Friday, October 3, 2008

MiF First Month

The first Month of the program is over and we had our first exam yesterday! Now that a bit of the program has passed there are a few observations I have made.

1. Classmates are great. With such a large group there are always some people that you just don't match with but the vast majority of people here are terrific. They are driven and ambitious, but also warm and genuinely nice to be around. Your colleagues is definitely the best part of the program.

2. Core courses are (disappointingly) easy. They are basic courses designed to give a good foundation, but thus far our investments course, in which we had an exam yesterday, leaves a bit to be desired. For instance, one component of the course is bond pricing. In bond pricing the concept of convexity is really important, but in our course that is being left to the fixed income elective course. We are masters students are we not? The course should be more complete and more rigorous. We just began the accounting core course and the corporate finance one hasn't even begun. More on those in a future post.

3. There's a bit of a rift between the MiFs and the MBAs. Many MiFs will openly complain about the MBAs and how they seem to be the focus on the school's attention. In my experience the clubs for example do seem to focus on the MBAs and give only a brief mention here and there to MiFs. The problem in my opinion is that the school does not place enough effort into integrating the separate programs into a cohesive community. I will dedicate a future post to this in detail, so now I will just say that the school needs to do a lot more, especially in the months before the program begins.

4. Companies ARE still hiring. This is the reason we're all here after all... Companies are still coming to campus to recruit and there are still jobs to be had. One bank (I won't name it here) came on campus the other day for a presentation and said openly that they are looking to hire in the same volume as last year. I would say though that especially for the big investment banks, (no surprise) there is a lot more on offer in Asia than anywhere else. Brush up on your Mandarin!

More updates coming soon.

Monday, September 8, 2008


I've arrived.

My plane didn't fall out of the sky and I made to to London late last month. I've been meaning to write on my blog for days but the program ties you up fast! Anyway, after staying on a friend's sofa for a bit over a week (and her clearly growing tired of me being there) my flatmates and I managed to find a great flat in a convenient location. We have 2 huge supermarkets, many shops and restaurants, an underground stop and bus stop right in front of us when we look out our windows.

Finding the flat was an adventure itself. We spoke with several agents and saw 7 flats before we finally made a choice. The agents had some very nice places, but wanted ridiculous deposits from us because we are students. We are not able to pay 6 months of rent up front! Anyway, we were lucky that the landlord to our now residence asked LBS to list his place on Portal. One phone call, a quick visit and a few follow up calls/meetings later the contract was signed and the keys were ours. Moral of the story, keep your eyes on Portal when looking for a flat in London!

As I mentioned above, our program has started. I've met most of my classmates by now and I can say that there are many, many fantastic folks. We've only had the introduction day, seminars for career services, and one class (yes, only one - I'm not sitting the statistics or accounting pre-program modules) thus far, so I am going to hold off on writing about my experiences until the program unfolds a bit more.

Until then,

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Summer Reading List

The MiF program begins in less than a month and I've been spending the last few weeks with some preparatory reading. Why do this in my last free weeks of freedom? The job search cycle begins very early in the term and relying only on my coursework to prepare academically for interviews is simply not enough. There are too many things I need to have at least some knowledge of before walking into a meeting with a potential employer, and unfortunately most of them won't appear in coursework until the electives in the second and third term of the program. So, a couple of books have been my companions on my train ride to/from work. They are:

Paul Wilmott Introduces Quantitative Finance by Paul Wilmott
Paul Wilmott is quite ubiquitous in the quantitative finance world and I've been meaning to pick up one of his books for a long time. The recommendation from both an LBS alumnus and professor at the school for this book finally gave me the impetus to click the order button. The book is great in terms of content; it covers all major aspects of quant finance with a fairly practical bent. It sticks to the point and is not overly theoretical. The main issue I have with this book is that the author makes a lot of logical leaps in his topics without sufficient explanation. The leaps may seem obvious to someone with a lot of mathematical training, but this book is supposed to be an introductory text aimed at students (according to the back cover)!

After getting tired of reading sections of Wilmott multiple times to finally discern the meaning, I started reading John Hull's Options Futures and Other Derivatives (my edition is older than that in the Amazon link).
This book is famous among finance students as being a "bible" of quant finance, and I am sad to say that I've owned a copy for years without seriously reading it. I'm reading it now though, and I find the explanations highly logical and clear, a great book. I do find this book more basic than the Wilmott book however; it's a step down in terms of technical rigor. I think this book is a good grounding for Wilmott or other books. So, after reading Hull I'm going to revisit Wilmott, which should then be more accessible.

