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Masters in Finance at 'lower tier'...worth it?

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    I graduated from Royal Holloway University of London last year, I did my degree in management and accounting and obtained a high 2.1 honours degree (68%) I've also got an AAB at A level and was considering applying to do a masters degree in accounting and finance. Ultimately i want to land a job working in finance for a good company, possibly one of the top 4.

    However when reading about the rankings for masters in finance and accounting i've found that most people say that the best places to go are London Business School, LSE, Warwick etc. Unfortunately I just don't have the money to apply to these places as their courses are over 20k for the year (plus I would have to consider living and travel expenses etc).

    I was considering applying to places like Aston, Nottingham, Leicester or Durham for my postgraduate study but i've come across a few opinions which have put sonme doubt in my mind, which suggest that there may be no point in applying for a masters in finance at these 'lower tier' places because ultimately better firms will take on people from the more expensive universities regardless of what grades I may get.

    I suppose im just asking for some opinion from people here, maybe those who have actually been through this type of experience or otherwise. Any comments would be appreciated.
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    This is a difficult one. Like an MBA such quals depend on who awarded them as much as what was studied, or even the Distinction/Merit/Pass achieved. (Indeed some are limited to Pass/Distinction).

    1) Consider other elements of where you study (cost of living there, course content and structure , personal considerations etc),

    2) Answer question: is the quality+brand of university A worth the premium of X thousand over University B ? This should include potential return on your investment, brand recognition and cachet (not neglecting _useful_ knowledge)
    That may help to establish your value preference of university.

    3) Consider how to pay for it. (Work and save, get loan, get scholarship).

    Remember that the fees are not the total expense: fixed costs of earnings foregone, cost of surviving, accommodation etc will be significant wherever you study.

    ** Therefore consider the cost-delta for a better university in the context of the overall expense of you getting an MSc, and your potential returns in the long run of that investment **

    You may have sensed that my preference is to try and get into (if you don't get in then it ceases to be a problem) one of the top-tier universities and then worry about how to pay for it. If you are driven to get such a qual, then aim for the best.

    TBD
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    I do appreciate that, but truly it just seems way out of my depth to be able to get over 20k within the next 6 or so months, I would love to apply for a position at one of these uni's but it just seems impossible at the moment. Prestige seems to be the most important thing when it comes to postgraduate study.

    Having gone through posts in the last few hours the general consensus suggests that it really is where you go that matters not what you might achieve in terms of grades which is quite dissapointing, at least from my perspective.

    Are there any postgraduates that didn't go to what seems like the top 6-7 business schools for an Msc finance that have done well after they graduates? The top 6-7 being the likes of Oxbridge, LSE, Warwick, London Business school, Imperial etc
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    Why do you need to go to grad school now? You are more than qualified to land a job with one of the big 4! I don't think getting another qualification will help you stand out unless it's at a school ranked way above RH -and that will cost a lot.

    Try as hard as you can to get a job with a big firm and, if you think it's necessary, look to take an MBA in a few years time. Another path may be to get experience with a smaller firm before transferring to the big 4 or going to business school. In the majority of cases at this stage experience really trumps extra qualifications.

    Good luck


    (Original post by ads22uk)
    I do appreciate that, but truly it just seems way out of my depth to be able to get over 20k within the next 6 or so months, I would love to apply for a position at one of these uni's but it just seems impossible at the moment. Prestige seems to be the most important thing when it comes to postgraduate study.

    Having gone through posts in the last few hours the general consensus suggests that it really is where you go that matters not what you might achieve in terms of grades which is quite dissapointing, at least from my perspective.

