LBS or China + CFA? What's your opinion?

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BradZ - Certified Professional
Rank: Baboon | banana points 123

Hi guys,

I am facing the greatest dilemma of my life and I would really appreciate your inputs.

Here's my situation: I just graduated with distinction from a top Canadian university with a finance major. Like many people, I got caught by the crisis this fall, and I was not able to secure a full-time position. My interest lies in Consulting, but I also looked at I-Banking jobs. I now want to reposition myself to attack the job market next fall, and I am left with two alternatives:

1 - I have been offered a spot in the Masters in Management Programme (1-year MSc.) at London Business School. It is the first year this program will be running, and I would have to finance it on my own.

2 - I have been offered a full scholarship by the Chinese government to study mandarine as part of a non-degree program in Beijing, China (probably at Tsinghua University), for 1 year. I would take advantage of this year to complete my CFA levels I and II.

To be honnest, I can't determine which one of those experiences would add the more value to my curriculum. I know that I can get a lot from both those experience if I am disciplined, and I am thrilled by both of them.

Considering that I want to land a FT in either consulting or IB (I'm truly interested in both those fields so I'm not closing the door to anything), what's your perspective on that choice?

I'm desperately looking for opinions and advices so I would appreciate your inputs.

Thanks!

B.-

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Comments (17)

May 8, 2009

Though LBS' program is new and it's difficult to gauge the opportunities you'll have coming out, it'll be better than a non-degree program in China. If your undergrad has a good network in Asia, then maybe it would be useful for networking purposes, but having LBS' name on your resume will be quite useful. And it will open doors to quite a huge network. Just my two cents.

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May 8, 2009

LBS w/o a question.

CFA L1+L2 is not as unique as you think. Few wanna-be-bankers college seniors pass CFA L1 these days.

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May 8, 2009

CFA is more common now, personally know some guys passed all 3 levels w/o working in IB or anything related... aft all it's just a test.
Speaking of China, depends on how you love to study mandarin, of coz be able to speak (even just to understand) the language is a clear advantage, but iz non-degree prog, how can u prove it to someone lately. I speak perfect American English but still need to take TOEFL...
So...

May 8, 2009

LBS for its huge network and possibility to wait out the recession.
If recession drags on until then... then LBS is a huge issue.

I've never done investment management/research, but if you do CFA people will question your dedication to banking. That's what I've heard from senior bankers.

BTW, I sent you a private message with a question.

May 8, 2009

Yeah, CFA is pretty irrelevant for consulting. I'm all for the CFA--I'm doing it now--but I don't know if it fit you well. That said, I think CFA + Mandarin is an amazing combo for lots of other things, like investing.

May 8, 2009

Yeah, LBS is the better choice. Not really sure what you think taking a year to learn mandarin and pass a test will accomplish - you can do both of those while at LBS as well.

May 8, 2009

Hey guys,

First, thanks for all your comments and keep posting :). It helps me to think through my decision.

The thing is that I've always been a very entrepreneurial person and in the medium-term I'd like to start my own business so I thought I could differentiate myself by doing something a bit "different" and bold. However, you all seem to say that recruiters won't value the China experience as much as LBS and I did not expect that.

Moreover, there is the factor that China is completely free vs LBS Really expensive that made me think that China would leave me more flexibility to do a MBA at a later stage. Do you think it's a sound reasoning?

B.-

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May 8, 2009

....: it really comes down to what you aim to do later on...do you have an affinity for Asia...or do you not care and just want to lend a job either in i-banking or consulting wherever that is....

in the first case go with mandarin + cfa...in the later go with LBS

in 1 year your mandarin won't be strong enough compared to chinese students studing in the UK and returning to their country - however the experience will be unique and believe me china will instill a lot of entrepreneurial spirit in you - its a different dynamic..there is no doubt china will surpass the US etc and become the worlds dominant economic power....this creats a lot of opportunities..however don't expect i-banks, etc. to be particularly impressed unless you can complement your mandarin studies with a relavant i-banking, consulting internship there -> which is what I would do if I were to go down this path...

the safer and more conventional route however is to go to LBS...its the best name you can get on the CV in the UK at your stage and should open some doors....however don't expect it to be easy, the job hunt will start right from the get go of your studies and the recruitment market will still be extremely challenging....

good luck

May 8, 2009

i don't think there's much value going from undergrad right to grad school unless you're going to be an academic.

the China experience will help you stand out and show some character. And learning Mandarin will be incredibly valuable - moreso than getting an MBA-equivalent without work experience.

And it's a full ride - you get to ride out this recession for free, see the world, and gain valuable skills. How is this still a decision? In 10 years, you'll have a slick job no matter what you do, and you'll regret not trying out a foreign locale.

