"Why Finance?" - How to Answer (Science Background)

Hello Folks,

As I am getting close to interviewing for some internships, I wanted to wrap up my answer for one of the questions that I am having the hardest time putting into words. Here is a little about myself: I was a science major back in college but later decided to pursue finance. I still don't have any direct experience but I am interested in investment management. My reasons for being in finance are not like the others. I guess I am mostly interested in the intersection of where science and finance meet. I have always wanted to impact/change the world but with science/medicine I realized that I will be just stuck in some lab, or be another piece in a bureaucratic machine. Also, no matter how smart or skilled you are, in the end money makes the world go 'round, and even the greatest scientists need funding to put their ideas to work. So I decided to change my approach and pursue finance first. I still have interest in science, but I will work on that in a decade or two, and also learn on the side.

So, I don't know how to give a 2-3 sentence answer without sounding delusional/arrogant when I am asked why I want to work in finance. Besides the reasons above, I am interested in investing (mostly value) because of the out of the box strategic thinking, the fact that it's a results based field, the interconnections of finance and other industries, the competitive nature, and that there is no upside limit. Money also plays a role, but I look at money as a resource, not a luxury. Everyone wants to be rich and drive a Ferrari, and so do I, but in comparison with my other reasons it pales in comparison. To sum it up, I have an elitist and bigger than life mentality and I know that to have any type of impact in the world I need to become a player first.

Some of the answers that I see on this forum don't make sense and sound very simplistic. Having the answer for why you want to pursue something is probably one of the top five decisions one can make in a lifetime. I would appreciate the insights of people with a similar mentality/background. Thank you.

Comments (16)

Aug 22, 2018

Your first paragraph seems like a damn good answer

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Aug 22, 2018

Thanks for the input. I am just a little concerned about coming off too strong. I know at a higher career level it will make sense, but at entry levels don't know how to put it more simplistically.

Aug 22, 2018

If you're worried about coming off too strong, just stick with the cookie-cutter responses

Aug 24, 2018

I'd try to expand on what you mean by the intersection of finance and science. Any experience that triggered your interest in finance?

Aug 22, 2018

To make a comparison, I would like to one day be doing what Elon Musk is doing with tech/space exploration (minus the tweeting) but in the life science field. The trigger is that science is not enough to make change, you need proper management, funding, and vision. There is no scarcity of scientists, but there is scarcity of people with long term vision who would like to invest in the future of disruptive technologies.

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Sep 2, 2018

@NeverOutOfTheFight I'm a biology major from Imperial College and I had no finance internship experience at all by the time i had graduated so I can fully appreciate the difficulty of answering "why finance"

Not sure if this applies to you, but I had conveyed the fact that i believed a background in science would make me a more logical, methodical and objective individual and these core traits would serve me well in any job. Just so happens in the city I live here you're either a banker, lawyer, accountant, or others (pretty sad but thats the reality here) so it was a relatively easy sell to say that finance was the natural next step post college. When asked why no finance internships, i spent those summers in a lab so it wasn't an issue for me

Hope that's helpful

Sep 5, 2018

To further upon this, I would say that a science background can be used to express how you have good critical thinking as well. Also, it would demonstrate familiarity and strength with numbers, which is definitely something valued in the Finance world as well.

Made ya look

Aug 22, 2018

Yes I think the same way about how it can he helpful, but I was mostly concerned about how to portray my message correctly. Even with a science background, on paper I'm an econ major, so I could technically not mention science at all, but I want to because it is tied to my long term role in finance.

Sep 5, 2018

Feel like your story sounds good, but I would angle it more to focus on the finance aspect. Make it sound like you want to focus on both, rather than it being the means to an end. FWIW, I think you're on the right track.

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there" - Will Rogers

Most Helpful
Sep 5, 2018

The right answer to this question depends on which area of finance you are going into. For example, if you're going into machine learning for hedge funds, your sciencey answer would play very well. However, if you're going into investment banking, honestly it all comes off as too complex, too try-hard. When I'm interviewing you, I'm trying to figure out how you will present information and analysis while on the job. If you give me some super verbose answer rather than cut to the chase, traditional investment banking may not be the best fit for you.

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Aug 22, 2018

That's pretty much my concern. Most people in high finance don't care about science. So in a more entry level role, if I mention my story they will probably get bored with my answer. I'm interested in Investment Management in the healthcare/biotech, so maybe in my patch of ER->AM/HF my story might make sense.

Sep 11, 2018

Sarah Robertson: What's your background?
Peter Sullivan: My background?
Sarah Robertson: Your CV.
Peter Sullivan: I've been with the firm for two and a half years working with Eric that whole time, but I hold a doctorate in engineering, specialty in propulsion, from MIT, with a Bachelor's from Penn.
Jared Cohen: What is a 'specialty in propulsion,' exactly?
Peter Sullivan: My thesis was a study in the ways that friction ratios affect steering outcomes in aeronautical use under reduced gravity loads.
Jared Cohen: So, you're a rocket scientist.
Peter Sullivan: I was, yeah.
Jared Cohen: Interesting. How did you end up here?
Peter Sullivan: Well, it's all just numbers really. Just changing what you're adding up. And, to speak freely, the money here is considerably more attractive.

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Sep 14, 2018

Interesting movie

Sep 11, 2018

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Sep 12, 2018
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