The Broad College of Business is home to many programs aimed at enhancing the student experience both inside and outside the classroom. For undergraduate Broad Spartans with an interest and concentration in finance or accounting, the Financial Markets Institute is the best program to be in, offering a comprehensive training ground for future success.
“In FMI, we don’t just focus on the technical — we have crafted a well-rounded college experience for each student,” said David Hawthorne, who has been FMI’s director since 2019.
As an elite academic and professional development program, FMI recruits students who aspire to work in investment banking, private equity, equity research, mergers and acquisition and venture capital. Through technical financial examinations and extensive interviewing, the program welcomes 16 to 24 scholars each year through a competitive process.
Once admitted to FMI, the scholars take on a rigorous 10-week educational program (called the Wall Street Boot Camp) focused on financial literacy, technical skills, business communication and professional etiquette. Andrei Simonov, chairperson of the Department of Finance and FMI’s faculty director, works closely with each new scholar to construct comprehensive and personalized curricular plans. This customization enables students to gain access to select MBA courses, prepare for their chosen sector of the finance industry and deepen their knowledge of finance and economics.
Outside the classroom, FMI scholars are mentored by Michigan State alumni in the finance industry every step of the way. Hawthorne organizes fireside chats and informational sessions, bringing in experts and alumni from investment banking, asset management and private equity firms to host informal dialogues about their industry segments.
Students can also participate in case competitions where they solve real-world business cases, refine their presentation skills and collaborate with a team under time pressure. Last month, FMI hosted its second annual Michigan Corporate Finance Competition, which was sponsored by BP. For two years running, a team of FMI scholars has earned first place at this statewide event.
“Competitions like these put students in the hot seat and familiarize them with real-world situations,” Hawthorne said. “Frequent exposure to real-life business cases allows our scholars to excel and stand out in their internships and full-time jobs.”
FMI scholars also earned first place in 2021 at the nationwide Association for Corporate Growth Cup and have frequently competed against top business schools at the Venture Capital Investment Competition.
Witnessing the finance industry in action is also an advantage of being an FMI scholar, and this is achieved by venturing to New York, Chicago and Detroit on annual road shows. This fall, Hawthorne took the scholars to New York, where they visited Ares Management, J.P. Morgan, Warburg Pincus, Jefferies, Raymond James, Goldman Sachs and Citi. Each stop featured an in-depth discussion about the company, along with internship, career and networking opportunities. Topping it off, the scholars were given a private tour of the New York Stock Exchange and its historic trading floor.
With all these experiences combined, each FMI scholar is well prepared for a future career in finance. This is solidified by the fact that FMI reports a 100% internship and full-time career placement rate, with many Broad Spartans landing at prestigious firms like Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan, to name a few.
“We have become a targeted program for many corporations in the finance space,” Hawthorne, said. “They recruit from our excellent pool of FMI candidates because they know our scholars are absolutely exceptional. It’s safe to say FMI is an Ivy League program at a non–Ivy League school.”
With an awareness of the lack of diversity in finance, FMI also places an emphasis on diversity and inclusion in its recruitment process. Of the current scholars, 24% are from minority backgrounds and 30% are female. Some FMI scholars also double as student athletes at MSU.
“Joining FMI was one of the best decisions I ever made for my college career, and the program was a huge driving factor in my decision to attend MSU,” said Kendall Carlin, who was introduced to the FMI program in high school and was determined to be admitted.
Carlin, a finance senior and Division I rowing athlete, is looking forward to joining Goldman Sachs as an analyst on its core franchise sales team upon graduation in May 2023. For her, the alumni connections and friendships are what have made her time as an FMI scholar so special.
“Alumni are always willing to mentor students and set up calls with us. The same spirit of giving back is passed onto undergraduate students in the institute; I find it incredibly gratifying to give back to younger scholars,” Carlin said. “FMI has cultivated a close-knit community among our peers that you can’t find anywhere else. Outside of our professional programming and classes, we are all great friends with each other. That’s why FMI has such a strong and extensive alumni network.”
FMI’s impact on each scholar goes far beyond their college years, into their finance careers. Chrissy Svejnar (B.A. Finance ’03), chairperson of the FMI Advisory Board, is a prime example of that. Svejnar is a managing director in direct lending at Ares Management, based in New York. She has been involved with the advisory board for 11 years and served as its chair for four years, leading 23 peers to continue forging a lifelong network for current FMI scholars and alumni.
“The program has advanced remarkably ever since I graduated. More and more companies on Wall Street are coming to FMI to recruit, and an increasing number of younger alumni are moving to New York City for work,” she said. “I am so glad that we now have a massive network of MSU alumni out here in the city. Our alumni love mentoring students and connecting them to the right internships and jobs.”
“Due to the nature of our university’s location, in-state students at MSU usually don’t have much exposure to Wall Street firms,” she continued. “FMI bridges that gap between aspiring finance professionals and various opportunities in high finance. It is indeed an impactful institute in the Broad College.”
Year after year, FMI continues to grow in its reputation and prestige. By leveraging its alumni network and offering a comprehensive training ground for future business leaders, the institute continues to promote excellence in finance for Broad Spartans.