Masters in Finance?

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Nomad_K, Feb 9, 2010.

  1. Nomad_K

    Nomad_K Senior member

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    Has anyone on SF done a masters in finance?

    While I have been told that I am crazy for even thinking about a finance degree (looking at a masters in the US or possibly Hong Kong as I currently work around Asia), I like the financial side of project and program management, and in helping a friend look at a startup, the financial side of the project has been among the more challenging aspects. I am split between focussing on finance or getting an MBA (most likely an executive program so I can stay current in my field with some consulting).

    Most of the executive MBA's I have looked at do not have the strong financial focus that I am after although Chicago Booth and Columbia's EMBA's look like they might provide more financial depth than a few other programs.
     
  2. makker

    makker Senior member

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    Just wondering, where have you and the rest of the SF's masters in finance people got their bachelors from? I hear its not very common to find the possibility of completing an undergrad finance degree at a prestigious school in the US, as economcis seems to be the more popular choice? I know Stanford offers finance for undergrad but I am not sure if it is an actual degree..
     
  3. JoelF

    JoelF Senior member

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    Seems like if you want to do finance, a masters in finance is the way to go. Shorter & to the point. Most MBA programs seem to have pretty watered down finance (even if there's a concentration) and way too much marketing and other soft stuff you'll never use. At the other end of the scale if you want to do quant stuff masters programs in financial engineering are getting really popular.
     
  4. gdl203

    gdl203 Affiliate Vendor Dubiously Honored Affiliate Vendor

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    The problem is: do the firms you want to work at recruit there? Whether you learn the theory and skills is one thing. Getting the job you want is another. And many firms/banks only recruit at a specific number of core schools - at the associate level, that's generally MBAs, not MS in Finance or other masters. Do your homework on student placement and what firms recruit on campus.
     
  5. zillka

    zillka Senior member

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    my takeaway from talking to colleagues was..

    mfin = structuring, trading, quant (should that be your focus)
    mba = ib, sell-side research
    cfa = asset mgmt/hf, im

    huge caveat is connections, knowing the right people trumps all of this
     
  6. JoelF

    JoelF Senior member

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    The problem is: do the firms you want to work at recruit there? Whether you learn the theory and skills is one thing. Getting the job you want is another. And many firms/banks only recruit at a specific number of core schools - at the associate level, that's generally MBAs, not MS in Finance or other masters. Do your homework on student placement and what firms recruit on campus.

    Definitely true for banking in the U.S. For quant trading & risk areas MFE seems more & more the ticket. In London LBS & LSE MS in Finance are definitely top tier. Agree that U.S. masters in finance programs seem to take kind of a back seat to the MBA.
     
  7. Nomad_K

    Nomad_K Senior member

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    The problem is: do the firms you want to work at recruit there? Whether you learn the theory and skills is one thing. Getting the job you want is another. And many firms/banks only recruit at a specific number of core schools - at the associate level, that's generally MBAs, not MS in Finance or other masters. Do your homework on student placement and what firms recruit on campus.

    my takeaway from talking to colleagues was..

    mfin = structuring, trading, quant (should that be your focus)
    mba = ib, sell-side research
    cfa = asset mgmt/hf, im

    huge caveat is connections, knowing the right people trumps all of this


    Many thanks to everyone and the thoughts of the above are especially helpful. In regards to student placement - the firms I am looking at have recruited more heavily at universities where I was looking at EMBA's - although they do not normally recruit out of the EMBA program so that point may be moot. I like the EMBA programs because they give me the opportunity to continue a reasonable amount of consulting along with supporting a startup.

    Looking forward after the program - several of the 'finance' positions that I have looked at with institutions or companies of interest call for an MBA or similar degree but they do not request a MFin so - that may be the deciding factor.

    Makker - I got my BS in Engineering back in the US.
     
  8. Flambeur

    Flambeur Senior member

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    Well

    In general, finance programs can be quirky, there is no standardization across the board.. But there are definitely programs out there that are as reputable as any MBA and have amazing placement records. The catch is that most of those programs are small and extremely selective. There are probably 10 or so of those programs in the US, and I would be surprised if the combined annual number of admitted students is above 500. Those include a few MFE programs (Haas, etc) a few mathematical finance programs, a few financial engineering programs, well you get the point. More often than not people admitted to those are programs are quite literally rocket scientists.. I knew science/math kinds from great schools with awesome academic records who got rejected.
     