    Are there any postgraduates that didn't go to what seems like the top 6-7 business schools for an Msc finance that have done well after they graduates? The top 6-7 being the likes of Oxbridge, LSE, Warwick, London Business school, Imperial etc
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    Nottingham finance and investment is only 9 grand
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    By 'top 4' do you mean big 4? You say you want to work in finance, whereas big 4 is mostly accounting, so your goals are a bit vague. If you meant big 4, then I don't think you need a masters at all. AAB plus a good 2:1 from RH should land you a position for most roles (CF perhaps being an exception). If you fail or have failed to do so, it's because of your cv/application/interviews, not because you don't have a masters or study at RH. A masters degree won't be of much help there - go and have your cv and application answers checked at your careers service, prepare for interviews, etc. If you insist on doing a masters, I don't think it will hurt your chances if you go to a lower-tier program. It might even be a better option than spending 20k for a top 6 program.
    If you meant some arbitrary top 4 in banking, then a masters from a low-tier program won't help you at all. There are tonnes of people in the top programs which are struggling to find a banking job in the UK at the moment. My educated guess is that less than 30% succeed. Your chances with a bachelors from RH and a masters from a mid-tier university would be slim to none. You can maximize your chances if you get in LSE/Warwick/Imperial/LBS. AFAIK Oxford and Cambridge don't admit people with 2.1 in their few business related masters.
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    (Original post by lego)
    By 'top 4' do you mean big 4? You say you want to work in finance, whereas big 4 is mostly accounting, so your goals are a bit vague. If you meant big 4, then I don't think you need a masters at all. AAB plus a good 2:1 from RH should land you a position for most roles (CF perhaps being an exception). If you fail or have failed to do so, it's because of your cv/application/interviews, not because you don't have a masters or study at RH. A masters degree won't be of much help there - go and have your cv and application answers checked at your careers service, prepare for interviews, etc. If you insist on doing a masters, I don't think it will hurt your chances if you go to a lower-tier program. It might even be a better option than spending 20k for a top 6 program.
    If you meant some arbitrary top 4 in banking, then a masters from a low-tier program won't help you at all. There are tonnes of people in the top programs which are struggling to find a banking job in the UK at the moment. My educated guess is that less than 30% succeed. Your chances with a bachelors from RH and a masters from a mid-tier university would be slim to none. You can maximize your chances if you get in LSE/Warwick/Imperial/LBS. AFAIK Oxford and Cambridge don't admit people with 2.1 in their few business related masters.
    Thanks I think you're right. In all honest I was considering a masters because i felt it would be something that can add value to my cv. Also many applications for programmes for 2012 have closed/are closing soon and therefore if successful I would have to wait until 2013 before i started work. Thus this would leave a large gap in my cv and I don't want that. It would most likely work against me when i tried to get work. I figured a masters would be a good way to use the time wisely.

    I also understand that I have been somewhat vague in my aspirations simply because that is where I stand at the moment. I'm edging towards pursuing a career in accountancy and going for ACA/ACCA qualifications because I've heard that they can be very useful if you plan on going into different fields later too. Investment banking, as you said, is a very competitive field and if you believe that only 3 out of 10 people make it in from even the top business schools then yes it probably would be wise not to pursue that field.

    One final point though, I understand that you said " a masters from a lower tier program won't help you at all " with regards to the better banking jobs. Would you say that the finance masters at places like Lancaster and Aston fall within this category? I've heard they're pretty good and reputable places for a finance masters and more within my price range.
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    (Original post by lego)
    By 'top 4' do you mean big 4? You say you want to work in finance, whereas big 4 is mostly accounting, so your goals are a bit vague. If you meant big 4, then I don't think you need a masters at all. AAB plus a good 2:1 from RH should land you a position for most roles (CF perhaps being an exception). If you fail or have failed to do so, it's because of your cv/application/interviews, not because you don't have a masters or study at RH. A masters degree won't be of much help there - go and have your cv and application answers checked at your careers service, prepare for interviews, etc. If you insist on doing a masters, I don't think it will hurt your chances if you go to a lower-tier program. It might even be a better option than spending 20k for a top 6 program.
    If you meant some arbitrary top 4 in banking, then a masters from a low-tier program won't help you at all. There are tonnes of people in the top programs which are struggling to find a banking job in the UK at the moment. My educated guess is that less than 30% succeed. Your chances with a bachelors from RH and a masters from a mid-tier university would be slim to none. You can maximize your chances if you get in LSE/Warwick/Imperial/LBS. AFAIK Oxford and Cambridge don't admit people with 2.1 in their few business related masters.
    Hi,

    Whats your opinion of getting a position as trainee investment analyst or equity analyst after coming from doing a masters at a low to mid tier uni?

    And i don't just mean for IBs, asset management companies, research houses, stock broking firms as well...

    Cheers
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    (Original post by ads22uk)
    Thanks I think you're right. In all honest I was considering a masters because i felt it would be something that can add value to my cv. Also many applications for programmes for 2012 have closed/are closing soon and therefore if successful I would have to wait until 2013 before i started work. Thus this would leave a large gap in my cv and I don't want that. It would most likely work against me when i tried to get work. I figured a masters would be a good way to use the time wisely.

    I also understand that I have been somewhat vague in my aspirations simply because that is where I stand at the moment. I'm edging towards pursuing a career in accountancy and going for ACA/ACCA qualifications because I've heard that they can be very useful if you plan on going into different fields later too. Investment banking, as you said, is a very competitive field and if you believe that only 3 out of 10 people make it in from even the top business schools then yes it probably would be wise not to pursue that field.

