• Role: Global Equities Graduate
  • Location: London
  • University: Manchester
  • Degree: MPhys Physics with Business Management
  • Organisation: Schroders

James Beaumont

Coming out of university I wanted a career that was challenging and relevant to the world. With no prior industry experience I was fortunate to secure an interview at Schroders for its investment graduate programme. I felt the people and intensity of the job were right for me.

What was the application process like?

There were four stages:

  1. Online questions, numerical and inductive reasoning tests – I remember the online questions being more investment/industry-specific than generic screening questions which allowed me to express my interests and beliefs.
  2. Online video interview – this was a combination of competency and investment-related interview questions.
  3. Assessment centre – this consisted of a group exercise, online aptitude tests and face-to-face competency and technical interviews.
  4. Final interview – 30 minutes of tailor-made behavioural questions, freshly prepared by my manager, followed by interviews with other members of the Global Equities desk.

My advice would be to keep calm, be yourself and consider your answers at all stages. My tip for the interview stage is to ask questions, not in a forced ‘I’ve done my research’ fashion but be curious about the role that you are applying for and the people you are going to work with.

Why did you choose a job in banking?

The investment industry attracts people from a diverse span of backgrounds. Rubbing shoulders with some of these great minds and formulating my own investment philosophy appeals to me, and I enjoy that all of this happens in a changing environment.

Every day has the potential to serve me with a new challenge and provide me with opportunities to learn and develop new skills.

What are your main duties?

  • Value and assist in the valuation of companies.
  • Perform industry research.
  • Ad hoc projects to support and test the validity of investment cases – an example may include considering the impact of a new market entrant or new product that is set to come to market.

The methods by which you accomplish the above are not limited to traditional analysis and can be achieved through innovative, less conventional means.

What are the most stressful parts of the job?

By the very nature of the job you are investing other people’s money. You have to appreciate that even the best analysts make mistakes and at some point you will lose client money. It is important to remain rational in future judgements and decision making.

What skills are useful in the industry?

  • Be curious – question yourself and others whilst appreciating the views of others.
  • Be self-confident in your work and strong in communicating your ideas.
  • Information overload is a big part of the job – be able to differentiate between key factors and less relevant information.

Is it a 9-5 job?

There will be times when the job won’t strictly be 9-5, although my role does not reach the same intensity as those on the sell-side. There is always another company to analyse and part of the beauty of the job is that you are operating in a dynamic market that is forever changing. Studying towards the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) qualification also requires extra time commitment.

What would you like to achieve in the future?

In the short term, I want to continue to learn, be the best analyst I can be and add value to my team. Longer term, I want to get to a level where I feel I have a good understanding of a particular sector and am able to make correct judgements over the direction of an industry and the stocks within that industry. Equipped with these skills and that experience, I will be able to achieve my goal of becoming a fund manager.

What challenges have you come across and how did you overcome them?

The transition from university to working life is a big one. In this industry it is not a test of being able to regurgitate facts, figures and equations, it is about forming your own opinions, being able to test them and then having the confidence to present them in a clear, concise manner.

I frequently have to ask myself: ‘What does this mean? Why is this useful information to know? Does this make sense? Is this a good use of my time?’

Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get into the industry?

I think there is a lot of value in surrounding yourself with likeminded people. Talk to them about your predictions and then revisit these thoughts after the scenario has played out so that you can analyse why things did or did not work out in the way that you imagined.

Investment literature also has a role to play. I recommend More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite by Sebastian Mallaby. Despite the zealous title, this book goes some way to describe how the best investors held insights beyond the comprehension of the market and used their investment process to best the competition.

Finally, find out what interests you about investing, what style you think complements you and work hard to be the best you can be. Above all, be passionate about what you want to do.

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