Do the humanities have value in today's banking world?

MusicCityBoer's picture
Rank: Gorilla | banana points 546

I recently got to sit down with a partner at a major MM IB firm (think Baird, HLHZ) who was a history major in college and we worked our way to the question of what value humanities degrees hold in the marketplace today. He thought they're highly underrated, because unlike most quantitative degrees (engineering and CS aside), the humanities teach problem-solving and understanding of entire systems of argument while many econ/math majors come out and have to learn how individual pieces and parts work together to form the whole. This is good at the analyst level, but advancement beyond that requires a level of understanding that most analysts don't have at the start.

He also pointed out that many of his fellow partners don't necessarily agree and usually just want to hire the econ/math/CS majors because they can learn to model the fastest, and thus hit the ground running before the humanities kids can.

So what's your take--do the humanities have a place in investment banking, or have they been fully superseded by more quantitative fields? And if not, what should a humanities major do to make themselves more appealing?

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Comments (82)

May 23, 2017

Bullshit. Do you honestly think an English major has better problem solving skills than someone majoring in EE?

That being said, if you are a completely unrelated major and you nail the technicals better than a lot of the econ/business kids that shows that you're extremely motivated.

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May 23, 2017

English majors are extremely intelligent. I definitely agree humanities majors a lot of times go underrated.

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May 23, 2017
<span itemprop=name>MajorKey</span>:

English majors are extremely intelligent.

Talk about painting with a broad brush....

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May 24, 2017

Just to piggyback off this, Political Science kids are some of the brightest and well rounded students especially if you have a good undergrad PoliSci program. People think that Political Science is a lot of theorizing, but most top-20 UG programs are quant heavy requiring multiple labs. It doesn't hurt that you have kids who have fantastic reading comprehension, communication skills, and an idea of what is going on in the world.

Undergrads of PS programs go on to law school, or continue in academia unfortunately and our exposure is limited.

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May 23, 2017

The humanities majors can learn the technical skills but do they want to go into banking?

May 23, 2017

*Finance. Econ is a humanity degree.

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May 23, 2017

I'm getting MS'd on for some reason I'm not privy to. There's an ongoing debate on this and I majored in it. I think it is a humanity.

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May 24, 2017

If you view economics as a moral and political philosophy (as Adam Smith did), then yeah, you could make the case that it is a humanities degree. Most people consider it a social science, especially now that economics has become far more quantitative and modeling intensive.

Gimme the loot

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May 24, 2017
<span itemprop=name>Gratisfaction</span>:

If you view economics as a moral and political philosophy (as Adam Smith did), then yeah, you could make the case that it is a humanities degree. Most people consider it a social science, especially now that economics has become far more quantitative and modeling intensive.

The mathematization of economics was an attempt to elevate it to the rank of natural science. However there are very few truths in economics and most models are still based on conditions like ''perfect knowledge'' and ''equilibrium'' that do not exist in the real world at all. This results in the fact that most economic predictions, even and especially those from high ranking economists and Nobel prizes, turn out to be completely wrong.
I'd question the intellectual integrity of anyone who claims otherwise.

And no, I'm not shooting on economics as a whole, I'm shooting at the attempt to shift it from social to natural science so that professionals can feel better about themselves.

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May 24, 2017

Yeah and it's not considered a natural science but it is considered a social science. I wasn't making any point about the high regard we should have for economist because things are getting quant heavy, just making a point.

Gimme the loot

May 24, 2017

I don't know why this comment got so much monkey Sh*t. I am an Math/Econ major. To a certain extent, Econ is a humanities degree...actually I'd say even Math

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May 28, 2017

Yeah, I'm not sure about the MS everyone's getting here--Econ is quantitative sociology with a stronger (?) philosophical underpinning IMO so it could be a humanity. My college split them apart from each other (and split math off too) so it's debatable, but it isn't wrong enough to get this much ms.

