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Imperial MSc Finance vs LSE MSc Economic History

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    Its an insanely good course, i'd agree with you on that. But at the same time, being the most quantitative, rigorous and instense finance programme in europe, it appears to be very difficult to perform well in and as such has a high failure rate. With a 27,500 price tag, is it worth slaving through a year of hell only to risk getting a crap degree at the end of it, given that the alternative course at LSE (which is much less intense) provides similar prospects?
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    The LSE course does not provide the same prospects. Whilst the big banks don't care about which degree you have studied, the smaller companies do. They want graduates who are skilled and can start the ball rolling on day one of the job. Do you really want to limit your career prospects to the big banks?
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    (Original post by drugs)
    Its an insanely good course, i'd agree with you on that. But at the same time, being the most quantitative, rigorous and instense finance programme in europe, it appears to be very difficult to perform well in and as such has a high failure rate. With a 27,500 price tag, is it worth slaving through a year of hell only to risk getting a crap degree at the end of it, given that the alternative course at LSE (which is much less intense) provides similar prospects?
    No... the Cam MPhil Finance is. And it is a lot lot harder to get admitted...
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    (Original post by wallstreettrader)
    The LSE course does not provide the same prospects. Whilst the big banks don't care about which degree you have studied, the smaller companies do. They want graduates who are skilled and can start the ball rolling on day one of the job. Do you really want to limit your career prospects to the big banks?
    Not the same prospect if everything equal. But I am sure a merit on the LSE Economic History looks much better than a pass MSc Finance with failing or resitting grades.
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    It appears that msc finance degrees are designed for non-finance/economics undergrads who want mobility to the industry. (I noticed that nearly all offer holders for the course have engineering, maths or business backgrounds.) Factoring this in, would doing the masters in economic history (partly for interest, partly for brand name) make me more employable seeing as i already have a that undergrad degree in economics? what you think?
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    (Original post by drugs)
    It appears that msc finance degrees are designed for non-finance/economics undergrads who want mobility to the industry. (I noticed that nearly all offer holders for the course have engineering, maths or business backgrounds.) Factoring this in, would doing the masters in economic history (partly for interest, partly for brand name) make me more employable seeing as i already have a that undergrad degree in economics? what you think?
    Personally, I think you should do what you'd be happiest doing. Econ history will probably limit your options a bit, but if you're more interested in it you're more likely to do well and I echo what others have said that a good degree is better than one where you scrape a pass or, worse, fail.
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    So, drugs, have you made your decision yet? (Btw, I am starting Econ History at LSE this fall... No dilemmas for me though)
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    (Original post by drugs)
    It appears that msc finance degrees are designed for non-finance/economics undergrads who want mobility to the industry. (I noticed that nearly all offer holders for the course have engineering, maths or business backgrounds.) Factoring this in, would doing the masters in economic history (partly for interest, partly for brand name) make me more employable seeing as i already have a that undergrad degree in economics? what you think?
    Taking economic history over a finance degree will be the stupidest thing you'll do if you want to work in finance. Are you kidding me? I know lots of people in Imperial's MSc Finance course scraping passes, but have managed to get coveted i-banking front office roles; employers know how tough the course is, and will factor that into a/c.
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    (Original post by mlsbbe)
    Taking economic history over a finance degree will be the stupidest thing you'll do if you want to work in finance. Are you kidding me? I know lots of people in Imperial's MSc Finance course scraping passes, but have managed to get coveted i-banking front office roles; employers know how tough the course is, and will factor that into a/c.
    Very much appreciate your point of view. However i've given much thought to this process and chosen to do Economic History. Numerous factors have guided me this way, the main one being the idea that because a masters degree and perhaps more importantly the institution from which it is attained is a lifetime asset, one must be more foreward looking instead of foolishly considering which one will most likely land me an ib job tomorrow. I think there is a widespread proclivity, certainly more so these days, to become over-consumed by short-term objectives, that we end up far too easily losing track of what's most important over the longer time horizon. The finance/banking industry is synonymous with LSE regardless to a greater or lesser extent of subject studied, and hence signals commitment to your goals. The point is that after gaining honest insight from numerous friends of mine in the industry at both senior and junior levels the fact remains that an LSE guy will be plain and simply more respected and credible than an Imperial guy, within this particular industry. CFA and such can be taken to attain the necessary technical skills. The LSE brandname versus imperial is far too valuable to substitute both for benefits now, and in the future.

