MFE Ranking list.

Part of my reputation is for sharing the best information I can to help guide people through their careers in finance. Obviously some things I know are really confidential and thus my lips are sealed.

One surprise item in "Paul & Dominic's Big Book of Banking Secrets", that you will never read, is our ranking of the various masters in finance out there. Obviously we have opinions based upon experience of the sort of people who come out of them, and how hard it is to find the graduates jobs, and what sort of roles they can hope to get, facts that are of some real valuable to most people in this line of work. That is of course one reason for not sharing this information too widely, we have to know more than the opposition, else get a real job.

The next issue is that we get samples of the market, we do not yet have the position in the market where we see everything. There is one university where every person we've seen from it, got a good job very quickly. It doesn't even have a finance program, but also we've only seen three people, so what does this mean ? I don't know, so I'm not pinning my firm's reputation on publishing it.

This is made more of an issue by the way that different managers in different firms vary hugely in their opinion of each MFE,MFin and of course the CQF. Hiring managers do not keep their opinions constant either.

It is the CQF which all by itself means we will probably never publish such a list, or even share it privately. The lists we have seen are hopelessly biased, either by design or simple laziness on the part of the compiler. Some have people from MFE programs in the small clique who decide which school is where. Nearly all restrict themselves to some stupid criteria such a geography, when anyone who cares knows that finance is a very international sport. Over on Wilmott.com there was a loud, but curiously futile argument about whether French quants are too powerful at Goldman Sachs, New York. This is of course wild exaggeration, but under the hype, there are a lot of French people in both London and NY, and almost none went to "ranked" schools, because most rankings are US or Britain only. I've never seen Moscow university on these lists, yet looking at my files on successful quants, it is a useful source of smart people. Paul and I both teach on the CQF, a disclaimer to be found frequently on our advice on career/education choices. We are therefore interested parties, and there is a conflict between us producing this sort of list, and our hard won reputation for telling it like it is.

I am conscious that we enjoy confidence from many that we would not "adjust" the list for our own ends, but of course there still exist people who don't know who we are (mostly living in caves I suspect).

I also believe that the real value of such a list lies in how it helps people make better decisions. An argument over which course is 4th vs 5th is to me a lot of work that delivers very little utility, either to someone choosing it, or someone looking to hire from that program.

Obviously the schools concerned care, but we can deal with such lobbying.

The real value is surprise. That is where we tell you things you weren't expecting. Some schools are better than their rankings in various lists tell you. Some are tragically bad, and some worry us a great deal.

Whereas we can deal with lobbying over 4th/5th position (or 19/20th) when warning people about some courses it requires rather greater dilligence, which is why to the best of my knowledge I am the only person with a strong position in this market who ever issues such warnings. Fordham got this, but that required me to comb through their marketing material to discover they were making promises they could not deliver. The bizarre claims for being part of a tradition that produced famous people who died before Fordham was even founded made the task easier. But in general this is a lot of work to get right.

That does not mean we do not counsel people on choices, that happens at least once a day and at CQF open evenings, Finance Focus meetings, and Random Walkers beer sessions that reaches dozens. We are always happy to answer questions, but I'd be happier if I didn't have to turn people down for this quite so often.