Real-world finance: How my degree is preparing me for industry

By Xuefei Zhu, MSc International Securities, Investment and Banking at the ICMA Centre, Henley Business School.

It feels like only yesterday that I finished my blog talking about my unforgettable first week, and now I have just completed my first term studying at the ICMA Centre at Henley Business School. One term in, and I can now say that I have experienced the practical benefits and industry relevance in the course. I will show you what I mean…

The Dealing Rooms

alfie-dealing-roomThe ICMA Centre has three dealing rooms that simulate stock market trading. I have learned so much in these trading simulations. Our professor, who has been a professional trader for more than 8 years, leads the session. The way he teaches is really different, most of the time he lets us make our own trades. At first I was really confused and frustrated because I always ended up losing money and didn’t know how to earn profits. Looking back, I realize that this is the process we must go through, and part of the solution is to discover the answer by ourselves through experience. The truth is, trading is about trial and error before you finally start earning. Different traders have their own strategies and what you need to do is discover what yours is. When using the dealing rooms, I always made sure to ask the professor questions, and speak to those who were better so that we could share trading experiences and learn from each other.

The more you learn, the more you discover you don’t yet know. I remember one friend who told me that despite choosing more than 10 modules focusing on different fields of capital markets, he still needed to dedicate a lot of time to learning outside the module and developing a keen eye for other areas such as management. This shows the ICMA Centre’s focus on professional education. Especially during the second term, some professors are pioneers in their fields of finance. At the ICMA Centre you will find a new world of finance and be fascinated by it!

Modern Finance Case Studies

alfie-project-filesThe experience I was most impressed with in the first term was the four project assignments. All of them were true finance cases that needed to be solved. I particularly enjoyed the crisis of Deutsche bank, which had only just happened at that time of the assignment. Our team members needed to pull data from the Bloomberg or Thomson Reuters terminals to come up with the best solutions. There is a lot that you need to learn throughout the course, and the whole process has given me a deeper understanding of what abilities I really need to improve and what an efficient team should be like.

Building friendships and networking

alfie-christmasPractical experience at the ICMA Centre is not just learned from the modern trading systems, or challenging case study projects, or even the professors. To some degree, the friends around you are some of the most important teachers. Some of them have great experiences already based on different careers and life paths. More and more I believe that completing several years of work and then going back to study is a better learning model, because you will find out what you truly need and go for it! I will always remember the help I have had from friends and teammates. As the old saying goes: a friend in need is friend indeed. From a long-term perspective, these friends will all become your future career connections.

If you have not studied abroad, you will never know how hard you have to work to go through the final exams and assignments. It is a totally different experience from domestic education where the pressure is just before the exams; in foreign universities, if you want to get a high score, you must work hard and learn more during the whole time. This makes you appreciate the high level and professional experience you gain here.

It is your experience that makes you different from others. The first term has given me a brand-new door to my career in finance. It is the beginning of a new world, and all the fantastic future possibilities are just in front of me.

Young Success: KMS Success Academy’s Talk at the ICMA Centre

The Finance Society’s Event of the Year

Written by Dina Ghanma

picture4“Life begins at 50!” is something those who know me well have definitely heard me say at least once. “Before 50, you’re just struggling for ‘success’, but at 50, things start looking up” was my justification. A bit too pessimistic? Perhaps. But fortunately, our recent guests at the ICMA Centre have probably proved me wrong!

Three successful under-30s

Last Thursday, the Finance Society at the University of Reading held a members-only talk presented by three professionals under the age of 30 that have achieved success very early in their financial careers: Lucas Kollmann, who joined as the youngest analyst in Blackstone’s European office, Soheil Mirpour, one of the most junior hires at KKR, and Christian Schröder, who became a Director of a major Venture Capital fund in his mid-twenties. The successful trio not only remained best friends after having attended the same university, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Germany, but also created a three-part talk on Structured Success Management under the acronym of “KMS” which they present to university audiences all over Europe on a pro-bono basis. I was lucky enough to attend their event here at the ICMA Centre, and I’m writing this blog to tell you all about the wonderful experience…

Hands: Planning and execution

picture1After an introduction by the President of the Finance Society, Victor Ferrat, Soheil Mirpour took the stage and thanked the Society for their dedication and professionalism in organising the event (and he also commended ICMAC’s modern facilities and fancy lecture theatre, which is always great to hear!). Soheil’s segment was what the trio refer to as the “hands” aspect of their talk, dealing with planning and execution. It was all about how success is not “an arbitrary outcome” of random decisions, but an end goal that can only be achieved through proper planning and effective execution. Soheil urges us to identify what our “big vision” is, and then plan smart to figure out how we can get there from where we are today. Soheil also reminded us that there is a lot of silent work that goes into those loud moments of visible success, so we should never underestimate the need for consistent effort when the spotlight is off.

