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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

I receive a lot of questions. Fortunately for you, there are a number of common questions that have rather simple answers. Here are some of the most common questions and problems.

Undergraduate-Level Recruiting Questions

For undergraduates, the recruiting equation is simple: prove you have a passion for investing through your experience.

Q: I’m a student / I have no relevant background – what should I do to get into investment management?

Get a relevant internship – that's the best option.

Next best options include investing-related activities such as investment clubs or the investment track major if your school offers such a thing.

It's not enough to simply say you have a passion for investing, you need to prove it with experiences.

Q: Do I need to be a Finance or Economics major?

No, but it helps because you then have a demonstrated interest in the field. Remember the need to show a passion for investing.

Q: What classes should I take?

Specific classes do not matter that much.

That said, a class focused on investing where you manage money would be a huge plus.

Q: How much do internships matter vs. activities and grades?

Experiences matter more than grades … but grades do matter. A GPA or 3.5 or better is ideal, but make sure you have a minimum of a 3.0 if you want to get past most resume screens.

Q: What is the best type of internship to get?

Asset management or hedge fund internships are ideal, as long as they are front office internships. After that, investment banking internships can't hurt.

Q: Is a Master’s/MBA degree worth it?

Yes, but I'm biased because I have an MBA. I actually enjoyed business school.

Q: What about a Ph.D?

Only if you want to become a college professor. Or a quant (in which case you'd need a Ph.D in math instead of finance).

Q: What are these “target schools” you speak of?

Everybody talks about “target schools,” but there is no universally agreed-upon list.

Schools that consistently rank in the Top 5 or Top 10 of the rankings published by the various periodicals are going to have the best alumni networks and the most on-campus recruiting. This makes it easier to get a job.

Of course, as long as you went to a good school (Top 50), then you have as good a shot as anybody to land a job in investment management.

Q: If I’ve already graduated, can I do a summer internship?

Yes, just don't go in assuming you'll be automatically offered a full-time job at the end of the internship. Spend the summer networking and dominating your work to improve your chances of landing a full-time gig.


GPA Questions

Q: How high a GPA do I need for investment management recruiting?

Anything above 3.5 is fine. 3.0 to 3.5 will get you past most but not all screens, and with a GPA below 3.0 you will not get in via a formal recruiting process.

Q: How much can I round my GPA?

First, check with your school's career office to see if they have a requirement. If not, round to one decimal place.

Q: Can I just list my major GPA? Do I need to include both major and overall GPA?

You need to list either your overall GPA, or your overall GPA and your major GPA. You can’t list only your major GPA.


MBA-Level Recruiting Questions

Recruiting at the MBA-level is not dramatically different, but you do need to be a lot more polished than undergraduates since you are older and will be paid more.

Q: Is it worth to go to a “non-target” business school?

Yes. But stick with the CFA partner programs so you can work on both your MBA and CFA at the same time. Completing a CFA partner MBA program shows passion for investing.

Q: What about part-time programs?

Not an ideal decision. These are better for advancement in your current job as opposed to landing a new job or making a career change into investment management.

Q: What about top programs outside the US?

All the usual top ranked names plus the international CFA partner programs.

Working Professional Recruiting Questions

Recruiting questions are simple at this level: business school, the CFA program or aggressive networking, or all of the above.

Q: Am I too old to break in?

You are never too old, but you are going to have a hard time convincing an investment manager that you have a passion for investing if you are in your 40s and just spent the last 20 years in IT or insurance or whatever.

Q: What’s the best path to get into investment management if I’ve [insert unusual experience here] …

Always come back to demonstrating a passion for investing through the experiences you have. If you don't have any investing experiences, you need to be creative and find some.

Q: Going to business school is not an option for me – how can I break in?

Start the CFA program and use your local CFA society to network, network, network.


About the Site Itself

Q: How do I navigate around Life on the Buy Side?

Check out the Start Here page regularly to get an overview of everything on this site.

Q: Can I Connect with You on LinkedIn?

This site sees thousands of visitors every week. If I accepted every LinkedIn connection request, my account would explode and become effectively useless to me. So, with much deliberation, I decided the nuclear approach was the only way of handling LinkedIn requests:

I only accept connections with people I've met in-person and had a conversation.

Frankly, I don't use LinkedIn that much other than to stay in touch with close friends. You should definitely continue to use it as a networking tool, though.

Q: So, no LinkedIn, will you follow me on Twitter?

Yes, because I use Twitter for information and not for networking or managing personal contacts. If you follow me on Twitter, I will follow you so there's no need to ask.