that doesn't allow them to have ANY Canadian experience before trying to get a full-time role is a viable strategy?

Ivey is a great school, much more personalized experience than Rotman but it is a general management school, not a finance school.  They do send people to Bay Street every year but mostly not during structured recruiting.  It's mostly through networking with the alumni.  Rotman by far dominates the summer intern game and then most of those guys convert.  The fact is though, associate hiring is wayyyyyy less at the MBA level in Canada than the US.  I'm talking less than 20 across the entire country per year on average.  Sometimes less than 15.  Not sure you want to face those odds.  I'd tell you to go to a top 10-15 US school and your chances are much higher.  You can do a year of banking there under OPT and move back to Canada by lateraling.  Canadian banks are always open to US laterals.

Thanks for the insight into the slim recruiting at the Associate level. Given the circumstances, I am also open to Analyst positions given that my experience is outside of Canada. Hadn't considered the US, but will definitely look into it! 

I agree. US is a much better route for both MBA and post-MBA employment, as long as visa isn't gonna be a massive headache for you personally.

Don't join as analyst, you can't compete with the undergrad levels (e.g. Ivey HBA, Rotman, etc).

Most Helpful

Update - I successfully completed the Ivey MBA and have joined a Toronto-based boutique IB. During my recruiting process, I was pleasantly surprised at how open senior bankers at the Big 5 + National were when it came to networking with me, and I even got to the final round with one of the Big 5 for an Associate role in their CIT division - however, I didn't get the role.

I technically haven't received my rejection letter - I only found out I didn't get it after I messaged one of my interviewers on Linkedin. 

While you were all correct about Ivey not being a finance school, I was able to make my own way and would still recommend Ivey to those who do want a more personal touch to their MBA. Be warned that if you want to break into finance, you are more or less on your own. 

Happy to answer any questions about my approach, especially as an immigrant! Thanks again for all the helpful comments.

Congratulations! Thank for the update. I’m delighted to know you finished your MBA.

What school would you prefer, after your experience, is worth getting MBA from in Canada to break in to IB easily?

I am currently pursuing my Undergrad from a non-targeted school in the U.S. I am thinking of going to Canada for my MBA, as I can obtain Canadian PR easily after completion.

What would you recommend?

Thank you in advance.


I really enjoyed my experience at Ivey - particularly because I didn't want to spend too long at grad school. 

However, if you would like to set yourself up for the best chance to stay in Canada long term - I would recommend Rotman or another 2-year MBA

They have the summer break in between years which works well for the Big 6 banks' internship programs and makes it easier for recruitment - so I would recommend that if you're worried about your ability to recruit via just networking by yourself. 

Additionally, doing a two year program guarantees you a 3-year post MBA work permit - which gives you enough time to get the PR. 

Happy to answer any more questions and best of luck with your undergrad!

Hi all, 

For anyone interested, I just wanted to update y'all that I have given my notice at the boutique IB I am currently at to join one of the Constellation Software subsidiaries. There is absolutely no bad blood at the current firm I'm at, I just wanted to give the buy-side (if you can classify Constellation Software as that) a shot. 

My current employer is being super cool about it...gotta love that boutique IB culture!

If anyone has any comments/advice about working at a Constellation Software subsidiary - I would love to hear it, especially as it relates to potentially moving to PE/VC afterwards. 

Thanks in advance!

Mark Leonard's President's Letters are an awesome awesome read.

Constellation has a bit of a reputation for being heavy on DD and almost always coming in at the low / lowest value range. Especially if there is US strategic / sponsor interest. They've sort of become a "stalking horse" in our processes. Someone you know will sign NDAs and do work but are not in contention as a serious bidder. I think they've flushed out out the in house sourcing which is good considering the above.

Thanks rabbit! Yeah, they are definitely "value" acquirers. Even during my time at a boutique TMT IB in Australia, we used to reach out to them to get a baseline bid so to speak. But based on my first week there, they arent just a spray and pray shop - the team is sharp and are on a mission. Very different environment from IB for sure, in a good way!

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