Any other good quant finance oriented books that you recommend? Do write a comment and give your suggestions. Cheers!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Quitting Time

I've done it.

I took the plunge and did what has been the hardest thing in my preparations for leaving from LBS - I gave notice to my company. This time of year is peak season for my company, and I was quite afraid of what their reaction would be. Despite worrying about it for weeks however, it really turned out to be a non-event.

I of course wanted to keep my relationship with my employer as friendly as possible in my final weeks and leave on good terms, but I also wanted to be compensated for my remaining paid holiday days.

So, I had the chat with my boss and and told him my intentions, and that I was very sorry for the bad timing. Instead of him being angry, he congratulated me; it didn't seem to bother him. I think he understood that it's already done - that I've made the decision and there was no way to change anything.

To smooth things over, I agreed to work until the last day possible, the day before I leave for London. It's really no problem as the only thing I need to do is pack my luggage, which will not take much time.

They will pay me for the paid holiday as well, so it really has been an ideal outcome. I guess what I can tell readers is that leaving your company isn't something to worry so much about, it won't be as bad as you think.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Pre-course Modules

MiF offers pre-course modules on statistics and accounting for incoming students who do not have much experience in those areas. The modules will cover a good foundation for use in the core courses and electives, and do so in just a few weeks.

The modules this year will run in the evening in the first few weeks of classes. That will be a busy time for incoming MiFs with our 3 core courses, club activities, networking, preparing for interviews and adjusting to London. I really question if running the modules concurrent with the fall term is the best policy, but perhaps running them before the start of term would be too difficult.

Why? Not everyone is required to attend them. There is a short exam for each module to determine if we should attend or not. In April the exams were made available to us on Portal, the LBS intranet, for us to complete at home. The problem is that with some 140 members of the graduating class, it takes time to grade the tests. In fact, we just received our results this week. It's now only a few weeks before people will begin to arrive, and it would be unfair to make people hold off on making travel arrangements until this late due to the possibility of being required to come early and attend the modules. So, it seems that the program had no choice but to hold the modules concurrently.

So how about me, will I attend the modules? I studied accounting and statistics both as part of my undergraduate, so I did well enough on the exams to opt out of the modules. So my evenings of my first few weeks will be filled with many things, just not studying accounting and statistics.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Follow Up Comments to a Classmate's Blog

A friend and future classmate, Agent Kermit who writes the FINANTIC blog in my links section, posted answers to questions he received from a reader. His answers are top notch and I think great reading. I have a few comments I'd like to make as well, which is the nature of this post. The original question is in blue, AK's answer in italics and my comment in bold. Also, like AK wrote in his blog, remember that I have yet to go through the program, so what I write here should not be taken as any kind of gospel. Enjoy!

a. How good is MiF, LBS? I mean without an opportunity to intern with an iBank / hedge fund what are your chances of getting into a bulge bracket ibank?

I think doing an internship increases your chances of getting into a bulge bracket i-bank or a hedge fund considerably. This is specially the case if you do not have any work experience in the type of firm you want to work at. LBS MiF program has a requirement that you have at least 2 years of finance experience, but they are pretty vague about that requirement. You could have been working for the IT group in a commercial bank for 2 years and still be admitted to MiF. Operative term being "could have been" since LBS admissions solely makes the decision.

If you think you do not have the right amount of experience, or if you want to make a significant career move, I urge you to consider the MBA program instead. It's a 2 year program, and you have great chance to do an internship between years 1 and 2.

When I go to London, I will root for LBS to support pre-MiF internships since I've gone through a lot of trouble securing this internship, and also getting the administrative stuff done (such as visas). Oxford MFE program on the other hand, provides help for their students to get an internship before the program starts without even asking for it.

I fully agree that if you think you do not have the right experience or some other edge to make you attractive to the recruiters, then an MBA is better. Going in to the MiF without direct experience is a higher risk as these is no internship period, but this can be offset by other things you do. Can you speak a language in high demand like Mandarin or Arabic for instance? This kind of thing can help you land a job even without an internship. This approach is certainly not for the faint of heart though.

b. In your blog you had mentioned that only 30% - 40% of the MiF students get placed through the milk rounds. The rest have to find jobs on their own. This does make me feel extremely insecure. Does this mean that the school does not support the students in anyway?

