Degree: Physics, First, Oxford University
Year of graduation: 2006
Occupation: Graduate trainee in investment management at WestLB
What do you do in your job?
The investment management team manages the investment portfolio of the bank. This portfolio includes a range of structured products, one of
which is the collateralised loan obligation. Initially, I worked on this particular product. I helped with the due diligence process of some of the investments, and kept up to date with the current portfolio. This might not sound very challenging, but it was an excellent way to help me understand what exactly goes on, given that I come from a non-finance background and that I’m still very new. Now I’ve started doing investigations into new products on the market, and assisting with moving current projects forward.
What was your motivation in applying?
I’ve always been interested in the City. Although I chose to study physics at university, I liked the idea of getting out of the lab and working more with people, while keeping up the analytical side of things. I preferred the idea of investment management as opposed to, say, working on the trading floor, because it is more detailed and thought-intensive work. I liked the idea of working at WestLB because when I did an internship here, I was drawn to the fact that it was quite a small, friendly bank, with lots of opportunity to get exposure to senior people quickly.
What did the application process involve?
When I applied to the internship, I applied online and had to answer a range of questions. I then had a first round interview with an aptitude test. The recruitment procedure for graduates involves a second round selection procedure where you have to do an interview with a senior member of the business and assessed group activities. Interns who performed well on their internship can skip the first round of the selection procedure and are fast tracked to the selection centre.
What do you enjoy about your job?
Many things. I like the fact that it’s completely different from university life. I’m particularly enjoying not having to study when I go home. But I also like learning new skills and working with people. Even things such as meetings are novel to me at the moment. The team I work with is great, and I like the satisfaction of feeling I’ve contributed something, for example as a result of producing a report. Investment management is quite a predictable area of finance, and I enjoy that too. I wouldn’t like to be told at 4pm that something new had come in which meant I would have to work until midnight.
Most challenging part of your job?
Working in finance, when you don’t come from a financial background, is like learning a new language. There are a lot of terms to get to know. Sometimes I find myself having to look up these terms several times.
Advice to readers considering a career in your field?
You need a willingness to learn and to ask lots of questions, particularly if you don’t come from a financial background.