University of Chicago

May 26, 2017

You get a Bachelor of Arts for majoring in Econ and a Bachelor of Science for majoring in Finance. So Econ by definition is a humanity type major... trying to understand how you got so much MS. Unless it's different at every other school, and it's not a knock on Econ, it just is what it is.

It's like getting mad that a tomato is a fruit, BC you have some inferiority complex in the fruit vs veggies debate.

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May 23, 2017

From my experience humanities majors could do a lot of finance roles, but they will require extra assistance. I worked with a philosophy major who happened to know how to code and works in Asset Management now. He is more middle office than front and it took him years to get to where he is. I know also worked with a communications major that ended up as a PM, however, he got his start in the mid 90's and honestly the world has changed since then.

Overlooking lib arts majors is foolish, however, you do have to be ready to explain the basics to them - think as simple as futures and options contracts. Also, I think saying that a math/finance major is not going to be able to handle the higher level problems is even more foolish. I have met plenty of humanities majors who could not run any organization. The majority of higher level problem solving capabilities are going to come from experience and the individual person. What they major in is not going to be what defines them over the long run.

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May 23, 2017

In my general experience and according to some stats (GRE/SAT scores), philosophy majors are smartest out of all humanities.

May 23, 2017

Well, they are basically majoring in thinking. This guy was definitely smart, however, he also had early exposure to programming.

May 25, 2017

^this. Philosophy majors are often really smart

May 27, 2017
Ehmerica:

From my experience humanities majors could do a lot of finance roles, but they will require extra assistance. I worked with a philosophy major who happened to know how to code and works in Asset Management now.

The field of philosophy is kind of an anomaly in the humanities world. Fact of the matter is that logic is a subfield of philosophy that has a lot of overlap with computer science. Likewise within economics, the subfield of econometrics has a lot of statistics involved

My view is that one of the biggest potential benefits from college is to learn how to solve problems, and subjects like history and english don't award you with problem solving skills the same way that STEM subjects do. On the flipside, humanities leave you better equipped to communicate and craft persuasive arugments

It also depends where you go to school

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May 23, 2017

There was a really good thread on this a while ago, but I unfortunately cannot find it. The partner is 100% correct. I think the outside the box type thinking taught in the liberal arts is very valuable for a career in IB. If I were screening resumes, I would choose the history or English major over the finance or STEM major for IB 100% of the time all else being equal.

I was an accounting and finance major BTW.

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May 23, 2017
<span itemprop=name>Sil</span>:

I think the outside the box type thinking taught in the liberal arts is very valuable for a career in IB.

What "outside the box type' thinking are you referring to? I can see how a philosophy major might possess that, but how are you going to rationalize a history or English major possessing it? And then beyond that, why wouldn't an engineer or math major possess that? I'll concede that a biology major would probably not learn to think outside of the box since it's a major where good memorization skills will serve you better than thinking skills would.

<span itemprop=name>Sil</span>:

If I were screening resumes, I would choose the history or English major over the finance or STEM major for IB 100% of the time all else being equal.

I gain some solace in knowing that your statement is more of a testament to how intellectually non-challenging IB is, and that, like most things in life, it's a skill or set of knowledge that can be gained over time.

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Best Response
May 23, 2017
<span itemprop=name>JarBear</span>:

Sil:I think the outside the box type thinking taught in the liberal arts is very valuable for a career in IB.

What "outside the box type' thinking are you referring to? I can see how a philosophy major might possess that, but how are you going to rationalize a history or English major possessing it? And then beyond that, why wouldn't an engineer or math major possess that? I'll concede that a biology major would probably not learn to think outside of the box since it's a major where good memorization skills will serve you better than thinking skills would.

Sil:If I were screening resumes, I would choose the history or English major over the finance or STEM major for IB 100% of the time all else being equal.

I gain some solace in knowing that your statement is more of a testament to how intellectually non-challenging IB is, and that, like most things in life, it's a skill or set of knowledge that can be gained over time.

