How can I make it into AM in the U.K

Andrew31413's picture
Rank: Monkey | 43

I am struggling to see a realistic path right now. Here is my story, I'm a Taiwanese born naturalized American. I was educated in the US, I speak English as my main language, fluent in Chinese, conversational Italian (still learning), basic Korean (Mom is Korean). I originally went to University in the US in 2010, I had to leave university in my final year due to a bad car accident in 2014. I returned to Taiwan where my family could help as I rehabbed since I was on my own in the US and had a leg injury.

One thing led to another, my mom got cancer, I got called to do my military conscription for 14 months, and I was working in entertainment and did some really cool things like working as a project manager to bring the first televised MMA fight in Taiwan. My last job was as an operations manager for a fitness gym. I finally returned to school last year with a school that allowed me to finished my remaining courses online with distance programs. During this time, I got engaged with an Italian girl. I am currently living in Italy learning Italian, and I will be completing my B.S in Business admin and finance in April.

I applied to a bunch of MSc in Finance programs in London, waiting for Queen Mary's, King's, Imperial, UCL, and Cass to reply. I got into Westminster quickly, but that's my worst-case scenario safety school. My problem is, it;s looking like my only finance-related expereince that I can put on my resume is not going to pull through with the current coronavirus in NY. So It's entirely possible, I will be going into a 1 year grad school program with no experience in finance. I am now 27. I'm not sure if I can actually find an "in" at this point. I thought going to London will give me a chance to network, and I won't have to worry on a work visa because the UK just reintroduced a 2-year post-grad visa. And my fiancee will be gaining permanent residency by the time that runs out and we will have married. So I can stay with her as a spouse and work as per my understanding.

What do you guys think? Can I make it with I keep grinding? My current GPA is 4.0 at the university I'm studying at but it was 3.0 when I went to college in 2010-2014. I have matured and take things more seriously now and actually try. Can the Msc at a decent to good school give me a shot? I was thinking of investment analyst in AM but would be open to sales and marketing to find an "in" at any investment analyst roles.

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United Kingdom
United States - Northeast

Comments (24)

Mar 23, 2020

Do not go to Westminster, it will be a complete waste of time and still quite a lot of money. I am a brit who was kind of in your situation, not target background trying make up for it with MSc etc...anyway I did MSc Finance at at top 10 and am in a junior FO position.

If you are able to get top 10 MSc Finance you could easily get a middle office role and try to work from there, but accept it would be very difficult (but possible if you have serious grit) and you'll still have to do CFA if you want to get into FO from there. Best chance (in terms of FO progression) if you do get into top 10 is trading assistant at a HF and lever that into FO via their smaller structure. MO in IB to FO is a no-go.

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Mar 28, 2020

Thanks for the reply. I also applied to Brunel and Kingston, would those be a better option than Westminster?

Mar 29, 2020

Not worth it IMO. As someone who went to a non-target MSc Finance program (continent not UK) I cannot advise you enough to only do one of these programs if it is a top 10 program. It will be a constant uphill battle and you will have lost a year (and a good amount of money) going to a school with poor representation in the types of FO positions you are after. Check out the FT MSc Finance rankings.

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Apr 13, 2020

Sorry just saw this, no absolutely not. You could only go as low as Durham IMO.

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Mar 29, 2020

Would agree with what has been said. A master in finance is only worth it if top 10~. Rest will be crap for Front office roles.

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Mar 31, 2020
Pan European Monkey:

Would agree with what has been said. A master in finance is only worth it if top 10~. Rest will be crap for Front office roles.

I am open to middle or back office roles. I am all in on this path in financial careers. I think those jobs at least come with pretty good hours, and I heard you can still get great exit ops since most people have no idea on what a back office role is compared to front office. You can say you worked at an IB, even better an BB IB, and slap that on the resume.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Apr 18, 2020

You.. aren't getting any kind of "exit opps" from a back office role. Don't delude yourself here.

You could bust your ass off with networking and being a star employee to move into a better gig but there is no "exiting". No headhunters will be reaching out to back office analysts.

A middle office role in Credit Risk could be a good platform to move into corporate banking or DCM if you network extensively. Ditto Market Risk or a Trading/Sales Assistant role for S&T. I can't see any middle office roles in AM helping you out without taking the CFA, proving your worth and networking hard.

This is why everyone is telling you to go to a target masters btw. You are literally making life 10x harder for yourself if you don't go to one and the road to getting to your eventual end goal will be an arduous and long one (if you ever even make it). It's up to you though at the end of the day as it's your career not ours.

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Mar 30, 2020

Totally agree with what has been said above, MSc is not worth it unless it comes from a top school (think LSE, Imperial, LBS etc).

I am just about to graduate from a non target school, did an internship with a big AM in a middle office role in summer 2019, and have converted to a front office role at an even bigger AM ($1trill + AUM).

