UCLA: Anderson School of Management - Investment Finance Association

Robert Michlovich tells us how to get jobs in the financial sector

Robert Michlovich was working with UBS for nearly two years as a Municipal Bond Portfolio Specialist, when he made the tough decision to leave and study an MBA at UCLA: Anderson.

Robert hopes to use his MBA experience to gain a new skill set in order work in a new industry vertical within finance. Currently President of the Investment Finance Association, Robert shares insights on how to get jobs in the financial sector, and the public's negative perception of bankers!

What are your club's main aims this year?

The mission of the Investment Finance Association (IFA) at UCLA Anderson is to empower first and second-year MBA candidates to pursue a long-term career in finance. Our mission revolves around preparing and educating students so that they represent themselves and the Anderson brand in a positive light to recruiters.

The IFA Executive Board has spent a substantial amount of time organizing events such as Training The Street courses, etiquette workshops, stock pitch competitions and industry speakers throughout the fall, winter and spring quarters.

This is in addition to organizing networking nights with recruiters and dedicated “Days on the Job” trips to visit banks and financial services companies based in cities such as Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Palo Alto and Boston.

We hope to further leverage our upcoming events to increase club awareness and participation of finance students at Anderson and to continue the positive momentum that we have experienced over the past few years.

Why did you decide to do an MBA?

Leaving an excellent position at UBS to attend business school on a full-time basis was a very challenging decision for me because I truly enjoyed the work and the people with whom I interacted on a daily basis. Ultimately, I decided to pursue an MBA to build a new skill set that I could apply to a different industry vertical within finance.

I was very fortunate to have had a manager and a professional network at UBS that valued continuing education and placed an emphasis on talent development. To have a network of people supporting my decision to move 3,000 miles away to obtain a world-class education and learn from students hailing from over 45 different countries was incredibly compelling to me.

Where are the most exciting jobs in finance right now?

At UCLA Anderson, many finance-related companies that recruit on campus are seeking investment banking associates. However, more and more students are focusing their efforts on a less ‘traditional’ investment banking MBA route and seeking roles within corporate finance and on the buy side within investment management.

One of the advantages of returning to business school is that the process allows you to re-align your skill set and network with peers who may have come from an industry in which you have an interest. More Anderson students are not only leveraging the Parker Career Management Center on campus, but students also using the vast network of alums, second-year students and peers to put themselves in a better position to get their dream job.

Are the same numbers of MBAs hoping to land jobs in investment banking compared to five years ago, or do you think interest in this sector has declined?

Since there will always be demand for qualified investment banking candidates, we will always have MBAs interested in investment banking because of the chance to use your analytical skill set, professional exposure to executive-level clients and deal-making experience that is unique to the industry.

Although the events of the past five years have dampened the business prospects for investment banks, demand for MBAs entering into investment banking has recovered to the point where it is currently the destination for the single largest percentage of IFA members.

Whereas 10 to 15 years ago top MBA candidates may have expected to receive multiple investment banking offers, today it is more common for highly qualified candidates to target a wider number of banks with the expectation that a position may be available if the skill set and ultimately the fit of the candidate is appropriate.

Do you think the average man in the street will ever understand the function and the value of anyone involved in the financial market?

One of the biggest challenges currently facing our industry is a negative public perception. More education about the roles and functions within our industry would help the average person understand that financial markets and the people who operate within those markets are an essential part of every economy’s ability to sustain and grow private enterprise.

Clients of all sizes need advice and funding in order to stay relevant in an increasingly competitive and global marketplace. Although technology has changed the dynamic in which we operate, clients still value long-term relationships and will continue to place a premium on superior industry expertise.

What is the best asset class to invest in, in the current global situation? (Equities, bonds, commodities, cash, antiques, wines and commercial property?)

The credit crisis forced many U.S. companies to reorganize, raise cash and trim inventories in order to stay competitive. Companies have since learned how to operate under leaner and stricter self-imposed guidelines thereby better positioning themselves for a rebound when the economy begins to grow at a healthy pace again.

Although our economy has received substantial monetary and fiscal stimuli, GDP growth is not expected to reach a relatively high level for at least a couple more years. In the short-term, indicators such as high unemployment, uncertainty with the upcoming election and a slowdown in emerging market economies leave me somewhat defensive at the moment.  

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