It seems many posters in here have mistaken this as an attack on STEM majors- it's not. I never stated that a STEM major cannot think critically- it's just that their critical thinking is different. STEM fields deal with absolutes, while liberal arts majors deal with many relativities. Liberal arts also frequently allow students to reach their own conclusions, whereas STEM fields frequently have one right and many wrong answers. This all lends to a type of thinking that makes for a successful investment banker.

The important thing to remember is that IB never has been a quantitative field. IB has always been an art, not a science.

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May 23, 2017
<span itemprop=name>Sil</span>:

JarBear: Sil:I think the outside the box type thinking taught in the liberal arts is very valuable for a career in IB.What "outside the box type' thinking are you referring to? I can see how a philosophy major might possess that, but how are you going to rationalize a history or English major possessing it? And then beyond that, why wouldn't an engineer or math major possess that? I'll concede that a biology major would probably not learn to think outside of the box since it's a major where good memorization skills will serve you better than thinking skills would. Sil:If I were screening resumes, I would choose the history or English major over the finance or STEM major for IB 100% of the time all else being equal.I gain some solace in knowing that your statement is more of a testament to how intellectually non-challenging IB is, and that, like most things in life, it's a skill or set of knowledge that can be gained over time.

It seems many posters in here have mistaken this as an attack on STEM majors- it's not. I never stated that a STEM major cannot think critically- it's just that their critical thinking is different. STEM fields deal with absolutes, while liberal arts majors deal with many relativities. Liberal arts also frequently allow students to reach their own conclusions, whereas STEM fields frequently have one right and many wrong answers. This all lends to a type of thinking that makes for a successful investment banker.

The important thing to remember is that IB never has been a quantitative field. IB has always been an art, not a science.

In math and science, you're probably right in that there is one right answer and one wrong answer. In engineering, your design classes (which is what separates engineers from other STM majors) are a great display of different approaches to the same problem. And unlike English, where your opinion/paper could be completely subjective, these engineering design projects have numbers behind them to prove they can meet the objectives and pass a certain set of criteria.

I see why some humanity majors would be useful. I also don't believe all STEM degrees have equal value (in fact, I'd probably put biology at dead last behind most, if not all humanity majors). I guess I am just triggered at the fact you'd pick the humanity major over the STEM major [b]every[/b] time.

May 23, 2017
<span itemprop=name>Sil</span>:

The important thing to remember is that IB never has been a quantitative field. IB has always been an art, not a science.

'

Common saying, but to say that IB is not a quantitative field, especially for the roles out of undergrad, is inaccurate. And as much as any bank would like to claim for in their recruiting pitches, the key responsibilities of an analyst are less about reaching your own conclusions, and there is always a right and wrong answer. The creativity and thinking for an IB analyst is not how can I creatively interpret this / find symbolism in my MD's email / this CIM, but how can I find a way to prove my MD's thoughts around valuation with the info I have.

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May 23, 2017
<span itemprop=name>Binders</span>:

Sil: The important thing to remember is that IB never has been a quantitative field. IB has always been an art, not a science.

'

Common saying, but to say that IB is not a quantitative field, especially for the roles out of undergrad, is inaccurate. And as much as any bank would like to claim for in their recruiting pitches, the key responsibilities of an analyst are less about reaching your own conclusions, and there is always a right and wrong answer. The creativity and thinking for an IB analyst is not how can I creatively interpret this / find symbolism in my MD's email / this CIM, but how can I find a way to prove my MD's thoughts around valuation with the info I have.

Would you consider IB a relatively quantitative field? I am just curious because I really cannot agree with that, at least compared to other field generally thought of as quantitative.