    One final point though, I understand that you said " a masters from a lower tier program won't help you at all " with regards to the better banking jobs. Would you say that the finance masters at places like Lancaster and Aston fall within this category? I've heard they're pretty good and reputable places for a finance masters and more within my price range.
    I would not worry too much about your first point. A friend of mine postponed his job search for after graduation and he hot interviews for audit from all of big 4. In his words, no one hold that fact against him, some interviewers even found his plans to travel during his 'gap' year exciting, etc. He has a similar profile as you - 2.1 from Lancaster. Just make sure that you go to some of their career events next year. If possible, meet some of the people in the office you are applying to, etc. You need to show that you are truly interested, and not someone for whom big4 accounting is a fall-back option after being unsuccessful elsewhere.
    I agree, ACA/ACCA is a very good career choice, which many people disregard for some reasons.
    In my opinion, yes. Academically, they might be good, but that's not the question. What I meant by 'it won't help you at all' is that you already have a good degree from a mid-tier university. Masters from another mid-tier university won't add much to your profile, at least for front office jobs. You need to re-brand yourself if you are after FO roles - only way to do is by going to a top 6 program. If you don't mind working in support-type roles, like in Finance/Operations, sure a masters might be a good idea, because some banks sniff at people who have already graduated and are still looking for a job.

    (Original post by chiefster)
    Hi,

    Whats your opinion of getting a position as trainee investment analyst or equity analyst after coming from doing a masters at a low to mid tier uni?

    And i don't just mean for IBs, asset management companies, research houses, stock broking firms as well...

    Cheers
    Opinion on what? How hard it would be? I have no idea, I am sorry.
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    In short, no. The essential role of these degrees is to signal "I am this good because I got into Cambridge where 10 people compete for one spot". I doubt that much useful knowledge is gained, except if you intend to do a PhD in that area. You learn how to do a job by doing it, not by attending (overpriced) lectures with a piece of paper at the end.
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    (Original post by Ghost6)
    In short, no. The essential role of these degrees is to signal "I am this good because I got into Cambridge where 10 people compete for one spot". I doubt that much useful knowledge is gained, except if you intend to do a PhD in that area. You learn how to do a job by doing it, not by attending (overpriced) lectures with a piece of paper at the end.
    I disagree entirely with this. While it will always be easier to get into a company with a degree from a top uni, do you honestly think no-one else gets a look in? I have actually worked in both IB and asset management and yes there are plenty of people with degrees from top unis, but there are also plenty with degrees from "lesser" unis. These people may not always have got into a choice IB right off the bat out of uni, but once you've been working for a few years your work performance far outweighs the name on your degree. Your bonus discussion will revolve entirely around your performance, not where you went to uni!

    I don't disagree with Ghost's view of the signaling merit of a degree from a top university, but to blithely dismiss all others is nonsensical.

    All that said, OP, if you are interested in equity analysis, doing an accounting qualification and working for a big 4 company is a good way to get in. A good number of the equity analysts i know came through this route. If you are interested in this, as it seems you are, then it's not at all clear to me that a master's would actually give you much of an advantage.
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    Yes you can get in from a lower tier university. However, this will only happen if you really stand out, as in EC + grades.
    Then you're still at a disadvantage compared to top tier universities so the BB might/probably still be out of range.
    But if that's your only goal, which would make no sense, then you can forget it. There's tons of other banks and institutions around.

    I didn't have the means for a top university, so my parents got a mortgage to finance my degree. Maybe that's an option ..
    If really want something, you can get it. It's that easy;
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    (Original post by Tcastle)
    Yes you can get in from a lower tier university. However, this will only happen if you really stand out, as in EC + grades.
    Then you're still at a disadvantage compared to top tier universities so the BB might/probably still be out of range.
    But if that's your only goal, which would make no sense, then you can forget it. There's tons of other banks and institutions around.

    I didn't have the means for a top university, so my parents got a mortgage to finance my degree. Maybe that's an option ..
    If really want something, you can get it. It's that easy;
    Thanks for the response, I'm afraid i'm a little unaware with some of the lingo you used, EC+grades? Im not sure what you mean. Also...what did you mean by BB?

    I know what you're saying about the finances, but I come from a family with little income, and even if i was to work which im planning to it would be difficult to come up with the amount required.

    What seems to bother me is, as the person above mentioned "Pick me ahead of the other 10 people because i got to a top business school" for me that isn't the case. I have a friend who got lower grades than me in the same degree and did much less extra curricular activity than i did who is studying finance at LSE right now. I don't aim to sound big headed but I know my CV is good enough to get into some of the top business schools, my issue is with finances. for me its not a case of "I could get into warwick or lse, but simply I couldn't afford to".

    Anyway I appreciate the opinions of the people here, it seems that it would be much harder to get into some fields of work with a masters from Lancaster Leicester but it may still possible. I guess thats why they're cheaper!
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    You didn't "get it", you were given it on a plate by your parents who put their own security at risk with little effort on your part. I hope you live up to their expectation. Those without relatives prepared or able to do this, it is not very helpful. I am all for parents supporting their children but I find the tone of your post quite insulting: "it's that easy".

