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  • Writer's pictureMatt Ting

Canadian Investment Banking Target School List (Updated 2023)

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Overview

One of the best-kept secrets in all of finance is the strength of certain schools in Canada.


There are several Canadian universities that have made an impressive name for themselves on Wall Street, with some schools consistently outplacing highly prestigious U.S. schools.


Schools such as Western, Queen's, and McGill have cultivated strong finance communities and consistently send graduates to the top investment banks and investment firms in the world.


For example, did you know that Western sends more people into investment banking than Dartmouth or Stanford?


Did you know that Queen's sends the highest proportion of investment banking hires (across all North American schools) to the very top firms?


Canadian Flag

Just like in the United States, there is a small handful of schools in Canada that tend to dominate investment banking recruiting.


Said differently, if you’re a bright, motivated student but you’re not at the right school in Canada, the odds you break into banking are unfortunately greatly diminished.


Our goal in this post is to use data to understand which schools are and are not Canadian target schools. We’re going to establish this view by looking at the actual data of where alumni from each school works. The complete table is here and we'll walk through the methodology and data below.


Canadian Target School List

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Methodology


Our goal is to see which Canadian school produces the greatest number of investment banking analysts.


Here was our approach:


Aggregate all Investment Banking Analysts in the world (~60k people)

  • We collected LinkedIn profile data with the help of HR analytics firm Terrain Analytics. They provided an enormous amount of high-quality data and this would not be possible without their help.

  • We collected the profiles of anyone with “Investment Banking Analyst” or closely related terms as one of their job titles.

  • For this cut, we looked at anyone who graduated between 2008 and 2023 in order to get a highly comprehensive dataset.

  • This resulted in ~60k global profiles around the world.


Screen for all U.S. and CAD-based jobs only (~41k people)

  • To screen for geography, we are only including people who work in the U.S. and Canada. Many top candidates from Canada work in the U.S. so we think it is important to include both sections.

  • This resulted in ~41k profiles in the U.S. and Canada.


Screen for reputable global and Canadian investment banks (~22k people)

  • We tried to only include high-quality global firms and established Canadian firms so that this ranking reflects which schools place into the very best firms

  • Note that we excluded regional boutiques from this screen. Also note that the list of "top firms" we are using here is different from the one we use in the full target school list. We apply a higher standard when evaluating U.S. firms



Canadian Target School Methodology


For this screen, we cast a fairly wide net of firms. Note that this list of firms is much larger than the list used for our full investment banking target school list.


Bulge Bracket and Elite Boutiques

  • The best Canadian finance schools consistently send a few students to the best firms in the world. Many of these placements are in the U.S., but many of these global firms have satellite offices in Canada. The firms in this category include the usual suspects: Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan, Bank of America, Evercore, Lazard, etc.

  • This category accounts for people who go to Goldman New York and those who go to Bank of America Calgary.


Mid-Market and Other

  • We included the next "tier" of global investment banks in this screen as well. These firms may not be as dominant in investment banking, but many still have a meaningful presence in the U.S.

  • This category includes firms like Harris Williams, HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Rothschild, etc.


Canadian Big 6

  • Of course, in Canada, the majority of investment banking jobs are offered by the big banks. The Big 6 are RBC, BMO, TD, Scotia, CIBC, and I guess National Bank can be here too.

  • Most Canadian semi-target schools (Laurier, Toronto, etc.) send the majority of their placements to the Big 6, whereas the target schools (Western, Queen's) send a greater proportion to bulge brackets and elite boutiques.

  • Broadly speaking, I would say that most Canadian Big 6 firms are less desirable than the bulge brackets and elite boutiques.


Note that we have not included regional boutiques in this screen.


Canadian Investment Banking Categories

We end up with ~22k U.S. and Canadian investment banking analysts who graduated between 2013 and 2023 and who worked at one of the firms defined above.


The complete list of firms included for this dataset are: Allen & Co., Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, Barclays, BMO Capital Markets, BNP Paribas, Canaccord Genuity, Centerview Partners, CIBC Capital Markets, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Evercore, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Lazard, Macquarie Group, Mizuho, Moelis & Co., Morgan Stanley, National Bank Financial, Nomura, Oppenheimer & Co., Perella Weinberg Partners, PJT Partners, Qatalyst Partners, Raymond James, RBC Capital Markets, Rothschild & Co., Scotiabank, Societe Generale, TD Securities, UBS, Wells Fargo, and William Blair. Some other firms were included in this screen but had zero placements from Canadian schools.


