Durham vs Warwick vs Leeds vs apprenticeship for finance?

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BenjaminSibson
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I've received offers of AAB for Warwick and Leeds for their A&F courses, and AAA for Leeds. I'm finding some difficulty in assessing the utility of each university. I really want to go into a transactional program with the big 4 or investment banking if I'm lucky. I understand these roles are incredibly competitive, so it's essential I pick the right university with the right contacts, does anyone have any idea which university may be best?

P.S. I also have an offer for an apprenticeship for Smith and Williamson in London, does anyone know if this firm is any good to launch your career?
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ajj2000
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I think you are hugely overestimating the importance of the university name. One might be way better - such as having a really strong career advisor - but its not that easy to find out and check. Of those you have named Warwick stands apart as having strong links into the IB world.
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anonuser99
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Warwick is easily the best out of all those choices. It's economic degree is what really sells it but having the name should give you some clout.

My honest advice is to not launch a career in finance with an apprenticeship, unless you want to work at that company for a very long time. Finance is just not that accepting of non-uni routes yet. E.g. if you went and wanted to one day go into IB, you're gonna have to go to uni.
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BenjaminSibson
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(Original post by ajj2000)
I think you are hugely overestimating the importance of the university name. One might be way better - such as having a really strong career advisor - but its not that easy to find out and check. Of those you have named Warwick stands apart as having strong links into the IB world.
Thank you, appreciate the response!
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BenjaminSibson
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(Original post by anonuser99)
Warwick is easily the best out of all those choices. It's economic degree is what really sells it but having the name should give you some clout.

My honest advice is to not launch a career in finance with an apprenticeship, unless you want to work at that company for a very long time. Finance is just not that accepting of non-uni routes yet. E.g. if you went and wanted to one day go into IB, you're gonna have to go to uni.
I think that's true I'm very limited, for example if I wanted to go for an MBA. Thank you!
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ajj2000
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(Original post by BenjaminSibson)
I think that's true I'm very limited, for example if I wanted to go for an MBA. Thank you!
Of interest you can get admission to an MBA at pretty highly ranked universities with accountancy qualifications but no undergrad degree.
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anonuser99
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(Original post by BenjaminSibson)
I think that's true I'm very limited, for example if I wanted to go for an MBA. Thank you!
Tbh if you plan to work in finance (in the UK) there's really no need for an MBA at any point in your career. Consulting is a slightly different matter. You're not getting into consulting without an undergrad for sure.
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BenjaminSibson
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(Original post by ajj2000)
Of interest you can get admission to an MBA at pretty highly ranked universities with accountancy qualifications but no undergrad degree.
That’s great to hear, thank you! Does that mean being ACA qualified would allow me to still get in an MBA program?
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BenjaminSibson
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(Original post by anonuser99)
Tbh if you plan to work in finance (in the UK) there's really no need for an MBA at any point in your career. Consulting is a slightly different matter. You're not getting into consulting without an undergrad for sure.
Is this the case even if you’re working in the big 4 etc? Surely say when I’m 30 or so, if I have the experience and competencies requires a top consulting firm would still take me on? I may be wrong, I don’t know much about the consulting industry
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prostheticzeta
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apprenticeships are great, but you will be just stuck with that firm and won't experience the real student life. And by student life, I don't mean just drinking and going out. I mean it's making connections, meeting different companies and networking with your fellow course mates and those interested in finance in general. Warwick is probably the best choice, but whilst the big4 are competitive, they still look for personality and resilience, rather than what uni you went to. IBs are different, they will look at your uni, but for big 4, it is far more chill. But going back to apprenticeships, they are still amazing and you can progress so well if you stick with your career choice. But if you do it, there won't be any going back, it's far less flexible as not as many doors will be open for you unlike when you graduate from a good uni, unless you start from scratch again!