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May 23, 2017

Quantitative referring to the nature of the work, not necessarily the complexity if you're comparing it to, say, actuaries or quant traders. I've always found the most useful analysts to be the ones with stronger quantitative skills (assuming they have passable people skills). Sure, there's a qualitative aspect to it, writing bullet points in slides and drafting CIMs, but that stuff gets overwritten a billion times by everyone else in the chain using the same common phrases as previous work. On the other hand, if you can't properly build a model, interpret it, and understand what the numbers are saying and why changing x input results in y delta to the output, it's going to be a long 2 years for your team.

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May 27, 2017

Other field or other fields? Just making sure since you're a grammar nazi.

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May 24, 2017

The higher you go in STEM courses the less definite everything becomes. High level math, engineering, etc. is artistic in a way. I think this is similar to how high level finance is an art but basic finance is not. In the beginning (first 2.5-3 years) of a STEM major you are just learning the tools of the trade but once you know how to use them you can start to use them creatively in out of the box ways.

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May 23, 2017

To me there's nothing worse than a engineering/science/finance/econ major who thinks he (or she) is the shit for doing a "hard skill" major. Those types of people tend to be the least interesting, least intellectually curious and most unprepared for the real world.

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May 23, 2017

Philosophy major in IBD here -- I think the real value is that you're a well rounded person and are just generally intellectually curious. If you just spent your college career taking a ton of finance classes you probably know a lot about finance, but you're probably such a simpleton. Being well rounded academically has paid off when talking to clients.

May 23, 2017

Finance/Math major here that just got into IBD - I think that the traditional liberal arts argument teaches you how to think is a croc of shit. It's propaganda that older generations have been spouting for a long time. Majoring in a certain field of study isn't going to make your problem solving abilities intrinsically stronger than they already are. That being said remember why you're going to university: to network, put a brand on your resume, and maybe learn the basic theory behind your field. First if you don't get the same network that the kids in your undergraduate business school do you're at a serious disadvantage, which a lot of liberal arts kids get screwed on. Second, learning about humanities doesn't translate into quantitative skills no matter what way you put it. I've met some brilliant liberal arts guys that wanted to break into finance, but there is just such a steep learning curve that they just couldn't cut it when it's all said and done. If you like liberal arts but want to go into finance, make it your minor because having a degree in finance is paramount to breaking in.

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May 23, 2017

Strong words, but I agree with this message. The idea that you "don't learn how to think" studying finance/math/STEM is pretty dumb. Most college educations require some liberal arts core, anyways. Sure, there's kids that are very narrow-minded, but that's the case for any field. We just see more "narrow-minded" technical majors because at least they have the technical skills to become our peers - the humanities/liberal arts kids who didn't have the critical thinking skills don't have even make it into the conversation because they have no redeeming qualities on the technical side.

On the point of philosophy majors having the highest standardized scores, I think there is a bit of self-selection there - you have to be a real intellectual type to want to major in philosophy since there's little allure of "easiness" (marketing, art history, cultural studies) or money (finance, science).

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May 23, 2017

Yah I don't actually believe philosophy majors have the highest standardized test scores. I believe math majors actually do. And the reason for that is because pure math majors literally have to be geniuses. I took a functional analysis course in undergrad (it's the lifeblood theory of all analysis done in academic literature) and let me tell you it was a doozy, I struggled to get the pitiful B- I got. Classes like that, which are common in upper level math all the way to the doctorate level, are so abstract by nature that the logical order of your problem solving abilities must be perfect to even comprehend the basic ideas behind the subject. Go talk to a Berkeley Mathematics PHD, and I guarantee you he/she can solve just about anything. They're real life wizards.

May 23, 2017

Math majors are usually labeled as STEM rather than humanities (even if the major happens to be within the school's humanities department).

May 23, 2017

I'm well aware of that, and I wasn't saying that. All I was pointing to was that mathematics majors have higher standardized test scores than philosophy majors (which have the highest standardized test scores out of the liberal arts groups).

