Following her Master’s degree in Investment Banking, Judith joined mthree to pursue her goal of working in financial markets.
She completed the Alumni training, went on-site at Nomura in London, and now plays a vital role in helping execute trades by working closely with front and back-office teams.
We caught up with Judith in a cafe opposite The Shard to learn about her career journey so far and goals for the future.
Why did you choose to study a Master’s degree in Investment Banking?
“I’ve always had a love for Finance, so initially I was looking to work in Commercial Law.
But as I progressed in my Law degree, I felt like I would miss out because I wouldn’t work directly in the financial markets. Instead, I’d form contracts which usually come after the fact.
I decided to make a move so I’d be more involved. Even though my role now is minuscule in comparison to the industry as a whole, it doesn’t matter, because everyone plays a part”.
How did you feel when you finished education and were looking to start your career?
“I felt nervous because I didn’t know how to navigate it all. There’s so much advice on how to find a job and write a CV, but it’s never as specific as you need it to be. Plus it wasn’t an easy thing shifting from education to working 9-5. It was a bit of a shock!”
What was the mthree Alumni training like?
“Once I landed the role, the training literally started the week after. I learnt a lot of technical skills and got an in-depth understanding of the financial services industry. It was intense! But very necessary, because I was a lot more confident about the role I was going to step into.”
What was it like going on-site?
“Investment banks are not like everything you read or see in movies. It was a lot more chilled than I expected. For example, my team is great! We have jokes, and often go out for meals and drinks.”
How would you describe your role to someone who has never worked in an investment bank?
“In the simplest terms, we support the trading desk. I’m in the repo middle office team, so we look after repurchase agreements, which is when counterparties agree to buy a bond back at a certain price.
In the middle office, we are the middle man. We make sure trades settle on the right day at the right price by liaising between the front and back-office teams.”
What have you improved since going on-site?
“Definitely my practical knowledge of Finance.
When you study a Master’s, it’s all quite theory-based. But now I’m putting my knowledge into practice every single day.
Also, my confidence and communication skills have improved massively. Before starting, I dreaded having to cold call someone, but now that’s just part of the job!”
It’s great that you’ve learnt so much in your role!
Who are you having to cold call?
“If a trade doesn’t match, and the value date is today, it’s urgent and needs to get sorted. So, you can’t just send an email and wait for a response, you have to follow up which involves calling the counterparty. The bigger the trade, the more urgent it is!”
What do you find rewarding in your role?
“Trades can take a day, a week, or even a month to settle. We have a daily call to talk through certain trades that have not settled and determine why. If they take too long, it’s because something doesn't match.
During that time I’m calling the middle or back office team at the other company, trying to get it sorted so everything goes through. When it finally does, it feels amazing! Because I can see that my hard work has paid off. It’s always great to cross one off the list!”
What do you find challenging?
“Keeping up can be tough sometimes. There are days when query after query comes into the team and they’re all important. So it’s challenging, but in a good way, because it keeps you on your toes and means I’m always learning.”
What advice do you have for graduates looking to begin their careers?
“University can feel like a bubble, so I’d say it’s important to figure out what you want to do in your career. Then you can focus on how to get there. For me, it was completing a Master’s, but for someone else, it might be learning certain skills and getting experience in an area.
Also, set some goals. Once you start your career, it’s easy to get caught up in the 9-5 and not do anything else. But you should keep pushing yourself to do more.”
Goals are definitely important! Do you have any goals for the next year?
“Definitely. On top of progressing in my role, I would like to get an external qualification, whether that’s through the CISI or CFA.”
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