That's the number I've got from a current MiF student. I think it's more empirical than a rock solid number. But yes, since the timing of milk rounds is a little awkward, not many MiF students get a job offer. Reminder, the first milk round is mainly for full time job offers and takes place sometime around November. Second milk round is around April/May and is mainly for internship opportunities. If you are an MBA student that calendar makes a lot of sense. You do the May milk round for an internship during your first year, and the Nov milk round for a full time job just when you start the second year.

I don't know how much support you get from the school. The people (MiF staff, alumni and current students) I've talked to sounded pretty calm about the whole process, since everyone gets placed one way or the other. Career services is pretty good and they start working with you even before you get a foot in London. They publish resume books, and try very hard to get you placed. But at the end of the day it's up to you to network your way into a decent job, or to present yourself to the prospective employers.

Also remember that many if not most MiF's are not after the jobs available in the milkround. The milkround is mostly for associate level positions, i.e. for fresh post-graduate degree holders. As MiFs tend to have prior finance experience, taking this kind of position would actually be a step down for them; many classmates are already at the VP level. These students find their jobs through recruiters and by networking with alumni.

c. You had recommended that it is always better to do an intern before joining MiF. How long should the internship be? How to go about getting an internship with an iBank? I am currently staying in India. What are the chances for me to get an internship with bulge bracker bank in one of the leading financial centres? ( In my knowledge, it is quite limited... :) Do give your views on this.

i-bank internships are hard to get. Here's why. Their internship applications close sometime in mid to late december. Even if you apply in Round 1 to LBS, you may not get a decision by then. And let me tell you that telling people you have an admission offer from LBS places some weight on your application. So do your best, apply as early as you can, even before the R1 deadline. That way you may apply to i-bank internships before they close.

How long? - I don't know. 2 months should be the bare minimum I think. It depends on the organization you are interning with, and they tend to determine the duration most of the time.

Internships are great if you can get them, but without the use of the career services office and milkround (which incoming MiFs unfortunately don't have) then they can be hard to come by. Finding one really comes down to your skills in networking and honestly, being in the right place at the right time. You might think that this difficulty can cast a shadow on your overall job prospects, but I think the lack of an internship will not kill your chances. Focus on finding your edge if an internship doesn't materialize, just like I mentioned above for the first question.

d. I have also read that networking is one of key aspects for getting a job in an ibank. With a 1 year program, and placements starting within the first few months of joining LBS ( MiF), how can one possibly network and get a job?

I am definitely not the right person to answer this question right now, but maybe within a year I'll have some first hand experience to share with you.

Here are what I know so far. There are school trips to NY, Hong Kong etc. I think it's important to attend those, since every time an employer shows up at the school people would be circling him like a flock of ants. I don't think that's the right way of networking your way into a job.

LBS has a ton of clubs for different interests, you can see the complete list link omitted. You should use these as tools to meet people in the industry that you normally would not be able to.

Networking is what you make of it. As AK said on campus presentations are not the best place usually because everyone in the room will swarm the poor guys/gals from the companies. I think the clubs are a great, perhaps the best way to network. Get involved! Helping to organize a club event often puts you face to face with potential employers. Also, remember that when you become a student you are given full access to the alumni database. Pick up the telephone.

e. I firmly believe that the courses that LBS offers is great. But will the coaching for the first few months at LBS MiF suffice to crack the technical ibanking interviews?

We'll see. But the assumption is you already come from a finance background anyways.

Also, there is nothing to stop you from a bit of self study before you come to London. Any professor who teaches the subject you have interest in can recommend a good book or 2 to crack open in your free time.

f. I understand that LBS has a terrific brand name. But somehow the finer details of the MiF course make me feel a bit sceptical.

Note: AK didn't adress this comment specifically
Like AK said above, most people involved in the program and current students are pretty calm. We were sceptical too, but talk to current students/alumni and you'll see that things really do seem to work out. The placement rate is very high for a reason, and I can say from first hand experience that LBS has weight with recruiters. At a job fair I attended a while back, my conversation with an HR person for a leading i-bank changed markedly as soon as I said I'm enrolling at LBS.

Hope this helps,

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

LBS Alumni Party in Tokyo

This post will read like an advertisement for LBS and the LBS community but so be it, my affection for the place just made a big jump.....

A few weeks ago the LBS Alumni Club here in Tokyo organized a get together for incoming MBA, MiF, and other students. The first part of the evening was a Q&A session where we could ask alumni about all of the questions we have but couldn't find the answers to. Very useful and very kind of the alumni of course; we talked about finding a flat, costs in London, where to find health care etc.