Mind: Making the right decisions and creating opportunities

picture2Next up was Christian Schröder whose “mind” segment was about how best to make the right decisions and create opportunities. He draws a likeness between decision-making and investing since the former is indeed an “investment of time and resources”, requiring careful judgement and critical evaluation, both ex-ante and ex-post. One of Christian’s core views is that we should increase the number of opportunities available to us through actively increasing our awareness of them, as well as “increasing the number of trials” towards achieving a goal. This will help us “take ‘luck’ out of the equation to a very large degree” and become “more in control of our own success”.

Mouth: Building a network

picture3Last but not least was Lucas Kollmann who spoke to us about networking, i.e. the “mouth” aspect. Lucas shared with the audience many tips and tricks on how to make contacts and very importantly, keep them! He emphasises the value of building strong relationships and establishing trust with the people you encounter – be it at university, in an internship or even at an “awesome party”. Lucas warns us, however, that we need to give ourselves a USP – unique selling proposition – to be able to offer a contact “more value than the average of his or her network” and become part of their community.

Overall, the event was a great hit! One of the elements that made it so was the speakers’ brilliant ability to keep us fully focused and interested. You don’t have to take my word for it, though. Here’s what some of the audience members thought of the presentation…

“I’ve been to a lot of similar talks, but this one definitely stands out because the speakers back up their advice with really great relatable examples.” Christopher, Masters Student in International Securities, Investment and Banking

“It was great to meet people who are currently working in the industry. It was a lot more than just theory in a lecture. Plus, they all had such excellent presentation skills!” Irene, Masters Student in Law

“[The talk was] very rich in quality! They were so engaging! Definitely not something you can just find in a book.” Omar, Bachelors Student in Finance and Investment Banking

Speaking of books… wouldn’t it be great if these guys wrote a book that brings together all their inspirational advice and expands on the insights they shared in their enlightening talk? Ask and you shall receive! The trio are actually in the process of designing a book on Structured Success Management and are hoping to publish within a year, so keep your eyes open for that. To stay posted, sign-up for KMS’s newsletter here.

This event would not have been possible without the initiative taken by the President of the Finance Society, Victor Ferrat, so here’s a word from him…

victor-ferrat-photo“I really do believe in the importance of networking, so I was just on LinkedIn looking for Private Equity professionals whom I can contact and learn from, and I came across Soheil’s profile. I sent him a private message introducing myself, and not only was he kind enough to reply, but he also offered to share his advice and that of his friends with more of my fellow students in Reading. One thing led to another, and we set up a KMS success talk at the ICMA Centre. The organisation of this event was very demanding, but it was definitely worth it. We are incredibly pleased that these professionals went out of their way to share their knowledge with us and help us achieve our goals. To think that all this started with a simple message! We are very grateful to Soheil, Christian and Lucas for their visit and hope they enjoyed their time with us. We would also like to thank the ICMA Centre and Ms. Leanne Ley for facilitating this evening and making it the success that it was.”

To conclude, the talk was jam-packed with eye-opening perceptions and practical advice, but perhaps what resonated with me the most was the general tone of success being absolutely achievable! It all comes down to being honest with yourself, discovering where your true strengths lie and applying yourself in the most effective way to make your ambitions a reality… even if you’re not in your 50’s yet! 

[Photo Credits: Emmanuel D’Arifat, a devoted member of the Finance Society.]

Five Finance Podcasts to Satisfy Your Inner-Geek

If by some miracle you have arrived at this point in your life and haven’t heard the word “podcast”, you might very well be some form of alien creature.
Podcasts are simply recorded audio files, like a radio show, but available for you to listen to at any time. Recently, podcasting (at least in America, where I’m from) has exploded in popularity following the release of a podcast called Serial, which explored the mysterious circumstances around a murder in the U.S. There’s somewhere around 250,000 podcasts that all offer different things.
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For our purposes, there’s a lot of excellent podcasts that address markets, finance, and economics. I’m going to give you some recommendations on my favorite podcasts and a brief description of each.
To download podcasts, you can visit the App store on your Apple device, or use any third-party podcasting app. I don’t own an Apple phone, so I don’t know of any third party apps, but my personal favorite for Android is called Pocket Casts.

