Interview with INSEAD MFin Assoc. Director Anne Bresman
Admissions.SG: What makes a strong Master in Finance (MFin) profile?
Anne Bresman: Based on what I’ve seen from previous intakes, I think the critical factors which constitute a strong MFin profile centre first and foremost, on the strength of an applicant’s quantitative skills, given the technical rigour of our programme. By this, I mean demonstrated capabilities and experience in a finance-related background, as well as an exceptional academic record.
The next component we consider is an applicant’s motivation in pursuing an MFin. Here, we look at what drives an applicant, and this would translate to an applicant’s keenness for future development in the financial sector. It is essential that an applicant show his/her commitment towards professional advancement and it must be clearly defined in the application. A typical example of this may include a desire to round up on his/her current skill set by identifying areas for further development such as focus on particular areas such as leadership, negotiation and strategy during the course of study.
Then, there is that one unique element, which goes back to what encapsulates the entire INSEAD experience – diversity. Needless to say, that because our programmes have an unparalleled diversity of nationalities and backgrounds across the board, this naturally makes for an environment that is both dynamic, engaging and filled with a multitude of perspectives.
In that regard, we value an applicant’s cross-cultural sensitivity and international outlook such as time spent abroad (either for work or study) or work experience in a multicultural or international organisation. All these elements determine an applicant’s potential to be a successful leader in a competitive and global business environment.
Finally, what I’d say would be the cherry on top, is an applicant’s ability to give back to the INSEAD community. In the applications that I’ve come across, we like to see applicants who display a clear desire for intellectual growth and stimulation, both individually and collectively in the classroom. This again, goes back to the highly engaging nature of all our programmes, the MFin included. So, an applicant who comes into the programme, ready to impart his/her vast knowledge and exposure to peers, would most definitely be deemed a valuable contributor to INSEAD.
Admissions.SG: What are the essential and common characteristics of successful MFin applications that you’ve observed in the past years?
Anne Bresman: Despite the remarkably vast backgrounds and experiences we’ve seen over the years, we’ve managed to pinpoint some of the following essential commonalities shared by successful applicants:
Competitive GMAT or GRE scores
This relates particularly to the quantitative section of either test. While there isn’t a minimum required GMAT or GRE score, our applicants are usually advised to achieve a score at or above the 75th–80th percentiles.
Demonstrated potential to lead in the finance industry
As this is a post-experience master’s programme, it is necessary that our applicants provide substantiation of both the length and breadth of their professional experiences and past accomplishments. Typically, we expect our applicants to have had at least between 4 and 6 years’ experience in a finance-related role. When we say a finance-related role, we mean a wide-ranging field of expertise and it includes positions in Financial Services, Capital Markets, Wealth Management, Private Equity, Venture Capital and many others.
Strong essays which outline motivations for pursuing the INSEAD Master in Finance
Simply put, we want to know why? Why the MFin, why INSEAD and we want to hear conviction in our applicants’ essays.
For instance, we’ve had applicants describe where they currently stand in their finance careers – the amount and type of exposure they’ve received and dealt with. They’ve also detailed the current changes they see taking place in the global financial landscape, how these relate to them and the importance of further progression in order to adapt to these changes and delve deeper in their areas of expertise.
Our applicants have also mentioned how the MFin is a good fit for them in terms their aspirations – how the modules and focus areas can help them fulfil these targets. They’ve described the steps they plan on taking to continually push themselves long after graduation and how they will endeavour to create impact as leaders in their industry.
And their reasons for choosing INSEAD? Well, credible justification is crucial and this may stem either from an applicant’s personal or professional background.
We’ve had applicants express a strong desire to interact with and learn from a classroom filled with experts from the finance field because they thrive on intellectual stimulation, while some have simply indicated the need for a change from an environment they’ve grown accustomed to – multicultural exposure – and INSEAD provides that element of diversity and internationality.
The examples I’ve provided should give you general idea of what’s expected. It’s important to bear in mind that they’re neither comprehensive nor exhaustive.
Admissions.SG: Does an applicant’s chance of gaining admission decrease if he/she only applies in the fourth and final round?
Anne Bresman: Absolutely not. We have been doing this for a number of years and there is equal opportunity in each round for all applicants. Any applicant whose profile fits the MFin programme, definitely stands a chance. However, I cannot stress enough to applicants that the earlier you submit your applications, the better your chances of maximising your financing options especially for loans and scholarships, securing financial support from your company and ample time to arrange logistics, study and sit for your GMAT/GRE. The bottom line is this – make sure you get your application in on time!
Admissions.SG: If a candidate has scheduled his/her GMAT test several days after the final round of admissions, will he/she be able to meet the deadline?
Anne Bresman: Of course, just as long as the full application has been submitted beforehand. Even if a candidate schedules his/her GMAT test date up to two weeks after the final deadline, evaluation of the application can still take place prior to submission of the GMAT score. The reason we offer this flexibility is to ensure that candidates with excellent profiles apply for the upcoming intake.