Wednesday, July 23, 2008

HSMP: is there light at the end of the tunnel?

I had posted previously about the changes in the HSMP system. This post is part 2 to my earlier post which you can read here.

Since my original post, Home Office has stopped taking HSMP applications completely. They only accept HSMP applications they have received up to June 30, 2008. Any application that was dated after June 30 has to be done under the Tier 1 (General) system.

My main trouble was that I have never received a reference number for my application. Short of tracking the receipt of my application on US Post Office web page, I had no indication that whether Home Office had my application or not. First I sent an email to them. I've got an automated response that said they do not respond to emails anymore. That is very frustrating since they mention email as one of the contact methods on the HSMP contact page. You can reach it here.

So I went on a phone call expedition to find out whether I can get hold of a live human being at the Home Office. After several trials, and waiting on the line for a grand total of 40 minutes, I've found that they've put a new option to their call center. You can call the number, then press 2 for HSMP questions, press 2 for general inquiries, and then press 1 for judicial review. Once I did that, someone picked up the phone instantly. I don't know if that was my luck or not.

Anyways, I've learnt that they are currently processing applications dated March 25th (which is also published on their web site - so what they have on the web site is up to date). The officer looked up my reference number using my name and date of birth. Thank god they had it in the system! He said they've received mine on March 31st, and they should start processing mine any day now. He said processing takes between 1 week to 1 month.

I've also learnt that you can change your contact address by sending a fax to Home Office. I can't publish the fax number here, but it's different than what's posted on the contact page I've linked above. That fax number may or may not work for changing an address, I have no idea. He also confirmed that it is possible to change from student or any other work permit status to HSMP once you receive the HSMP approval letter, and you do not need to leave the UK for that. If you are in the UK under a tourist visa you would need to leave and re-enter though.

I hope that is helpful information to some, as I was not able to find anything similar to this on the UK immigration related forums.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Beeell's Follow-up to my Previous Post (Q&A)

Beeell (author of the LBS So Journ blog which has a link on this page) has took another stab at the questions my reader sent me. You can read them at:


Monday, July 7, 2008

Answering some questions

I've received this email a couple of weeks ago, and since the questions here seems to be a recurring theme in the emails I've been getting recently, I've decided to publicly answer this one. The author of this email was kind enough to let me publish it here. I also like the kind remarks, and I guess one of the reasons I decided to publish this email was to show off. :)

I should also say that I am not in the best position to answer these questions, since I have not even started the program yet. I reserve the right to change my opinions through the course of next year, so please take these answers with a grain of salt.

[...]I wish to inform you that I am already a business management graduate and a chartered secretary specialising in corporate and economic laws. I was contemplating a number of options for pursuing an advanced program in finance. One option is a second MBA from one of the premier institutes in the US or UK and another option is the Masters in Finance program at LBS. I have close to 4 years of experience in the financial services industry.

As I was just reading up some material on the MiF course offered by LBS, I came across your blog and found it extremely useful. You have given a wealth of information. What I liked the most about your blog was the way in which you have shared your experiences / feelings / opinions. However, I need some additional details which I believe will help me take an informed decision:-

a. How good is MiF, LBS? I mean without an opportunity to intern with an iBank / hedge fund what are your chances of getting into a bulge bracket ibank?

I think doing an internship increases your chances of getting into a bulge bracket i-bank or a hedge fund considerably. This is specially the case if you do not have any work experience in the type of firm you want to work at. LBS MiF program has a requirement that you have at least 2 years of finance experience, but they are pretty vague about that requirement. You could have been working for the IT group in a commercial bank for 2 years and still be admitted to MiF. Operative term being "could have been" since LBS admissions solely makes the decision.

If you think you do not have the right amount of experience, or if you want to make a significant career move, I urge you to consider the MBA program instead. It's a 2 year program, and you have great chance to do an internship between years 1 and 2.

When I go to London, I will root for LBS to support pre-MiF internships since I've gone through a lot of trouble securing this internship, and also getting the administrative stuff done (such as visas). Oxford MFE program on the other hand, provides help for their students to get an internship before the program starts without even asking for it.

b. In your blog you had mentioned that only 30% - 40% of the MiF students get placed through the milk rounds. The rest have to find jobs on their own. This does make me feel extremely insecure. Does this mean that the school does not support the students in anyway?

That's the number I've got from a current MiF student. I think it's more empirical than a rock solid number. But yes, since the timing of milk rounds is a little awkward, not many MiF students get a job offer. Reminder, the first milk round is mainly for full time job offers and takes place sometime around November. Second milk round is around April/May and is mainly for internship opportunities. If you are an MBA student that calendar makes a lot of sense. You do the May milk round for an internship during your first year, and the Nov milk round for a full time job just when you start the second year.

