Will an MBA really help your career in finance?

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It's that time of year. London Business School is inviting applications for its MBA programme. So is Harvard. So is Wharton. And so are countless other top MBA schools globally. 

But will an expensive MBA really make much difference to your finance career? Or are you just throwing your money away?

As our decision-tree infographic below clarifies, it only makes sense to an an MBA if you satisfy several preconditions. You need experience, you need intelligence and you need money - or an ability to take out a large loan. Importantly, you also need to want to work in the right parts of financial services.

Should you study an MBA 2 copy

Our own CV database suggests that there's not much point in studying an MBA if you aspire to work in trading - only 7% of trading professionals who've uploaded their resumes to our database in the past 12 months have an MBA qualification. There's more point to studying an MBA if you want to work in an investment banking division (IBD), where 15% of people have one. MBAs are especially prevalent in IBD in the Americas. where 19% of IBD professionals are MBA qualified (compared to 16% in APAC and 13% in Europe.)

Finally, splashing hundreds of thousands of dollars on an MBA could be worthwhile if you hope to work in private equity someday. As a sector, private equity has the greatest concentration of MBA qualified individuals in financial services, and US private equity firms have the most of all. However, MBAs only make up 19% and 22% of the total PE populations respectively. When you're making the decision, it's worth remembering that the vast majority of people in financial services don't have an MBA.


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