Work-Life Balance

MBAs Looking Away from Financial Services and Towards Companies that Offer Better Work-Life Balance

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article examining the “battle for MBA talent,” which looked at current trends in MBA graduate employer preferences. Authors, Laurence Fletcher and Pat Minczeski found that Wall Street is no longer as appealing to MBAs as consulting and technology firms, despite banks’ increasing starting salaries. “The share of full-time M.B.A. graduates from the top 10 business schools accepting jobs at financial-services firms dropped between 2012 and 2017 from 36 percent to 26 percent, based on a weighted average calculated by the Journal. The share accepting jobs in technology rose from 13 percent to 20 percent in the same period. Consulting edged out financial services as the top draw in 2017, as the choice of 29 percent of grads, up from 27 percent in 2012.”

The same article quotes Jean Ann Schulte, director of employer relations and recruiting services at MIT Sloan, who said “Over the last ten years we’ve had an almost complete flip between finance and technology.” In pointing to the working hours typical in the banking industry, she went on to say, “You can have a lucrative career without those lifestyle costs.”

An analysis published in Forbes by John Byrne earlier this year, which examined the average working hours for MBA graduates in various industries, supported the theory that MBAs are increasingly drawn to companies that offer better work-life balance. He found that, while overall, the median work week for MBA graduates is 54 hours per week, financial firms made up six of the top ten companies with the longest working hours. MBA graduates working at Goldman Sachs averaged 86 hours per week, followed by Barclays (73 hours), J.P. Morgan (72), Morgan Stanley (70), Credit Suisse (70), and Fidelity Investments (68).  Consulting firms round out the top ten, with average hours worked ranging from number three, McKinsey & Co. with an average of 72, to A.T. Kearney and Boston Consulting Group with averages of 63[1]. Bryne goes on to highlight that the MBA jobs with the lowest average working hours are at technology firms and large corporations. “MBAs who work for Microsoft average just 44 hours a week, while those who toil for Apple put in 52-hour weeks, a couple of hours below the median. Facebook MBAs average just an hour a week more at 53 hours, while Amazon MBAs hit the 54-hour a week median working for the e-commerce giant.” Those working for IBM, PepsiCo, and 3M company worked just under 45 hours per week.

Byrne then calculated hourly wages for various sub-industries and his analysis revealed that hedge fund and mutual fund employees earn the highest hourly rate at $129.46/hour. The average MBA makes about $75/hour. As an industry, high-tech placed third and fifth for e-commerce and software respectively, validating the supposition that technology companies may appeal to MBA graduates who value work-life balance, in addition to high pay and interesting work.

Some corporations need to do a better job addressing quality of life concerns if they want to recruit top MBA talent. And current MBAs considering various industries, corporations, or even offers should compare compensation alongside workload expectations in order to achieve both their career and lifestyle goals.  

[1] See full list here: https://poetsandquants.com/2016/06/17/mba-envy-not-know-hard-work/2/