Let’s be honest: Do you have to go to an Ivy League school to get into investing?
I know a college degree is important for getting a job in investing. How important is the exact school you go to? Is an Ivy League school necessary? I ask for honesty because I keep hearing YOU CAN DO ANYTHING from people about everything, and it doesn’t seem like anyone is really just saying what they really feel. It matters to me because if I don’t have the right school or the right grades or whatever I’d rather know up front what is needed so I don’t waste my energy striving for something that isn’t really realistic. #finance #financial-services #investment-management #investing #ivy-league
Seth Daniel Bernstein
You can absolutely get off to a successful start in an investing career without an Ivy League degree. There is a stereotype of investment bankers and traders who work on Wall Street all having Ivy League degrees, and the very largest investment banks do recruit heavily at elite colleges.
If you desire to work on Wall Street, going to college at a New York area school and majoring in finance certainly provides more direct opportunities. HOWEVER, you will find that excellent investment firms of many kinds recruit for interns and entry level analysts and traders at a variety of schools far outside of New York City. For example, Goldman Sachs recruits interns from undergraduate programs all over the country, even where I live in Southern California. They tend to recruit at colleges with higher admissions standards, but they mine talent at schools big and small alike. It does take excellent academic performance and interview skills to land the most prestigious internships and jobs, and with help from a college career counselor you can begin to develop those skills as a freshman.
There are also MANY excellent small and mid-size investment firms in all regions of the country that target local colleges for finance grads who can work in their research or trading departments. Not all companies need a Wall Street firm to handle their institutional investing or to manage their employee retirement assets, and prefer to have those functions handled by local investment companies that hire locally.
A college with a strong finance major is your best option, and if staying close to home is the best option for you, that's OK! Go with it! As long as you are close to a metropolitan area, your career center should be able to help you target internships and jobs with investment firms in your area. In fact, if you're not in college already, assess the resources and jobs attracted by college career centers before making a final choice on your destination.
Getting an entry level position in a top tier investment banking firm is a highly competitive business, regardless of whether you are pursuing a position with a large money-management, hedge-fund, or mergers & acquisitions type firm. If that's what you want, you need to network, be creative about differentiating yourself, and learn as much as you can about the industry you want to work in.
But that's not the whole story.
If you really want to help small businesses and retail investors with investing as a profession, you will find many firms catering to that market and have attainable entry-level positions. Banking and Insurance companies are filled with them. These are typically very sales-oriented positions so prepare yourself for lots of hard work as you build up a solid book of business. Also prepare yourself to learn a lot about the business before being able to be effective. Finally, listen to your customers. Learn from them what they need and want.
Alternative thoughts: if you want to get into investing, well then invest! Build up some seed money and then open up a brokerage account and get started. Even before then you can "practice" by tracking pretend trades. Join an investment club! Read about it.
There are many ways to get involved without the Ivy League pedigree.
Hi Remy -
Agree with Ken - the answer is definitely no. Nonetheless, it is worth mentioning that landing an entry level job right out of school is much easier for ivy League students simply because the on campus recruitment process is more robust: it provides a wider range of companies and positions than processes in other schools.
If you choose for a non Ivy, you will need to network a little more and visit companies on site, but you will also be able to land your dream job.
The answer is definitely no! Check out these sites for PIMCO,a leading investment firm:
Please keep me informed of your progress. I would like to follow you!!