Tag: Finance

My dual degree at Cass and Bocconi

With one semester left at Maastricht University as an undergraduate student, and having just returned home from my exchange semester at Fairfield University in the United States, I started applying to several business schools in order to specialise in the area of finance. Prior to my application for an MSc in Investment Management at Cass Business School, I saw the possibility to enrol in a double degree during my studies at Cass, which would allow me to study at Bocconi University for an extra year towards an MSc in International Management. I was extremely enthusiastic about this idea and I could already see myself studying in London and Milan at two of the most prestigious universities in Europe.

In the first place, my decision to apply for master’s in London was an easy one. After I decided to stay in my hometown for my bachelor’s, I was certain to study abroad for my master’s. This came from the idea to explore more of the world, aiming to develop myself in a competitive environment. Studying a finance-related track in one of the financial hubs in the world has been a goal since my first year of undergrad. The teaching method at Cass, in comparison with Maastricht University and Fairfield University, has been more lecture-based, yielding more freedom in terms of organising a day.

After I got accepted to Cass, I knew that I had to work hard in the first term in order to achieve a competitive average to be considered for Bocconi. Spots for dual degree programmes are scarce and allocated based on your average in the first term and a short motivation letter. Students from the MSc in Investment Management and from the MSc in Corporate Finance are eligible to apply for the dual degree at Bocconi, and the programme fees are waived. During the first term, the course officers send an e-mail about the possibility to apply. One of the requirements is to take on a Business Research Project (master’s thesis) in term three, which you will elaborate at Bocconi.

My studies at Cass have deepened my knowledge of financial markets, portfolio management and its wide range of securities. As I aim to work in the financial services industry, I specifically enjoy the real-world aspects of the programme. For example, creating structured products based on derivatives in a Bloomberg terminal has not only given me exposure to theoretical aspects like pricing of financial instruments, but also opened my eyes to the practicalities of these can be replicated within Bloomberg. Studying at Cass in London gives you the opportunity to connect with many employers in the financial services sector, giving you a wide range of insight to different roles. Cass’s careers centre is very active and organises many events, which are always beneficial to attend.

After applying, and hoping to get one of the two spots, I got the good news and was accepted at Bocconi! Studying towards an MSc in International Management will give me exposure to a broader perspective of international business situations, deepening my theoretical knowledge of how corporations function. This builds upon the foundational knowledge I gained during my BSc. Being able to study in another international environment surrounded by intelligent students will widen my horizon and add towards my professional skillset and social life.

As I pursue my career in the financial services sector, I believe that the combination of my four study programmes at four different universities worldwide brings significant added value to my understanding and evaluation of finance, international organisations, and their management strategies. My international experiences over the last three years have brought me many friends and possibilities to learn about different cultures. As business is globally oriented, I think it is necessary to widen your horizon and study business in different parts of the world. As a current CFA level 1 candidate, I also aim to complete the CFA program in the early years of my future career in order to keep learning within the broad area of finance.

Ad Maiora!

From Football to Finance

Why study finance?

Why study finance? For the buzz, of course! My interest within this area was largely driven by my neighbour at the age of 16. He introduced me to penny stocks— BIG mistake. The adrenaline rush had me hooked immediately. It was that excitement and the feeling of sickness in your stomach that drew me in. That feeling was the only thing that came remotely close to the feeling I got on the field as a professional footballer. From that moment onwards, I began building the foundation to explore a career within the stock market should football come to end, whether that be at retirement (so I hoped) or through injury. Unfortunately, neither became true.

Josef Jackson on the field

 

At the age of 21, I was diagnosed with leukaemia and my world fell apart. This was an incredibly tough time for me, but looking back I wouldn’t change it for the world. I feel lucky to have a level of appreciation, perspective and an ambition to succeed in life different to my peers. Cancer changed my life for the better. After a year of chemotherapy, I was chomping at the bit to get my life back on track and begin chasing my other dream of becoming a Morgan Stanley trader. I decided to take on a financial mathematics degree. My A-levels were taken alongside professional football, which was tough trying to balance the two and consequently my grades suffered. Frustratingly, this stopped me from attending a Russell Group university which was a setback for sure, but I was more determined than ever. If I could make it as a professional footballer, then I knew I could make it in the finance world. For my graduate application to have any weight, I needed proof that I could compete at that level. After two and a half years of hard work and dedication, I had put myself in a position to stand a chance of being accepted into some of the top universities.

Which university do I pick? 

