European undergrad options for work in the US IB

Hi guys

I would like to work in IB in the beginning of my career. Perhaps I will start in London but my long term goal is the US. Say I have these two options - which one is the best for name recognition & prestige and contacts in the US?

1) St. Andrews, BSc in Economics and Statistics (with a lot of financial maths/stats) - 4 years.

2) Bocconi, BA in International Economics, Managment and Finance + LSE, MSc in Finance/Economics - 4 years.

The pro's of the first option is an opportunity to specialize in economics and financial maths/statistics which is directly relevant to finance/banking. I am not sure how respected St. Andrews is but I have read that a lot of prep school Americans go there (good for US networking). Wiki says that 40% of the students there are from public (private) schools - in fact this is the highest percent of public school kids out of any UK university which is also good for contacts.
Also I would be able to go to study in US for a year in unis such as Upenn/UVirginia/UBerekely.
The main con's are that the degree lasts for 4 years instead of 3 and that St. Andrews will always be second after Oxbridge/LSE/UCL.

The pro's of the second option is that I will have 2 degrees in 4 years as well as LSE brand recognition that St. Andrews doesn't have. Also there are a lot of Bocconi grads in banking.
Con's: I am not sure if Bocconi is considered good for undergrad + it is definitely not as respected as St. Andrews which is 600+ years old. Another con of Bocconi is that I won't have a specialized degree but an equivalent of BBA - which is not good if I will want to get an MBA - is it?

I would like to start my career in IB but overall recognition and network of the university outside of the IB is just as important for me.

So what do you guys think - what is the best option for me? Bocconi + LSE which is tailored for getting into banking or St. Andrews which is more academic, prestigious (not sure) and quantitative than Bocconi?

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Comments (16)

Best Response
Jun 22, 2013 - 1:18pm

I think that the main question you have to answer is not "which school is more prestigious?" but probably "which school will help you more to get a first year analyst job?".
Since you only (almost) chance to work in the US as a banker is starting in London and moving there after some years, you should try to pick the school with the best placement at the analyst level in UK.
IMO, among the options you have Bocconi + LSE is better that St. Andrews since both Bocconi and LSE have a better placement in London and a wider network in IBD.
The "networking" thing about St. Andrews you talked about is not a powerful tool I think. The only thing you should focused on, if you want to move to the USA in IBD, is to get a summer internship, a full time offer, be a top rated analyst for 2/3 years and then be able to convince the firm to move you. To do so, you don't need an American network but you need to recruiting resources and a respected brand name.
Also, this: "Another con of Bocconi is that I won't have a specialized degree but an equivalent of BBA - which is not good if I will want to get an MBA - is it?" is not true. American business schools, every year, accept people who have a BSc from Bocconi + MSc and have been working in top companies for 2/3 years...

I'm grateful that I have two middle fingers, I only wish I had more.
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Jun 22, 2013 - 6:20pm

I'll echo everything cruel3a said. Also, St. Andrews isn't more prestigious than LSE unless you plan on spending your life in Scotland. The LSE brand carries a good deal more weight than St. Andrew's in the U.S.

Neither option will get you near an analyst position in the US unless you transfer from the UK so option 2 is a much safer bet if you want an IB position.

Incidentally, why do you want to start in IB and what is it you're planning on doing after on MBA?

Jun 22, 2013 - 7:41pm

Thank you guys for your opinions, these are very interesting.

cruel3a, I understand what you are saying. But if say, I have the same chances of landing an IB position with either option - would your opinion change? I mean after I will already land a position - wouldn't St. Andrews name carry more prestige in the UK (and later US) than Bocconi (let's take aside LSE for now)?
I understand that a lot of people get into top business schools with BBA's but it is also true that having a BBA won't give me an edge, will it? I personally think that Economics & Statistics as a major with both quant and social science element would give me an advantage over all other business/finance majors from States, what do you think?
So if getting into IB wouldn't be a problem from either school, what would you advice? It is just as important for me to get a good education as to get a good job so consider this as well please.

GoodBread, I agree with you that LSE is a lot more recognized in the US (and worldwide for that matter) than St. Andrews. But LSE won't be my undergrad school and grad school is not the same as undergrad. As I mentioned earlier I want to get a good overall education and 1 year at LSE won't give me that. What do you think?
I want to start in IB mainly because it is the most prestigious and rewarding career path that you can do after college and because it would give me a lot of transferable skills that would be useful in the future whatever path I deicide to pursue. After MBA? Well I am not sure yet, PE/HF/VC/Consulting...or maybe something else? I don't know at the moment, it depends where my passion will lie. I don't want to do IB for the rest of my life for the sake of money but I want to make some money in the beginning of my career as well as to get a prestigious name on my CV that will later open doors for me.

Jun 23, 2013 - 11:34am

If it was Bocconi BIEMF (3 yrs) vs St. Andrews (4 yrs) to land a job in IBD, I will go with St. Andrews because you will have one more year of school and this will give you more time and chances to land an internship.
Having said that, about the BBA vs Eco/Stats, I really think this will be a very small point in your application process at the MBA level. I am pretty sure that they will be more interested in your GPA, work experience, GMAT, EC and international experiences than if you studied economics or finance.

Anyway, without LSE, I'd go with St. Andrews because the BIEMF at Bocconi is not their top program and because of the 3 yrs vs 4 yrs thing stated above.

I'm grateful that I have two middle fingers, I only wish I had more.
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Jun 23, 2013 - 11:39am

If you have a US Visa you can do that but it would require you a lot of networking effort. If you are an EU Visa holder, you need to transfer internally which can usually happen in your 3rd 4th year. I am doing so this year after 3 yrs.

I'm grateful that I have two middle fingers, I only wish I had more.
Jun 23, 2013 - 11:40am

Why should they sponsor you when they can get someone from a target US university with the same set of skills?

I'm grateful that I have two middle fingers, I only wish I had more.
Jun 23, 2013 - 11:42am

Yes, it is not easy but it is up to you and it is actionable. You do well (i.e. top ranked) and you can get whatever you want, especially in a market which is growing and where people have multiple exit opportunities and where they are trying harder to retain the good ones.

I'm grateful that I have two middle fingers, I only wish I had more.
Jun 23, 2013 - 11:43am

Well, in my country (South Europe), 2015 was by far one of the best years for ECM and M&A since the crisis and my regional office has been doubling its junior headcount.
Also in London my firm has been heavily recruiting but we are one of the most solid shop on the street. I know other places are not doing that well and they are reducing their headcount in some divisions (esp. markets though) so I may be biased by my firm results.

Also buy-side recruiting has been going better than in the past, with the number of people going to PE growing vs. 2014.

I'm grateful that I have two middle fingers, I only wish I had more.
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Jun 23, 2013 - 11:46am

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