Post MBA Mutual Fund and Hedge Fund recruiting

How competitive is recruiting for mutual fund or hedge fund equity analyst roles post MBA? Since active management is under pressure, has that changed recruiting in a meaningful way?

I will be entering either Columbia or Wharton (waitlist) in the fall. My background is in MM PE but I am considering making a career switch to public market investing. Before I embark on this path, I'm curious how feasible this might be and what I'm up against. The large mutual funds like Fidelity, BlackRock, Invesco appear to have MBA hiring programs. Is this true for hedge funds as well?

Comments (10)

Best Response
May 14, 2017

It's very competitive. Your background will probably help especially if you can spin the story correctly, but it will still be competitive. There are basically three buckets of investment management hiring groups:

1) Large managers (Wellington/Fidelity/Cap Group/etc): all hire directly from their internship program, so if you want to go that route it's essential that you land an internship with one of them otherwise you're SOL. A few hedge funds might fall in this category but that is less common.

2) Hedge funds and mid sized managers: generally don't post opportunities, instead relying on networking / word of mouth to find good candidates. They might post for FT positions, or less commonly intern positions, but this is generally just to test the market and see what candidates are out there. These firms might hire 1-2 people a year, if they even hire regularly.

3) Boutiques and very small firms: will only post FT positions on a job board, if they post at all. The quality of firm runs the gamut: some are legit, some you don't want to waste your time with.

If you're transitioning from another field, even if its PE, you need to focus on getting an internship at a large or midsized manager. This is really competitive as most of the largest managers are only going to take a few dozen interns, out of literally hundreds of well qualified applicants from the top 10 programs.

From what I could tell, the usual preference is:
- Candidates that previously worked at another IM firm
- Candidates with non-IM finance experience, i.e. banking, PE, even corporate finance
- Candidates without any finance experience but that could a) articulate a very good reason for their interest in IM b) demonstrated a lot of interest c) showed at least basic competence in finance and accounting.

I think your chances would be above average, but you need to compete in stock pitch competitions, take investment related classes, and do a lot of reading on your own.

    • 6
May 14, 2017

Currently work for one of the aforementioned companies you listed (back office mutual fund accounting unfortunately). like the below post said, you need to get an internship through them for the best chance to be hired(this was my case, although it was undergrad). These are super coveted positions, any fresh MBA wants to work front office AM. If you have the bandwidth, also look into getting at least level 1 of your CFA out of the way, this shows that you are disciplined and that you have an interest at least in the markets. any coding language will help as well, even if its just knowing VBA or building complex queries

    • 1
May 15, 2017

At either school you should get a splattering of hedge funds through on-campus recruiting in addition to the big long-only shops. However, most hedge funds don't know their internship hiring needs early enough (on-campus interviews are Jan/Feb), so hedge fund recruiting generally becomes more of an off-campus process in the spring.

I also second the advice on being active with stock pitch competitions, investing clubs, having a PA, etc. Those activities are far more important than academic classes.

May 15, 2017

Graduated from H/S/W. I recommend you read the career reports from Columbia / Wharton and speak with Career Management's individual in charge of IM recruiting. Reach out to current students. IM recruiting is tough but with a PE background absolutely doable. Best of luck!

May 19, 2017

@Model_and_Bottles hit the nail on the head there. It's absolutely critical to get an internship and convert, as FT hiring is next to non-existent for the mutual funds. I do, however, think it's far more competitive than one may think, as the 4 largest institutional managers have 12-15 domestic intern spots combined.

You really need to start from day 1 on campus with stock pitches and participation in your IM club in order to get on companies' radars. Hedge fund recruiting is less structured than large mutual funds, but no less competitive for spots. PM me if you have specific questions.

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Jun 7, 2018

Hi there,

Is your advice relevant to someone who does not have finance experience pre MBA but more of healthcare experience?
Also, is it possible to go work directly for a mutual fund or hedge fund (remember no finance experince prior to MBA)?

Thank you for your time.

Jun 7, 2018

A buddy of mine pulled it off (think he had healthcare consulting). The advice above is 10000% relevant and literally the only way to do it; gotta "make up" for the lacking background by killing it on the pitches.

Also recruiting is pretty frigging hard outside of M7 -- FYI. I'm not at an M7 and it was brutal.

May 20, 2017

Thanks all for the feedback.

So if I have this right, it's a rat race to get one of very few internships which would then just possibly lead to a job in a shrinking industry? And if a job is not secured, then one would be left to try to land one of the remaining second tier jobs doing something entirely different? No thank you. I'd rather aim for PE again with a portco role as a backup plan. The whole MBA experience sounds less and less attractive the more I dig.

May 20, 2017