So your best bet is either to do the masters at one of the schools you have applied for, then try to for middle/back office roles, then use that to convert to front office role (which is not easy). Or, as the others have said above, go to a top school for your masters program.

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Mar 31, 2020

What about Schools that seem to rank well like Henley Business school with their MSc Finance program? I'm also still waiting for King's college.

And I am considering a middle or back office role. I think the pay is still pretty good considering for an entry level job. And the hours are more reasonable, which I do value as someone who is very active. But I wonder what kind of career progression and salary potential these roles come with.

Also, say I work in middle or back office. If I move to front office positions, would I start at the bottom as an analyst working those grueling 70-80 hours plus weeks in analyst years once I'm 30+ years old? That does not sound too appealing.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Apr 2, 2020

Stick with Imperial or UCL - never heard of Henley in banking for FO roles. Generally MSc Finance top exits have been from LBS, Ox (Fin Eng), LSE, Imperial. UCL is still fairly new for MSc Finance afaik, and not sure about King's

Depends - I highly implore you to learn a lot more about BO and MO roles beyond just good pay and hours. That doesn't hold true for all roles, and even in BO and MO you have a wide variety of roles that are different (i.e. Finance from Risk Mgmt from Portfolio from Trading Ops to Project Mgmt type roles, etc.). Once this corona thing dies down (hopefully), you should have some networking fairs at one of those good schools.

For FO roles - depends on the firm really. I've seen some people lateral as first years, some continue their progression. Generally the bigger firms do support some sort of lateral move after 2 years or so as an analyst, but that's dependent. Also, the lateral moves I've seen come from within FO (i.e. Cap Mkts to M&A or the other way around). BO and MO to FO may still be possible but just to bear in mind (sry if this deflates hopes). This also goes back to why it's important to really know which role in banking you want to shoot for.

Two more things - (1) On the visa - is your GF PR in the UK? B/c EU citizens have a separate residency scheme that they have to sign up for before Brexit. (2) Also look out for consulting, etc. The world is bigger than just finance and there's good money in those roles. Also more flexible without relatable experience

All the best and good luck - from one immigrant to another.

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Most Helpful
Mar 30, 2020

Would recommend:

  1. Stick with a top 10 school if you can
  2. Start a virtual trading account on trading 212 (or similar) that you can talk about at interviews
  3. Start a weekly or bi-daily blog of your thoughts on markets especially in COVID19 times. Stick that on your CV with a link. Only needs to be 500 words and no fancy analysis (shows you have a real hunger and have demonstrated your thoughts) - I've landed a BR + MM PE gig in London doing this
  4. Whilst at uni, network. Easier in London imo. Just find a similarity. You mentioned loads that you can use
  5. Whilst at uni, go to LSE, UCL, Imperial career events. Follow and "bell sign" the top finance societies at each school
  6. Join SEO London
  7. Find a core group of people that can help you push hard with apps (helps to meet them at events). These group chats have been a God send. (Share interview Q's and such)
  8. Heads up - loads of finance events happen in Sept
  9. Google search "Dartmouth partners" and follow their main London recruiters on Linkedin. they have loads of opportunities.

Best of luck my man.

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Mar 31, 2020

Thanks for your advice. I will start a virtual trading account and a blog. I think it would also be a good learning opportunity I can look and reflect back on.

I am waiting for UCL, King's and Henley Business School in Reading. I hope I can get into one of those.

Apr 3, 2020

Talking about London recruiters, you should also look up the open positions on the website of Mason Blake. I had a good experience with them a few months ago. Also, have a look at the investment2020 website of the UK investment association. They offer work placements and trainee programmes. I'm not sure whether they will continue the initiative in 2021, just have a look.


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Apr 23, 2020

Things might have changed a bit in the last 10 years, but just a couple of points on the schools being mentioned (esp. Henley) and your goals:

  1. Go to the top school you can get into. Even if you only get Westminster (which I am a bit biased against after meeting several people who studied there), it's still better than not having anything. It may help you at least get a BO/MO role.
  2. The move from BO to FO is very difficult, it's an easier move to FO in IB after starting in Big4 Audit and going to Big4 Advisory. But you're not too focused on FO from what you say. BO/MO is decent money, although the work tends to be more boring for most people than FO. Just one extra point here, recruiters in London would almost all know the difference between doing BO and FO at a BB.
  3. And perhaps the most relevant point, Reading/ICMA/Henley was not automatically screened out when applying for IB jobs. I actually studied there on exchange more than 10 years ago and applied to IB analyst jobs without networking or an internship. Didn't get the jobs, but got interviews at MM and BB. And it definitely wasn't my eastern european no-name school that got me interviews. A good friend of mine did an internship from Reading at a BB in IB, then got the full time offer and is still there.
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Apr 24, 2020