Lateral Unlikely - Is MSF the answer?

Hey all,

I am a long shot that recently broke in at a very small regional boutique (extremely low GPA, non-target, late interest in finance - hustled and networked my ass off to get a gig). Although I am extremely grateful to have made it this far and I enjoy the work, I am not completely sold on my future at my boutique for a variety of reasons which I can get into if necessary. Now, I am looking to lateral to a much larger firm, however, a lateral from my firm seems extremely unlikely.

Recently, I've been looking into getting an MSF from a school like Vanderbilt or Villanova with hopes of honing my skills and knowledge of finance and possibly landing a gig at a much larger firm afterwards. Currently, I have under a year work experience at my boutique, coupled with an internship at another regional boutique and a 720 GMAT. I have an Econ degree from a non-target but top 50 or so uni. My degree was extremely quantitative (Econometrics, Calculus, Statistic, etc.) but virtually no finance/accounting/banking.

My questions to anyone who is more familiar with MSF programs is:

1.) What is placement at larger firms (BB, EB, Upper MM, etc.) for MSF grads at schools like this? Do the vast majority of MSF grads end up at boutiques or do they have a legit shot at BB and the like?

2.) Would a MSF make sense for someone with my profile, assuming that a lateral is extremely unlikely.

As I've said, I am enjoying the industry and the work, I am just not sold on the characteristics specific to Investment Banking at the boutique level.

Thanks!

Comments (19)

May 6, 2018

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Or maybe the following users have something to say: @sjb498" @aletaxis @traderape

Hope that helps.

May 9, 2018

bump

May 9, 2018

You should aim for MIT. The program is perfect for you and you shouldn't settle for anything else. If, for some strange reason you don't get MIT, Vandy is a viable option as well. But really, MIT for you.

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May 10, 2018

MSF should bump up your educational profile but it does not guarantee you a job a bb or mm or eb at all. None of the banks target MSF student, you need to find your own way and network your ass off, which is why you rarely see someone from MSF getting into banking (most of the MSF students are international and they have language / visa issues to get a job, so you won't find the placement of them as good as you expect). I would agree MIT MSF is one of the best, but still most of them get job in quant, trading, very unlikely to break into IBD. My suggestion is, MSF is a good choice for you given your non-target / low GPA profile, but you need to network your own way into IB.

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Best Response
May 10, 2018
sjb498:

MSF should bump up your educational profile but it does not guarantee you a job a bb or mm or eb at all. None of the banks target MSF student, you need to find your own way and network your ass off, which is why you rarely see someone from MSF getting into banking (most of the MSF students are international and they have language / visa issues to get a job, so you won't find the placement of them as good as you expect). I would agree MIT MSF is one of the best, but still most of them get job in quant, trading, very unlikely to break into IBD. My suggestion is, MSF is a good choice for you given your non-target / low GPA profile, but you need to network your own way into IB.

This is just objectively not true and I really hate when individuals on this forum, mostly kids, discuss MIT's MSF. They literally always spew off complete garbage based on the schools reputation rather than on the actual characteristics of the program.

MIT's MSF isn't any more or less quantitative than WUSTL's, for example. Its curriculum is completely customizable. In terms of placement, from their own website:

100% Employment
$100K Median BASE salary
86.7% employed in M&A/AM/Advisory/Research/S&T/Management & Strategy consulting
13.3% in Quant analysis/Other Finance/Other Business functions

Quant analysis and research only accounting for 7.6% of total employment in 2017

Companies employing MIT MSF grads:

Bain
Blackrock
BCG
JPM
McKinsey
Strategy&
UBS
CITI

Does this mean that you're guaranteed to get a job in BB/MM IB if you go to MIT's MSF? No, of course not. That's hardly a useful insight. But based on objective employment statistics, it'll give you a great shot. Beyond that, a fantastic education is almost guaranteed.

EDIT: Program's concentration

http://mitsloan.mit.edu/mfin/academic-excellence/p...

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May 13, 2018

Why is lateral so unlikely? Assuming it is an actual investment bank you have a much better chance of lateraling to a MM firm then you do of gaining admittance to a good MSF & parlaying that into a EB/BB internship/FT job.

