Importance or Help of Ivy League Degree

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Aug 31, 2006 8:43 pm

Just curious to hear what you guys think about how much graduating from an Ivy League or other top school or MBA program helps when working as an FA?  I know that a lot of the top brokers didn't go to top schools so it certanly can be done...but besides the actual stuff you learn is it really helpfull when prospecting or marketing?

Aug 31, 2006 10:26 pm

Only when marketing to ivy league peers.  (For NASDY, I missed the capitalization of "ivy league" on purpose.  Don't want to inflate the boy's already inflated sense of self.)  Other people will just think you are a rich kid jackoff who doesn't relate to them, and how hard they have worked to build their wealth.  And, because they worked for it, they are justified in feeling that way.  Good luck calling on your "inner circle".

Aug 31, 2006 11:51 pm
Soothsayer:

Only when marketing to ivy league peers.  (For NASDY, I missed the capitalization of "ivy league" on purpose.  Don't want to inflate the boy's already inflated sense of self.)  Other people will just think you are a rich kid jackoff who doesn't relate to them, and how hard they have worked to build their wealth.  And, because they worked for it, they are justified in feeling that way.  Good luck calling on your "inner circle".



NASDY wasn't Ivy League.  He went to SMU.  Looks like Ivy League a bit when you visit the campus, but that's about the extent of it.

Sep 1, 2006 1:21 am

Frankly, I think the stuff you learn in most MBA programs is not of much use in this business unless you took courses in portfolio management, fixed-income analysis, etc.  Even then, the coursework does zip to prepare for you for the truly challenging task of establishing relationships and attracting sufficient assets to succeed.


There are however at least three potentially useful things from a good education:


1. It can build a natural affinity with a target clientele with a similar background.


2. Ivy programs tend to be quite tough to get into and that competitive streak is extremely useful in this business.


3. I believe that one of the benefits of a good education is that it teaches the ability to assess complex problems and provide potential solutions.  When all is said and done, I spend all day solving problems.


There is no substitute for hard work, but hard work combined with education and interpersonal skills is an effective combination in any business. 


Sep 1, 2006 8:33 am

Ultimately, an Ivy League degree (one in business, economics, political science or finance) will have the effect of building your resume and will ultimately help in establishing rapport with people who have similar backgrounds. Particularly out here, people who went to Cornell, Princeton or Yale are rare enough that the alumni network means something. It isn't going to guaranteee anything, but it will grease the wheels.


If you are in an area that is saturated with Harvard or Stanford grads (out here certainly is), then it really doesn't mean much.


Having a Stanford, Harvard or Wharton MBA should be very useful in opening doors, but anything less (from what I have observed) seems to make VERY little difference. Kellogg is a terrific school - but it doesn't seem to mean a damn from a business development standpoint.


My gut instinct would be to NOT make a big deal about it, but make sure that it is something people are aware of (unless your degree is in English Literature or Women's Studies).

Sep 1, 2006 8:41 am

In general it won't do you a lick of good as an FA. In fact it will probably hurt you, in that you might not be willing to get your hands dirty knocking on doors because you think you're suddenly too good for such a task.

Sep 1, 2006 9:48 am

I may be a little biased but I feel that an education from a top school can be a big help.  This is not to say that it will be a panacea.<?:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


 


I have an MBA from NYU/Stern.  Before a starting in this business just over two months ago, I was told on this message board that my MBA would be of little or no help.  So far I have found that to be somewhat inaccurate.


 


I live in an area where there are a larger than normal concentration of those who went to top schools including Ivy League schools.  It is my observation that people who went to top schools generally feel more comfortable working with people who also went to a top school.  In my office the top performing teams have degrees from Ivy League schools including <?:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Princeton and Yale.


 


Some people on this board told me that the independent business owner without a degree from a top school would not want to deal with me.  That is something I have found to be completely untrue.  A few have challenged me stating the fact that they don’t have a MBA or degree from a top school.  However, once they learned I had a strong work ethic similar to theirs, the MBA from a top school helped me win them over.  Others in my office have shared similar experiences with me.


 


It is also argued that the curriculum in an MBA program has little value for FAs.  This can be argued for almost any career.  An MBA, or pretty much any degree, is not meant to teach you everything you need to know for a job.  The degrees provide exposure and introduce you to new ways of approaching situations.  Sure, I may not be using every tool I developed while earning my degree but I can certainly say that I view the world differently and I approach situations more objectively.


 


With all of that being said, nothing will help you succeed in this business if you don’t have the right work ethic.


 


--WM

Sep 1, 2006 10:51 am

This biz is first and foremost a down and dirty sales job. Those who succeed are those who get that and are willing to get dirty in the trenches. It's the person, their work ethic, not the pedigree that makes the difference.


