There is no guarantee that an Executive MBA will be a ticket into banking. That said, approximately 30 per cent of graduates from Cass and Cambridge Judge Business School go on to take a job in financial services, and top investment banks are still recruiting directly out of business schools.
The key, according to a 2015 E-Financial Careers survey, is to be open-minded about the kind of role you can get – consider strategy or technology over trading, for example. While most people use EMBAs as a route into a leadership role in their own profession, what can they offer someone who’s contemplating a career jump?
For starters, the core courses of an EMBA will give you a grounding in finance. At Cass, to take an example, financial analysis and management make up 25 per cent of year one, with a financial specialism a choice for your second year – it’s easy to specialise. Schools will often have unique selling points, too – Cass is known for its City location and M&A Research Centre, while Henley Business School’s ICMA Centre has bank dealing room facilities.
The right blend
Tao Li, who teaches on Warwick Business School’s EMBA with finance specialism, says the course is structured for and very useful for students who haven’t had a lot of exposure to finance. “Our advanced corporate finance module covers the fundamentals: cash flows, how to use multiples for equity valuations, financial auctions, raising capital, debt capacity for firms... it’s fairly basic stuff but can lay a foundation for people.” Li mentions one student who’s moved from a job at an energy firm into a bank, citing the EMBA as “helpful in making the switch”. He says that, out of a current cohort of between 15 and 20, he’s confident that several would be successful if they moved into banking now.
Often, doing an EMBA while in your current role (many are part-time, so you continue working as you study), affords the opportunity to consider other career routes and sectors, says Fiona Nunn, a relationship manager at Cass.
And there are other opportunities business school offers. All will talk about networking, but this is particularly vital if you’re using the course to weigh up your career options, and are looking to make connections in an uncharted industry. “There is a huge range of networking opportunities. Much of our course focuses on group work, which means really getting to know the people you’re studying alongside,” says Nunn. If you are thinking about a job in finance, it’s worth remembering that a good chunk of your fellow students will be bankers – over 30 per cent of Cass’s current cohort are already in financial services. All leading business schools will offer events, clubs and societies, and talks and seminars with leading City figures.
Nunn says there’s also a focus on ensuring students are positioning themselves well for job moves. “We help them with everything down to their LinkedIn profiles – making sure they are really maximising the message they want to convey and pitching themselves correctly. So many jobs in the industry are done through networking and referrals, so it’s important.”
As fintech grows, Nunn and Li both say they’re seeing increasing interest in the sector from all candidates. “Fewer people want to enter the banks, but they’re still interested in banking,” says Li. He sees people looking at boutique and consulting firms, as well as high-growth startups. Schools are capitalising on this. Cass, for instance, gives students the opportunity to do a final project where they often consult for a particular company and final recommendations can be used at interview. “Many students are choosing to do something around fintech or the future of banking. We also have a lot of fintech firms who offer projects for students too.”