Note: Our data source predicted that this does not represent 100% of the actual Investment Banking Analyst population (some people don’t have LinkedIn, some have restricted public access, or have hidden/different titles). This is a statistically significant sample, but should not be viewed as a complete dataset.

Canadian Investment Banking Target Schools


After reviewing the data and categorizing it, we sorted the entire list of schools by total number of hires.


Then we cut it one final time to only include Canadian schools.


After examining the data, we segmented the schools as such:

  • Targets – the Canadian schools with by far the most amount of investment banking hires. These schools send good numbers to the top global firms in the U.S. and they have extremely strong coverage at virtually all Canadian offices.

  • Semi-Targets – these schools send a modest number of graduates into investment banking and the majority of their hires are into the Canadian Big 6 firms. They send very few people to the U.S. but still occasionally break into the global firm satellite offices.

  • Non-Targets – everyone else. These schools generally do not produce as many investment banking graduates. Some of them may have carved out a particular geographical or industry niche (e.g., The University of Calgary still sends people to bulge brackets in Calgary). Generally speaking, you have to be one of the very top students to get into investment banking from these schools, and even then your placement is highly luck-dependent.


Target Schools


In Canada, it’s quite clear who the best finance schools are: Western (Ivey) and Queen’s.


Both schools send impressive numbers to the U.S. and top banks. Western and Queen’s generally both have on-campus recruiting or partially reserved spots at many top firms in the U.S. Both Western and Queen's have outstanding finance recruiting statistics.


Western sends >50% of all its hires into bulge brackets and elite boutiques. Queen's sends ~1/3 of all of its hires to the very top firms (Goldman Sachs, Evercore, etc.)


In fact, Western and Queen's collectively send more hires into bulge brackets and elite boutiques than every other Canadian school combined. Western and Queen's represent ~70% of all hires into Goldman Sachs. Frankly, if you want to break into investment banking, you're best served at Western or Queen's.

Canadian Target School List 2

But the divergence between these two schools is also stark – Western is by far the best school for investment banking and it’s not that close.


Western’s investment banking population is almost twice the size of Queen’s. This list doesn’t show it, but Ivey also has a consistent pipeline of students that go straight to the buyside. Even compared to U.S. school standards, Western ranks as a semi-target, besting many other top U.S. colleges.


The third best finance school is McGill. McGill is a distant third, but I would still elevate them among the remaining Canadian schools. McGill still sends a good number of graduates to the most elite firms and has steady placement in the U.S. Unsurprisingly, McGill also dominates the few global firms that have offices in Montreal.



Western vs. Queen's


Below is firm-specific placement data for Western and Queen's, the definitive top Canadian schools for investment banking placement.

Western vs Queens Investment Banking

Western has almost double the investment banking placements as Queen's (201 vs. 112) and more than double the bulge bracket/elite boutique hires (110 vs. 44). Western also has more hires at virtually every investment bank.


However, we should recognize that Queen's has historically had a smaller student body vs. Western and one could argue that Queen's has much more comparable per-capita statistics. It is also worth noting that Queen's has remarkably consistent placement into the very best investment bank, Goldman Sachs. My anecdotal experience working in New York definitely corroborates this.

From my view of the data, if you're a top student at Western or Queen's, you'll have a reasonable chance of getting into any investment bank on the street.


However, the median student likely has a much higher chance of breaking into investment banking from Western given the sheer volume of placements.

Having gone to Western, I can tell you that part of Western's excellence is in part based on its success in a couple of specific offices. Over the course of several years, Western has built rare relationships with offices like Evercore (New York), Credit Suisse (San Francisco) and Moelis (Los Angeles) that generally keep its numbers steady.



Semi-Target Schools


After the top finance schools, there’s a hodgepodge of overall good schools that are steadily growing their finance community and alumni base.


I would categorize the following schools as semi-targets: University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, The University of British Columbia, and York University.


