Tag: Finance

A Glimpse into the Quantitative Modelling within R Software

It is no exaggeration to say that much of our world is unrecognisable from how it was just a few months ago. The coronavirus has upended everyday life – how we live, how we work, and how we interact with one another. The vast majority of professional individuals have been mandated to work from home, and the work of the Actuarial, Insurance, Risk and Quant (AIR-Q) society has shifted to mirror this new reality. As an MSc Quantitative Finance student, being a part of a student society has been an incredibly rewarding experience allowing me to network and immerse myself in the industry I am pursuing. Despite the difficulties of our current working and studying reality, I am proud as Co-president to present another AIR-Quantitative workshop on June 15th through Zoom platform, as a part of ongoing work that our society plans to continue throughout the rest of the academic year and summer.

Adam Upenieks, MSc Quantitative Finance (2020)

Hosting an event with a fellow alumna

The event was centred around the work of Olga Ponomarenko. Currently, Olga is a VP Quant at Barclays Bank in London. Her work focuses on implementing and developing advanced statistical models in Python and R. She studied Financial Economics in the joint program of Higher School of Economics and London School of Economics and has a degree in Quantitative Finance from Cass. As a Cass alumna, she was the perfect person to host an informative workshop on real-world applied statistics, using skills she developed during her time studying Quantitative Finance at Cass. The event hosted over 60 excited individuals who were delighted to catch a glimpse into some of her modelling insights.

Olga began by polling attendees on which part of the world they had joined the online AIR-Quant workshop. It was a pleasure to see participants from all parts of the world; many from London, across Europe, to North America all the way to India, as well as South and Central Asia. The talk began with a bit of Olga’s professional background. Olga talked about the state of the industry, and in data science, the difference in approach between Statisticians, Econometricians, and Machine Learning Data Scientists.

Olga’s case study: different perspectives to solve the same problem

The bulk of the presentation was centred around a case study. The goal was to demonstrate the many perspectives one can develop from analysing just one simple problem: defining the relationship between recessions and budget deficits. Olga provided World Economic Outlook data on 196 countries and took participants through a variety of techniques to break down the data. She performed naïve and Beta regressions, administered an Arellano-Bond GMM procedure to single out causality, and then applied a Bayesian approach while also displaying the importance of hierarchical models.

Opening up the floor

The presentation ended with a question and discussion period. Olga answered questions on the current state quant jobs in the industry. She gave meaningful advice to participants pondering looming career moves and to those of us soon to be starting our first quant jobs in the industry. She gave great advice on potential interview questions, which programming languages are most desirable for new hires, and specific topics to be aware of before entering any interview in the quant field. She provided us with a primer for interviews in Quantiative Finance, which can be found here. She also took us through a typical day as a Quant at Barclays and proffered the importance of staying up to date on academic literature.

Some participants later joined the discussion to share their journeys into data science – some who began with very little quantitative backgrounds and grew to be successful in their fields. Others shared their favourite programming languages and packages. Overall, the interactive event was enlightening to those of us interested in quantitative disciplines and could not have been hosted by a more qualified and remarkable guest. The Cass AIR-Quant society was delighted to host Olga Ponomarenko, and we look forward to hosting her again in the future as guest for planned AIR-Q Forum Women in Quant Finance.

Thank you!

The Presidents and the founder of the Cass AIR-Q Society Rocio Plasencia, Juan Sebastian De La Torre, Evangelos Santas, Lucy Nondi, David Flanigan, Adam Upenieks and Peter V would like to deliver special thanks to the Cass events team, the participants, and especially Olga Ponomarenko for her remarkable presentation and her insightful view on the continuously changing world of Quantitative Finance.

Adam Upenieks, MSc Quantitative Finance (2020)

MSc Banking and International Finance: A Programme for Global Perspective

Following my undergraduate studies in economics and finance at McGill University in Montreal, I knew I held a strong interest in mergers and acquisitions as a field of study. As a specialisation, it opens up career opportunities at the intersection of management consulting and investment banking.

Before entering the job market, I wanted to gain specialist knowledge relevant to my desired career path. Upon thorough research online and further discussion with mentors, the Cass MSc Banking and International Finance stood out among a number of excellent alternatives in the UK and around the world – I felt that Cass was somewhere I could continue to be challenged and develop.

Having grown up in a number of countries, including China, Finland, Canada, Malaysia, Switzerland, the U.S., Poland and the UK, ensuring that I join a class full of diverse and varied perspectives was of critical importance to me. I have always felt that while sticking to what is familiar may be comfortable, the best way to ensure continued growth is to gain exposure to as many more views and experiences as possible. The MSc Banking and International Finance programme at Cass appeared to propose exactly this sort of exposure, in tandem with academic rigour and clear opportunity for professional development – so I submitted an application.