As mentioned above, drive up to a union meeting in a BMW and pull out your Ivy League sheepskin and be prepared to have your tires slashed. That leaves a lot of 401K rollover biz on the table and out of reach.


Yet, the advanced degree from the right school plays very well among middle managers at insurance brokers like Johnson and Higgins.


Lastly, the dumber is better rule seems to apply to our business. Some of the largest producers I know aren't Ivy League material. Some aren't community college material. They are successful because they don't ask questions, they don't analyze, they just do. And do and do. Look no farther then the average Lehman or Opco broker. These guys are doing anywhere from 2 to 5 mil a year. Not to many MBAs there. Yet, lots of smart, hard working successful FAs.


Sep 1, 2006 12:45 pm
futureadvisor:

Just curious to hear what you guys think about how much graduating from an Ivy League or other top school or MBA program helps when working as an FA?  I know that a lot of the top brokers didn't go to top schools so it certanly can be done...but besides the actual stuff you learn is it really helpfull when prospecting or marketing?



When pitching a candidate, I always mention an Ivy League connection.  (Or other top university).  That includes the lesser known schools, like Brown.

I also mention the school name if it's in the local market (networking advantage) or if the hiring manager attended the same school.

I rarely mention school names otherwise.

A connection to a top-school is almost always a plus with hiring managers.

I have to admit that I've always been impressed with Ivy League candidates.  But I've been consistently impressed with candidates from other top schools too, including Annapolis, Rice, London School of Economics, Berkeley and Oxford.

By the way, most Ivy Leaguers claim that Stanford is NOT an Ivy League school.  Don't confuse Ivy League with "Good".  In fact, the MBA program at the University of Texas is just as well respected as most Ivy League programs.

What's true on Wall Street isn't necessarily true elsewhere.  When he was running EDS, Ross Perot was quoted in Fortune as saying "I'd rather hire a smart kid from Baylor with hunger and drive than somebody from an Ivy League program". 




Sep 22, 2006 1:17 am

SMU grads get jobs because their daddy hired em.

Sep 22, 2006 2:55 am
JCadieux:

By the way, most Ivy Leaguers claim that Stanford is NOT an Ivy League school.


The reason they make that claim is because it's true - Stanford is in the Pac 10 league, not the Ivy League.  What most people don't realize is that the Ivy League is simply a sports conference.  It just so happens to be a conference that includes some of the oldest and most prestigious schools in the nation, but it is still just a sports conference. 

Sep 22, 2006 6:58 am
lawsucks:
JCadieux:

By the way, most Ivy Leaguers claim that Stanford is NOT an Ivy League school.


The reason they make that claim is because it's true - Stanford is in the Pac 10 league, not the Ivy League.  What most people don't realize is that the Ivy League is simply a sports conference.  It just so happens to be a conference that includes some of the oldest and most prestigious schools in the nation, but it is still just a sports conference. 



Could it be possible that the sports conference took its name from the tradition of referring to the schools as Ivy League, rather the other way around?


Why would a sports conference call itself "The Ivy League" if the schools were not already known as Ivy League schools?


I wonder if it could have something to do with the fact that their buildings are, traditionally, covered with ivy.  Do you think that might be it?

Sep 22, 2006 7:33 am
Knows Wall St.:

Could it be possible that the sports conference took its name from the tradition of referring to the schools as Ivy League, rather the other way around?


It's more than just possible, Putsy, it's factual.  Congratulations on your Wikipedia research skills.


Knows Wall St.:

Why would a sports conference call itself "The Ivy League" if the schools were not already known as Ivy League schools?


Sadly, the world may never be able to answer your insightful question because, as us Ivy types know, the only sports conference to call itself the "Ivy League" consists of schools that were, for the most part, already referred to as the Ivy League.


Knows Wall St.:

I wonder if it could have something to do with the fact that their buildings are, traditionally, covered with ivy.  Do you think that might be it?


Once again, you prove your value to this board - who else but Putsy would be smart enough to notice, and point out to the rest of us, the similarity between the capitalized word "Ivy" and its lower case counterpart "ivy."

Sep 22, 2006 7:38 am

Where you went to college/grad school is of value in that it provides networking connections to include being able to pitch yourself, your firm, its products. It's just an ice breaker. It opens doors for you easier, that's all.


If you're doing more than "selling" structured products then the quality of education you receive may help you a little with portfolio management. Wharton's known for its quaints. Those kids can crunch numbers pretty well, but many have little common sense and permitting them to do more than that can be very dangerous.