 After further research on rankings, the diversity of the university and the opportunities to network, I was adamant that Cass was the place for me. I sent off applications to all universities that I was rejected from to study my undergraduate degrees as backups, but Cass was the one I wanted. To my delight, I received offers for all of my applications, but more importantly I got in the place I wanted!

Joe graduates

What’s it like when you first start at Cass?

 My Cass journey started with gentle ice-breakers and social events which exposed me to the international diversity of my cohort. We created WhatsApp groups with people from at least 15 nationalities. If you want to learn about culture, come to Cass! Through this network of international friends, I now have a sofa to crash on in most countries across the globe! In fact, they should really create a Cass Air BnB!

However, graduate application deadlines hit me hard, as well as some of the most difficult academic challenges I’ve ever faced. It’s difficult to juggle all these applications and exams after only being there for six weeks. No-one is superhuman, though, so that’s where Cass come in and support you. Their Careers Team is phenomenal; without their guidance, I wouldn’t be in the position I am in now.

Joe and his cohort

Looking forward

 In October I began the application process for the Sales and Trading internship at Morgan Stanley. Here at Cass you are not only taught theory, but how this applies in practice which was incredibly invaluable for the technical aspects of the interview process, and will be for my career going forward. My success in all the other aspects of the interviewing process was thanks to the constant help of the careers team. I did practice aptitude tests, practice phone interviews and at least five practice interviews… what more can you ask for?

It was December, a final assessment centre stood between me and a job at Morgan Stanley. Getting to the final stage wasn’t enough for me. I wanted more. This was my moment to show that the impossible can be done, and I nailed it. A dream come true!

So what sets Cass apart from the rest?

 For me, one of the biggest benefits of Cass is the people you meet. Both from a social side and an academic point of view. If you want to find out your competition for the best jobs in the world, then look no further than here. I have never met such a dedicated group of people in my life, if you can compete in this circle then you can compete anywhere. That’s not to say that we are all competing at Cass, the complete opposite in fact. People here realise the importance of building relationships and a network they may not need right now, but what they will need in the future. This level of maturity is what sets this University apart in my opinion.

Another benefit of studying at Cass is the trips, which are unbelievable! In February we travelled to Frankfurt as a group. We had insight into the perspective of some of the biggest banks in the world, we had culture thrown in the mix and also the chance to taste every German beer under the sun.  But on this unique occasion, I was immersed from start to finish. Being able to travel and study abroad as part of my degree is an incredible experience that I feel humbled to be a part of. The only thing missing was the sun, but you can’t have everything, right?

Josef Jackson, MSc Finance (2019)

How intense is business school?

 

There are many reasons to undertake a master’s. Some study to gain knowledge, others because they feel lost or want to change their career paths. For me, an MSc in Investment Management was a way to learn more about the trading floor.

Whatever the reason, almost every student comes prepared to fight a battle. This became apparent in my first lecture. No one needed to be pushed. Everyone seemed motivated to study the content, ask questions and actively participate in class.

I would be lying if I said that this wasn’t intimidating. I came from an undergraduate degree and all my knowledge was either theoretical or acquired first-hand from short internships. By contrast, most of the students I’ve met have more experience in the financial sector, so have a better understanding of the practical application of academic theory.

But I was determined to outdo expectations. So I picked up every article, book or journal I could find. I asked a thousand questions to my peers and lecturers. The lecturers didn’t mind explaining the same concepts repeatedly until I understood them – that was a major benefit for me. Coursework was fun but also draining. If you got a hardworking group, you sailed through. But this same group could also end up pushing you too hard – we were assigned teams and so couldn’t pick them. However, in my case, luck was on my side and I got blessed with an amazing team. Not wanting to let anyone down, I pushed myself to work extra hard to deliver the best for them. For almost a month, from 9am to 12am, I was either at the university library or the lecture hall. I lost count of the days and the library, especially, became my home.

This is where friends served as my strongest support. Being an international student, they were the closest thing to a family and I’m grateful for their solicitude.

Lastly, if I have frightened you off the MSc course, then think again! Find the motivation, because for me yes, it has been tough it has helped me to grasp the inner-workings of finance, nonetheless. I want a career in private equity an emerging branch of finance and this goal always motivated me to push through. Ultimately, if you love your subject, your passion and ambition will help you weather the most intense and stressful situations.

Mansi Patel,

Investment Management MSc (2019)

Embracing priceless opportunities at Cass

I am a MSc International Accounting and Finance student at Cass Business School and I’ll admit when I arrived to London, I was scared. I didn’t know anyone and I was plagued by nervous thoughts: ‘Will I find it hard to make new friends? Will this year help me understand what I would like to do in my future career?’

These are only some of the questions I had before starting my course.

