MFin Plan Review

Johnathan.Galt's picture
Rank: Chimp | 12

[Note: Sorry for the long post, TL;DR at bottom]

Hey everyone,

I've been lurking on this site for sometime, and figured that it would be better for me to post a question directly pertaining to my situation rather than hitting the search button every time. Here's my story:

I'm a junior at an Asian Uni (non-target) majoring in Finance.I recently tried my best for BB recruiting, but due to crap connections+non-target brand name, I didn't land so much as a first round. Managed to network into a boutique IB firm at the last minute.

Even in Asia, a majority of the interns/ft analysts at BB firms have done their undergrad or masters in US/UK universities (spoke to my friends at the so called 'Asian targets' - 99% of BB offers were in BO positions). Fact of the matter is, with so many US/UK target school students willing to come to Asia for internships/jobs, these firms have no reason to even consider a small fish like me.

In order to have a chance at working in the US/UK or to have a better chance at a BB in Asia, I really feel that I should pursue a MSF/MFin/similar masters in the US/UK.

So far I've come up with a plan for the MSF programs I'd like to go to, but have little to no idea whether I stand a realistic chance of getting in. I'd really appreciate you guys scrutinizing my background and figuring out if my profile is appropriate for my targeted universities, or if I'm in over my head.

Also, any advice on what I could do in the meantime to improve my chances at getting in and/or landing a job in IBD/Trading post MSF would be much appreciated.

Acad Stats:

B.Sc. Finance
GPA: equivalent of 3.83 / 4.00

Math and econ courses include Calc I & II, Intermediate Micro, Macro, statistical theory and advanced econometrics.

I'm planning to take Calc III, Probability Theory, Differential Equations and Linear Algebra via online courses.

Passed my CFA Level 1, and got a gmat score of 780.

Work Experience:

1 boutique IB summer internship and 1 boutique equity research internship (part-time, about a year). Will be joining a boutique IB firm for one last summer internship.

MSF Plan:

I'm knocking Princton's MSF off the list of choices right off the bat, as I simply do not have the math background for it. My other options so far are:

MIT - MFin (too much of a reach ?)
Duke - MMS
LSE - M.Sc. Finance and Econ/ M.Sc. Finance
Cambridge - MPhil Finance
NYU - M.S. Mathematics of Finance
Oxford - M.Sc. in Financial Econ
HEC Paris - M.Sc. in International Finance
WUSTL - MSF
Claremont McKenna - MSF
UT Austin - MSF
Imperial College London - MSF
Warwick - MSF
UCL - Masters in Financial Math
Vanderbilt - MSF
LBS - MiM

I remember someone on this site mentioning that an MSF is like 'sudden death overtime' - I absolutely agree. I can't afford to make mistakes again (I really messed up in undergrad; I had a 2340 SAT but was too lazy to apply to the US. Only got focused in Sophomore year). Thus, I'm planning in advance.

Thanks a lot for your time and advice in advance, and any and all criticism is welcomed.

TL;DR: Kid in Non-target Asian Uni, boutique IBD internships, 3.83 Finance GPA, 780 GMAT. Plans for MSF/MFin programs, looking for advice/criticism regarding plan.

Comments (20)

May 25, 2013

Lol, I would kill for your stats. You will get into MIT and Princeton. Your biggest problem for working in the US will be finding a company to sponsor you to work. I don't know much about that though. However, given that you still have a year left. I would seriously network hard and try to land an IB job, so that you don't have to pay the large cost of a masters. Also, your english is really good, so that helps a lot.

But yea, I would really focus in on getting an offer your senior year. A 780 GMAT is very strong, along with CFA Level 1 as a junior. Best of luck to you.

May 25, 2013
Kwyte:

Lol, I would kill for your stats. You will get into MIT and Princeton. Your biggest problem for working in the US will be finding a company to sponsor you to work. I don't know much about that though. However, given that you still have a year left. I would seriously network hard and try to land an IB job, so that you don't have to pay the large cost of a masters. Also, your english is really good, so that helps a lot.