The real reason for my ebullience however was the after session at a nearby pub. The alumni found an English-style pub nearby, took us there and even subsidized our shenanigans (i.e. they paid more than their fare share of the bill). I've always found that you can really have great conversations with people whenever alcohol is in the mix and this was no exception. Alumni, classmates, students from other programs, partners, etc - everyone was great fun to talk with.

I know it's cheesy to say, but this event really makes me believe that I'm making the right choice in heading off to London.

Friday, June 27, 2008

UK Visa and Flight to Heathrow

It's summer now and soon I'll be boarding a plane headed for London. To do that though I need a visa. Now, lucky readers from EU member nations can disregard this as they do not need visas to study in the UK, but the rest of us riffraff do.

So late last month I went to apply for a UK visa here in Tokyo. The Visa application process was quick and painless actually; a nice change from the horrible process that my fiancee and friends went through to get visas to study in the US. All I needed to do was write an application, print or copy a few documents and head to the visa office.

Notice I wrote visa office, not embassy. Instead of having to trek to the British Embassy, which is not in a convenient location in Tokyo, the British government is kind enough to office a special visa application office conveniently located near a major train station.

So, I made an appointment (mandatory), got up early on the appointed day and went before going to work. The visa office requires that you bring all documents that you think are important, with copies of everything. No copies means originals will not be returned. In my case, I brought the application form (very long but easy to complete), my passport, my letters from LBS stating that I have been accepted, my transcript from my undergraduate, a recent payslip from my company, and copies of my loan documents. All of these things were recommended by the visa office. I handed these items over, paid the application fee (99 GBP or about 20,000 yen) and had my fingerprints taken electronically (required). No interviews was required, although the embassy (which processes the application) can all you for an interview if they choose. The whole process took perhaps 20 minutes. The office warned me that they usually require a recent bank statement as well and they would contact me if needed (consider bringing one); luckily I didn't need it.

They gave me a receipt with a tracking number to be used on the visa office website to inform you of your status. About a week later a quick status check revealed that my application was finished. I went back to the office and picked an envelope with the originals of my documents and my passport with a UK visa stamp. Note that I could have opted for the envelope to be be delivered to me by courier for an extra fee; I chose to pick it up in person.

A big step in my preparations was now complete.

Next step, airfare. Cheap international one-way airfare is never easy to find due to the way airlines price their tickets. In Japan though, there are many small travel agencies that one can find on the internet. Yahoo Japan has a travel page where you can search the agencies for the lowest fair depending on destination and date of travel. I used this type of service and found a small agency that offered one-way flights on Asiana, a Korean airline, to London for less than 100,000 yen, including all fees and fuel surcharges - a good deal. So I called the agency and booked a ticket for August 20, about a week and a half before the start of the program. The agency sent me an invoice and I made a bank transfer a few days later, done.

My arrival at Heathrow is fast approaching.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

How to find funding

If you're one of the lucky ones to get offered a place in the MiF, the first thing you need to deal with is how to come up with the cash. Everyone will face a different situation with this, but is what worked for me.

There are three thresholds that must be met: first deposit, second deposit, and remaining tuition and living expenses. The first deposit is 1,000 pounds due when you accept your offer, the second is 9,000 pounds due 6 weeks after the offer is made, and the remaining tuition, 19,700 pounds, is due at the beginning of the program. Living expenses are up to your lifestyle, but I budgeted a (lower) middle-of-the-road figure of 1,200 pounds per month.

The first and second deposits must be paid without the help of financial aid, no scholarships or student loans. Coming up with 10,000 pounds is definitely a big burden; I managed it using zero interest balance transfer and introductory offers from credit cards. I took on a very large charge on my cards this way, but I will pay back the balance when I get money from student loans at the start of the program.

I arranged student loans for the full tuition cost, including repaying my bank for the first and second deposits, as well as living expenses from Sallie Mae, an American student loan lender. Sallie Mae will lend to students of many universities outside the US; LBS is one of them. Note though that the company requires a US national as a cosigner if you are not a US national (I am). My Sallie Mae loans are actually 2 loans, one guaranteed by the US government and one not. The first loan has a fixed interest rate but has a limit of $20,500, which is not enough to pay for the program. My other loan, for the remainder, is a private loan with a variable interest rate based on my creditworthiness. With the current turmoil in the credit markets there is worry about being approved for loans, but I was approved without any issue. If you have below average credit then this may be an problem, but otherwise I don't think it's a cause of concern.