1. Slate Money
Slate Money is a podcast where host Felix Salmon (a journalist from Fusion) speaks with co-hosts and guests every week. Typically the discussion is oriented around somewhat technical matters, such as how certain hedge funds profited on Argentinian bonds or interviewing a high-frequency trader about some techniques he uses. There’s some swearing occasionally, but these hosts are some of the most interesting people around.

2. Planet Money
This is an NPR (National Public Radio, a massive news organization in the U.S.) show about a wide variety of things related to the economy and financial markets. My favorite episode is about the Onion King, a man who cornered the market on onions by manipulating the futures market. Hilariously, his actions resulted in the banning of onion futures in the U.S. It’s an excellent show that covers a massive amount of content.

3. EconTalker
EconTalker is a show run by an economist at the Hoover Institution, Russ Roberts. He tends to have very dense economic discussions with new authors and Nobel prize winners. Recently he interviewed Angus Deaton, who won the Nobel in economics for his work on inequality and poverty. Even if you’re not a big fan of hardcore economics, there are often lovely nuggets of knowledge for financial professionals.
4. StartUp
Hands down my favorite podcast of all time (and I regularly listen to about 40 different shows), StartUp is about what it takes to start a business. If you subscribe to this show, go back and listen to the first season before anything else. The creator, Alex Blumberg, is a master of storytelling and financial journalism, and he takes you on an emotional ride as he founds his own start-up company.
5. Freakonomics Radio
A radio show by the authors of the book Freakonomics. This show is spectacular, and discusses the often unconsidered sides of the economy.
These are just a small handful of the best shows out there, and I encourage you to find shows that you like. If you would like more recommendations, you want to share your favorites with me, or anything else, leave a comment below!
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by Cameron Pfiffer, MSc Corporate Finance student at the ICMA Centre, Henley Business School.

Taking ‘Topics in Finance’? You’ll want to read this… (Don’t worry. It’s good!)

Topics in Finance: The secret prize you didn’t know existed

DinaAs another Spring Term sets off, flashbacks of last year come to mind. I was in the third and final year of my BSc in Finance and Investment Banking degree at the ICMA Centre. ’Twas the year of incredibly high expectations, stress like you’ve never known, goodbyes, the opening of new doors and – of course – optional modules! After much consideration, I decided to go for Topics in Finance as one of them. Like me, you might have chosen this module to challenge yourself in essay-writing, but what you might not know is that it comes with a prize at the end, and I found out in the best possible way…

Getting into the essay-writing

I can’t say the module wasn’t tough! What constitutes a “good essay” is pretty subjective, but there are some basics that we all need to know. Luckily, Dr Tony Moore, the module convenor, made sure to hold a class or two to discuss essay-writing skills and teach us how to reference properly – wouldn’t want to go around plagiarising anyone! I must admit I ended-up thoroughly enjoying the module, especially considering the host of interesting, diverse and knowledgeable speakers that were brought in to discuss all kinds of “topics in finance”.

The topic I enjoyed most was Behavioural Finance – a growing field that challenges many of the assumptions in classical financial models, including investors being “rational”. In fact, not only does the ICMA Centre offer an MSc module on this, but it also has a whole MSc degree specialised in the subject. Since it was my favourite topic, I decided to write my ‘big essay’ on how I believe markets to be informationally inefficient, and that the reasons behind that are behavioural.

The prize for the best essay

Given the firmness of my stance, I was very nervous about the result (to a point where I remember being too scared to pick up my feedback sheet). Fortunately, that anxiety was misplaced and Dr Moore actually awarded me the highest mark in class! It was only then that I found out about the module’s £300 cash prize for the best essay, sponsored by the Worshipful Company for International Bankers.

To top all this off, winning the module’s award also gives access to the WCIB’s Lombard Prize – an even bigger reward for the best essay across all the universities affiliated with the company. The deadline for this is months after graduation, which means you can still celebrate for weeks on end in the summer before you need to get right back to work!

So, for those of you just starting Topics in Finance now, and those of you planning on taking the module next year, this prize is even more of a reason to put in the effort and stay determined!

To sign off, I wish you all a productive Spring Term and a happy 2017!

