Tom Merriman graduated from Cranfield School of Management in 2005 with an MSc in Finance and Management, directly following a first degree (2:1) in Business and Financial Services from the University of Nottingham and Trent. He now works as business manager with Bloomberg, assessing the returns on software investments
Why did you decide to continue your studies?
I wanted to build on the knowledge I’d gained in my first degree. Even though it was a similar subject, I felt that a Masters would enable me to build on the concepts and methodologies I’d started exploring in my undergraduate degree. In certain parts of finance it’s very important to have a good understanding of pricing instruments, for example.
How did you fund your postgraduate studies?
Cranfield has a good reputation, and I wanted the best that I could afford. Fees for the cheapest schools started at Â£12,000 and the most expensive were around Â£25,000. I thought that at Â£17,000, Cranfield offered excellent value for money. I took out a postgraduate loan from HSBC at a slightly favourable rate – most other banks do them. I also had a bit of help from the Bank of Mum and Dad. I managed OK until the last two terms, when I had to sell a few personal possessions on eBay to see me through.
What was the workload like?
The workload was not unlike the final two terms of an undergraduate degree. There is an awful lot of reading and writing to do. But I had the advantage in that English is my first language, unlike most of the students on the course.
What was it like studying again?
I went straight from my first degree to my postgrad course. I was set on getting a Masters, and wanted it behind me as soon as possible. I’d done an internship at Bloomberg and it had made me an offer. But I thought that a postgraduate degree would give me extra credibility. It was also a challenge I’d set myself, and I know from experience that I needed to get my teeth into it right away
How was it different from undergraduate study?
The best thing for me was extending my knowledge of concepts, and seeing how they applied in the real world. There was no practical in industry, as such, but the lecturers were all experienced practitioners. The quality of teaching was so much better than an undergraduate course, from the lecturers down to the materials and textbooks. The cohort was small, 24, and that made learning a more pleasurable experience, too.
Did you enjoy it?
Yes. There were peaks and troughs, but never anything in between. Some didn’t enjoy it as much as they’d expected, because they didn’t take to the content of the course in the way they’d envisaged.
Advice to those considering taking a postgraduate course:
Thoroughly research whether a postgraduate degree in this topic is really for you. For fresh graduates, I’d recommend doing a summer internship as a bare minimum. Working in the market during my internship with Bloomberg proved very beneficial.
High-calibre graduates with a good first degree in a quantitative subject or an equivalent professional qualification join the Cranfield School of Management programme. Their reward is an average salary increase of 159% – on the programme in 2005 – plus an average sign-on bonus of Â£2,000. The two dominant sectors of employment they went into were banking and finance (53%) and consultancy (20%).
The MSc provides students with a rigorous understanding of the main areas of finance and investment, together with a practical knowledge of key management concepts and skills. In addition, the MSc is designed to cover much of the syllabus of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) qualification run by the Association of Investment Management Research.