Another option for borrowing is through HSBC, which many of my classmates are taking from reading their comments. I found that the Sallie Mae application is less cumbersome and it's easier to borrow everything you need from that company than from HSBC. Sallie Mae will approve any amount you wish to borrow within a limit set by the program as the maximum cost, tuition + 20,000 pounds for living expenses, if your credit is decent. Borrowing high amounts might not be so easy through HSBC. If Sallie Mae is an option for you, take it.

All this talk of loans, aren't their any scholarships available? In short, not really. Here is a list of scholarships available through the program: Many are only offered to certain groups, women for instance, and all of the awards are made only to 1 or 2 people. That is, even if you are qualified for an award, you will have stiff competition in getting it. If you manage to get a scholarship then great, but this should not be a key part of your funding plan.

As always, best of luck.

Monday, April 21, 2008

MiF interview

Congrats, you've made it through the application and were fortunate enough to get called for an interview. Here is my experience with the process.

- Who will interview you?
The program will ask an alumnus who lives/works in your area to sit down for a chat. In my case it was a 2006 graduate of the program.

- When and where will the interview take place?
That's up to the interviewer and you; you basically make whatever arrangements that suit both of you. I interviewed in a coffee shop after work, but a fellow classmate interviewed on a weekend. Coming from work I was dressed in standard work clothes, i.e. suit, but my classmate was specifically told to dress casually.

- What do you discuss?
The short answer is that every interview is different. It's my understanding that the program will send a list of questions or points they would like cleared up to the interviewer, but the interview structure is up to the interviewer.

My meeting was really a casual chat, where he occasionaly asked a question but most of the conversation seemed to flow naturally from topic to topic. We talked quite a bit about my motivation for the program, what I aim to get out of it and what I plan to do afterward. This was probably the most important part of my meeting and speaking to classmates and alumni everyone agrees that this is the interview's main focus. In that regard, be sure to know your story well. Be able to explain what you want to do, why, and how the program fits into your plan. In my case I discussed the job I wanted to do, what skills I lacked in doing it, and how the program will bring those skills.

On a related note, I was asked about which electives I would take to get those skills and what kind of company I aimed to work in post graduation. Look over the elective list and think hard about which companies you will target in your job search in case this comes up. Also think about your job search strategy, this was part of our discussion also.

Other than motivation, we talked mostly about his experiences in the program, which led to great discussion. We talked about everything from his job search experience, classes and the level of academic rigor, programs such as Taboo (a culture fair), and classmates. Note, the classmate discussion led to brief behavioral questions about my experience with teamwork as teamwork is key for many of the courses. The questions weren't out of the ordinary though.

Have questions to ask prepared of course, but in my meeting there really was no Q&A part. The questions I wanted to ask, about coursework, living in London, etc. seemed to naturally come up in our conversations.

All in all my meeting was perhaps an hour and a half. The main point is to know very well your motivation very well. Do that and you should be fine.

Best of luck

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

MiF application

It's late in the application season for this year (although the last deadline is still a few weeks away) but I wanted to write about the application process for posterity. The MiF 2010 season will start in only about 6 months!

Anyway, there are 3 core parts to the application: essay, GMAT, and recommendations/referees - just like most other business MSc and MBA programs. Here is my thoughts on each one.

Reading message boards such as Businessweek's MBA boards you will see that many people fret to no end about the GMAT. While the exam is important and you of course should work to make your score as high as possible, I think people worry far too much about it. Programs are being serious when they say that the GMAT is but one component of your application, and they look at your profile as a whole in their decision. Most programs make the average score and even a range for their admits available for all to see. For MiF 2009, the figures (so far) are a 705 average and a range of 620-790. If your score is within that range you are probably ok. A weaker score can be balanced against strong points. Note of course that every situation is different. If you have a quantitative background for example then you will be expected to score well on the quant section; falling to do so could cause problems. As another exmaple, scoring less than well on the verbal section will be more forgiven for a non-native speaker of English than for a native speaker.

Materials I liked:
- Princeton Review's Cracking the GMAT - nice explanations, techniques and tips throughout. Practice tests on the CD-ROM and online are good too.
- - online tutorials and good practice tests, low cost too.

