Helyne Dawes graduated with a degree in Maths, operational research and statistics from Cardiff University in 2004. She’s now an investment analyst with Mercer Investment Consulting
What do you do in your job?
The job consists mainly of supporting the consultants who provide advice to pension administrators and trustees. We have to help trustees decide which asset classes to invest in, and in what proportions. This involves asset liability modelling: once we have the data that actuaries send over, we look at what asset classes our clients should invest into meet their liabilities.
We also provide advice on who to invest with. We have a manager research team that researches investment managers and give them a rating. Based on this, trustees will invite managers to present, and eventually come to appointing them. It’s technical work, and my employer specifies a numerate degree.
What was your motivation in applying?
With maths as part of my degree, I had lots of choice. And as a female I’m in a minority, so that probably helps, too. Some of the obvious careers are banking, accounting and teaching – there are a lot more women going into finance nowadays.
What did the application process involve?
I was a summer intern, and applying for a graduate role involved the same process. There’s a telephone interview with someone from the HR department, then a day at an assessment centre with exercises and the opportunity to meet consultants. The advantage of being a summer intern is that as you’ve already been through the process you don’t need to go through more interviews to become a graduate, providing you get good feedback from your working period.
What do you enjoy about your job?
It’s fascinating dealing with investment, and there are always so many new products to learn about. Mercer provides training and on-the-job teaching to help everyone keep up to speed with all the new regulation and products coming out. We have client teams and manager researchers: there’s lots of knowledge-sharing. The best part of the job is probably the people. And if you want to take on extra responsibilities, Mercer is always happy to enable that if it’s suitable to your level.
Most challenging part of the job?
I’m studying for my Chartered Financial Analyst exams – graduates here tend to do that or an actuarial qualification. Balancing study for qualification with the rest of work, and having a social life too, isn’t always easy.
Advice to readers considering a career in your field:
Do try for an internship before you join a company full-time. It’s a great opportunity to get a feel for people and the company. You get to have a buddy and a mentor, so you’re never on your own.
Investment analysts study the performance of securities and advise clients – usually fund managers – on making investments. They work for a variety of firms including investment-management companies, stockbrokers and investment banks. The hours are long but salaries are generous. They start at between £26,000 and £35,000 for junior analysts, rising to £30,000- £60,000 after a few years. Senior analysts earn around £100,000 while specialist analysts can command salaries upwards of £200,000, according to Connexions Direct.
Investment analysts can choose to sit for exams and qualify with a variety of professional bodies. These include the Securities & Investment Institute (SII), the United Kingdom Society of Investment Professionals (UKSIP), the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland (CIOBS) and the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute.