MFM London Trip

The MFM class went on an inspiring trip to London at the end of January 2013 to visit some of the most renowned companies in the financial industry. More than half of the class was already in London during the weekend, to enjoy this beautiful city and to find some places to go to on the free evenings. The snowy winter weather almost prevented the rest of the class that would arrive on Monday morning, to be on time at Bloomberg. Luckily, they could take an earlier train and so they did not lose their attendance. Here is a small overview of the company visits.

Bloomberg – Monday January 21 (early afternoon)

The first visit was to the London office of Bloomberg, the reference in the industry of financial data provision. The class had the opportunity to follow a session concerning the use of the Bloomberg Terminal, the most widely used tool for financial information in the world. To get this session from Bloomberg employees was really inspiring. They gave us more insight on how the Terminal could be used, what are some key lookup functions and what are new features that recently have been made available on the Bloomberg Terminal. Later, a tour around the building pointed out how many different departments there are at Bloomberg and it showed us that providing high-level financial information and being the first to release financial news requires a huge and highly-skilled workforce. Every floor has enormous fish tanks and adapted lighting, which created a unique working atmosphere. Right before leaving, a former MFM student who currently works there wanted to speak to our programme manager to find out more about our visit. A wonderful first company tour that evoked our enthusiasm for the following visits and that reminded us why we chose to study this finance programme.

Oliver Wyman – Monday January 21 (late afternoon)

At Oliver Wyman, the visit started with a short overview of the company, the culture, the people and the recruitment process. Quickly we jumped into a practice case to be solved in small groups of 5 to 6 students. The market share of new current accounts in the UK for a major local retail bank had to be estimated. To be able to solve the case, we had to provide advice on the steps that the bank could take to grow the business profitability in this specific segment. A consultant walked us through the case, as he would do during an interview. Main takeaways were that structure and asking the right questions are vital to solving a case in a correct way. To conclude the afternoon, Oliver Wyman offered us a drink, which gave all of us a nice opportunity to talk with the consultants and learn more about the company and the life in London. In the evening, many students explored Chinatown, went to one of the cosy restaurants and later had some beers in a typical British pub.

JP Morgan – Tuesday January 22 (morning)

On the second day, there was a company presentation of JP Morgan in a conference room of a hotel. First, there was an introduction to the firm JP Morgan and more specifically to the department ‘Asset management’. An introduction was given by Tom Vermeulen, who is JP Morgan’s senior sales for the Benelux, followed by a session with Dan Morris, an executive director at JP Morgan and a well-known global market strategist who is daily on Bloomberg TV and who is regularly invited to talk on the business channel CNBC. Not surprisingly, the session he provided was full of interesting market insights. The economic trends in the past 5 years and future outlook were discussed, focussing on five categories: the European economy, the global economy, equities, fixed income and ‘other assets and investor behaviour’. Keen questions were raised about the effects of the euro crisis on investing and the impact of regulatory interventions. After this presentation, JP Morgan Asset Management offered us a lunch where we had the opportunity to network with the people from JP Morgan. Among them was Christophe Timmermans, an alumnus of the Vlerick MFM programme who is currently working as a finance analyst at JP Morgan.

Morgan Stanley (Sales and Trading) – Tuesday January 22 (afternoon)

The first visit to Morgan Stanley consisted of a presentation by the sales and trading team. Being seated in a beautiful conference room, the class was introduced to the company, its divisions and brief history. After the introduction, three employees of Morgan Stanley were willing to provide us more information about their jobs. All three presentations started with the employees explaining how their common days looked like, which pointed out that they have to work long and hard. A ticket to London is obviously not obtained without effort. The most appealing part of the session was when each presenter gave examples of what he actually did during his job in the form of a quiz. Presenting through interaction got everyone’s attention and made us think about how the markets would react on certain information and how to deal with this. After the presentations, the Q&A session was mainly dominated by questions concerning the economic expectations and reasons why London is such a good place for the financial firms to be located. Morgan Stanley’s analysts have a rather good expectation of 2013 and they foresee an economic revival soon. Hopeful words to conclude an exciting visit.

Royal Anglo Belgian Club – Tuesday January 22 (evening)

After a day of banking sessions, the MFM class was invited to the Royal Anglo Belgian Club to network with Belgians who are working in the financial sector in London. There were many intriguing people with a lot of experience who could provide us with tips & tricks to get our way into London. The variety of profiles and age groups made it possible to get an idea of various financial positions, and to make up your mind on which position you would really see yourself working later. It was also an opportunity to talk some more to the people we met earlier that day and to further explore the London nightlife with them.