There is debate about how much these really count, and my opinion (note that I've never sat on an adcom) is that they are less important. A bad recommendation will clearly hurt you, but who has a bad recommendation?? If you are not confident that the referee will write nice things about you then you don't ask that person to submit right? I think that in reality everyone finds referees that will make good comments, so a good recommendation is the norm, not something that will make you stand out. One thing to note about referees, said many times before I know but just to make it clear: the program doesn't care who the recommender is, that is his or her title. Most programs want at least one supervisor, but it doesn't matter if the referee is the company president or a rank & file employee. What's important is that the person knows you well enough to make insightful comments.

By far the most important part. MiF only requires 1 essay, the statement of purpose, so I'll comment on that. There are no hard rules for what a "good" statement is, but you need to address why you want to join the program, what your career goal is and how the program helps you, and what you will bring to the program. These things alone are not enough however. Your essay needs to be interesting and paint a story of you with a cohesiveness where one point naturally leads to the next. In my essay for instance, I wrote about my career to date, my rationale for the direction I've taken and how that led me to MiF. I then discussed why the program is right for me and how it fits into my goals. You want to give the impression that the program makes good sense for you and that you will bring the passion needed to be successful. On a technical note, it should go without saying but be sure to put the essay down after completing it and don't look at it for a day or so. Read it again with a fresh pair of eyes; you'll be shocked at all the mistakes you make in the first run!

Other helpful tips:
Show interest in the program! If the program has and information session near you, GO! The session will of course be informative and you'll have a great chance to ask questions to program officials and alumni, but it's a perfect chance to build some recognition. The session I went to had good food too - can't be beat! If no session is available to you, contact the program and ask about alumni in your area that you can chat with. There is a question on the application about contact you have had with the program and alumni, be sure to have a good answer!

There you have it. Best of luck with the application.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Mobile Phones End Poverty!

I plan to write about my application and interview for MiF, but this is something I just couldn't pass up. This is a New York Times piece about mobile phones in the developing world and the HUGE impact they have on people's lives and economic well being. It's a long article - 8 pages - but absolutely wonderful. The article centers around a Nokia employee who's job is to track how mobile users in developing areas use phones, and what their 'ideal' phone would be. He then feeds this info to the Nokia design teams.

The article brings up a few amazing points. As income rises for a given person living in poverty, where is the largest increase in spending? Healthcare? Better housing? Better food? Nope, mobile phones. People who previously had basically no means of communication with people who are not close by can not be connected with everyone. Imaging the productivity gains when a poor farmer can call ahead to wholesalers or retailers, communicate what he has to sell before traveling all the way to market, and arrange for sales? The seller can plan and manage inventory much better and the farmer can get good information on what is in demand and what isn't. He can pre-arrange sales, eliminating some of his risk and perhaps getting better prices too. LBS published a study in 2005 that showed that for every 10 unit increase in mobile phones per 100 people GDP rose 0.5%, incredible!

The article goes on to discuss how phones are changing lives in other ways too, like for money transfer for people who don't typically have bank accounts. A city dweller for instance who want to send money to family in a village can buy a prepaid mobile phone card and instead of using it, he/she can call a 'phone lady' in the village, who hires her phone to villagers when they want to make a call, and give her the code of the prepaid card. The phone lady then gives the cash amount of the card to the family member, minus a commission. Ingenious!

The article wraps up with what Nokia and others are doing to sell phones to the poor. Can they make money selling to people who only earn $1-2 a day? Looks like they are working on ways to bring cost down low enough that they can sell to this segment. This must one of the greatest uptapped markets in the history of mankind.

Why is this so good? The more I read the more I believe that the solution to the poverty issue isn't more aid. Aid gets wasted or even stolen by the hands it passes though, and it doesn't seem to be effective in creating sustainable economic growth. Mobile phones however give people an asset that substantially improves their productivity. Higher productivity brings higher economic well being, and this is a self reinforcing cycle - high well being provides opportunities to further raise well being.

A big hats off to Nokia and the other phone makers for tackling this and The New York Times for writing about it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

First Post

London sojourn....

In just over 4 months I will be moving to London to attend the Masters in Finance program at London Business School. This blog will be about the my adventures, mishaps, and all of the wisedom I come across.

I want to give readers:
- Information about the MiF program, including application, preparation, course work, etc.
- Tales from that city on the Thames
- A front line view of the job market facing those aspiring for the financial markets

A brief bit about me, I'm an American who's spent the last 6 years stumbling about in Japan, first as a teacher on the JET program then in investor relations in Tokyo.

Ok, let's get started on this Sojourn...