To be accepted to Wharton, do you need to show demonstrated interest in business? I've been spending most of my time on learning math and am just now becoming interested in finance. My objective stats are pretty solid (2400, 3.96). Do I have a shot, even if my application is much more focused on math than business?
In one word: no. You have to be smart, that's it. Being interested in business helps, certainly, but if you can demonstrate that you are intelligent and twist anything you've done to show things like leadership and teamwork or innovation - even if its not in starting a new business, then they will love that. Apply to Wharton ED, it'll help your chances as they'll be sure you're interested in business and know what you're getting into otherwise you wouldn't do that.
ezbreezy: "This strikes me as a very odd example. The overwhelming majority of financiers make their money not by making markets more efficient but in fact by taking advantage of market inefficiencies (via arbitrage and what not) that the person on Main Street do not see and/or cannot do anything about."
Sorry to bring this up so late in the game, but I just wanted to clear this up, since this represents a fundamental misunderstanding of finance and economics, and is a big reason people get so frustrated at finance.
Market inefficiencies arise due to barriers to efficiency--bad decisions, mistakes, asymmetric information, regulations, etc. Those who profit from those inefficiencies--arbitrageurs--do, in fact, make the market more efficient. A simple thought: You can buy oil in Chicago at $100 a barrel and sell it at $102 in New York. An arbitrageur then buys at $100 and sells at $102, risk-free profit. But buying in Chicago increases demand on the same supply, raising the price to $101. Selling in New York floods the market with the same demand--bringing the price down to $101, closing the gap. Without arbitrageurs, the market would have remained inefficient. With them, it is more efficient. The allure of risk-free (not free, mind you, because finding these opportunities requires time, capital, and effort) money via arbitrage is the very reason so few opportunities to do so exist. People find inefficiencies and almost instantly close them. The result is that all other market participants (laypeople included) are treated to a fairer, more liquid, and more efficient market. So is arbitrage an evil tool for free money, or is it just compensation for the time, capital, and effort of those who make the markets efficient and fair for all?
The other thing I disagree with is the use of the phrase "overwhelming majority". In fact, finance is comprised of a lot more than arbitrage. Finance includes things like mutual funds (which work to find the best, most stable investments for mom and pop to retire on) and investment banking (which takes idle money from institutions like pension funds, endowments, and rich people and uses it to fund startups, businesses, biotech research, and inventions that are the driving force behind most innovation and advancement we see today).
It's incredibly easy to be angry at the vague notion of a Wall Street fat cat profiting off the plight of grandma. But in reality, finance is a critical component of everyday life, from the venture capital funding that allowed biotech researchers to discover the life-saving pills grandma takes, to the pension fund payouts she receives. It's hard to see it among huge bonus checks and insider trading scandals, but not everyone is evil.
Ibanking is about two things:
1) helping firms acquire or merge with other firms
2) raising capital through additional equity or debt offerings
Research and trading divisions exist at bulge brackets but are not traditionally considered ibd. What you're referring to is asset management which encompasses private equity and venture capital (which is what I think you have in mind)
Your take on market inefficiency is correct though. Should also add that many institutions profit by offering liquidity for financial instruments (essentially buying from people who need to sell in a hurry).
@ Subsidize: keep in mind that wharton is also involved in research and public policy. Finance and consulting are popular industries but are by no means the only options you have. If you have a solid math background, you could consider talking about an academic interest related to business rather than actual business experience.
I am a high school senior applying ED to Penn/Wharton. At first, I wasn't sure I wanted to apply to Wharton because of the endless horror stories I had heard about the school, but this post has changed my mind. I just spent the last 2 hours reading each post and verifying what people are saying through other internet resources, and for the most part it seems legit!
I need some advice, though. I have zero business EC's, except for this one project a couple of my friends and I took up. We targeted agricultural overproduction, which is a huge problem in my country, and designed a prototype and business model to eradicate the negative effects of this problem. We have a patent on the design, and are working with our country's government to launch a pilot run of our model.
Is this the type of entrepreneurial spirit that Wharton are looking for in their applicants? I do not dream of a sexy, high paying finance job. I do not want to build huge capitalist empires. I want to help people. Are there students at Wharton who are taking up such projects? For the benefit of others?
Apply to engineering, and apply to the dual degree program with Wharton after freshman year. (You'll get into that with intentions that you describe)
Much better option than applying to Wharton directly unless you're really qualified.