I don't know how much support you get from the school. The people (MiF staff, alumni and current students) I've talked to sounded pretty calm about the whole process, since everyone gets placed one way or the other. Career services is pretty good and they start working with you even before you get a foot in London. They publish resume books, and try very hard to get you placed. But at the end of the day it's up to you to network your way into a decent job, or to present yourself to the prospective employers.

c. You had recommended that it is always better to do an intern before joining MiF. How long should the internship be? How to go about getting an internship with an iBank? I am currently staying in India. What are the chances for me to get an internship with bulge bracker bank in one of the leading financial centres? ( In my knowledge, it is quite limited... :) Do give your views on this.

i-bank internships are hard to get. Here's why. Their internship applications close sometime in mid to late december. Even if you apply in Round 1 to LBS, you may not get a decision by then. And let me tell you that telling people you have an admission offer from LBS places some weight on your application. So do your best, apply as early as you can, even before the R1 deadline. That way you may apply to i-bank internships before they close.

How long? - I don't know. 2 months should be the bare minimum I think. It depends on the organization you are interning with, and they tend to determine the duration most of the time.

d. I have also read that networking is one of key aspects for getting a job in an ibank. With a 1 year program, and placements starting within the first few months of joining LBS ( MiF), how can one possibly network and get a job?

I am definitely not the right person to answer this question right now, but maybe within a year I'll have some first hand experience to share with you.

Here are what I know so far. There are school trips to NY, Hong Kong etc. I think it's important to attend those, since every time an employer shows up at the school people would be circling him like a flock of ants. I don't think that's the right way of networking your way into a job.

LBS has a ton of clubs for different interests, you can see the complete list here. You should use these as tools to meet people in the industry that you normally would not be able to.

e. I firmly believe that the courses that LBS offers is great. But will the coaching for the first few months at LBS MiF suffice to crack the technical ibanking interviews?

We'll see. But the assumption is you already come from a finance background anyways.

I understand that LBS has a terrific brand name. But somehow the finer details of the MiF course make me feel a bit sceptical.

As I had mentioned, your blog was indeed awesome. (perhaps you should be charging people for this... :) more informative that any other site that I have been visiting in the recent past. This prompted me to shoot off this mail to you.

Charging?? Hmm. Good idea, but I don't know how much of my hefty tuition bill I can recoup from this site. Although clicking on the advertisements on this site would help for a starter. (or buy yourself a kindle!)

Would greatly appreciate your views on the aforementioned points.

Keep well....

Kind rgds.

No problem at all! Hope this was helpful.
Keep reading!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Rent vs. Buy

Excellent calculator at NY Times web site. I was wondering about this since I'm about to rent my place. check it out.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Internship before MIF

So one of the things I've been heavily looking into in the last couple of months was arranging for an internship prior to MIF. Especially if you are coming from a non-finance career background, doing an internship has tremendous benefits for securing a job post-MBA.

I have seeked help from London Business School regarding this, but I guess their career services is swamped with helping current MIF and last year MBA students find a job and first year MBAs an internship during and after the milkrounds.

My advice to people who would like to do a MIF is seriously think about investment bank internships by the time you are applying to your schools. Most of the investment banks that offer internships set deadlines such as November or December, so it is really inconvenient for us 1-year program participants. I guess it works well for 2-year MBA students since you can get into the program, apply to a bunch of internships in the first 3 months and have your internship ready and waiting for you in summer.

In my case it required a lot of networking and some luck. Luck is always important. It seems like now I have a VC internship in the US and a hedge fund internship in the UK lined up. I also have a job offer at a start-up firm to be one of the founders of the company that provides algorithmic trading solutions.

I am at the verge of making a decision, and that would possibly determine the rest of my career, as it would be harder to do a VC internship and get a hedge fund job when I graduate or vice versa. Should I take on the hedge fund gig and lean myself towards trading side of finance, or take the VC internship and have a VC/PE/M&A side of things? I guess VC/PE would be more fun (human factor), whereas trading would be more analytical oriented (given my tech background this is not a bad thing at all).

Any opinions? Please leave a comment on my blog page, or send me a note at finantic[at]


Friday, April 25, 2008

Subprime Primer

Here's a really good (read: black humor) explanation of the subprime crisis. Click here and it will open in Google Docs. I know the subprime mess is old news now, but I like the presentation and wanted to share it. There's some foul language in there, so beware.

I've got it from Greg Mankiw's blog, so thanks!

Friday, April 18, 2008

First impression: London Business School

It's almost been a week since I've been back from Europe, but I'll keep writing about my experience while I was in London, and hope it will be useful for folks subscribed to this blog.

If you are an admitted student, you can email one of the two admissions officers and they would help you visit the LBS campus. In my case I wasn't so lucky since the school was on easter break and I wasn't able to attend any classes. Usually they help you sit in a class with the current MIF students and feel the atmosphere.