May 23, 2017

I'm pretty sure the guy was just talking about humanities majors. There has to be a few other majors with higher scores (e.g. physics, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, etc.).

May 23, 2017

Google highest gmat score by major, and you'll see mathematics sits at the top. Physics is probably higher on occasion but the two areas of study are very intertwined. Most physics programs require all the same courses as math programs except for maybe real analysis and numerical methods. So the groups very similar if not identical in terms of intelligence.

May 24, 2017

"Physics is to mathematics like sex is to masturbation" - Feynman

I heard this yesterday, made me laugh. The math you use in physics has an application where mathematics is more like theoretizing.

May 24, 2017

I was originally a dual math and physics major, I've taken the courses, and half of my family are physicists. The courses are the same until the 400 level, bottom line. Physics is almost entirely based around calculus and differential equations as is almost all math theory aside from graph and number theory.

May 24, 2017

Well, obviously, you see this difference once you reach advance levels not for the first few years of undergraduate. If you check the research done in mathematics and physics, they are quite different. Even though sometimes they converge (mostly physicists using math to create frameworks for their research problems).

The reason why one would take similar courses at entry level is because both physicists and mathematicians uses math as communication tool. But, at advanced level, all research in physics needs to comedown to a result which can be confirmed or refuted by experiment which is different in mathematics.

If you took physics as a major you should know who Feynman is though?

May 24, 2017

I don't know what you're experience in actual mathematics is, but the process is the same. Do you think mathematicians create lemma out of nowhere? No, they study the dynamics's of a theory or outcome and then propose a hypothesis, i.e. a conjecture and then a lemma once the proposed conjecture is confirmed. The process is the same in physics. Physicists study an event, and then propose a hypothesis. If said hypothesis can be generalized a theory is developed. It's the same process, and I don't know really understand the relevance of your quote. And yes I know who Feynman is, but one physicist's opinion on the difference between the fields proposes no absolute correctness in the argument.

May 24, 2017

LOL man. It was a fun quote and I do see the relevance. I know bunch of PhDs on both sides that would disagree with you and some would disagree with me as well. I don't see why you are turning this into an argument.

Occasions like these makes STEM people seem like asocials who are looking to argue and brag all the time.

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May 24, 2017

An argument isn't a negative thing. I simply have an opposing opinion compared to yours. So I was just debating your ideas with mine, respectfully. I didn't say anything disrespectful, and I respect that you don't agree with me. So I don't know how this is an "Occasion" or example of STEM self righteousness. I totally agree with you that other people in each field will disagree with my or your side of the argument. I was just stating my side of the argument, and that's all.

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May 24, 2017

IDK why you're getting MS thrown at you. For all those people who feel their pride has been hurt by your comments I ask y'all this: you think an MD or VP gives two shits about your humanities background and your ability to think philosophically?

No they want someone who can get shit done without being a burden and also someone who has a thick skin and understand their role in the hierarchy of things. If they needed you for your ability to think critically about industry X or the merits of a pending M&A transaction you wouldn't be an Analyst.

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May 23, 2017

I think that humanities degrees are WORTHLESS and TRASH. You cannot DISRUPT the industry without utilizing the FREEMIUM model.

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May 24, 2017

/thread

University of Chicago

May 27, 2017

Which majors make for the best sex dungeon participants?

May 27, 2017

MUSIC and EAST ASIAN STUDIES majors. YOU'RE WELCOME!

May 23, 2017

poor people major in STEM because they need to ensure they'll get paid after graduation

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May 24, 2017

Intresting way to say that you aknowledge low employability of humanities majors

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May 23, 2017

Judging people by their majors is like judging how quick a car is by the make/model.

Yes, the stereotypes are generally true, but get ready when that 10 year old V6 Camry blows the doors of most brand new, entry level 3 series, A4, or C class with their ubiquitous 2.0L turbo 4 cylinders.