Until my next blog,

Dina

No more culture shock: Adjusting to life in the UK as an international student

My name is Gao Tingting and I’m currently studying MSc International Securities, Investment and Banking at the ICMA Centre, Henley Business School.

gao-tingting-90

I chose to study in the UK because I wanted to have an enriching study experience. Since starting I have seen so many new and different things here as an international student, such as the lifestyle and environment, but when I first arrived at Heathrow Airport there were a few things that I was worried about. Here’s how I got over the culture shock:

Picking up the language

Before coming to the UK I studied English for several years, however I still felt nervous when it came to communicating with people from all over the world. Sometimes people were confused by my Chinese accent and at first I didn’t always understand what they meant. That was until I met my British friends. They shared some cultural experiences with me such as British food (and even how to speak in a British accent!) It was the first time that I understood the beauty of speaking English and began to communicate with others actively.

After several weeks, I found communicating in English much easier and British people were encouraging. Something as simple as smiling and greeting people you meet in the corridor or kitchen makes communicating much easier!

A change of culture

This was a big challenge for me, since I knew little about British culture before I came here. I still remember the first time I was invited to attend a party with my roommates. At the beginning, I was worried about my dress code and what I needed to bring with me. I searched for information about parties, then wore a complex dress and brought a light drink. I found out that this wasn’t quite right, but I later got the hang of things!

In China, having dinner together is a normal social activity, while in Britain people prefer to stand and drink together instead. If you want to integrate into British culture, it is worth considering taking part in these parties and talking with others actively. Although we emphasize intermediate and passive social activities in Chinese culture, I tried to break the traditional thinking pattern and talk to others actively in parties. From doing this I found that British people like humor, and it is relaxing to socialise with them!

These are just a few of my first week’s experiences as I began to taste a new lifestyle and make friends from other countries. We all have many colourful experiences waiting for us in our lifetime, and I know that one of them will be the year I spend here at the ICMA Centre!

Getting through to the UK Investment Banking Series finals

By Brandon Rodrigues, third year BSc Finance & Investment Banking student at the ICMA Centre

brandon-rodrigues

I had the opportunity to participate in this year’s UK Investment Banking Series (UIBS) event, and I must say it was a fun ride.

UIBS is an annual competition organized by 5 finance societies of various universities. It consists of a Sales & Trading challenge as well as an M&A challenge. My team and I registered for the trading challenge, out of curiosity (but also to get our mind off the piling workload that goes hand in hand with being third years!)

The Prelimnaries: Stocks

The preliminaries consisted of selecting 10 stocks from the FTSE 100 and holding them for 2 weeks with the aim of maximizing returns, with the opportunity to change our positions after the first week.

Easy enough? Pretty much!

After the first few days, our technical analysis with a dash of fundamentals paid off and 3 of our equities were the top performers of the FTSE. As if testing our patience, the FTSE then plummeted 4% by the end of week 1 and not a single team across the board had a positive figure! Undeterred, we changed our positions and our recovery qualified us for the finals held at Imperial College in London.

The Finals: Hedge Funds and Investment Banks

The finals greeted us in the form of a damp Sunday, but we were warmed by the reception upon arrival. The event started off with a briefing given by the Managing Director of Amplify Trading, William De Lucy, on the various roles we would be assuming as well as an overview of the players of a Sales & Trading desk at any investment bank or fund in the industry. The teams would be sorted either as a hedge fund or an investment bank, then the roles would be reversed after an hour and a half.

We started trading as a hedge fund whose goal was to maximize returns. We soon learned there were 2 types of investment banks; those that are greedy for commission, and those that are greedy for client loyalty. We took full advantage of the latter. It would also seem that the trading simulators at the ICMA Centre definitely gave us an advantage as we joined the flow of trading quite smoothly. For other teams however, it could only be called a nightmare as a ‘fat finger’ or two would wipe out any semblance of profits, causing some hedge funds to delve into 9 figure losses!!

The race to the finish…

After lunch, we scrambled into the sell-side as an investment bank and that’s when we realized just how hectic a sales trader had it. Apart from giving quotes to 20 odd teams and vying for commissions all around we soon fell into the flow of the role and the atmosphere in the room was almost maniacal since all teams now knew of what they were expected to do after round 1. The room’s tempo was hectic and stimulating and we enjoyed every bit of it!