    For what it's worth though, i'm fully convinced of imperials powerful placement record. so i 100% agree with you on that front. i just feel lse provides a more varied and richer environment overall. as im looking for a truly all round experience, i suppose it's the intangible benefits of lse that are more attractive and top it for me. but thank you for your post.
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    (Original post by adatyte)
    So, drugs, have you made your decision yet? (Btw, I am starting Econ History at LSE this fall... No dilemmas for me though)
    Hi there, I've decided to go for Econ History.
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    Good choice! See you there!
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    In any case, if you want to get more quantitative with Economic history - you can, just take two Quantitative Topics in Economic History (I and II), they appear to be sufficiently rigorous and cover Cross-secton and Panel Data as well as Time-Series. The fact that emphasis is on History does not matter much, it looks like you will get enough to apply it to any set of data.
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    (Original post by drugs)
    Very much appreciate your point of view. However i've given much thought to this process and chosen to do Economic History. Numerous factors have guided me this way, the main one being the idea that because a masters degree and perhaps more importantly the institution from which it is attained is a lifetime asset, one must be more foreward looking instead of foolishly considering which one will most likely land me an ib job tomorrow. I think there is a widespread proclivity, certainly more so these days, to become over-consumed by short-term objectives, that we end up far too easily losing track of what's most important over the longer time horizon. The finance/banking industry is synonymous with LSE regardless to a greater or lesser extent of subject studied, and hence signals commitment to your goals. The point is that after gaining honest insight from numerous friends of mine in the industry at both senior and junior levels the fact remains that an LSE guy will be plain and simply more respected and credible than an Imperial guy, within this particular industry. CFA and such can be taken to attain the necessary technical skills. The LSE brandname versus imperial is far too valuable to substitute both for benefits now, and in the future.

    For what it's worth though, i'm fully convinced of imperials powerful placement record. so i 100% agree with you on that front. i just feel lse provides a more varied and richer environment overall. as im looking for a truly all round experience, i suppose it's the intangible benefits of lse that are more attractive and top it for me. but thank you for your post.

    Just wondering whether your "friends" are from LSE, and what sort of work they do? In any case, I think you'll have to prepared to answer persuasively "Why Economic History" in every interview, and how you can justify taking it over a pure finance course...Also, I have never seen anybody other than people in LSE's MSc Finance/Economics course in IB, unless they have strong connections (I.e. rich dad). It's very rare, because interviewers will always go for LSE's MSc Finance/Economics/Private Equity/Accounting degrees (which have over 200 students - so you are going to be at the bottom of the pile because interviewers know that these courses are more competitive). So, in essence, you are competing with them for places. I think your friends are just being diplomatic...of course its extremely political in IB, and you're never gonna get a straight answer. More likely, they're probably giving you bs reasons, because they're bankers and thats what they're good at. (no offense to your friends) Why? You should understand how the interview process works - you send your CV to HR. HR receives it, and sends it to a small-time analyst. The small time analyst will then look at your CV, and then they will generally filter anybody who's not of their 'background' . They will then proceed to laugh every minor point that doesnt fit their background in the CV, including anybody who's done an irrelevant degree (I've seen this happen many times) - along the lines of "This guy has a irrelevant degree, I dont even understand why he's applying." Then proceeding to forward your CV to everybody in the team and laugh at any mistakes you've made.....Of course you can make the argument that this doesnt happen in most IB's, but I've seen it happen a lot of times.....


    You should refine your question and ask "how many people with LSE's economic history degrees are in IB...." I'm sure you're gonna get a very different answer....


    Also, when you say "LSE guys are more respected and credible than Imperial guys"......errr.....if you're in Morgan Stanley doing IB, nobody cares which school you're from, only that you've worked in Morgan Stanley. If you're in a small no name boutique with an LSE degree, nobody cares that you're from LSE........it wont make you any more credible and respected that the Imperial guy working at Morgan Stanley or Goldman Sachs.......

    Of course, brand name isn't everything, and there are a lot of people in Cass' Msc finance course in IB, despite it being much less well known.
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    (Original post by chrispaul)
    .if you're in Morgan Stanley doing IB, nobody cares which school you're from, only that you've worked in Morgan Stanley.
    i don't think this is an accurate comment at all. whether you are a private banker, or in sales/M&A/trading or any client facing role, it matters, although in some roles more than others.

    e.g.
    1) a wealthy individual/family must select a private banker.
    2) a corporate must select a M&A team for whatever transaction.
    3) general credibility and reputation within a firm/external opportunities

    In a world with imperfect information, in this case risky banking decisions, the qualifications of contracting parties are important because they are one of few crucial signal of an individuals strength or productivity.

    If you had to select a private banker to manage your wealth amongst a set of say Merrill bankers, in most cases, you would rather pick an LSE or Oxford grad over a Exeter or Bath grad. Or, say you were stuck between this one guy at Morgan Stanley and another at Barclays. If the Barclays guy had studied at Imperial and Morgan Stanley guy at Trinity College Dublin, it may be a pivotal factor. So I wouldn't agree that a banker's alma mater is not important. It is. Even if you are at Morgan Stanley.

    Obviously, other factors come into play such as track record, likability etc.
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    (Original post by drugs)
    i don't think this is an accurate comment at all. whether you are a private banker, or in sales/M&A/trading or any client facing role, it matters, although in some roles more than others.

    e.g.
    1) a wealthy individual/family must select a private banker.
    2) a corporate must select a M&A team for whatever transaction.
    3) general credibility and reputation within a firm/external opportunities

    In a world with imperfect information, in this case risky banking decisions, the qualifications of contracting parties are important because they are one of few crucial signal of an individuals strength or productivity.

