March 23, 2014

BUSINESS NEWS | Investment Banking, Asset Management Attract Students

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Some are saying that while the field of investment banking is popular within the financial industry due to its large payouts, other fields of finance such as asset management and private wealth management are also emerging in popularity.

Kwesi Acquay ’14, a student in the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, said he believes that investment banking is popular because of its role as a “premier launch pad to a successful career in finance.”

“Investment banking has consistently been the most popular field in finance, especially at Cornell,” Acquay said. “A number of the most successful finance professionals started in investment banking.”

Acquay, who spent his sophomore and junior summers in investment banking at J.P. Morgan, will return to the firm as a full-time analyst after graduation.

Fred Staudmyer, assistant dean for career management at the Johnson School of Management, said he believes investment banking is popular because it can provide a foundation for other fields for financial analysts down the road.

“Not only is there a good career [in investment banking] — there are good exits into other areas of finance, including private equity,” Staudmyer said. “People go into investment banking because it is a challenging and fast paced career, a good place to start and is high-paying.”

But investment banking is not the only field that students with financial aspirations can enter, according to Staudmyer. He said that asset management and private wealth management are two other fields that are lucrative, with the latter growing at a fairly rapid pace.

“One new thing in finance that more and more MBAs are interested in is private wealth management,” he said. “The difference [between asset management and private wealth management] is that asset managers manage institutional money and private wealth managers manage personal money.”

With regards to the financial industry as a whole, Acquay said that “finance jobs are not just about finance.”

“Understanding the client’s needs and environment guides all financial decision making and is paramount,” he said. “One needs to start understanding the underlying macroeconomic and industry trends that drive companies and the factors that will affect them positively or negatively.”

According to Staudmyer, banks are looking for candidates with strong quantitative and math skills. However, these skill sets must be accompanied by a high emotional intelligence.

“It is an interesting mix of [not only] having finance and quantitative backgrounds but also having enough emotional intelligence to be able to deal with clients,” he said. “Connecting with others is really critical in financial services.”

Staudmyer added that the ability to build credible relationships is of paramount importance in business careers.