    TBD


    (Original post by Tcastle)
    I didn't have the means for a top university, so my parents got a mortgage to finance my degree. Maybe that's an option ..
    If really want something, you can get it. It's that easy;
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    The options are generally: scholarship, borrow or earn. You generally need to have been offered a place to be considered for scholarship.

    I would investigate the funding options, apply and see if you get in, and then take it from there. If you don't get in there is no point losing sleep over it. At worst case, with a good offer you should be able to secure a long-term loan and by the time you pay it off you will already be boring people rigid with tales of exotics and swaps.

    TBD

    (Original post by ads22uk)
    I don't aim to sound big headed but I know my CV is good enough to get into some of the top business schools, my issue is with finances. for me its not a case of "I could get into warwick or lse, but simply I couldn't afford to".
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    (Original post by TBD)
    You didn't "get it", you were given it on a plate by your parents who put their own security at risk with little effort on your part. I hope you live up to their expectation. Those without relatives prepared or able to do this, it is not very helpful. I am all for parents supporting their children but I find the tone of your post quite insulting: "it's that easy".

    TBD
    I actually wasn't referring to my parents helping me out as 'it's that easy'. All I meant was, if you want something really really bad, then you can get. You just have to find a way.

    I've battled numerous depressions and had to be admitted several times to the psychiatric ward.Furthermore I have ADHD and never learnt to study. My best friend died 3 years ago, right in front of my eyes and I felt guilty and almost committed suicide. Two years ago however, I changed my life in every single possible way. I started studying about 60-70 hours a week. My first semesters' working that hard didn't pay off because I was amazingly inefficient and what not. My grades were really bad in my bachelor's degree. Now, today, I can say that in a 2 months I will graduate my masters with magna cum laude. First of my class. I gave up my friends, drinking drugs. I haven't been to a party in three years. I stand up at 6 'o clock every morning to start working out and to start studying.

    While a lot of my pain was self inflicted. Where I am today, where I will be tomorrow is all because of me. My parents have supported me and I owe them very much and I realize that. But I wasn't 'given it on a plate'. I chose to be successful and That's what I will be. It's that easy. That's what I meant.
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    Op, have you looked at Henley? Much cheaper than the "top" unis and very good resources for those who want to get into finance. Google henleys icma centre (think its that anyway) very good option for finance I would say.
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    (Original post by RoaminBlue)
    Op, have you looked at Henley? Much cheaper than the "top" unis and very good resources for those who want to get into finance. Google henleys icma centre (think its that anyway) very good option for finance I would say.
    Thank you, I have had a look at Henleys if only briefly in the last few days and it seems to be well reputed. My particular issue and the reason i created this thread was because I was worried that by not going to a 'top' uni as you also mentioned, and by going somewhere like Henley's or Lancaster, whether it would create any barriers for someone in the future.

    I know the topic of reputation is highly subjective, but like I said there seemed to be a general consensus that if you didn't go to places like LBS, Warwick, Oxford or LSE then you may be overlooked in some particular fields such as 'Front Office' jobs as also mentioned earlier in the thread. I appreciate the suggestion though, I'm just in the process of weighing up my options (Either to go to a lower tier less expensive uni this september or save up and apply to a top uni in 2013.
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    (Original post by TBD)
    The options are generally: scholarship, borrow or earn. You generally need to have been offered a place to be considered for scholarship.

    I would investigate the funding options, apply and see if you get in, and then take it from there. If you don't get in there is no point losing sleep over it. At worst case, with a good offer you should be able to secure a long-term loan and by the time you pay it off you will already be boring people rigid with tales of exotics and swaps.

    TBD
    Thank you, I think I may take your advice, apply and see if I get in, and then see what happens after that
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    (Original post by ads22uk)
    Thank you, I have had a look at Henleys if only briefly in the last few days and it seems to be well reputed. My particular issue and the reason i created this thread was because I was worried that by not going to a 'top' uni as you also mentioned, and by going somewhere like Henley's or Lancaster, whether it would create any barriers for someone in the future.

    I know the topic of reputation is highly subjective, but like I said there seemed to be a general consensus that if you didn't go to places like LBS, Warwick, Oxford or LSE then you may be overlooked in some particular fields such as 'Front Office' jobs as also mentioned earlier in the thread. I appreciate the suggestion though, I'm just in the process of weighing up my options (Either to go to a lower tier less expensive uni this september or save up and apply to a top uni in 2013.
    Tbh, if you'd be able to save up enough in a year to go to one of the top schools, I'd take that option.

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