The old boy/girl network's not as strong as it used to be say 25 years ago. Sophisticated clients don't really care where you went to school or what your GPA was. What they want is PERFORMANCE.


Sep 22, 2006 7:57 am
ymh_ymh_ymh:

Where you went to college/grad school is of value in that it provides networking connections to include being able to pitch yourself, your firm, its products. It's just an ice breaker. It opens doors for you easier, that's all.


If you're doing more than "selling" structured products then the quality of education you receive may help you a little with portfolio management. Wharton's known for its quaints. Those kids can crunch numbers pretty well, but many have little common sense and permitting them to do more than that can be very dangerous.


The old boy/girl network's not as strong as it used to be say 25 years ago. Sophisticated clients don't really care where you went to school or what your GPA was. What they want is PERFORMANCE.



I am in a school of thought that believes that those who have respected degrees take on an aura, for lack of a better term.  If you hold a degree from, say, Princeton you have an air about you--it's an air of confidence, even an air of superiority that comes through in how you carry yourself, how you speak, even how you shake hands.


At the other end of the spectrum are the college drop out types who are polluting the industry.  They too have an aura that gives them away.  They're posers and it shines through just as the confidence of the person with an MBA from Harvard shines through at the other extreme.

Sep 22, 2006 8:43 am

Personally, I am fond of attorneys with  law degrees from NYU, Georgetown, Yale, and yes, even Harvard.


As far as quaints go, I prefer MIT or the U of Chicago to Wharton.


Ethics wise, it's hard to beat Penn. There's something about those Quakers.


I suppose you're referring to the bucket shop crowd who dropped out of 10th grade and I agree with you on them....the stench can be smelled miles away.


With the service academies, one must be cautious. The Chairman of Rodman & Renshaw (PIPE bomb central) is a West Point grad. Chainsaw Al (Sunbeam) was West Point. Charlie "stiff 'em" Garcia of Sterling is an Air Force Academy grad. I suppose what "saved" Roel Campos of the SEC from sharing their fate was a UCLA MBA and Harvard Law degree.


Sep 22, 2006 8:59 am
Proton:

Frankly, I think the stuff you learn in most MBA programs is not of much use in this business unless you took courses in portfolio management, fixed-income analysis, etc.  Even then, the coursework does zip to prepare for you for the truly challenging task of establishing relationships and attracting sufficient assets to succeed.


There are however at least three potentially useful things from a good education:


1. It can build a natural affinity with a target clientele with a similar background.


2. Ivy programs tend to be quite tough to get into and that competitive streak is extremely useful in this business.


3. I believe that one of the benefits of a good education is that it teaches the ability to assess complex problems and provide potential solutions.  When all is said and done, I spend all day solving problems.


There is no substitute for hard work, but hard work combined with education and interpersonal skills is an effective combination in any business. 





Absolute, unadultrated, BS.  If you want to attract TOP clients they expect YOU to be highly educated.  YOUR clients may not have gone to a great college, but you have their money and they expect you to be TOPS.


That means at the very least a MBA or CFP.  I won't spend time debating which is best, either will suffice.


If you did not learn anything in your Econ, Fin, or Stats classes, that is your fault.  It is all very useful.  You may not practice things word for word, but it is amazing how that education will creep thru when you need it.


And you can't stop there.  You need to continually keep up your education taking classes and attending seminars whenever you are able. 


You will never regret a good education.

Sep 22, 2006 11:01 am
vbrainy:

You will never regret a good education.




Agreed.

Our placement ratio for candidates with advanced degrees is almost double the ratio for those with just undergrads. 

Just because we place a few candidates (15%) without any college degree doesn't mean it's a good idea to skip school.

It may be important to note that the value of your school varies from region to region.  If you work in rural Texas, a degree from Texas A&M will probably bring you further than a degree from Wharton.

Continuing with the Texas examples: one of the reasons I chose Baylor over the other big in-state schools was because friends and relatives outside Texas thought the school had a good reputation.  At that time, noboby had heard of UT or A&M outside of the context of sports.  (It didn't hurt that Baylor had the best debate program in the US). 

This came in handy when I was working in London.  People recognize the name (especially people who work in the oil industry).

But when I worked in the Middle East I found that people associated Baylor with Baptist missionaries.  Those of you who know me will understand how funny that is.

The bottom line is that your choice of university is part of your personal brand.  Some schools help more than others.  Everything depends on context.


Sep 22, 2006 11:24 am

Jeff, what's your take on the small liberal arts schools in Texas such as Southwestern, Austin College and Trinity?

Sep 22, 2006 11:28 am
no idea:

Jeff, what's your take on the small liberal arts schools in Texas such as Southwestern, Austin College and Trinity?



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