Hope that makes sense, it's quite late in the evening lol
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anonuser99
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(Original post by BenjaminSibson)
Is this the case even if you’re working in the big 4 etc? Surely say when I’m 30 or so, if I have the experience and competencies requires a top consulting firm would still take me on? I may be wrong, I don’t know much about the consulting industry
The big consulting firms i.e. MBB generally hire at 2 junctions: undergrad and MBA. These top consulting firms hire out of top undergrads and MBAs because consulting is essentially charging companies for strategic advice. The only way they can reasonably charge so much is by having employees who look (and hopefully are) smart. There are of course other consulting firms, even the big 4 have their own consulting arms. You cannot get an MBA without an undergrad. So there's your answer I guess.
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ajj2000
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(Original post by anonuser99)
You cannot get an MBA without an undergrad.
Thats not true.
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BenjaminSibson
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(Original post by anonuser99)
The big consulting firms i.e. MBB generally hire at 2 junctions: undergrad and MBA. These top consulting firms hire out of top undergrads and MBAs because consulting is essentially charging companies for strategic advice. The only way they can reasonably charge so much is by having employees who look (and hopefully are) smart. There are of course other consulting firms, even the big 4 have their own consulting arms. You cannot get an MBA without an undergrad. So there's your answer I guess.
You can get an MBA without an undergrad, many of the universities say they will substitute the lack of academic qualifications (including Oxford) if the candidate has other professional qualifications. The ACA is a level 7 qualification. Surely this trumps a degree in A&F at Warwick?

Plus, there's nothing stopping me doing the online LSE undergrad economics degree alongside the apprenticeship. Though that would be difficult. I understand you're probably right on the utility derived from an undergrad degree but I really don't want to go through the 3 years unless it provides SIGNIFICANT benefits compared to the alternative, which idk if it does when I'm 18.

I can get an undergrad at any time in my career, I can't get an apprenticeship past 18.
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anonuser99
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(Original post by BenjaminSibson)
You can get an MBA without an undergrad, many of the universities say they will substitute the lack of academic qualifications (including Oxford) if the candidate has other professional qualifications. The ACA is a level 7 qualification. Surely this trumps a degree in A&F at Warwick?

Plus, there's nothing stopping me doing the online LSE undergrad economics degree alongside the apprenticeship. Though that would be difficult. I understand you're probably right on the utility derived from an undergrad degree but I really don't want to go through the 3 years unless it provides SIGNIFICANT benefits compared to the alternative, which idk if it does when I'm 18.

I can get an undergrad at any time in my career, I can't get an apprenticeship past 18.
You are right, I spoke out of turn re: MBA and undergrad. You can do that and then move onto other things.

Ultimately it depends what you want to do.
If your aim at the end of all this is consulting, an apprenticeship is definitely a route you can take. i.e. Big 4 -> ACA qualified -> MBA -> post-MBA consulting recruitment.

If your aim is high finance (IB, AM, S&T, ER etc.), that's a different kettle of fish. And this is also where I actually know what I'm talking about haha. Although in the US post-MBA IB or whatever recruiting is common, it isn't so much in the UK. The best route for high finance is easily through a bachelors (and if that fails, an MFin). On this route, an undergrad (especially at a target at LSE or Warwick) will provide substantial benefits. In fact, it's probably not even right to call it a benefit. It's really your only option for the front-office routes (with the caveat that JPM have recently introduced IB apprenticeships - there's also an issue with those imo which I can expand on if you'd like).
It's hard enough to migrate from Big 4 TAS to IB within a bank and other areas of high finance with a degree, so without one is not likely at all. Attitudes are changing but you don't want to get to the end of your road and be stuck in a place you don't want. In the past, it was possible to move around a bit more (which is why it's always terrible to take career advice from people who graduated 20 years ago btw), there wasn't as much competition. Now, this field is highly coveted and difficult to break into (just look at the summer internship thread). Ultimately though, this depends on if you're interested in high finance at all (which it sounds like you are).

Of course, you may not aim to do either of these. In which case, I'll hold my tongue.