Lloyds – Wednesday January 23 (morning)

The third day of the London trip started at Lloyds, a company that is located in an amazing building designed by the famous architect Richard Rogers. A brief review of Lloyds’ particular history was presented, explaining how it started as a popular coffee house for sailors, which later became the biggest ship insurer in Europe. Despite the radical change of the nature and environment of the company, it maintains its tradition of having “coffee-boys”. The second part of our visit to Lloyds consisted of a guided tour of their impressive building. The guide ended up being the well-presented gentleman that first hosted us. Interestingly, he is the only remaining “coffee-boy” of the company. The most outstanding part of the modern building is the hall where the trading floor is located. Thanks to Lloyds’ powerful brand name, it is able to gather 88 syndicates (other companies) on its trading floor. In this big area, all the brokers from the 88 syndicates have a desk and deal with policyholders.  At the time of our visit, this space was still very quiet because the activities start after 11 AM when most of the brokers arrive. The visit to Lloyds allowed us to gain better exposure to the world of insurance and to gain a new perspective into the industry.

ESCP Europe – Wednesday January 23 (afternoon)

In the afternoon, it was time to visit ESCP Europe, the oldest business school in the world with campuses across Europe. It started off with a short presentation about the fundamentals of trading, after which we were introduced to a trading simulation by one of the host professors. The trading simulation mirrored a real-life trading environment and we had the opportunity to buy and sell two fictitious stocks. A lot of excitement was in the room, and you could feel the tension of having to meet deadlines and closing orders at the right time. Besides the trading game, there was also a session that gave us a broader view about the financial markets in general. Having been exposed to the trading simulation, one could really understand how certain basic principles in finance are easily overlooked when being in a situation of tension and stress. The host professor who was in charge of the trading simulation gave us the opportunity to play the trading simulation once more, which was highly appreciated by certain students. Competition was on again! Later the evening, we went to some pubs and eventually ended up in a club to celebrate this wonderful London trip.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) – Thursday January 24 (morning)

On our last day in London, Royal Bank of Scotland invited us to attend a presentation on risk management at their head office. The people from RBS had put in their best effort in order to provide us with an insight in how the bank manages its risks on a day-to-day basis. The way risk management is applied at RBS has undergone a tremendous (r)evolution since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 and the resulting financial crisis. Instead of being considered just as an advisory organ without having too much input, the risk department has gained an increasingly important role in the bank’s daily operations. This growing culture of risk management contributes to RBS being a more resilient and sustainable company as it defines the framework and boundaries in which specific departments, such as for instance sales and trading, can operate. By applying various methodologies such as value at risk, credit value adjustments for counterparty credit risk, stress tests, etc. the bank succeeds in clearly identifying, measuring and controlling its exposures to certain risks while delivering its business objectives. Due to its increasing prominence, risk management has become genuinely indispensible in modern day banks and the people from RBS succeeded well in conveying this message.

Morgan Stanley (Private wealth management) – Thursday January 24 (afternoon)

Our second visit to Morgan Stanley included the Private Wealth Management (PWM) department of the bank. A thorough explanation was given on the different services offered by Morgan Stanley concerning PWM. The speakers also shared the view of Morgan Stanley on the future of PWM. After this elaboration on PWM, the subject of the presentation changed to what young starters should be aware of when entering the labour market. They provided us with tips and tricks on how to obtain the job of your dreams. First, the cover letter is more important than we assumed. It is your chance to make up for the imperfections in your CV and to stand out compared to other candidates. Next, preparation is everything. You should not only refresh your knowledge related to the specific job content but also look up the background of the person who is interviewing you. Furthermore, it is important to behave in a confident manner and be proud on your achievements so far. However, the line between being confident and being arrogant is thin, make sure to never cross it! Finally, we received the opportunity to ask questions relating to PWM and the job search process. Unfortunately, this signified the end of our London trip. Some lucky people extended their London journey and stayed with friends or family for a couple more days, but most of us were going back to Belgium late at night. On the Eurostar everyone was extremely tired, but that was all worthwhile. Certain special moments we encountered in London will be in our memories for the rest of our lives.

Check out more pictures in the London Study Trip album on the Facebook page.

Best regards,


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