    If you had to select a private banker to manage your wealth amongst a set of say Merrill bankers, in most cases, you would rather pick an LSE or Oxford grad over a Exeter or Bath grad. Or, say you were stuck between this one guy at Morgan Stanley and another at Barclays. If the Barclays guy had studied at Imperial and Morgan Stanley guy at Trinity College Dublin, it may be a pivotal factor. So I wouldn't agree that a banker's alma mater is not important. It is. Even if you are at Morgan Stanley.

    Obviously, other factors come into play such as track record, likability etc.
    Well, I've had experience in IB (Private banking isn't part of IB). Clients rarely come up to you and ask which university you've gone to. When you send clients the "pitch", its about what company you've been at, and what deals have you completed. They come to you because you are very good at what you do, and can provide what they want. You are correct, brand name counts, but they base their decision on whether you are Goldman Sachs or Credit Suisse. Once you get into Goldman Sachs, nobody cares if you are from LSE or Oxford Brookes! Also, the 'credibility and reputation' are generally based on 'work relationships' - i.e. the client has worked with the bank for a long time and has built a reputation based on trust, as well as being able to deliver what the client wants. Credibility must be earned. You won't gain extra cred just because you go to a certain university. Think about it this way, if I'm a corporate decision maker wanting to do an M&A, I wouldn't risk my job and choose the guy from the better school. I would base it on who has got better experience, and can provide what I want, as well as somebody who I can trust and wont get me fired. It makes very little, if any, difference whether you're from Cambirdge or Bath.

    I'm not to sure about private banking and so I cant comment on it, because I've never worked there. But from my friends who've worked there, it is a relationship based business, and clients are not as sophisticated as you think they are! Also, backstabbing is rife, because you're fighting for clients within your own team.

    But anyways, if you want to get into private banking, LSE's MSc in Economic History is good enough for your cause....
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    Anybody who studied Econ History at LSE or is familiar with the program - will I need MATLAB or other programming language during my studies over there?
    Thanks a lot!
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    adatyte, don't worry about it. the necessary training will be provided should any such package be required. you'll be fine.
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    (Original post by drugs)
    i don't think this is an accurate comment at all. whether you are a private banker, or in sales/M&A/trading or any client facing role, it matters, although in some roles more than others.

    e.g.
    1) a wealthy individual/family must select a private banker.
    2) a corporate must select a M&A team for whatever transaction.
    3) general credibility and reputation within a firm/external opportunities

    In a world with imperfect information, in this case risky banking decisions, the qualifications of contracting parties are important because they are one of few crucial signal of an individuals strength or productivity.

    If you had to select a private banker to manage your wealth amongst a set of say Merrill bankers, in most cases, you would rather pick an LSE or Oxford grad over a Exeter or Bath grad. Or, say you were stuck between this one guy at Morgan Stanley and another at Barclays. If the Barclays guy had studied at Imperial and Morgan Stanley guy at Trinity College Dublin, it may be a pivotal factor. So I wouldn't agree that a banker's alma mater is not important. It is. Even if you are at Morgan Stanley.

    Obviously, other factors come into play such as track record, likability etc.
    Track record trumps alma mater any day. Would you honestly choose someone who had gone to Oxford with a ten-year track record of losing money for his clients every year, or someone who went to the University of Whatever with a track record of adding alpha every year for 10 years?


    (Original post by chrispaul)
    Well, I've had experience in IB (Private banking isn't part of IB). Clients rarely come up to you and ask which university you've gone to. When you send clients the "pitch", its about what company you've been at, and what deals have you completed. They come to you because you are very good at what you do, and can provide what they want. You are correct, brand name counts, but they base their decision on whether you are Goldman Sachs or Credit Suisse. Once you get into Goldman Sachs, nobody cares if you are from LSE or Oxford Brookes! Also, the 'credibility and reputation' are generally based on 'work relationships' - i.e. the client has worked with the bank for a long time and has built a reputation based on trust, as well as being able to deliver what the client wants. Credibility must be earned. You won't gain extra cred just because you go to a certain university. Think about it this way, if I'm a corporate decision maker wanting to do an M&A, I wouldn't risk my job and choose the guy from the better school. I would base it on who has got better experience, and can provide what I want, as well as somebody who I can trust and wont get me fired. It makes very little, if any, difference whether you're from Cambirdge or Bath.
    This.
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    (Original post by sj27)
    Track record trumps alma mater any day. Would you honestly choose someone who had gone to Oxford with a ten-year track record of losing money for his clients every year, or someone who went to the University of Whatever with a track record of adding alpha every year for 10 years?
    agreed. but you are stating the obvious. what is it then that helps build a track record? i think we can agree that a track record doesn't appear overnight. it takes networking, pitching, legwork, relationship building etc...the alma mater is crucial in developing a track record. this is even more true nowadays when cash thirsty bankers are everywhere but find themselves fighting over a limited and shrinking set of investors.
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    Drugs - while I don't fully agree with your above view of university prestige, you've made the right decision. The LSE course looks really interesting and will be more suited to your degree. And like you said, it is not worth risking a poor result (and comparatively much more money) just for the sole aim of getting into IB.

    It would be interesting for myself to see how you get on in terms of employment as I'm currently writing a very early application for the same LSE course and going into final year Econ. Hopefully you're still around in a year to give us an insight! Good luck.

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