It is incredibly unlikely you'd be able to handle big 4 workloads and an online degree while studying for ACA exams. (Source: I have a friend currently in Big 4 audit as an apprentice). Also sure you can get an undergrad "anytime" but trust me, life comes at you fast, and the incentive to rip up your life and do an undergrad after already being in work won't be there. You'd have been studying for ACAs for 3 years at least, there's no way you'd want to go back to studying for 3 more years, without the benefits that being 18-21 has at uni.

I don't want to "scare" you into anything, I am really just telling you how it is here. Especially re: high finance. A summary for this is basically: do the apprenticeship if you want to stay in that company or similar roles for the foreseeable future. Don't if you plan on using it as a springboard.
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ajj2000
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(Original post by BenjaminSibson)
You can get an MBA without an undergrad, many of the universities say they will substitute the lack of academic qualifications (including Oxford) if the candidate has other professional qualifications. The ACA is a level 7 qualification. Surely this trumps a degree in A&F at Warwick?

Plus, there's nothing stopping me doing the online LSE undergrad economics degree alongside the apprenticeship. Though that would be difficult. I understand you're probably right on the utility derived from an undergrad degree but I really don't want to go through the 3 years unless it provides SIGNIFICANT benefits compared to the alternative, which idk if it does when I'm 18.

I can get an undergrad at any time in my career, I can't get an apprenticeship past 18.
Just wondered if you could explain your reasons for preferring to do an apprenticeship over a degree? No criticism from me on that front - I can see plenty of good reasons for making that choice.
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K1NE
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(Original post by BenjaminSibson)
I've received offers of AAB for Warwick and Leeds for their A&F courses, and AAA for Leeds. I'm finding some difficulty in assessing the utility of each university. I really want to go into a transactional program with the big 4 or investment banking if I'm lucky. I understand these roles are incredibly competitive, so it's essential I pick the right university with the right contacts, does anyone have any idea which university may be best?

P.S. I also have an offer for an apprenticeship for Smith and Williamson in London, does anyone know if this firm is any good to launch your career?
Warwick is considered a target university by investment banks, so if you're set on going to IB, going there might make your life a little easier. Like some of the posts mentioned above for Big 4 your university doesn't necessarily matter. Either Leeds or Warwick will do more than fine. Just have to nail the tests and interviews Big 4 sets

If you're doing an apprenticeship at Smith and Williamson and doing your ACA, that could be a great platform to start with for a career in Accountancy. It might be difficult to move IB or something else. The only ways I think through the apprenticeship route would be if S&W have a Corporate Finance function or they provide M&A advice on deals. You may need to do CFA as well to stand out more to move into IB role.
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BenjaminSibson
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(Original post by K1NE)
Warwick is considered a target university by investment banks, so if you're set on going to IB, going there might make your life a little easier. Like some of the posts mentioned above for Big 4 your university doesn't necessarily matter. Either Leeds or Warwick will do more than fine. Just have to nail the tests and interviews Big 4 sets

If you're doing an apprenticeship at Smith and Williamson and doing your ACA, that could be a great platform to start with for a career in Accountancy. It might be difficult to move IB or something else. The only ways I think through the apprenticeship route would be if S&W have a Corporate Finance function or they provide M&A advice on deals. You may need to do CFA as well to stand out more to move into IB role.
Thank you, I've just received an offer from Mazars in M&A/restructuring as a school leaver to complete the ACA, then the CFA level 1 and 2. Do you think that might be a better place to launch my career than Warwick?
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BenjaminSibson
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(Original post by ajj2000)
Just wondered if you could explain your reasons for preferring to do an apprenticeship over a degree? No criticism from me on that front - I can see plenty of good reasons for making that choice.
I don't think I'd enjoy the university experience if I'm being honest, and I want to get into work quickly as I think uni costs etc. would be a large burden on my parents. In the grand scheme of things, though, I think apprenticeships are a good way to go these days if they're funded towards a degree level qualification like the ACA.

