An MBA in Finance is a worthwhile endeavour. However, as education by itself, it could seem incomplete when it is time for you to think about your career option post-MBA. In this article, I hope to convey a broad idea of some of the roles you can explore, as well as an understanding of how to attain them.
Before we get into that, let's get it out of the way that the roles you're offered are subject to the company's requirements and the vintage, cadre and reputation of your B-school for Finance. As you probably realise, these factors make placements very unpredictable and your choice that much harder. The intent is that when placement season arrives, you're reasonably aware of a few roles that you can see yourself in, and not keep waiting for one role that everyone keeps talking about. The one thing I would caution you is that there would be roles offered in the BFSI sector that are not core finance roles (such as Relationship Manager and Sales Manager roles), but offer quite attractive CTCs and mass recruit as well. It is a dilemma thatlots of core Finance people find themselves in (barring those in IIMs ABC, FMS) when they're waiting for companies during placement season. The peer pressure to get placed, coupled with the fear of obtaining lesser quality roles and CTCs as the days go by sets in. There are a few schools of thought regarding that, but if you decide that you want to choose the CTC over a core role, then that's your decision to take. However, know that it is not impossible to switch back to a core finance role after a year, but it'll definitely take more effort to do so. The popular roles offered are listed below.
1) Investment Banking :
The roles in the domain happen to be quite vast, but the poster boy remains Investment Banking. IBs have roles in the Middle Office and Front Office in India. Of course the boutique firms pay quite well, when compared to their Indian counterparts. But, if you're looking at making a career in Indian Capital Markets vis a vis Asian, European or American Markets, it would be wise to work with Indian firms since the exposure and networking opportunities will be better. Now, the Investment banking division can be broadly categorised into product groups which includes Raising Debt, Restructuring, M&A and IPOs and coverage groups that take care of a specific industry such as IT, FMCG, Automobiles etc. Beware of the fact that these roles are the most sought after even in top tier B-Schools, and the interview process is bound to be gruelling, given how selectively these roles are offered. GPAs on the higher side and technical strength of the candidates are a given, but it also involves a lot of analytical skills and sales expertise. In the instance these roles are not available to you, on account of your B-schools vintage, note that it is still possible to get this role once you acquire about 3 of years of experience post MBA in related roles. Financial consulting is an option that people tend to consider once they have acquired satisfactory years of experience in an IB role.
Major Recruiters: Middle Office roles will be offered by bulge bracket investment banks such as Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Citi Group, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs etc. Front office roles are tough to crack, because they're usually offered by boutique firms such as Rothschild. Bank of America and HSBC also have roles supporting Front office with stints in New York, Hong Kong and London.
CTC: These roles are among the highest paying roles in general, but again, depends on the factors mentioned above.
2) Wealth Management:
On the retail side, portfolio management roles such as Wealth Management are offered by Indian Banks, again in decent numbers. However, you need to have a fair amount of people management skills for the same, in addition to capital market knowledge. Most often, certificate courses on mutual funds and Insurance will be sponsored by the company to keep you up to date, since most of the job constitutes increasing your client's wallet share by way of third party products in most cases. Sales skills come handy here because you get to talk to HNI clients who are challenging to convince but become a great network to build on.
Major recruiters: Most banks offer these roles, but organisations such as ICICI, IDFC FIRST Bank, Morgan Stanley and Michael Page havebeen recruiting in numbers lately.
CTC: The variable portion of these jobs tend to be quite attractive, as they depend on the ticket size of the client.
3) Equity Research Analyst:
Several Indian as well as multinational companiesmay offer roles in their finance departments, but as far as creativity goes, it could get a bit constrained since there are structured processes that define your role. For this purpose, Financial advisory roles of which Equity research is the most popular are advisable. It is common for such roles to be predominantly offered in the Equity side, compared to the derivative side post MBA, and specifically in the Buy side.
Major Recruiters: CRISIL, Motilal Oswal, Edelweiss, D.E Shaw group are the most well knows recruiters. Family offices, Mutual Fund companies, and LLP or partnership firms dealing in advisory roles can also be looked at. While initially, it may not look very attractive to work for a brand that isn't well known, the experience would help a lot when you make your next job switch.
CTC: Generally, these roles aren't the most attractive in terms of CTC, but it's a role that people who look for roles with negligible sales requirements prefer and it has the most application of subjects in core finance.
4) Risk Management:
There are also Institutional/ Wholesale Banking roles that most Indian banks recruit for in decent numbers, particularly for credit risk management/Assessment roles. These roles require a bit of financial modelling, people management skills (since you might need to assess the financial worthiness of your client) and a whole lot of compliance.
Credit research analyst roles are also offered by rating agencies but in lesser numbers.
Major recruiters: Most Banks, both Private and public as well as NBFCs
CTC: Tends to be on the median side
5) Corporate Financial Planning & Analysis
One can look at roles such as Financial Planning and Analysis, and Business Finance roles, which are on the corporate side. These roles tend to be preferred by those who like Financial Modelling and is closely linked with Strategy as well. You would be required to look after your company's financial soundness, find any gaps that there might be on a daily basis.
Major Recruiters: Most major private companies have this role, so it would come down to requirement at that given point in time.
What's really important to realise is that most of these roles require thorough subject knowledge of core finance subjects that are taught in the classroom such as Valuation, Financial Modelling, Derivatives, Portfolio Management and so on and most of these roles would require you to have at least a CFA L1 certification. However, it is often overlooked in B-school that you cannot just be a Finance student. To really succeed in the long run, it is imperative to have a sales side so that you know to talk to clients and persuade them towards your product/service. Additionally, an analytical and strategic angle is also required to understand the business model of the company you're working for to enable you to bring more business. This also happens to be a good time to closely understand how the Back end functions in your organisation. You are expected to be up to date with the capital market movements quite closely because most of the time, it is what your clients want to talk to you about. Additionally, these skills are what will help you move to more niche functions of the bank such as Treasury and Forex, if you work with a Bankwhere you could become a well rounded professional.
Now since we can't leave the CTC aspect unaddressed, one has to understand that it is difficult to have a ballpark figure of the average CTC you could command post your MBA in Finance, since a lot of times companies hire from different schools.
Additionally, the kind of clientele your company has is also a factor. There have been instances where IB roles offered by Indian boutique firms are less paying than Financial Operations roles offered bulge bracket banks, but the learning would be more valuable in the former if you want to make a career in Indian markets.