• Role: Investment Graduate
  • Location: London
  • University: Sheffield
  • Degree: Geography
  • Organisation: M&G

Charlotte Thompson

I was attracted to the Investment Graduate Scheme at M&G for two main reasons: the business-wide rotations that are offered and M&G’s excellent reputation. Having completed almost 10 months on the graduate scheme, I can safely say I haven’t been disappointed! The rotation programme brings so many learning opportunities with it and you are able to develop an understanding of the business from many angles.

The scheme is challenging – you have to be able to settle down in a new rotation for 2-3 months and make a genuine contribution to the team before moving on. However, it enables you to build up a great network of contacts and I have been really lucky in forming close friendships with the rest of my graduate intake, which I expect will pay dividends in future years as we progress through our careers at M&G.

What was the application process like?

The application process was rigorous and included a registration form, followed by numerical, verbal and logical online tests. There is then a video interview, a first round interview and then an assessment day. I felt the most challenging part of the application process was the assessment day. The day includes interviews, presentations and group discussions. Unsurprisingly, it was a nerve-wracking experience but I think the best advice is to make sure you are well prepared. You do not need to know everything there is to know about the equity and bond markets, but it is important to demonstrate your interest, form an opinion and show that you are willing to learn more. It is vital to be prepared to think on your feet during the process.

Why did you choose a job in this sector?

I chose to apply to M&G within the investment management sector as I was keen to work in a stimulating and challenging environment; one where well-informed opinions and judgements matter in regards to the investment decisions made. I was also attracted to the industry as I felt it had a less volatile, more long-term career path than an investment banking role.

What are your main duties?

My duties vary within each rotation. I am lucky to have had the opportunity to work in a number of business areas during the graduate scheme, each with a different set of responsibilities. I have rotated within M&G’s Leveraged Finance group in a credit analyst role and also within the Real Estate Income team. My most recent rotation was within the Global Growth equity franchise, where I had to use a screening process to identify and analyse stocks that would fit the fund’s investment philosophy, then present my recommendations to the Fund Manager. I was also given a project to research and recommend a stock for the fund. This necessitated calls with the company, assessing the stock’s valuation and understanding the company’s industry and business plan.

What skills are useful in this sector?

Enthusiasm, attention to detail and being proactive are all important skills in this sector. Colleagues like to see that you have an interest in the role and care about the work you are doing by getting involved in current projects, using your initiative when given tasks and asking questions to further your understanding. Attention to detail is vital in the investment management industry, but I also think you need to maintain a sense of perspective – the ability to understand the small details while grasping the bigger picture.

Is it a 9-5 job?

I don’t think many jobs within the financial services sector in London are 9-5 jobs and although the average day throughout my different rotations has varied, it usually starts at 8.30am and finishes around 6pm. I believe I have a good work/life balance which enables me to enjoy living in London. The graduates have formed strong friendships and we often see each other outside of work hours.

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

I would recommend attending careers guidance sessions at university and getting involved in societies at a leadership level, which can help develop the skills needed at interviews, assessment centres and in the workplace. M&G are looking more to see if you have the potential to develop rather than what you know already, so although internships related to investment management are useful, any kind of work experience is good. It shows that you have the ability to take responsibility for tasks, have developed interpersonal skills and are comfortable working in an office environment.

I also think you can stand out from the other candidates due to your attitude. Be motivated, friendly and confident (but not arrogant). Feedback from HR said that I stood out because of my positive attitude, so while it sounds obvious, it works! The people interviewing you are significantly more knowledgeable and experienced, so rather than going into the interview believing that you know everything, make sure to take on board any advice given to you during interviews and the assessment centre.

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