How do the top students at Wharton and Ivey do it?

I don't go to W, but another top target. As I look at PE analyst programs (like KKR, WP, SLP) and top-tier IB programs (like PJT RSSG, EVR M&A, MOE LA), no one can deny that Wharton kills it hard. However, many of these firms will interview across a wide variety of schools, it just seems like Wharton students continue to get the job. For example, someone pointed out in another post that SPC, which has hired W interns out of undergrad for many years counting, actually interviews at a lot of places, it just seems that the top students at W are the ones ultimately hired. For any alum, students, or interviewers, what specifically makes students at W stronger in finance and investing than other schools? I can understand liberal arts majors at H/Y who have never taken a finance class before, but what about business students with built out investment clubs (EX. Ross), or people at H/Y/other top targets who choose to surround themselves with finance EC's and classes, thereby making their college experience similar to a business student's anyways? It seems like every school now has investment clubs with mentorship, finance classes, pitch competitions, so I'd like to better understand where the technical competency comes from. Or is it from a stronger network of alum on the Street?
I also don't buy the argument that any high school senior going to W has a more solid understanding of finance than their peers at other top schools - most students have no idea what IB/PE is in high school and only become interested in college.
Edit: I find this is also pretty true for Ivey as well.

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Comments (19)

Jun 21, 2020 - 5:22pm

They're really really well prepped. A lot of ivy schools don't have the pre-professional focus of W, so combine that with the intelligence/work ethic of students who get into ivies and it's no surprise that they fill up most of the top groups.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Jun 21, 2020 - 10:33pm

I mean I feel like you already kinda said this in your post but Wharton just happens to be a collegiate environment when there's a high density of a) people interested in careers in finance and b) people that are generally academically competent. There are lots of places that have a high rate of one but not the other, but Wharton attracts a lot of people at the intersection and gives them resources to promote their success.

  • Prospect in HF - Macro
Jun 22, 2020 - 2:36pm

I go to another HYPSM and we use materials from Wharton undergrad clubs. Maybe someone else at W can answer, but they seem to run a well-oiled machine in terms of how to learn about concepts, how to answer questions, how to present yourself, how to network, etc. everything down to the tee. The training that we receive in our finance club is almost lackadaisical, whereas at Wharton it seems everything they do has so much more structure. As someone who went to Quaker Days, I can confidently say that the kids at Wharton don't come in knowing what 338(h)(10) elections are, but the intensity and the seriousness with which they prepare kids in their clubs helps them stand out.

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  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jun 21, 2020 - 10:41pm

Wharton is definitively the best UG business program in the US, and Ivey is the best in Canada. Each school attracts the best kids from highschool who are interested in "business" (although nobody knows what that entails in highschool). The schools have clubs/classes/programs/alum that all buy into the culture, which creates a cyclical opportunity for student success.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jun 23, 2020 - 12:40am

theyre just very very well versed and prepped about everything IB

at ivey, 1st and 2nd years get mentored by 3rd and 4th, by alumnis, etc, about interview processes, on the job, etc, so they know the ins and outs of banking and finance

given the network at ivey and its alumni, you can see how much of an advantage this gives to ivey kids (especially if they are in the investment club, even more selective and hands on prep)

also every kid in ivey is basically gunning for IB and is probs a hardo which helps for prep lol

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Jun 23, 2020 - 3:26pm

how best can you replicate this if you don't go to these schools? i know how to be well prepped for basics like understanding m&i and then LBO and merger models, which has been enough for the EB's (and BBs but I never got asked anything too technical in those) I interviewed with. But I'm looking at some FT opportunities like SLP or SPC, and I struggle to have any investing intuition or go farther, or even have any idea what these firms (and PE or HF analyst programs in general) are looking for.

Jun 23, 2020 - 5:15am

With respect to public markets / HF prep I would add UVA as well. UVA + Ivey kill it in these placements and have been extremely impressed with the people I've interacted with from these schools.

My experience with Wharton is that they breed kids who know how to get the job. Ie they are extremely well prepped and know the answers to the 100 or so questions that are asked by these firms, look and speak the part and have been preparing for the "audition" since they stepped in the door as freshmen, maybe even a few years before. The alumni network is also extremely strong. When it actually comes to performance on the job I've been much more impressed with Ivey vs. Wharton and feel like the guys from Ivey's program absolutely kill it.

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Jun 28, 2020 - 6:27am

why do you feel like Ivey and UVA do so well? Is this representative of a student from the school on average or more so out of specific clubs/orgs?

  • Investment Analyst in HF - EquityHedge
Jul 3, 2020 - 5:23am

My take on Ivey, having graduated a few years ago:
At some level there is a bit of self-selection (Ivey's reputation being what it is in finance), so it does tend to attract a good number of keen finance students either to Western right away or transferring from other schools, although I'd say this is a more minor factor.

I think the biggest differentiator is the environment - look at WIC in particular (although it's a Western club, the execs are all Ivey and it's typically a lot of overlap with top students that get good placements), which has basically a dual-mandate of technical teaching / prep and mentorship. Plenty of students are involved in this club from 1st / 2nd year, so by the time HBA1 recruiting comes around they're typically both familiar with a lot of the core financial concepts and have also made friends / networked with upper years, so they're usually in a good spot for both the interviewing and generally more competent when it comes to actually starting the job. Mentorship at the Senior level is huge - most of the finance kids have already signed FT offers before the school year starts, so there's not as much a focus on school work, and a lot of their time goes into the "pay it forward" culture that's been built over time at Ivey. I'd say that a lot of us are beneficiaries of the strong Ivey brand + lots of mentorship we received (and recognize how valuable that is), so there's usually a focus each year on keeping that up so successive generations are also successful - many of my friends and I took lots of time in our senior year to do coffee chats, mock interviews, interview prep, etc. with younger students trying to get into finance. I'd say its largely culturally-driven as to why Ivey kids generally place and are positioned well.

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Jul 3, 2020 - 3:44pm

Are there structured mentorship (coffee chats, mock interviews, interview prep with older kids who got offers) programs at Ivey? or is more so making friends with these kids through clubs and asking them to coach you. Interesting that a "pay it forward" culture would permeate the whole student body interested in finance, definitely not true at my school

  • Investment Analyst in HF - EquityHedge
Jul 3, 2020 - 4:21pm

It's a fairly small finance community to begin with (Ivey is only ~600 students per year of which maybe ~25% go into finance), and its concentrated in pockets like WIC where the execs have (often) been part of the club / environment since 1st or 2nd year, so its not that difficult to maintain a cohesive culture through the years. To your question, I'd say it's semi-structured - there is a good amount of formal programs run through finance clubs like IFC or IAMC (students are paired with upper-year mentors, hosted Q&A panels with seniors on finance recruiting, etc.), but there's also a ton of informal stuff too. A lot of the seniors would set up open google calendars for students to book timeslots for mock interviews / coffee chats and it was generally pretty open to anyone interested. There is some element of clique-ness to it because if you're embedded in the clubs and are friendly with the upper years you generally get more help / support, but it's not like an entirely closed-off ecosystem either

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