But yea, I would really focus in on getting an offer your senior year. A 780 GMAT is very strong, along with CFA Level 1 as a junior. Best of luck to you.

Thanks for the support and advice. I will definitely network my ass off in the remaining few months to try and get something.

Truth be told, however, I have very few 'direct' connections through whom I can build my network. I can also tell you from numerous bad experiences that cold calling/emailing isn't considered 'socially acceptable' in Asia. A FT spot at a larger firm (BB or mid-sized) is thus going to be almost impossible without a degree from a reasonably well-known US/UK university (considering the talent pool that I am competing with). Nevertheless, I will try and network through my boutique internship as much as possible to see if I can secure a solid FT offer.

However, in choosing between a solid MSF opportunity and a boutique FT job that will bring in about $40-45k (All in, mind you. I have spoken to few of my seniors and some alumni who have worked at small boutiques. About $3k a month, with minimal year-end bonuses. Hours are typical IBD hours, and I question the ease with which I would be to lateral to a better shop), I would think that taking my chances with the MSF would be a better bet despite the substantial cost. Do let me know what your thoughts are on this.

Best of luck to you for your applications as well !

May 25, 2013

Curious to know whether you are in HK or SG?

May 25, 2013
inklinz:

Curious to know whether you are in HK or SG?

I'm based in Singapore.

May 26, 2013
Johnathan.Galt:
inklinz:

Curious to know whether you are in HK or SG?

I'm based in Singapore.

Wow, I'm in Singapore as well. It's true that most BBs recruit only for BO and Tech roles from local uni. I am trying very hard to network too and hopefully can land a few interviews next year.
Anyway would you mind sharing how you got your CFA lvl 1 passed? cos I thought only seniors can register to enroll in the CFA program? From your post, I guess that you got you CFA lvl 1 in your junior year?

Thanks and best wishes to you!

May 25, 2013

MIT - MFin (too much of a reach ?)
LSE - M.Sc. Finance and Econ/ M.Sc. Finance
Cambridge - MPhil Finance
NYU - M.S. Mathematics of Finance
Oxford - M.Sc. in Financial Econ

That is the list I would target. You'd be extremely competitive at MIT and Princeton.

May 25, 2013
TNA:

MIT - MFin (too much of a reach ?)
LSE - M.Sc. Finance and Econ/ M.Sc. Finance
Cambridge - MPhil Finance
NYU - M.S. Mathematics of Finance
Oxford - M.Sc. in Financial Econ

That is the list I would target. You'd be extremely competitive at MIT and Princeton.

Hi TNA,

Thanks for helping narrow down that list; I will definitely focus on these applications first. I also really appreciate you giving your views on my profile, as I understand that you are quite knowledgable with regard to this issue (I've been lurking on WSO for a while - sorry for the stalker-ish vibe).

Just a few more things I'd like to get your thoughts on:

1) My fear with places like MIT/Princeton is that I feel as though I won't even be considered due to my 'soft-skill' finance major vs. the other applicants who have hardcore math/physics/engineering degrees. My math background is light compared to these guys and I am yet to take most of my major math courses (Calc III, Linear Algebra, Differential Equations), and won't even have grades to show for most of them in my application.

Is there anyway I can seriously offset this disadvantage (aside from getting Profs to endorse my mathematical ability?)

2) I'm taking quite a few math courses online via [email protected]. These courses are listed as 16 weeks long; however, I'd ideally like to 'fast-track' through them i.e. complete them in 8-10 weeks. Any idea if this is possible, or if there are any alternatives to [email protected]? Also, are online courses looked upon less favorably in applications?

3) By the time I apply, I will have done 2 IB internships; however, I genuinely feel that I'm better suited to S&T/Investment Research.

Considering that I have a more IBD-focused background, would it be weird/detrimental to emphasize my desire to enter S&T/Research within my MFin applications? Also, if I instead mention IBD as my ideal career in my applications, wouldn't this hamper my chances at more quant programs (i.e. MIT, Princeton, NYU, etc.)?