  9. gnatty8

    gnatty8 Senior member

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    Seems like if you want to do finance, a masters in finance is the way to go. Shorter & to the point. Most MBA programs seem to have pretty watered down finance (even if there's a concentration) and way too much marketing and other soft stuff you'll never use. At the other end of the scale if you want to do quant stuff masters programs in financial engineering are getting really popular.

    I did a Masters Degree in Finance and then after a few years of working, an MBA also. Joel is right, an MBA is designed to teach non-business majors enough about accounting, finance, and economics to be dangerous; as well as how to play nice, work on teams, and think strategically. You put the average MBA in a room with a person with a graduate degree in Finance and the difference will be that while the MBA can use the term "Real Option" only the Finance guy will actually know how to apply the conceptual framework to an actual project.

    That said, I also know MBAs who get into finance and throw themselves into it, study religiously, and continuously learn, who know as much about quantitative finance as me, so it all depends on the person. When I look to hire someone in Finance, having a grad degree in Finance will get you in the door, but when I interview you, I will be merciless in the types of questions I pose, and if the MBA performs better, he's getting the job.
     
  10. SkinnyGoomba

    SkinnyGoomba Senior member

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    I did a Masters Degree in Finance and then after a few years of working, an MBA also. Joel is right, an MBA is designed to teach non-business majors enough about accounting, finance, and economics to be dangerous; as well as how to play nice, work on teams, and think strategically. You put the average MBA in a room with a person with a graduate degree in Finance and the difference will be that while the MBA can use the term "Real Option" only the Finance guy will actually know how to apply the conceptual framework to an actual project.

    That said, I also know MBAs who get into finance and throw themselves into it, study religiously, and continuously learn, who know as much about quantitative finance as me, so it all depends on the person. When I look to hire someone in Finance, having a grad degree in Finance will get you in the door, but when I interview you, I will be merciless in the types of questions I pose, and if the MBA performs better, he's getting the job.


    Gnatty, where does a CFA land in this mix?
     
  11. gdl203

    gdl203 Affiliate Vendor Dubiously Honored Affiliate Vendor

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    All this is correct. It all depends on what one means by "finance". There are a lot of very different jobs in "finance". From the OP, I had the impression that he was talking about corporate finance (the financial side of working on that startup) rather than asset mgmt, trading or quant finance. zillka is generally correct in his list of what types of jobs are best aligned with what diplomas.

    That said, I personally believe the MBA is the most "rounded" of these programs and can be supplemented with additional advanced fin electives for those who want to work on a trading floor (I know a lot of MBAs on trading floors), and it can be supplemented with a CFA in parallel for those looking at the buy side too or who are not 100% sure if they want to work on the sell side or buy side (there's a lot of overlap between b-school and CFA 1 & 2 so it's quite common to see MBA students taking the CFA at the same time). IMO, a MBA from a strong finance b-school will give more options for career development than a MS Fin (but I'm biased by both my own education choices, and my line of work)
     
  12. Piobaire

    Piobaire Not left of center?

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    I will vouch, MBA finance is weak and watered down, and unless you're headed that way, soon forgotten. As Gnatty said, just enough that I could hurt myself. It's why you get a good CFO.

    Also, someone here really likes to say "sell side."
     
  13. gdl203

    gdl203 Affiliate Vendor Dubiously Honored Affiliate Vendor

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    Also, someone here really likes to say "sell side."

    Who would that be? zillka used it once and I used it once.

    Again, at the risk of repeating myself, for certain areas in finance (eg. investment banking / corp fin), firms recruit from business schools with strong finance programs. They don't recruit MS Finance grads for these jobs - or when they do, it's outside of the core recruiting effort and would be 1 or 2 hires out of an incoming class of 50 or 60.

    So it's important to first figure out what the OP means by "finance" and what job(s) he would be seeking.
     
  14. gnatty8

    gnatty8 Senior member

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    Gnatty, where does a CFA land in this mix?

    Nowhere unless you want to do asset allocation or investment analysis. Has almost nothing to do with corporate finance at all IMO.
     
  15. gnatty8

    gnatty8 Senior member

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    Who would that be? zillka used it once and I used it once.

    Again, at the risk of repeating myself, for certain areas in finance (eg. investment banking / corp fin), firms recruit from business schools with strong finance programs. They don't recruit MS Finance grads for these jobs - or when they do, it's outside of the core recruiting effort and would be 1 or 2 hires out of an incoming class of 50 or 60.

    So it's important to first figure out what the OP means by "finance" and what job(s) he would be seeking.


    I agree with this..
     

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