SG Universities: MSF or MBA?

Hi there,

Am an SG based analyst at a BB PB FO role (1 -2 years experience) and I am looking to move to IB in SG. Money is a concern for me so I'm thinking of doing either a masters in finance or an MBA at one of the local unis (INSEAD not included) as going overseas is too costly for me.

Just wondering if anyone has any recommendations on whether such a move is possible? I'm not interested in working overseas, as I wish to remain in SG.

Plan 1. MSF at Local Uni:
- Cheaper than MBA.
- Shorter time period of not earning money (1 year of studies for MSF).
- Hoping to do several internships while taking MSF (perhaps take a year long mid MSF break to intern at several places).

- unsure if i'm too late to the MSF route as I already have 1 - 2 years of experience. Not sure if I can still get into IB at the analyst level.
- Unsure to what extent do firms recruit local MSFs at the analyst level.

Plan 2. MBA at Local Uni:
- Well recognized program (esp NUS, ranked #1 in Asia).
- Fits well into my timeline of being a 2+ year analyst before doing an MBA.

- Costs slightly more than an MSF.
- 2 Year study period not drawing a salary (potentially may take a gap year to intern as well, trying to get as much experience as possible).
- Unsure to what extent do firms recruit local MBAs for the associate level.

I understand that if i want to have the best chance of breaking in, I'd be better off trying to get into a prestigious MBA overseas, however my financial situation is not great and I simply cannot afford to spend >$100k on further studies. As mentioned earlier, I'm only interested in working in SG.

Appreciate all the advice I can get.


What is your undergrad background? Where did you study?

Bad idea to do a local masters if you want to move into a FO role here. You are better off networking and moving into a lower tiered house in a MO role

The masters degrees from SG institutions (INSEAD is an exception) are improving but their career outcomes are nowhere near that of the undergraduate schools (UG career outcomes have improved tremendously compared to 15years ago, with top students getting into competitive FO roles).

If finances are a problem I would work in your current BO role for a while longer, save money, build your leadership profile and shoot for a top overseas MBA in about 3-4 years.


Thanks Monaco for the reply. Shall provide a bit of context

I'm an accountancy graduate from a local university (NTU/SMU/NUS) with mediocre grades (lower half of second upper) as I messed around too much in my first few years in university. Completed a consulting internship but only got interested in finance in my final year.

Figured that recruiting for S&T and IB would be tough given most undergrads have several internship under their belt for these roles. so I applied for several PB roles and secured a FT offer at a BB as an investment analyst in their PB division.

However I've been feeling rather underwhelmed in PB. We mostly recommend clients the same fixed coupon notes linked to blue chip stocks and recommendations must be 100% aligned to our bank's investment views. Hence, looking to switch to IB.

I understand that the skill set is not too transferable, hence I'm looking at doing MSF/MBA. If i build up my finances, would I be too old for associate recruiting if I'm graduating at 31/32?

Also, other than US, would a UK MBA be a viable option as well (along with INSEAD as mentioned above)?

Thanks for the help

Most Helpful

Disclaimer : I can only speak for S&T, Markets and buyside Analyst1 knows what he's talking about.

UK schools: Within S&T and markets, I have seen Singaporean folks in SG/HK with bachelors from nus/ntu/smu with Mfin Cambridge /Oxford MFE / LBS / Imperial / LSE Msc and possibly Warwick/UCL but below that it gets extremely tough.

Network as much as you can internally but really just to get some context . The actual chances of any internal transfer to IBD from a BO PWM role is 0. IBD (and indeed any front-office role in a tier-1 bank) is one of the most competitive industries to enter with a formal and well-defined recruitment pipeline. There is no point in trying to fight against this to become that outlier. I would focus your energies on doing well in your role and building up your leadership experience. Take your GMAT right now if you haven't already. Never give up.


Have not personally seen NUS/NTU/SMU MBAs here in IBD. Partially due to the local undergrad pool being competitive and large enough. Summer Associates from MBAs here is virtually non-existent and very unlike the structured programs over in the US. BBs in APAC hire mostly at the analyst level.


Also, consider networking with FO IBD bankers in your BB. Would put you in a much, much better stead to transition to IBD than investing 1-2 years in a non-guaranteed outcome.


Thanks for the advice and the landscape regarding MBAs in SG. Will definitely keep that in mind before making a decision. Really appreciate the information.

My thought process was that teams are not too keen to give FT roles to applicants who do not have either directly transferable skills or IB internship experience (please correct me if that's untrue). My plan was to take that MBA and focus on gaining that relevant internship experience that would let me have my foot in the door, be it being recruited as an analyst or an associate. But as you said, it is a non guaranteed outcome for sure.

Will try to network with the IB team in my firm. Am struggling with that to be honest. That's smth i have to improve on my end.

Thanks for the help!


Yes, BB IBD in APAC do prefer hiring candidates with prior relevant experience. Team sizes are smaller. As such, less resources can be dedicated to training new hires. With that said, it is indeed possible. There are cases of people moving from PB to IBD within the same bank. It may help if your role is more technically-oriented (e.g. research/DPM).

If you are really keen on an MBA, I wouldn’t place my bets on a local U. The ROI of a top BSchool (Wharton, Booth etc.) is much higher, despite the higher upfront cost. Much easier to begin in UK/NY office (where class sizes can be 5x larger and associate recruiting is common) and internally transition to HK/SG.


I see, thanks very much for the advice.

Unfortunately I am in a sales role that's generally non quantitative. But that said, not letting that stop me from moving closer to my goal. Hopefully once i finish my modeling courses, I can include valuations in my sales recommendations and hopefully use that as a talking point on my resume.

Appreciate the help! I wasn't expecting much response given that this site is largely US dominated. Was delightfully surprised :)


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