HKU vs UK Target & Semi Target

I'm currently deciding between Hong Kong University (HKU), Warwick and Durham. I will be studying law (LLB) at either of the 3 schools.

I'm curious to hear if studying a non finance related course like Law will impact recruiting into IB in HK, especially considering i'm not a mandarin speaker.

I also recognize that Warwick in the UK is obv > Durham for IB but Durham also offered a significant scholarship (i'm an international student to both HK and UK), so I am curious as to the difference in recruiting between unis of such caliber is in London.

Also, do students ever go to HKU and find placements in other cities (Singapore, NYC, London, Shanghai etc)? Or am I pigeonholing myself into HK? Vice versa with the previously mentioned UK schools to other cities^

Lastly, if anyone can give some insight to their experience going to HK right now i'd really appreciate it (especially as a student considering riots and general life etc)


Comments (63)

Jun 9, 2021 - 5:12am
San-Chan, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I honestly think durham llb is a good choice as a safety net for ib. A strong semi target, slightly below warwick for ib. But for a law career, durham is miles ahead and is just below oxbridge, with kcl for tc at mc/sc/us firms. Taking into account both these fields: if you fail at getting into ib from warwick, you have a reasonable chance at law albeit it's below oxbridge/kcl/durham/ucl/lse. If you fail at ib from Durham, you can get a tc more than Wwk and have a larger safety net is what I'm saying.

And also, since law has a smaller population of people applying since you need a law degree or a story, you have a better chance at law than in at dham.

Wwk if your really dead set on ib and can give up the law advantage that durham offers. Durham is a good safety net if you do fail at ib. TC at sc, mc and us firms likely has a smaller proportion of people applying relatively to ib, so durham is stronger in that sense.

So imo, durham is better because strong semi for ib and a good target(big difference placement compared to wwk) for law. If you can get into ib from warwick, you can get in from Durham because you gotta ace the interview rather than the degree aspect on ur cv unless ur talking about wbs and durham econ/business degrees.

Jun 9, 2021 - 8:07am
wolfie14, what's your opinion? Comment below:

In terms of only ib specifically for EBs in London, which is better durham or warwick or bristol? Everyone says warwick is target but I haven't seen many warwick alumni in EBs like CVP and Evercore.

Jul 16, 2021 - 2:25pm
Cowtheduck, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm a law dude who recruited IB back when I was on the fence and I just wanted to comment that in my experience this is spot on for law; Durham > Warwick by miles and places strongly into MC/white shoes, met many Durham dudes at the PE-centred US firms (think Latham/Sidley/Skadden) but can't remember anyone from Warwick. Also it's not unheard of for lawyers to jump into finance, I know a dude at CC who's now at GS London after 1PQE (as an assoc, not as in-house counsel). So that's something to consider as well.

Happy to chat OP if you'd care to DM.

  • Associate 1 in S&T - Other
Jun 9, 2021 - 5:22am

HK ppl will never understand their brands and schools will never be viewed as equal as Anglo Saxon sphere counterparts, even US/UK firms will take more time looking into PKU/THU students than HKUs

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jun 9, 2021 - 5:24am

HKU places lots of kids into HK IBs each year. Although not as target/prestigious as some UK targets or PKU/THU, you do get a better chance at networking and in-semester internships, which makes it easier to break into HK IB.

  • Intern in AM - Other
Jun 9, 2021 - 2:07pm

OP here.

How does my inability to speak/write/read chinese play into this? Am I completely screwed if I can't?

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jun 9, 2021 - 3:16pm

Yeah it's gonna be pretty tight to be honest. 

HOWEVER, just given how amazing HK is, and HKU is top in Asia, I would go to HKU for the life experience. I'm sure you'll get interviews even though it may be slightly harder than from U.K. uni. A good thing that could help is if you did a semester at LSE or Wharton, or like a summer class at LSE (which is really not hard to get into) just to get familiarity around school name 

Also be aware than HKU is top in Asia while Durham etc are behind LSE Oxbridge in the U.K. so you could frame your story the right way 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jun 9, 2021 - 10:10pm

There is going to be a lot less positions in IB/PE/VC available to you, you will have to focus on SEA coverage groups.

For S&T/HFs there are a lot more positions that don't require mandarin though.

Jun 9, 2021 - 3:36pm
dank.knight, what's your opinion? Comment below:

In Hong Kong, if you aren't studying finance / economics - good luck breaking into IB. How man law students do you see in IB in HK vs UK? 

In HK, if you're studying law at HKU and you want to break into IB, you'll be competing against overseas HK / Chinese students at Oxbridge / the Ivy leagues / the Chinese Unis which are miles ahead of HKU. You're also competing against the GBUS programmes at CUHK and UST / to a very very small extent, the IB Course at HKU (GBUS equivalent at CUHK).

HK is pretty backwards in terms of "subject mobility" you're better of doing law here in the UK, getting into IB here and then lateralling back to HK / China. 

You're completely screwed if you can't speak / read / translate from / to Chinese. 

Also is this a troll post? Riots in 2021? The thing died in June 2020 with the NSL. 


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Jun 10, 2021 - 2:10am
CTVP, what's your opinion? Comment below:

1. An LLB won't be an issue for HK IB recruiting at all as long as you can address it properly during the interview.

2. HKU is much better for breaking into IB in HK, just try to learn some mandarin. Warwick and Durham will have you stopped right at the resume screening.

3. If you are female, it's possible to break into UK IB from Warwick / Durham otherwise the chance is really low due to visa sponsor and diversity issues which means you have to be extremely excellent.

4. I was an international declined HKUST and HKU last year and went to LSE. But if I only ended up with an offer from UCL I would opt to HKUST / HKU for sure.