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Jun 2, 2017

CARS MAN SICK

May 24, 2017

As you progress higher in IB, it becomes more and more a sales job so I would say your major has little to no impact on how strong you will eventually be in the field.

That being said, getting a CS/Engineering/Math/Physics degree will open a lot more doors than a Philosophy/History/English degree if you don't break into high finance. I have plenty of friends who tried breaking into IB with humanities degrees who graduated without a job, while most of my friends in STEM programs have something lined up. This is at a target school as well, so it's not necessarily a problem you'll only see at the supposed "non-targets."

Everyone is going to have their biases (I graduated with a STEM degree and I did like the Philosophy/Econ/History classes I took), but I think the STEM classes are more applicable to solving today's problems (although that really only starts to take shape when you take advanced electives in STEM departments). Still, if you do a STEM major, I would recommend taking some humanities classes with the same being said for humanities majors. It's about developing a well-rounded skillset.

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May 24, 2017

Most people I know in finance value STEM degrees much higher. Ceteris Paribus, that would also mean they value STEM candidates higher than humanities majors. Say for the sake of argument that STEM candidates are slightly better, but every bank has a very large bias towards STEM candidates. Surely you have a relative advantage focussing on humanities candidates in that case, as they undervalued on average?

Jun 2, 2017

Seems like a waste of time and money if you ultimately wish to pursue a career in finance/consulting. You will be viewed as someone who is unfocused. If you are simply applying to the program for your own personal development and edification it would make a lot more sense to simply get a library card or a discount card to a local book store.

May 24, 2017

STEM degrees are only valuable on the quantitative aspects of IBD/PE, the way those degree programs are structured today. That means, yeah, the average STEM major fellow will do good at an entry level compared to the average humanities major. STEM majors also benefit from a logically driven thought process that humanities majors may not have. But in recent years, I've seen this gap narrow down a lot (maybe thanks to standardized scores).

But banking and consulting shift focus soon enough. At VP+ levels, it's not about analyzing which numbers to get the desired output - it's about selling and convincing the other party that you're right. These skills, unfortunately, aren't taught by most STEM programs, while some humanities programs actually propel such thought processes by stimulating debate and argument in the classroom. That's when the humanities major excels over the STEM major, assuming all variables remain the same.

Disclaimer:- Engineering major here, who was told by a professor that he wasn't "fit to be an engineer". So now I make more money than him at the pinnacle of his career (and at the start of mine), while actively being involved with the upper management of a number of engineering firms as part of my job. God help those companies right?

The reason I noted the above example is because from my observation, most STEM majors turn out to be arrogant assholes, simply because they think they can handle advanced math that humanities guys can't. Truth is, nobody gives a shit about whether one can solve a tough indefinite integral - but they'll shit on you if you aren't going to be part of the revenue generating arm of a firm (aka Sales).

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."

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May 24, 2017

Sure STEM people can be arrogant, but there's no shortage of arrogant humanities majors. I don't think it really matters what someone majored in. There can be successful STEM and humanities students who aren't driven by the coursework but by their intellectual curiosity. This is what drives long term success not what you studied in university.

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May 24, 2017

Probably gonna get MS for this.

CS Major here. I think kids who are just Big Three (Econ/PoliSci/Pre-Med) majors are generic and boring, especially at targets where they make up ~25-50% of undergrad majors. When I come across these kids, I just think "Another kid with no real passion, chasing $$$/fame." (I'm fine with people having that mindset btw, but spending hours in IB with someone like that is miserable) The most interesting/brilliant people I've worked with have all been none of these majors. They either A) Were interested in things beyond a pre-determined path, or B) Realized that they could get where they wanted to go without taking the road most traveled. Both mindsets are rare, and make for great colleagues.
Given all of that, I prefer STEM majors AND Humanities majors. They both just seem to "get it" in ways that traditional strivers don't. I feel like that sets them apart from everyone else.