Extremely low GPA, weak target and ok GMAT (would be ok if your application was otherwise strong) is not a ticket into a top MSF program. Frankly most EB/BB internship programs would also screen you out as well even if you were to gain admittance.

Use your experience at the boutique to your advantage and build your M&A/modeling/etc. skills

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May 13, 2018

Historically, the firm has had high turnover with other analysts all attempting to lateral. Essentially, all have failed and most opt out of M&A altogether rather than stay with the firm. Dealflow is extremely high relative to the headcount but we operate in the lower middle market primarily where we rarely get to do deep dives on any deals. It is very much a shotgun approach and deals can move along at a frantic pace. I feel like the skills I'm building here aren't particularly transferable. I am certainly not building my modeling skills at all.

I obviously didn't know any of this until after joining the firm but it's turned out to be not what I thought it would be pretty quickly. Speaking with other friends at very reputable firms my experiences definitely seem to be contrary the norm and at times amateurish.

Hopefully a lateral is in the cards after all. Appreciate the advice.

May 13, 2018

Im at a regional boutique as well, hopefully I can chime in. I sent you a PM.

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May 15, 2018

Mind if I ask what city?

May 14, 2018

why don't u just network and see if you can apply directly to other banks and land sth?
I would suggest u wait for 2-3 years and do MBA.
I am going to study MSF myself this year to rebrand. I think if u rly want to do MSF, Vandy and MIT will give u the best shot (to be in IBD). Just keep in mind if u decided to go the program, your experience is somewhat b/w analyst and associate so you will probably be in an awk position during recruiting?
Best of luck!

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May 14, 2018

Why do you say that my experience is between an Analyst and Associate? I have bee fortunate enough to be given responsibilities senior to my other Analysts but I have only been a full-time first year Analyst for almost 4 months. I was under the assumption that other analysts typically have a year or more experience at a boutique when lateraling into a first year analyst role at a larger firm. Is this not the case?

May 14, 2018

sorry for any confusion. I meant to say you are not like most of the MSF ppl. They come in with less than 1 year of experience. Say if you apply later this year and start the program next year summer, you will have 1.5 years of experience in IB. IMO I think it's a bit overqualified for regular MSF? If you rly want to go BB, do the MBA then Associate route would be better.

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May 15, 2018

Don't do it. Paying >$50,000 for additional theoretical coursework will not make you look more attractive from an investment bank's perspective. I got my MSF because I was working in an industry I hated, had zero contacts, and didn't do too well in undergrad. I was able to break into a boutique at age 26 as a first year analyst. That said, the i-bank will not give you credit for the MSF, and you will probably come in as a 2nd year analyst.

I think you are better off continuously networking and trying to make the lateral from your firm into a larger MM, or possibly BB. I lateraled from that boutique to a lower tier BB. Just keep grinding and try to get as much transaction experience as possible while polishing up your technicals and modeling skills.

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May 15, 2018

Thanks for the advice. Your story gives me hope. My first choice would be to lateral to a MM or even BB like you stated but I feel that is a long shot from my firm mostly due to the very small size of deals (we often sell companies that are doing anywhere from $1M to $50M in revenue with similarly low EBITDA margins) and completely nonexistent modeling experience - our dealflow is extremely high however. I do believe my low UG GPA might hurt me when trying to lateral as well

When you say you lateraled from a boutique do you mean a similarly small shop, small deals, lower mm type of thing or something more reputable?

Also did you find that your poor UG hindered you in lateral recruiting at all?

Thanks.

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May 15, 2018

Would like to hear more of this as well.

May 16, 2018

Given that I was 26 when I broke into IB, they didn't even ask about my GPA. I am of the opinion that GPA isn't even relevant 18-24 months out of school. Although, Goldman once asked for GMAT in a phone interview (WTF?). I think you are fine if you have some deal experience, can prove you are willing to learn, and have good people skills. Pay for a LinkedIn Premium account right now and get your hustle on.

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May 15, 2018
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