“It’s not where you come from, but what you do when you get there.”
Does that sound like wishful thinking? If it does, you probably have the right mindset for investment banking. Sure, talent and drive will take you far. Many times, making the finish line requires knowing the right people (in the right places).
And that’s especially true in the cutthroat world of banking, where your chances of landing an internship or job can range from 1-in-10 to 1-in-100. Sure, recruiters will caution you not to dwell on the odds. And they’ll assure you that they comb through every resume carefully. And that’s probably their intent. But there are always other factors at play.
And one is your undergraduate program. Like it or not, branding matters. Attending certain programs conveys that you possess the intellectual horsepower to master their models and metrics. And don’t discount history, either. Recruiters hire from programs that produce their firms’ most successful performers. If you’re a student or alum of those schools, chances are, you’ll get the benefit of the doubt when you apply.
Question is, which firms are attracted to which programs? You might find some answers in a recent power ranking produced by Wall Street Oasis, an online community where members can share ideas with professionals from 5,000 other financial and consulting firms. Mining data collected from over 300,000 members, Wall Street Oasis produced a ranking based on an intriguing metric: Job Interviews.
PENN AND NYU TOP THE RANKINGS
Focused on bulge bracket and elite middle market and boutique banks –Wall Street Oasis created what can be best described as a “recruiting map.”Overall, the University of Pennsylvania edged out New York University among Wall Street recruiters. For example, Penn ranked as the #1 feeder school to Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Barclays Capital (tied with Harvard), Citigroup, Blackstone, Houlihan Lokey, and Nomura Holdings (Tied with NYU) among undergrad schools. However, it didn’t reflect across-the-board dominance, with Penn failing to even crack the top 10 for interviews at Credit Suisse, UBS AG, and Evercore.
New York University finished a close second, with its 2.35 power score just a shade below Penn (2.39). Technically, NYU made the top 10 lists of more firms (18 vs. Penn’s 14), outpointing Penn in the bulge bracket set as well. Overall, NYU students drew the most interviews at JPMorgan Chase, UBS AG (tied with Boston College), Lazard (tied with the University of Michigan), and Nomura Holding (Tied with Penn). Surprisingly, NYU failed to reach the top 10 for several high-end boutiques, including Evercore, Jefferies & Company, and Moelis & Company.
Of course, you don’t need to be an east coast Ivy Leaguer to make it on Wall Street. Just look at the University of Michigan, which finished third and placed in the top 10 for interviews at 14 firms. Michigan was also the top feeder school to Evercore, BNP Paribas, and KeyBanc Capital Markets.
Overall, the Ivy League still dominates the undergrad recruiting pipeline on Wall Street, with six schools in the top 10 overall, including Harvard University (4th), Cornell University (5th), Princeton University (6th), and Columbia University (9th). That’s not surprising given their close proximity to Wall Street. Boston College, the University of Toronto, and the University of Texas at Austin also made the top 10.
Looking for some surprises? Canadian schools are a big draw, with the Richard Ivy School of Business and Queen’s University joining the University of Toronto in the top 20 overall for interviews. And Yale, Duke, and Stanford undergrads rank only 28th through 30th respectively.
TOP FIRMS STILL HAVE THEIR ‘PET’ SCHOOLS
Alas, the top bulge bracket banks don’t always pick students from the schools you’d expect. While Penn tops Goldman Sachs’ interview list, their recruiters also trek over to nearby Villanova University, whose students receive nearly as many interviews as NYU, Cornell, and Princeton. The University of Florida and Southern Methodist make JP Morgan Chase’s top 10 list, ahead of several Ivies. Ditto for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which favors the University of North Carolina, UCLA, and Vanderbilt over Harvard, Princeton, and Columbia. If your heart is set on Barclays, you’re chances of chances of landing an interview are just as good at the University of California, San Diego as they are with Columbia or Georgetown.
The same is true of boutiques. The University of Texas-Austin is the second largest destination for Evercore. Like Bank of America, Houlihan Lokey recruiters are drawn to UCLA and Vanderbilt students. And the University of Wisconsin is a great spot to get attention from the Robert W. Baird & Company and BMO Capital Markets.