Jun 15, 2021 - 9:25am
TopBoy.-, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Completely inaccurate. If you want to work in London Warwick/Durham are the key ones to go for since they're targets /high semi target in the UK.  Saying they get you stopped right at the CV is completely tone-deaf. UCL would also have been fine btw, once you're at a target its up to you to get in and if you can't do so from UCL, you can't do so LSE either.

  • Intern in AM - Other
Jun 11, 2021 - 9:37pm

OP here. Thanks for the response, can you give me some more insight as to why HKU is the clear choice ?

  • Analyst 1 in S&T - Comm
Jun 11, 2021 - 9:40pm

higher quality people at HKU, by far, compared to Warwick or Durham... from friends, you'll feel like an actual BSD at HKU + sense of community, no such thing exists at Warwick (Durham better community cuz colleges, but people live under the shadow of being Oxbridge lite)

better lifestyle, experiences, future network

opportunities for finance are much better in APAC, and I've seen some join EMEA/NA as well (this is more dependent on your nationality & visa eligibility)

Jun 13, 2021 - 4:05pm
T30Graduate, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Legal studies in any anglosphere educational institute will be exceptionally boring. You will spend three years on the common law; most practicing attorneys do not touch it and rely on statutory law (criminal, securities, trusts and estates, general corporate etc) go figure.  If UK law degrees are anything like America's in terms of versatility, you won't break into IB. I have worked with corporate lawyers in London, getting some magic circle/UK big law role is way, way harder than in the US generally (and especially if at a T14).  Please feel free to DM any questions. 

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Jun 13, 2021 - 4:15pm
TopBoy.-, what's your opinion? Comment below:

degree is irrelevant for uk IB, a law degree from a target/semi-target will be fine 

Worth noting that Durham placement of students at magic circle and big USA firms is only second to oxbridge

  • Intern in AM - Other
Jun 13, 2021 - 4:21pm

Thanks for the response, do you have any idea if a vacation scheme from one of a top US/magic circle firm would aid in any recruitment into IB? Durham's placement into top firms was a welcomed surprise upon viewing both ranking tables/linkedin searches.

PS: I recognize that using a vacation scheme at a top law firm to transition into IB may sound ridiculous but please note i'm not opposed to entering a career in Big Law, i'm just curious to know where I would stand in each situation depending on where I end up for uni.

Jun 26, 2021 - 12:22am
ChimpyLawya, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Yeah because their cohort is enormous.. the prestige isn't even close to LSE or even the other Londons for that matter. Take a quick look at QS law rankings or graduate earnings after that. Durham just isn't it lol

Jun 14, 2021 - 8:04am
Telemachus, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Congrats on some great options!

My suggestion is Durham. 

Durham - amazing law school and semi-target for finance. You can do law then pivot to restructuring IB, where law would be best used. All of the magic circle hires there in case you want to start in law, and you'll have plenty of options between law and finance after.  

Warwick - IB target, but law is not nearly as strong as DU. 

HKU - may be tough to do law there and then try to move to IB. Also, Hong Kong isn't what it once was and many firms / jobs are leaving for Singapore. 

Best of luck! 

  • Intern in AM - Other
Jun 14, 2021 - 10:11am

Thank you for such a detailed response!

Based on multiple responses like this that i've received + further research, Durham is shaping up to what appears as a well rounded option.

As per your comment on moving into restructuring, does that imply that a lateral from Big Law (magic circle/top US firm) to a RX IB/PE position is possible/common? That's a great appeal if it is, and is one of the questions i've found little to no information on.

Thanks again!

Jun 14, 2021 - 10:38am
Telemachus, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Happy to help mate.

The easiest way to start in IB is to do it directly from school as these are highly structured programs, esp at the BB/EBs. This is pretty much a universal truth regardless of what country you're in. 

It's been a while since I've lived in England, so definitely do you own work on this, but in the US I've known ppl who've done a lateral transition. 

One fellow I know interned in RX Big Law during law school, then did a RX EB after and skipped the bar as he hated law so much. Another spent a few years in Big Law RX, then made a lateral move to a boutique RX IB firm. The caveat is both guys were in the US and both went to top law schools / top Big Law firms.  

I can't say how this would be in the UK, but it shouldn't be that hard to due diligence.

Btw - if you go to Durham, pick castle as your college. Loads of fun partying in a castle. 

Best of luck. Feel free to DM me anytime. 


  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jun 15, 2021 - 7:30am

Seems like you went to Durham.

i disagree (didn't go to either Durham or HKU btw) - IB is not as structures as you say, I.e. there is no uni specific programme. He can apply to anywhere from HK. In current settings they'll be happy to have him interview over zoom as well. 

i think the issue here is no one on this thread is most students have only lived in the U.K., and don't have a good sense for international opportunities / mobility, and the recognition of non European schools. 

btw I'm also not sure why one would go to Durham instead of Warwick ?

Most Helpful
Jun 15, 2021 - 8:57am
Telemachus, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Didn't go to Durham, but lived in England as well as in HK.  

Yes, Warwick is better in finance/econ than Durham, BUT OP is going to study law not finance/econ. For law, Durham is one of the best schools in the UK outside of Oxbridge, with all of the magic circle recruiting there. Law at Durham > law at Warwick.  

Seems we disagree on how structured IB recruiting is. I've always found it to be extremely structured, esp at the BB / EB side. If you're talking the smaller boutiques, obviously recruiting isn't as structured . 

HKU is a great school, no one is saying it isn't, but HK has seen better days. High finance jobs are leaving HK for Singapore, and the trend is accelerating.  Also, OP has the option of studying law at HKU, not finance, impacts the choice. 

Part of the decision comes down to where OP wants to live after school. Asia - HKU, UK - Durham. 

Best of luck. 

Jun 15, 2021 - 9:23am
TopBoy.-, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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