Thanks a ton for your time and valuable feedback; I really do appreciate it.

May 25, 2013

If you are scared of Princeton Mfin's math then knock NYU's Mathematics of Finance off your list.

TNA's list is good but I would replace Cambridge by Imperial because the MPhill is more suitable for people intending on pursuing a PhD afterwards which is not your goal from what I gather.

May 25, 2013
bengigi:

If you are scared of Princeton Mfin's math then knock NYU's Mathematics of Finance off your list.

I'm not exactly scared of Princeton's MFin math; I meant to say that I was quite certain that I won't be able to get in. I actually tend to pick up math and programming far faster than accounting.

I am uncertain about being accepted to the MIT/Princeton programme as it seems to only consider those who have taken enough math courses to also be eligible for a advanced degree in a hard science.

bengigi:

TNA's list is good but I would replace Cambridge by Imperial because the MPhill is more suitable for people intending on pursuing a PhD afterwards which is not your goal from what I gather.

Yea, I just noticed that point on the Cambridge website (more focused on academia/research). Thanks for the heads up. A PhD option would be nice to have, but not one that I'm really aiming for.

Imperial definitely has solid placements in Trading/Quant areas; however, I'd still like to keep Cambridge up there simply due to the recognizable brand name.

Thanks for your advice!

May 25, 2013
May 25, 2013
DrPeterVenkman:

http://www.olin.wustl.edu/ACADEMICPROGRAMS/MSFDD/P...

Thanks for the heads up; didn't quite know of this programme. If I apply to WUSTL, I will definitely look into it.

May 26, 2013
Johnathan.Galt:

Thanks for the heads up; didn't quite know of this programme. If I apply to WUSTL, I will definitely look into it.

It's nice in that if you're considering heading back home you get a degree from one of the better MSF's in US and you also get a degree at SMU.

WUSTL has 3 MSF programs: Global (dual degree with SMU), Quantitative, and Corporate Finance & Investments

This is another program that you may be interested in:

http://www7.gsb.columbia.edu/ms/financialeconomics

May 25, 2013

I think you'd be a solid bet everywhere, Princeton included. Your stats are awesome.

May 25, 2013
I am what I am:

I think you'd be a solid bet everywhere, Princeton included. Your stats are awesome.

Thanks! I honestly didn't think I had much going for me aside from my GMAT. I really do appreciate everyone's support.

May 26, 2013

Dude, stop over thinking it. With your stats you could get in anywhere. Just work on your essays and focus on your interviews. I'm assuming that you got like a 51 on your quant.

May 26, 2013
Esuric:

Dude, stop over thinking it. With your stats you could get in anywhere. Just work on your essays and focus on your interviews. I'm assuming that you got like a 51 on your quant.

Noted, I'll definitely start working on how to best spin my story. And you guessed right, I got a Q: 51, V: 47.

inklinz:

Wow, I'm in Singapore as well. It's true that most BBs recruit only for BO and Tech roles from local uni. I am trying very hard to network too and hopefully can land a few interviews next year.
Anyway would you mind sharing how you got your CFA lvl 1 passed? cos I thought only seniors can register to enroll in the CFA program? From your post, I guess that you got you CFA lvl 1 in your junior year?

Thanks and best wishes to you!

Hey man, actually I'm finishing up my degree 1/2 a year early (i.e. in 3.5 years in December 2013) as I took summer classes in my freshman year. Thus, I was technically in my final year when I gave my CFA Level 1 in December.

If you are finishing up at the end of the academic year (i.e. May - June), you can still register and give it the summer before your Senior Year. A lot of my friends are doing so.

BB recruiting is quite sad at local universities - the only people I know who even got interviews were those with serious connections. I networked my ass off at information sessions, followed up, kept in touch and expressed a sincere interest, but all in vain. A lack of decent mid-sized/boutique firms also leaves us with limited options outside of BB.

Stay in touch and let me know how things work out for you, and if there's anything that I can do to help.

May 26, 2013
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