My wife and I walked to the school after getting off at the Baker Street station. It's a 5 minute walk from the tube station, pretty convenient. The lobby area is in the Sainsbury Building, which is the glorious building overlooking Regent's Park which is pictured below. BTW, you might want to open the campus map in another window by clicking here.

This glorious building is unfortunately not the building that MIFs hang out all the time, as it belongs to the MBA program. MIF classrooms and the program offices are located in the less glorious Plowden Building which is at the bottom of the pdf map you have just opened. You don't see the pictures of the Plowden Building anywhere, since Sainsbury does a much better job at marketing the school with its White House looking facade.

I had a chance to sit down with one of the admissions officers for 15 minutes or so, and then I met with a current MIF FT student who comes from a similar background as I do. I will try to convey some of his words of wisdom here.

About the grades, he said usually the top 10% of the class gets an A, and in a typical class it's the people who have experience in the subject matter (i.e. accountants do well in accounting class) that would get an A. Having that said, unless you are thinking about going to a consulting venue, your graduating grade does not matter. Most of the students are focused on finding a job rather than grades anyways.

Second topic was about finding a job. His impressions were slightly different than another alumnus I've talked to earlier, and he said about a total of 30-40% of students would find jobs during the milk rounds, and the rest would be through individual efforts. He said he was concerned about finding a job before coming to London, but he is more relaxed now as he thinks it will not be a problem. His suggestion was to find a full time job and not an internship that you can try to convert to a full time position later because most investment banks would not be able to convert internships to jobs right away due to their hiring quotas.

I'm not going to go into all the rants and raves we both had about how expensive London is. You can pretty much imagine that part of the conversation.

I should say that I wasn't impressed with the interiors of the building, especially when compared to the school I've attended in the US. I guess I was expecting a little better than low quality wall to wall carpets and fake wood paneling from the 80's. I think they could do much better with the muchos dolares they charge to their students. I didn't have a chance to see a classroom and any other facilities so no comments there. That being said, I've been to a school with stellar facilities and crappy rankings, and I would much rather go to a school with the best ranking around with not so great facilities.

There are other things I want to talk about related to daily boring activities that you'll need to do once you're in London, such as bank accounts, getting a phone, transportation, and renting. These will have to wait for another post since it's already been a pretty long post.

Cheers mates! ;)

PS: I've lost my camera while in London, so I had to lift the pictures on this page from Flickr. Kudos to original authors of these pictures, which could be seen here and here.

PPS: I've got a new camera! ;)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

LBS MIF Admits so far

There are 78 people that has been admitted so far. From what I see, most people have careers in finance, although not at very high-profile institutions such as I-banking or hedge funds. Working at a government organization (central bank or so) also seems like a popular trend.

One of my readers emailed me today saying he's got in. I hope more of the readers of this blog will get in to the program and we'll meet in London. I'm pretty excited about going there, especially since we've pretty much decided that my wife will join me in London as well.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

My first ding - Princeton

Princeton dinged me. I should honestly say that Princeton was the school that I least paid attention to during applications, although I thought my essays were pretty good. I've sent the application fee pretty late, and did not bother to send any transcripts since they did not ask for it in the initial application.

In any event, I think getting 2 acceptances out of 3 schools is still pretty good. An acceptance from Princeton would not have changed my decision, so I'm glad someone else got an acceptance from Princeton instead of me.

In the coming days I'll write more about the LBS financing the studies, curriculum, career paths and scholarships. There is a very vibrant discussion going on at the LBS portal among the new admits. I am not allowed to copy & paste any information directly from LBS portal to here, but I will definitely write my impressions.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The natural selection

It's nice to know that people are following this blog. I hope it hasn't been too long, but there has been quite a few things going on in my life lately and I haven't been able to write much. Also, I did not know which offer I was going to accept.

On one hand, there was Oxford, a name that everybody appreciate with an opportunity to get a decent internship over the summer. The other option was LBS, the heavy-weight champion of all Finance programs around.

It was a tough decision, but I have decided to accept LBS' offer. And here's the reason for the title: I just waited until Oxford's offer expires, so now I only have one offer that I can not afford rejecting. Isn't that wonderful?

To top it off, here's the 2007 Global MBA rankings from Financial Times:

LBS jumped from #5 to #2 spot globally, and it's also the #1 business school in Europe.

So now that the decision phase is over, I can concentrate on making arrangements for moving to London.! And that would mean letting my lovely car go :(

Here's a little goodie about LBS. It's kinda cheesy but I like it.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

And Oxford says yes!!!

I will not have a whole lot of time to post until the end of January, but I've got great news today. Oxford accepted me, which brings me to my Oxford vs. LBS dilemma. I've also started looking at financing my studies. Oxford is considerably cheaper than LBS, which may also make a difference in my decision.

I also have not have time to respond to the comments my readers left so far, but this will get done today as well.

I'll keep posting..