Taking on the UK Investment Banking Series 2015

Ellis MurleyEllis Murley, first year BSc Finance & Investment Banking, blogs about his experience taking on Masters students across the nation in a UK-wide trading challenge, alongside peers from his course.

The UK Investment Banking Series (UIBS) is an annual event consisting of a Mergers & Acquisitions challenge and a trading competition, hosted by the finance societies at four UK universities. I initially entered with two others from the BSc Finance & Investment Banking out of interest and, honestly, just for a bit of fun. Being three first-year undergraduates going up against masters in finance students at countless other universities, we didn’t ever think we would make it through the finals, but then again we wouldn’t know unless we tried

“The atmosphere was electric. For many of us this was the first time we had done anything like this, although I myself had some experience in the ICMA Centre dealing rooms.”

After the initial application process, we were told we had been accepted and that we were due to start a two-week trading simulation by submitting a portfolio based on 10 equities listed on the FTSE100. The difficult bit? We weren’t allowed to change our positions!

Ellis Murley UK investment banking

Ellis with classmates Jack Glover and Jack Hardie at UIBS 2015

We chose to track our £20m portfolio using the FT portfolio function that comes with our subscription provided by the ICMA Centre. It was a painful first day having to watch Carnival PLC (CCL) drop from 3,595 to 3,503 losing us £1,840,000 in one day, however we brought it back and finished the first week with a five-figure profit. At the start of the following week, the FTSE crashed and there wasn’t a single team out of the 51 that finished in positive figures.

At the end of trade in week two, we were able to compare our P/L with other teams and were delighted to discover we had qualified for the final round, which involved a day visit to Imperial College!

There were two rounds of trading; one on the buy side as a hedge fund (HF) with two traders and one portfolio manager, and the other on the sell side as an investment bank (IB) with two sales traders and one trader.

We started the morning with an hour lecture on trading theory from a current trader, then all the teams were sent into the dealing room, where we started as an IB. The atmosphere was electric. For many of us this was the first time we had done anything like this, although I myself had some experience in the ICMA Centre dealing rooms.

“…one of the most insightful and exciting events I have ever been to.”

As soon as the simulation started, people were running around the room, discussing strategy with their teammates, and dealing with other teams. We were provided with an electronic chat platform, but quickly realised it was much more efficient to yell “BUYING 20,000 OF AAPL.!” across the room instead.

Whilst we ended the day on negative figures, we didn’t come last, which we were all happy about considering we were up against 15 teams of Masters students. One thing that I will never forget about that day is when the P/L was announced – even the organisers were shocked at the numbers that were produced from the second round. One team lost £200,000,000,000 (yes that is £200bn) as a hedge fund. It turns out they misquoted on a syntax which provided us all with a good laugh at the end of a long day!

I can honestly say that UIBS was one of the most insightful and exciting events I have ever been to. I would like to thank my two teammates Jack Glover and Jack Hardie, who I know are just as determined to go back next year and take the top prize, as well as the finance societies from LSE, UCL, ICL and Warwick for putting on such a fantastic event. See you all next year!

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