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Electrifying Fintech Tempts Elite MBA Students To Startups In Payments, Blockchain

Promises to disrupt big banks prove alluring

Thu Feb 4 2016

The world’s top business school students are flocking to start-ups in the fast-growing fintech sector at a rapid pace.

These nimble companies have raised significant venture capital and hype, with promises to disrupt the big banks in areas such as payments, lending and even with bitcoin’s blockchain. MBAs are attracted to the innovation and while fintech has been on their radar for some time, the smaller start-ups in this space are increasingly alluring.

“There are a lot of start-ups using technology in the finance industry looking for MBAs,” says Sue Thorn, director of careers at Warwick Business School. “And these days, MBAs are interested in joining start-ups,” she says, adding that there is a “thirst to be entrepreneurial”.

“Fintech is a booming trend,” says Ways Hassas, an MIT Sloan MBA student who is organizing a “tech trek” to Silicon Valley, where Sloanies will meet Square, the payments start-up that floated on the NYSE in November.

At Columbia Business School in New York, home to fintech companies such as “roboadviser” Betterment and financial planning start-up LearnVest, which are hoping to challenge Wall Street, students are interested in the blending of finance and tech, says Regina Resnick, associate dean for careers. 

And in Hong Kong at CUHK Business School, Tina Lee, director of the Career Management Center, says the market economy is “moving towards big data, analytics, e-commerce and fintech”.

She says MBAs are cognizant of the necessity to look at boutique firms and seed companies for their careers — many fintech start-ups are big in ambition but small in stature. “We have a rich ecosystem for start-ups and innovation, which are areas of strong interest,” adds Sue Kline at MIT Sloan’s MBA Career Development Office in Massachusetts.

Lara Berkowitz, executive director for the Career Centre at London Business School, close to a cluster of top fintech start-ups such as P2P lenders Funding Circle and TransferWise, founded by an INSEAD grad, says there is a surge in tech hiring more generally. 


“Start-ups continue to be thirsty for talent,” Lara says. Fintech accounted for one-quarter of the $3.6 billion in venture capital raised by London tech start-ups in 2015, according to London & Partners.

Eileen Burbidge, partner at London-based tech venture firm Passion Capital, says: “Investors are increasingly attracted by the diversity of London’s tech ecosystem but also our strengths in certain sectors such as fintech.”

Sarah Juillet, director of postgraduate careers at the city’s Cass Business School, says there is student interest in such digital innovation.

David Lask, an MBA Student at London’s Imperial College Business School, is ditching investment banking with Santander for the electrifying fintech scene.

“Like all high street banks, innovation and change [at Santander] was hard to achieve,” he says. “That inspired me to get involved with the fintech industry.”

Large lenders are saddled with creaking legacy IT systems and this has opened up opportunities for the fintech disruptors like Stripe, Coinbase or Prosper, which are utilizing innovative technologies.

Entrepreneurship in this space, too, is catching on among elite business school students, who hope to challenge market leaders. “We are disrupting,” says Daniel Macklin, one of four Stanford GSB graduates who co-founded SoFi, the San Francisco student loans provider that recently raised $1 billion in venture capital, valuing it at around $4 billion. 


Daniel, pictured left, used to work for Standard Chartered but fell in love with the Bay Area’s entrepreneurial environment while at Stanford, where the idea for SoFi was born. “Business school gave us that advantage to be able to develop and incubate an idea in a safe environment,” he says.

Ismail Ahmed developed WorldRemit, one of London’s hottest fintech firms, at London Business School. “I learnt a lot of valuable lessons about entrepreneurship and building a start-up,” he says.

WorldRemit, which provides online money transfers, recently raised $100 million from a leading Silicon Valley investor, valuing the company at about $500 million.

“WorldRemit is able to remove a lot of the friction and pain points associated with old-fashioned, offline money transfer services,” Ismail says. He says innovative fintech firms like his are “shaking up the traditional financial services sector”. 

Student Reviews

Bayes Business School




On Campus

Best Journalism school in Europe

When I first stepped onto the campus of City, University of London, I knew I was in for a ride - and not just on the Tube! With its vibrant energy and an impressive repertoire of programs, City U became my home away from home. The Journalism program was kind of a big deal. Rumour was that we were the best in Europe! The lecturers were not just experts in their field; they’re practically journalistic royalty. They were invested, passionate, and had a knack for turning the most flat press release into a riveting news story. With their guidance, I’ve learned to navigate the chaotic world of media like a pro. The campus was a melting pot of every culture, being that we had such a diverse international crowd. Being in the heart of London, I had the world at my fingertips - there was always a new corner to explore, a hidden gem of a cafe to discover, or a street performer! City, University of London wasn't just a university; it was a chapter in my life story that I’ll never forget.




On Campus

Learning environment

The teacher-learner ration is manageable, giving each learner a chance to gain personal attention. It is also easier following up on the progress of a student, as the numbers per class is not large. the conducive environment for learning includes clean classes, standard desks, world class instructional facilities and the opportunity to engage lecturers even after their sessions. The team spirit at City is above board, with learners getting chance to learn both from instructors and colleagues. This is the university of choice; the place to be.




On Campus


I liked that each class had a manageable number of learners, making the professor-learner ratio favor knowledge acquisition. I also liked that study schedules were manageable, and not overwhelming. The focus on talents and gifts even within the learning environment makes it possible for learners to achieve the best of their potential, and this has worked to the advantage of those that have schooled at City, University of London




On Campus


The diversity at City University facilitates interactions and is a direction toward the unity of the world. The classes are well built to match the number and needs of all students regardless of the elements of diversity that set people apart. The use of technology in delivery makes learning even more interesting and achievable. At City University there is no distinction pegged on the issues that make people unique.




On Campus


The team of lecturers at the Uiversity are well experienced. Their level of insight and the methodologies of delivery works for the interes of the leaeners. My learning experience was largely boosted by the level of knowledge of the professors at the institution, and their passion to transfer the same to learners. I appreciate every class I attended because of the level of insight I was able to gather




On Campus

The best university I’ve been to

The campus and the people I've met have made it a wonderful experience. I was reared in a small town with a graduating class of only 88 individuals, so moving to City University was a huge adjustment for me. My dorm has more residents than my whole high school combined! I enjoy the atmosphere here, and everyone is so friendly. Outstanding academic options and a stunning campus. Really great from beginning to end. The educators genuinely love what they do, and the students are ready to learn. On or around college, there is always something to do with friends, and the social scene is particularly warm.




On Campus

Bayes Business School

As a student at City university attending Bayes Business School I would totally recommend choosing this university as the experience is exceptional with great social networking opportunities . Professors are significantly helpful, delivering with excellence and professionalism. Everyone is happy to help and make you feel welcomed in such an esteem university as City, offering exceptional development and guidance through out the course.




On Campus

Economics and Politics

Incredibly amazing university, the way they polish students and help them boost their morale and think intellectually is worthwhile. Many universities have international partnerships to allow exchanges between their students. The most obvious subjects for these opportunities would be those that involve languages, and the study of people and places.




On Campus

Clinical biology

I really like it it’s perfect for me with not too many people and not too few either. All the modules are amazing. I love the toy bar. I love all the societies that I’ma part of. Especially the colour Bollywood society