I received an offer from Mazars in M&A, which is what I want to go into, I'm curious do you think university would be a better platform to launch off and then go into transactions at a larger firm? Thank you
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BenjaminSibson
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(Original post by anonuser99)
You are right, I spoke out of turn re: MBA and undergrad. You can do that and then move onto other things.

Ultimately it depends what you want to do.
If your aim at the end of all this is consulting, an apprenticeship is definitely a route you can take. i.e. Big 4 -> ACA qualified -> MBA -> post-MBA consulting recruitment.

If your aim is high finance (IB, AM, S&T, ER etc.), that's a different kettle of fish. And this is also where I actually know what I'm talking about haha. Although in the US post-MBA IB or whatever recruiting is common, it isn't so much in the UK. The best route for high finance is easily through a bachelors (and if that fails, an MFin). On this route, an undergrad (especially at a target at LSE or Warwick) will provide substantial benefits. In fact, it's probably not even right to call it a benefit. It's really your only option for the front-office routes (with the caveat that JPM have recently introduced IB apprenticeships - there's also an issue with those imo which I can expand on if you'd like).
It's hard enough to migrate from Big 4 TAS to IB within a bank and other areas of high finance with a degree, so without one is not likely at all. Attitudes are changing but you don't want to get to the end of your road and be stuck in a place you don't want. In the past, it was possible to move around a bit more (which is why it's always terrible to take career advice from people who graduated 20 years ago btw), there wasn't as much competition. Now, this field is highly coveted and difficult to break into (just look at the summer internship thread). Ultimately though, this depends on if you're interested in high finance at all (which it sounds like you are).

Of course, you may not aim to do either of these. In which case, I'll hold my tongue.

It is incredibly unlikely you'd be able to handle big 4 workloads and an online degree while studying for ACA exams. (Source: I have a friend currently in Big 4 audit as an apprentice). Also sure you can get an undergrad "anytime" but trust me, life comes at you fast, and the incentive to rip up your life and do an undergrad after already being in work won't be there. You'd have been studying for ACAs for 3 years at least, there's no way you'd want to go back to studying for 3 more years, without the benefits that being 18-21 has at uni.

I don't want to "scare" you into anything, I am really just telling you how it is here. Especially re: high finance. A summary for this is basically: do the apprenticeship if you want to stay in that company or similar roles for the foreseeable future. Don't if you plan on using it as a springboard.
Thank you and I appreciate the response, I don't doubt you know more in this field than me because I don't know a thing! My problem is, the only offer I have for a target uni is Warwick, which is in A&F (I couldn't apply for economics since I took overlapping subjects) which I've heard the IB recruiters don't like, they only like degrees from rigorous academic courses like economics or stats or maths.

My aim, in all honesty, is micro-private equity. I don't want to work for the top PE firms that recruit strictly from investment banks because it's insanely competitive and harder to get 'skin in the game' but if I had the chance I'd like to join a mid-market PE firm one day. I know people who reached corporate finance director at PWC with a degree from a poly uni who were then recruited into small PE firms.

On Friday I received an offer from Mazars in M&A and restructuring, studying towards ACA then CFA level 1&2. I thought this is a good opportunity because I might struggle to get into transactions out of university given its level of competition. I'm curious what you think of this opportunity compared to a degree? I understand it's not ideal for top finance roles like you mentioned but would it provide exit opportunities into private equity?

Additionally, if I went to Warwick or Durham how high are my chances of getting into the big 4 afterwards do you think? I'm worried I might end up out of uni with a worse offer than I had at 18. Thank you!
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ajj2000
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(Original post by BenjaminSibson)
I don't think I'd enjoy the university experience if I'm being honest, and I want to get into work quickly as I think uni costs etc. would be a large burden on my parents. In the grand scheme of things, though, I think apprenticeships are a good way to go these days if they're funded towards a degree level qualification like the ACA.

I received an offer from Mazars in M&A, which is what I want to go into, I'm curious do you think university would be a better platform to launch off and then go into transactions at a larger firm? Thank you
just to check - does Mazars put you through ACA and how long is the programme?
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