All of these semi-target schools have some presence at every Canadian Big 6 firm, but their presence in the U.S. and at global firms is much weaker. On average, these semi-target Canadian schools probably send 5-15 students into investment banking per year.


If you're at one of these schools, you'll likely have to be one of the very top students in your program if you want a solid chance at investment banking.


You might notice that a school like Laurier sends an overwhelming 75% of its investment banking hires into one of the Big 6 (Laurier has a strong connection to RBC and TD in particular). In fact, many of these semi-targets roughly do as well Western and Queen's when placing into the Big 6.


Highlighting Waterloo and UBC


I predict that Waterloo, with its extremely successful co-op program, is going to one day become a definitive target school. The ascent of Waterloo as a finance school over the past decade is undeniable. Their co-op program allows them to compete for off-cycle internships and get high-quality work experience at top firms. Anecdotally, I’ve also seen them carve out a real presence at West Coast tech firms in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. It definitely takes several years to build a finance reputation, so it depends on the continued strength of the program and its graduates.


The other school I’ll make mention of is UBC – and I really just mean the legendary UBC Sauder PMF program. It would not be a stretch to say that UBC Sauder PMF is the best finance program in all of Canada, even better than Western on a per capita basis. In fact, UBC Sauder PMF sets you up with extremely coveted buyside internships that are so prestigious, that it would make even the top student at Wharton feel insecure.


The glaring issue is that it’s only 6 or so students per year and anecdotally it seems like the rest of UBC Sauder is nowhere near as good. This is also an "investment banking" target school list, so UBC doesn't benefit from those buyside placements.


Non-Target Schools


Outside of this list of schools, breaking into investment banking is going to be significantly harder. You'll have to really rely on networking grit and the off-cycle path.


Some of the remaining Canadian schools have carved out a geographical niche in a particular location. For example, HEC Montreal still places well in Montreal. University of Calgary & University of Alberta have steady pipelines to the O&G jobs in Calgary. But these schools often have a tough time placing outside of their niche.


Special shout out to the one guy from Carleton who broke into Goldman Sachs, just one of two people to break into investment banking from his school over the past decade.


Conclusion


If your goal is the U.S., the recommendation is obvious: go to Western (Ivey) or Queen’s.


Although investment banking recruiting is pushing into second year, transferring to Ivey for your third year is still a time-tested strategy that has produced some of the most successful Ivey finance alumni that there are. Having gone to Ivey, I can tell you that the transfers were consistently some of the most intelligent and hardworking people in the class.


And if your goal is investment banking in Canada, you have a reasonable chance of breaking into investment banking in Canada from any of the targets or semi-targets.

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8 Comments


Guest
Dec 08, 2023

Interesting. Would be good to add Associates to account for those that entered IB later after an MBA or via other non-traditional routes.

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Guest
Dec 07, 2023

Great Post Matt!

As for U of Waterloo’s numbers, are all 65 placements purely UW students in the AFM or CS/Eng programs, or are some in the popular joint double-degree program with Laurier BBA? How exactly are you taking into account the individuals in that program, do they get added to both UW and Laurier’s numbers?

Thanks for the updated numbers!

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Guest
Dec 06, 2023

Wheres Stifel?

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Guest
Dec 06, 2023

I would not do a special mention for UBC's PMF program in 2023.


Their placements in recent years have been terrible, and the program is a shell of its former self.


Look at their annual reports. The last KKR placement was in 2018 and the last GS placement in 2019. The buyside placements they do have left are with Oak Hill Advisors, which appears to be a Tier 2 / 3 credit (not private equity) shop. There were two Blackstone placements in 2020, but again, that was for credit and not PE.


The rest of the PMF classes from 2020 - 2023 have gone into investment banking in Vancouver and Toronto, at Big 6 firms, which is a far cry…


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Guest
Dec 06, 2023

Fantastic work Matt, thanks for this. I got acceptance into Western but decided to stay home (Manitoba) for the first two years and then reapply to Ivey for 3rd/4th etc year. Any word or opinion on the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba? Not many alumni in IB but I’ve been networking on LinkedIn and there are a few, with a decent number of current students landing summer internships at Big 6‘s.


Thanks,


Matt

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