And, nearly a full year later, I am excited to say that my experience has been phenomenal! I have not only gained the specialist knowledge I sought, but also the confidence to execute in practical application in a number of different areas – all under the guidance of a group of professors, consisting of both leading academics and experienced practitioners in their respective fields, who remain supportive with respect to my career aspirations and with whom I will be sure to keep in touch.

Finance & Banking Club Team

Participation in group events and dialogues outside of the classroom is a key aspect of student life at Cass, and as a Co-President of the Cass Finance and Banking Society and member of the M&A and PE and Consulting Societies – amongst others – I have had the opportunity to lead friends and colleagues in engaging with our shared interests through many workshops, simulation events, panel discussions and socials. Cass’s location in the heart of the City of London provides unparalleled access to a range of different firms and professionals in banking and business and truly allows interactive events with experienced professionals to be commonplace, rather than a rarity. I even have had the chance to practise my French, German and Russian with classmates and through a few of the many language-focused student societies on campus!

As a Programme Representative, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to liaise between my classmates and professors and put together social events for my class. As a class, we were able to share feedback and work together with faculty members with the collective aim of making the MSc Banking and International Finance offering stronger with each passing year.

Perhaps most invaluably, I have gained a new family of friends and classmates from all over the world who, while hailing from wildly different backgrounds and experience, share a passion for finance and drive for lifelong learning.

Wyatt Himmer, MSc Banking and International Finance (2020)

Exploring Frankfurt, the financial capital of the Eurozone

One of the main reasons Cass is so highly rated is because of its international outlook. Cass has a number of international electives for the master’s courses and this year, the MSc Finance travelled to Frankfurt for a trip based around the European Central Bank (ECB).

Day 1

During our first day in Frankfurt, we had a walking tour organised in the east end of Frankfurt and the area surrounding the new ECB building. It was a great informative tour on how the area has developed from a working-class neighbourhood to the home of the ECB as well as a large number of apartment blocks. In the afternoon, we had a talk organised at the Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof. The talk illuminated the strengths and the weaknesses of the German economy and the general culture of businesses within the country. After the talk, we were offered tickets to catch the views of the city from the top of the main tower.

Day 2

Day 2 started with a trip to the ECB building. The mainpurpose of this trip was to attend a talk by economists on how Brexit will have an effect on the UK as well as the rest of EU. This was a very interesting talk as it gave us a great insight into what to expect in the future in relation to Brexit and what has already happened in the UK and EU because of Brexit. Following the talk, we had a tour of the Geldmuseum at the Deutsche Bundesbank. The tour consisted of the history of the euro as well as the history of money, how money originated and what different civilisations used as money.  After our time in the museum, we then had some spare time to explore the city. We decided to head to the Main Tower as the sky was clear. We were not disappointed and we got an amazing aerial view of the city.

The next day, after a full weekend of learning and exploring, we flew back to London.

Ismail Khan, MSc Finance (2020)

If you’d like to find out more about Ismail’s experience or have any general questions about studying on a master’s degree at Cass, contact him on our ‘Ask a student‘ platform.

Studying finance with a scholarship at Cass

I come from a conservative business family, where higher education is not a given, and is something that is rarely saved for. Moreover, being part of a society where women’s education takes a backseat in the face of marriage, the decision to study at Cass was an uphill battle for me and my family. Having had an inclination towards quantitative subjects and hailing from a business family that has been involved in trade and commerce for generations now, it was only natural that I took an interest in finance.

This led me to choose the globally renowned Cass MSc Finance programme as well as taking up the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) programme.

The last six months at Cass have been a roller coaster ride but one that I will most definitely cherish. The challenges, opportunities and diversity that it has to offer its students is unparalleled. The strategic location of Cass in the heart of London which is the finance hub adds great value to the entire experience.

It was a huge achievement to have received the Cass Global Women’s Leadership Programme Scholarship. When I saw an e-mail stating that I had received the scholarship, I was elated! What better way to start off this new journey? It gave me a much-needed confidence boost in embracing the course ahead.

My experience on the Global Women’s Leadership Programme has been very enriching. Since the business world is male-dominated, we must work towards making it more gender-balanced. My views align very well with those of the other women on the Board, which makes it a treat to work with them. Organising various panel discussions, networking events and much more has given me the chance to interact with women who work in the corporate world and the exposure to myriad perspectives.

I look forward to what the rest of my journey at Cass has to offer, with some extremely exciting events in the near future such as the Frankfurt study tour and international electives, to name a few. I can definitely say – my decision to attend Cass has been extremely crucial in moulding me and preparing me for the fast-paced, competitive world of finance.

Aamina Asim, MSc Finance (2020)

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 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!

Chiel Dupont, MSc Investment Management (2019)

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 on the MSc Finance 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, MSc Investment Management (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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