I would recommend the UIBS to any student who is interested in working in trading or risk/portfolio manager roles. The wealth of information and invaluable networking opportunities made the entire day completely worth it. I would like to thank my teammates as well as the organizers for the fantastic experience. Keep it up!

Find out more about our undergraduate degrees in Finance here.

My unforgettable first week in a brand new environment 

zhu-xuefei-92By Xuefei Zhu, China, MSc International Securities, Investment and Banking

When I first arrived in the UK, almost everything was new to me. I came from China to study here and it was my first time studying in a new country. But despite that I had an amazing first week, and several things impressed me from the very start!

alfie-campusThe beautiful campus

I was immediately fascinated by the beautiful view on the University of Reading campus, especially the Whiteknights lake. There are swans, mandarin ducks and other kinds of birds living freely around the lake. I could never imagine such a peaceful view in my country, but here it is part of everyday life! Whenever I walk along the lake, it gives me a sense of inner peace and a great chance to experience nature!

The ICMA Centre

alfie-icmacI was very proud to register at the ICMA Centre in my first week. All of my peers wore business attire and had a professional photo taken. We had several classes in the first week. The teaching methods are different to those in China; our classes are composed of lectures and seminars. In the lectures, the tutors dress formally and present their financial knowledge to students – this format is similar to academic meetings in China. And in seminars, the teacher gives us a review of some main points in the lecture and answers questions in our homework.

The library

alfie-libraryThere is a traditional saying in China: “What makes a good university? Just look at their library”. What makes me quite happy is that the University of Reading library is multi-functional, with high-quality service in the library and the comfortable feeling to study, this is a paradise for us who love to study! I am sure I will fully use this resource.

Dealing rooms

alfie-dealing-roomsOne of the most interesting things for me is trading simulation modules at the ICMA Centre. In this class, you can use advanced computer software like Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters. The dealing rooms are an amazing place to get more practice using your financial skills and it’s the main reason why I choose ICMA Centre. These new things already made me so excited and I am expected to perform well and boost my potential in trading!

My accommodation and flatmates

alfie-flatmatesMy flatmates come from all over the world; UK, Spain, US, Turkey, China and Africa. All of us are living happily together, and they are all so kind and gentle, which makes our flat like a family! It gives me an opportunity to meet people from different countries and find out about their culture. I enjoy the living environment here, and I even made a traditional Chinese dish for our flat at weekend. All of them enjoyed said the food was delicious and even called me chef, which really made me feel good!

During the first week, the university held a variety of social activities for our new and international students to adapt to the environment and get ready for the start of term. I’m already looking forward to enjoying a new life studying at the ICMA Centre in University of Reading, and I hope I will learn more and experience more!

Career switch: From International Relations to a Masters in Finance

brozman-martin-63-v2My name is Martin and I’ve just started studying MSc International Securities, Investment and Banking at the ICMA Centre, part of Henley Business School.

Making the switch

I previously studied European Studies and International Relations but (as many people do) I decided that I needed a career change. Even though I don’t have an academic background in finance, the ICMA Centre takes on people from a variety of fields. I was worried at first, in particular because of the Maths requirements, but they do provide support for this during the initial weeks of the course to prepare those worried about their academic numeracy for what´s coming up. (They also offer some English classes in case you or the staff think you might need them).

Obviously, there is a lot of Mathematics involved in the course – it is finance, so you should be prepared to encounter a lot of numbers throughout! I was lucky to have also had a little headstart from having worked at IBM for the past year, however I still needed to prepare for a lot of numeracy and quantitative methods.

Choosing the right business school

As well as the support available, I chose the ICMA centre out of an overwhelming pool of business schools around Europe because of their facilities – state-of-art dealing rooms, which have the most terminals out of all academic, non-investment banking institutions.

I also chose the Centre because of the qualified academic staff with proven success as industry professionals; a great teaching combination! I had heard and read about the quality of the career support team prior to arriving to Henley. After I arrived it did not take too long to find my way around and to recognize all of the above is exactly as promoted.

Although I’ve come from a background other than Finance, I feel that I am gradually getting the gist of what the year is going to be like; challenging, yes – but as the alumni and teachers say “you will get out as much as you put in”.

Kind of a big deal: AT&T and Time Warner acquisition

antypas-nikolaos-400x267– by Nikolaos Antypas, ICMA Centre PhD student

There is a major acquisition in the making, which may have dominated your business news stream: AT&T (2nd largest mobile network provider in the U.S.; acquirer) has reached an agreement with Time Warner (4th largest content provider in the U.S.; target; also, Na na, Na na Na na Game of Thrones) for a deal valued at $85.4 bil (premium of 35% over the recent trading price).