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May 24, 2017

Most of the STEM people I sat in classrooms with had a bizarre superiority complex over all other students. The STEM people who were true nerds and were studying it because of a deep passion were few and far between. Most of the conversations with my fellow STEM majors seemed to revolve around complaining about problem sets.

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May 24, 2017

This was my experience too. But then again, modern society has made a fantastic job of forcing people into learning stuff that barely interests them, or suits them.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."

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May 24, 2017

There are intelligent individuals in all majors. Just because they chose History over Econ, doesn't necessarily make them less capable to do the job. To some peoples point, yes, a finance major can hit the ground running quicker, but that won't necessarily make them a better banker in the long run.

May 24, 2017

After reading this thread I no longer feel insecure about my sports education degree

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May 24, 2017

Wtf were you thinking? Your mom must've went to bed in sweats every night.

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May 24, 2017

lol I swear I didn't throw MS. Most of what I say is sarcasm - I didn't major in Sports Ed.

Majored in Finance with a minor in Love

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May 24, 2017


For a second I thought you were telling the truth.

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."

May 24, 2017

I don't work in banking but from what I've heard, read, etc it seems that you could major in Women's Studies or 17th Century French Literature at Harvard, UPenn, Yale, etc and make it into banking so long as you learn the technical interview questions.

If you're at a non-target majoring in the humanities or liberal arts you can just fuck right off. This is why I HATE when you hear pundits talk about the importance of a liberal arts education.

Bullshit! It only matters where you get said liberal arts degree or education from. Williams College? Harvard? Awesome!

University of Houston, Akron, FSU? Get the fuck out of here!

To answer OPs question: Does your major even matter? Assuming all else being equal, if you have Excel skills and understand what IB Analysts do and you can walk through a DCF and understand the financial statements do you really need anything else?

I don't think so. And no a humanities degree doesn't really set you apart unless you're debating the pros and cons of Utilitarianism.

Plus when would you even use these said "skills" gained from a humanities degree? Are you going to apply Socratic analysis in deciding whether or not to stay till 3 AM finishing a pitch book?

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May 24, 2017

Engineering rarely has a school bias.

That said you have a lot more options with engineering vs english.

That being said IME engineers can grind a lot harder than liberal arts majors just because of the sheer amount of work in college.

May 24, 2017

For the most part this is true. Plus an engineering major that coasted through school and attended a less than stellar university will trip up in an interview when it comes to critical thinking and quant skills. Simply put you can't expect to go into an engineering role and BS your way through an interview or memorize answers to interview questions.

I don't doubt that those that make it through engineering school can make it as an IB Analyst...its just that after having gone through the proverbial hell why not work for a SpaceX, Boeing, or ExxonMobil and USE your degree instead of IB given that work-life balance and pay are probably better than IB.

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May 24, 2017

IB beats pay everywhere. Even in Oil. I don't think there is something that pays more.

There's a much faster increase in IB also.

Though you can go to Nebraska school of farming technology in Mechanical engineering and still get a really good job. If you did that for finance you'd probably be selling insurnace.

May 24, 2017

The majority of "quantitative skills" is really misplaced in IBD too. The really hard math courses necessary for a Physics degree have zero transferable value to creating a DCF model or creating some pitchbooks. The main value in STEM degrees is general affinity with numbers and the signal that you possess the "quantatitative chops" to be a good analyst.

May 24, 2017

I think if you go to a top 20 school in the US (UVA to Harvard) or top 5 in the UK (Oxbridge, UCL, ICL, LSE) then you can absolutely study a humanity like History and feel reasonably well that if you put in the proper work you can be hired in BB or MBB. However, I would not suggest a student at Rutgers/Penn State/etc to study a humanity over a STEM degree.

May 24, 2017

Its probably one of the greatest benefits to attending a top institution. They give you the freedom to study whatever you'd like, and still retain your employability.

