Is an MBA a route to high finance?

There has been a persistent myth that MBA graduates do rather well in investment banking and high reward financial careers, but the facts are that MBA careers in high finance vary as much as the markets themselves.

Historically MBA employment within investment banking seems to mirror the performance of the world’s financial markets. As far back as the 1980s, more than 25% of MBA graduates ended up in banking, until the 1987 market crash. Subsequent to that crash, MBA graduates involved in banking reduced to barely 17%. Even so, whilst MBA graduate bankers may not be immune to the cold winds of recession markets, they do still seem to find a considerable niche in the finance world. This is good news as earnings for MBA bankers are some of the highest.

This desirability of MBA graduates amongst financial institutions seems to be a long-term phenomenon on both sides of the Atlantic. In the recruitment year due to climax during the last half of 2007, a large multi-national corporate finance, accounting and business consultancy (KPMG) have attempted to double the number of MBA graduates they hire, both in the UK and the US.

An increasing factor in the hiring of MBA financial recruits is the desire of employers to recruit both new and established (mature) graduates. This would seem to indicate that MBA practitioners remain desirable employees within financial services throughout their careers.

MBA providers within Business Schools are also increasing their links with financial service providers and employers. In some cases this is leading to more formal partnerships and exchanges of talent, knowledge and expertise. For example, Britain’s Durham Business School has announce such a formal link with the Bank of Scotland (May 2007), whereby interested MBA students can be selected for project work with the bank, as well as involving the bank within some its teaching elements.

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