May 8, 2009

I am a (white) high school student who speaks a bit of Chinese learned through taking a course. I was just wondering what were the major thing you did in order to be accepted into LBS and the free Chinese thing @ Tsinghua (what's the program called?). I plan to major in finance at Ivey/Schulich/Queens (I'm 90% sure).

May 8, 2009

Hi Ganthor,

I think that one important thing is to make sure that you get good grades (a GPA of 3.6-3.7 or above if you want to get into banking). Also, focus on finding a good internship after your second year and get involved in any one of the students associations. You should take the GMAT in your 3rd year and try to score 700+.

Stay focused and disciplined and everything should be fine :).

For the Chinese thing, I got the scholarship through this program -- http://en.csc.edu.cn/Lianhua/?cid=19but even if you do not get a scholarships most language programs in China are cheap and easy to get in. Almost all the main universities such as Tsinghua in Beijing and Fudan in Shanghai offer different language programs.

Good luck and feel free to contact me if you need any more information!

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May 8, 2009

I dont know how would CFA line up with ur interest in consulting.. unless u meant litigation or financial consulting...Also 1 year of Chinese is not going to get u anywhere... there is local talents in the country w/ a ton of connections which u cannot match

That leaves LBS... prestigious school and world wide alumni network

May 12, 2009

First of all be carefull when asking these questions as you get people answering who haven't worked a day in their lives. Your situation is not fully clear either, ie can you actually speak some Chinese and or have some interest in the region? Regarding the masters do you or your parents have the means to finance it or would it be putting you in serious debt? The answers to these questions change the situation significantly.

You also need to know what you want to do - consulting & IB are not the same. I was leaning towards consulting & deep down know it suited me more but I went for the cash in the end (since it was still the good times - today the decision would be a lot harder).

I would be really hesitant with the ride the crisis out strategy, remember a while back 3Q 09 was when everything was meant to rosy again -now it's 2010 supposedly. Strategy might be okay for a 2yr stint but only 1yr is still extremely risky, I'd be really surprised if in under a year's time from now hiring will have picked up significantly.

As I don't have answers to the questions at the top I'm not going to write more since it all depends on the situation but in general I'll just say you won't be the only person trying to ride it out with a masters, I actaully read recently about students who are finishing their Msc in finance from LSE (previously a pretty solid way into IB) are all fucked because nobody will hire them and the course cost a shitload.

May 12, 2009

Well, I'm only in grade 10, so I have plenty of time to decide everything. I'm more focused on learning about admissions than the actual financing, because admissions I can influence a lot more than financing in the future. I have no idea what my financial situation will be 6 years from now, or the state of the economy, but I'd like to have a perspective of admissions for MBAs/Master's in Finance even though I'll actually seriously start considering it in university. I'm pretty sure the economy will be in full swing or at least in recovery by the time I graduate university, so I'll make decisions then.

I took a non-credit Chinese course at a university because China is a rising economic superpower, and I'm sure it will be a helpful skill in my future career (it already makes Chinese people laugh at me) regardless of whether I work in the region or not, and in university admissions.

I want to work in finance (IB right now, but its rather naive considering I haven't learned extensively about Hedge funds or PE, I'm sure I'll learn more about finance in university), I never thought or said anything about consulting, there's too much of a BS factor that surrounds the consulting (no offense) but I would love to work at any consulting firm for business experience.

May 14, 2009
Ganthor:

Well, I'm only in grade 10, so I have plenty of time to decide everything. I'm more focused on learning about admissions than the actual financing, because admissions I can influence a lot more than financing in the future. I have no idea what my financial situation will be 6 years from now, or the state of the economy, but I'd like to have a perspective of admissions for MBAs/Master's in Finance even though I'll actually seriously start considering it in university. I'm pretty sure the economy will be in full swing or at least in recovery by the time I graduate university, so I'll make decisions then.

I took a non-credit Chinese course at a university because China is a rising economic superpower, and I'm sure it will be a helpful skill in my future career (it already makes Chinese people laugh at me) regardless of whether I work in the region or not, and in university admissions.

I want to work in finance (IB right now, but its rather naive considering I haven't learned extensively about Hedge funds or PE, I'm sure I'll learn more about finance in university), I never thought or said anything about consulting, there's too much of a BS factor that surrounds the consulting (no offense) but I would love to work at any consulting firm for business experience.

WTF u r in grade 10??

May 26, 2009

Hey guys,

Thanks again for your comments; your opinions were helpful in my decision process.

I finally accepted to accept the offer at LBS so that I can reposition myself. I think it is the safest bet.

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Jul 17, 2009

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