A new beginning

Since the beginning of the course, I have found the answers to most of these questions. I’m not saying that everything has always been easy and straightforward, but every day I feel stronger, more confident, more integrated and, more importantly, I feel that I am continuously learning new and exciting things!

Community support

I found a friendly and inclusive environment where teachers are always willing to help. The small number of students on my course enables each one of us to have direct, one-to-one contact with them. Apart from the high-quality of the courses and lecturers, what makes me enthusiastic about studying at Cass is the amount of activities and opportunities it offers. The careers centre is constantly helping us out: from developing our CVs, to preparing us for interviews. Personally, since I don’t have any work experience, I didn’t even know where to start to look for a job. But after participating in career’s workshops and having had a couple of appointments with the careers team, I am much more aware of what I want to do after this Masters. I started actively looking for a job thanks to the advice I received. I also joined an extracurricular course, ‘Coding for Girls’. I always wanted to learn programming but I had never had the opportunity. Besides having fun, I am also learning some useful things that I might need in the future.

A priceless opportunity

Being at Cass has given me a priceless opportunity to meet people from literally all over the world. This means I have made many friends who speak many languages. Every day I discover something that I didn’t know before: I learn new words, try new food, listen to different music, visit new places, and every day I can see the world with new eyes. And in the last few weeks, I’ve also enjoyed the Christmas atmosphere that fills every street of this magical city!

Daphne Mazzocco
MSc International Accounting and Finance (2019)

Trip to Frankfurt

Known as “Mainhattan” of Germany because of its impressive concrete skyscrapers which chararacterise its main river skyline, Frankfurt is a dynamic finance and business hub.

Home to the new headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) and one of the largest stock exchanges worldwide, Frankfurt has everything needed to become the leading financial capital in Europe. Moreover, the compact city laying in the heart of Germany, with its charming old town and plenty of social activities, ensures a high standard of living.

As part of the MSc Finance programme, 80 students went on an educational trip to explore Frankfurt. Our group departed from London Heathrow on Thursday 15th February. After quickly checking-in at our hotel, we had the opportunity to relish the first presentation, held by Mr. Alexander Pfister, a renowned lecturer at the University of Mannheim.

Alexander talked about the strengths and weaknesses of the German economy and its transformation. The key lessons learned were that the now flourishing German economy was not always as strong as it is today.

A clear turnaround could be noticed after Germany hosted the FIFA world cup in 2006. This unique opportunity proved to the German population why they should be proud of what they can achieve as a nation. This motivation still holds true today and is broadly represented by the main pillar of the German economy – its middle-class companies.

A refreshing shower and a quick wardrobe change later, all participants went to a traditional apple wine tavern to enjoy dinner. The combination of good food, wine and pleasant classmates created a delightful ambience. Networking events such as this represent one of the strong characteristics of the Cass Business School community and forges strong lifelong friendships.

On our second day we experienced the highlight of our trip: a visit to the European Central Bank. Usually only encountered in television or newspapers, we had the opportunity to visit the institution where all the important decisions for the Eurozone are made.

Entering the impressive building, we could sense the importance of this place. The flags of every nation stood proud in the middle of the entry area and were a popular spot for student photos. After being warmly welcomed, we attended two presentations.

First we received information on the monetary instruments of the ECB, as well as a detailed insight on its current quantitative easing.

Ms Valerie Jarvis, Economist Analyst for the United Kingdom at the ECB,  gave us economic analysis on the current Brexit discussion and its expected impact on the British economy – supporting economic data was presented to illustrate the impact Brexit decision has already had on UK citizens.

One consequence of Brexit could be the movement of several banks from London to other locations. One possible candidate is Frankfurt and therefore we wanted to know more about this financial hub in Germany. A representative from Frankfurt Main Finance, a promoting organisation for Frankfurt, gave us a very detailed overview about the benefits of living and working in Frankfurt.

With its low taxes and rents, as well as its outstanding infrastructure and quality of life, Frankfurt is a very attractive place for banks.

Furthermore, a wide range of business schools and universities provide a talented pool of candidates for the diverse roles. It is no surprise that many banks, such as Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley, have already decided to move to Frankfurt.

We finished this informative day with a presentation on the banking industry of Germany by two representatives of the German Landesbanken.

An international trip like ours offers students first-hand insight and an opportunity learn more about an alternative financial hub besides London. Moreover, it helps to enhance interpersonal skills and gain knowledge that can’t be developed in a classroom. We all enjoyed this trip very much and we are thankful to Cass Business School for organising it.

Fabian Frech & Timon Wyder
MSc Finance (2018)

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