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Financial Sector Invests In Business Schools To Hire New Talent

Financial services groups are investing millions in top business schools to find new talent and drive research insights.

Tue Jan 6 2015

AQR Capital became the latest large financial services company to tap a business school for talent and research, with a sizable investment in London Business School to launch an asset management research institute.

The US hedge fund last week gave LBS £10 million to set up the investment centre, giving it access to leading researchers and students graduating from the UK’s highest-ranking business school.

Cliff Asness, AQR co-founder, said he hoped it will provide “access to talented people” for both recruitment and research collaboration.

AQR has sought to raise its profile in Europe. About 80% of its business – it manages $123 billion in assets – is in the US. But it recently opened an office in London and there may be opportunities for business graduates.

The global asset management industry is set to undergo a period of buoyant inflow, according to the consultancy PwC, with business schools noting an increase in recruitment for MBA students and CFA – chartered financial analyst – qualification holders.

AQR’s sponsorship is part of a wider bid among finance groups to plug research centres for potential business school talent.

Hedge fund Brevan Howard announced plans to donate £20 million to Imperial College Business School, based a stone’s throw away from LBS on the fringe of the City of London, in 2013.

It jointly launched the Brevan Howard financial research centre with Imperial in September last year.

The business school hopes the centre will become Europe’s leading hub for financial analysis.

Professor G Anandalingam, dean of the business school, said that it is a “major step forward” for Imperial.

“Our students will enjoy even better access to the world’s finest scholars and most influential practitioners in finance,” he added.

Brevan Howard follows Man Group, the alternative investment manager, which pooled £14 million into Oxford University in 2007 to establish a quantitative research institute.

The establishment of the Oxford-Man Institute of Quantitative Finance allowed the company to recruit mathematicians from the leading UK university.

In 2013 Man Group signed a five-year extension to fund the centre through to 2018.

Companies in other sectors have taken similar steps to bolster recruitment and drive insights, including in professional services and technology.

Brevan Howard’s sponsorship was the second big-ticket investment Imperial has received recently, with auditor KPMG investing £20 million to establish a data analytics centre in 2014.

Mazhar Hussain, a director at KPMG Digital and Analytics who will lead the new centre, said last year that it will allow the firm to pick the “crème of the crop” from Imperial’s student pool.

Semiconductor maker Infineon opened a Business Analytics Center of Competence at the National University of Singapore in October last year, which will allow it to leverage “human resources”.

In 2010 tech group IBM launched an Analytics Research Center at the Telfer School of Management in North America.

Both parties invested more than $4.8 million in cash and in-kind time of IBM research and development, software, services, consulting and support staff, according to a press release.