Pascal Michels likes to think of himself as a market maker. For some MBAs, technology firms have replaced banks as the employer of choice. But while investment banking is down as a career, it’s not out. “We make sure we educate MBAs about the opportunities,” says Pascal, associate director of career services at Spain’s IESE Business School.
And the opportunities are seemingly plentiful. Investment bank recruitment has surged at IESE, beating all records since before the financial crisis in 2007/08. Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Nomura are all recruiting, Pascal says.
Thirty-one job offers were made by investment banks in 2016 to IESE’s MBAs, up from 22 the year before. Of the 61 IESE MBAs who applied for jobs at investment banks, 19 received at least one offer. Some received as many as four.
Elle Connor, an associate recruiter at Morgan Stanley in London, says IESE is one of the investment bank’s three elite target schools.
“The MBA profile brings something a little more niche to the floor, and has a more mature approach to certain situations. That’s why we continue to grow our MBA hiring,” she says.
It is a similar story at Nomura. Sam Price, a Nomura graduate recruitment associate, says: “We target IESE Business School” along with two other European-based schools.
Nomura values MBAs, he says, because “they can bring in some experience. The traditional route to the associate level would be through years as an analyst. An MBA is already at the associate level”.
Andrea Hayem joined Morgan Stanley in June 2015 as a summer associate. The IESE MBA believes the business school was key to her landing the job.
“Career services supports you throughout the recruiting process by bringing top banks to the career forum, organizing a trek to London to visit them, and by organizing professional networking events,” she says.
The MBA curriculum helped too: the case methodology develops problem analysis skills, and “intensive” coursework helped Andrea become diligent and precise.
“Throughout the MBA program we recurrently have the opportunity to develop our leadership and teamwork skills….[Which are] extremely important for a successful career in investment banking,” she adds.
Several on-campus experiences help explain IESE’s success in investment bank recruitment.
The Finance Club helps source second-year students and alumni to provide support, from CV and cover letter reviews, to mock interviewing and mentoring.
Yash Thakar, newly elected president of IESE’s Finance Club, who worked at Goldman, says the 150-member organization also provides technical training that can help with interview preparation.
Career services, meanwhile, organized a three-day career forum in which all the investment banks, aside from Nomura, gave 45-minute presentations and networked with students. And IESE’s “London banking tour”, which saw a group of 70 first-year students fly from Barcelona to London to network with the investment banks.
During a “banking bootcamp” around Christmas, professor Jan Simon also put the group through an intense program of corporate finance and valuation essentials, as well as an overview of capital markets and the economic outlook.
IESE’s success during the investment bank recruiting season comes as many bulge-bracket banks reduce the number of businesses MBAs are hired into. Lenders have preferred to hire less experienced and cheaper analysts.
However, opinions are divided. Morgan Stanley’s Elle, says: “We want more of a split of MBAs rather than promoted analysts.”
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