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May 24, 2017

English major here. Made it into a BB with my background. I really wanted it though. I was very hungry and persistent. Only once was it a sore spot for a person interviewing me, another girl (she really didn't like me, it was awful in that interview- trying to be pleasant to a mean girl), she said I wasn't as qualified enough to take the job over someone who had a STEM degree. Over time the degree matters less than the work experience. At ten years in, nobody really cares anymore.

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

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May 26, 2017

I honestly don't think it matters what you study - regardless even of your institution's relative prestige level.

You could go to bumblefuck State University (BSU) and major in horticulture; but if you are intelligent, articulate, likable, have an awareness of macro events, and are solid on technicals, you should be able to get an IBD job if you network diligently and look good on paper (solid GPA and experience).

Chances are if you have all those attributes, you probably could have gone to a better school. But that doesn't negate my argument.

You don't need to major in business at BSU just because you think the major will confer upon you some measure of credibility to offset your school's shitty brand name. Major in whatever the hell you want, and focus on all the other factors I mentioned.

And if you don't think you can be solid on the technicals and business awareness without the formal learning structure of a finance curriculum.....well then you probably aren't cut out for this industry anyway.

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May 26, 2017

If you want to major in English, double it with something else that involves some numbers, or (and this goes for any non-STEM major), take a few econ, math, stats and accounting classes, get at least a B+ in each, and put that on your resume. This will give the screener comfort that you are: actually interested in finance/econ, well-rounded, and sufficiently quantitative.

And if you major in finance, FFS have something on your resume about an intellectual interest that doesn't involve business, securities analysis, etc.

May 26, 2017

At a very simple level:

The closer you get to advisory, where you compete based on the quality of your ideas and relationships, the more soft skills, argumentation, and ability to align yourself with a CEO's desire to build empires, then the greater odds for success. In this situation, if you can survive the drudgery of the first half-dozen years of an IB career (which consist of not fucking up) - and realistically, the next four or five, which consist in making sure the grunts don't fuck up, a Humanities education - which is the worst preparation for the first decade of IB relative to econ/accounting/business/STEm - can shine thereafter. That isn't to say STEM can't do well with CEO-cajoling either - as long as you're the STEM who at some point dreamt of how to apply technology (before you sold your soul to Wall Street). I'd place accounting/finance majors last in terms of their prospects at this stage.

As for the liberal arts guy, surviving at this stage necessarily means you were able to clear the relatively low quantitative bar in IB - let's not forget that there have been practically no recent intellectual innovations in finance ex-derivatives (and most of those didn't exactly turn out well), and IB handles derivatives at a very superficial, baby gugugaga level. IB's terrain, intellectually, remains clustered around the three financial statements sprinkled in with a little bit of CAPM and TVM that people only half-heartedly believe in but find especially convenient due to their malleability. This stuff is very easily digestible for STEM types, less easy for most Humanities types (though the ones who went to Ivies usually can hack it), and excess quantitative ability offers diminishing marginal returns once this bar has been cleared. The harder stuff is actually the accounting and abstruse tax scenarios, which neither STEM or Humanities folks are, a priori, intuitively good at.

Conversely, the closer your bank is to a model where business is won via balance sheet, the more the "don't fuck this up" approach remains in place and the nature of the dialogue with clients remains more corporate finance-focused. Communicating these considerations does require some subtlety, but overall you are there to finance a management team's empire-building, not to help them dream it up and guide them through it. Sure, you may get some advisory mandates here or there on the strength of your negotiating and what not, but frankly this is more about being a safe pair of hands. Not only will a liberal arts education not add much value here ever, but even a STEM education is overkill.

That said, regardless of major, if your alma mater taught how to properly socialize with older, wealthy, status-oriented White men (and this isn't about having champagne with them, because they don't want to have champagne with you - it's about knowing how you and your grunt work can be useful to their own positioning), you will do well in IB at any level.

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May 26, 2017
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May 27, 2017
Jun 2, 2017