That is a huge deal with material repercussions for the market. For instance, regulators (and Netflix, Hulu, Amazon etc.) are concerned with whether the combined entity will charge for the mobile data used on competitors, while charging nothing for Time Warner’s content. Considering the position of AT&T in the market of content distribution, this practice may impede competition, hurting the consumer in the long run.

Nevertheless, the deal may not be quite profitable for AT&T shareholders, as suggested by Bharat Anand, professor at HBS (Harvard Business School, not Henley!). You can read his blog here.The only expected origin of benefits is from synergies, although the sources of synergies seem ambiguous after closer examination. He argues for the new status quo of modern economy, where “complement” products (those accompanying/facilitating the sale of core products) have become increasingly important for technology giants such as Apple (partnership with HBO), Amazon (Prime Video as standalone business), Twitter (live feed of NFL games). In the new context, the cheaper the complements, the more value is added to the core business. This view of reality is in contrast to the significant premium paid by AT&T for the cash flows of Time Warner content.

We may also need to consider the scenario of AT&T distributing exclusive content on its mobile network. If this is enough to attract more data subscribers, then it would be more profitable to expand its content portfolio (e.g. TV series) on either quality, quantity, or both. Note that the “video-on-demand” industry (Netflix, Hulu etc.) does not have a pricing structure allowing for the winner to reap overwhelming benefits against the followers, as people can afford and do actually pay for more than one subscriptions simultaneously. However, it is improbable that the same holds for mobile plans: it is more likely for people to have a unique data provider, as the individual contracts are relatively pricey. We should consider whether AT&T plays the acquisition move not just to survive the advent of unconventional content providers such as Facebook, but also to strengthen its position in its own core industry.

Written by Nikolaos Antypas, ICMA Centre PhD student pursuing research in analysis of merger waves, takeover target prediction and corporate governance. View his profile on the ICMA Centre website.

3 tips for getting a career in Finance – by alumnus Ben Deverell

ben-deverell-rdMy name is Ben Deverell, and I’m a career commercial banker with roles spanning operations, risk, strategy and business management. I’m currently a senior member of our Financial Institutions business, supporting clients with their financing, investment, risk management and banking needs.

To any current students looking to start a career in finance: the financial industry is a great place to work and I commend you for your decision!

However, for a multitude of reasons, it is also fraught with challenges and risks. My advice would be to take a leaf out of several books (some from other contexts) and apply. In particular, I would stress three points:

  1. Diversification

Diversification is the most useful of risk management tools so apply this to your career path. Specialising in one area at an early age could mean you become an expert in yesterday’s product.

  1. Keep learning and changing

The cliché from Darwin rings true; those that can reinvent themselves, prove adaptable, can learn and change quickly, are more likely to have a fruitful, productive and enjoyable career.

Developing skills via study is a crucial element. I studied the MSc Investment Management at the ICMA Centre, part of Henley Business School, graduating in 2016. Obtaining an MSc was both a personal goal of mine and considered important to progress my career. With Henley being a highly ranked business school and clearly linked with industry via the ICMA, then the decision came to the course. I chose IM for three reasons:

  • Intellectual stretch; whilst I had some prior learning in a few areas of finance, many of the topics were either completely new or introduced considerable stretch.
  • Relevance: the syllabus was highly relevant to my role and the agenda of my clients. The breadth was attractive too; I enjoyed and valued both the pure technical (in particular Portfolio Management and Corporate Finance) andthe non-technical modules (Ethics and Regulation).
  • Credentials: allied to the first two points, the landscape for qualifications in finance continues to expand. Having a good quality MSc from a regarded business school carries credibility. The fact that this degree was accredited via CISI and, for FT students, allied to CFA, only added to the appeal.
  1. Finance is a people business

This is probably the most important point. Finance is based on developing trust between humans, despite the data revolution that is occurring – which is unlikely to change.

My time at the ICMA was excellent. In addition to the formal course, I enjoyed the trading simulation terminals (and, of course, revisiting student bars), but some of my favourite experiences were when I was working in teams with other students from many varied walks of life. So, be ethical, truthful and respectful and hone your people skills as much as technical. And, if you can be personable and fun, so much the better!