MFM London Study Trip

Friday, 12 February 2016, 15:24 | Category : Masters
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Having a career in London is probably a shared dream of many young finance professionals. Not only is London the biggest financial centre of the world where all the top banks are located, it is also one of the biggest cities on earth. And it was during the Vlerick London Trip that those ungraspable dreams of mine started to look as realistic opportunities.

After our check in and a memorable lunch at an English pub we were headed to visit the first company, Parker Fitzgerald, a company that was founded as a response to the global finLondon,city,exploringancial crisis of 2008. The overall topic was focused on the prominence of Risk Management in today’s economical environment ending with an overview of the career opportunities within the company.

During the reception we made full use of our networking skills and exchanged coordinates with the firm’s top management. Same evening, only few of my colleagues were in need of a good night rest and went to the hotel, while the rest of us got a bit more familiar with the city.

The second day was even more promising as the first company on our schedule was the famous Goldman Sachs. So of course, there was excitement on Tuesday morning – everyone was up and ready to go. As we made our way on foot to the office from Farringdon station on the bright sunny yet windy day, everyone was bubbling with excitement. Dirk L. impressed all of us with his simple yet powerful presentation on the investment banking division of Goldman Sachs. He ran us through the organization and structure of the IBD and emphasized on how this bank was different from the other investment banks. He encouraged us young and aspiring finance professionals to apply to IBD and get the opportunity to experience the thrills and challenges of the field.

After grabbing lunch on the way we arrived at the astonishing (and I’m not exaggerating) building of Lloyd’s, not the bank but the insurance market. After enjoying a presentation about the working of an insurance market we had a tour through the building, visiting the trading floors and got familiar with the history of Lloyd’s. Fun fact: did you know that the Titanic was insured at Lloyd’s?


Now that the official part was over we were ready to go to the Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce where a walking dinner was organized together with the London based Vlerick Alumni. The night proved to be an excellent networking opportunity and the dinner, provided by a catering company, was appreciated by many of the students. Through this event we got the opportunity to interact with professionals in a more informal way and ask the questions we still had about the companies they work or have worked for.

IMG_2336Our third day promised to be busy as we had three top tier company visits on our agenda. First one on the list was Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the investment banking division of Bank of America. Our two hosts were both Belgian, both in impeccable tailor-made suits and both had an astonishingly sharp haircut. Cedric I. guided us through the bank’s internal structure and presented a typical deal from his practice group. The young trader, unsurprisingly, talked about derivatives. The value of our visit, however, lay in the short tea with cookies reception afterwards. Some of us got tips and tricks about how to make it in London while others questioned the bankers about their day-to-day lives. Overall, our visit proved a rare and valuable opportunity to get some insights from practitioners, and to have some tips-and-tricks on how to walk in their shoes one day. Black, polished, shiny shoes that is. Probably Church’s.

Here is a little piece of advise from my colleague on how one should do sightseeing:

“It is hard to find good views of Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London, as it stands among tall buildings. For an exclusive view in a relaxing atmosphere, try the Tate Modern’s rooftop bar on the Thames’ south bank. Come around 5.30pm (the bar closes at 6.30pm, but most visitors leave at 5pm already), order a double gin & tonic and be in awe of the grandeur of the ingeniously lit dome of the cathedral.

Next stop: JP Morgan Asset Management. This was a visit to remember. We were welcomed by two representatives and enjoyed a great presentation about their quarterly market insights. Since our group consisted out of passionate and up to date investors, we by accident changed the topic halfway through the presentation. But fortunately for us the representatives took their time to share their opinions and answer all our questions concerning each of the major market movements. We ended the third day with a short visit to the office of Société Générale where a Belgian employee shared his story on how he became an investment banker and his colleague gave us insights about the career opportunities within the company and some tips and tricks on the recruitment process.

Very sad but inevitable we started our last day in London. This day promised to be very interactive as we had a trading game planned in a Business School. ESCP, which is among the top business schools in Europe, is located in the Borough of Barnet, the second most populated district in London. The building that currently houses the school dates back to the Victorian era. On our arrival, a large assortment of snacks was waiting for us, courtesy of our hosts. The session began with an introduction to trading delivered by Robert L. Hayward, former financial advisor at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. However, the best part of our visit began when we accessed the trading room. The trading simulation, led by Assistant Professor Othman Cole, gave us a real feeling of what traders experience at work on a daily basis.


After checking out of the hotel we were on our way home. These four days opened my eyes and showed me that starting my career in London is not that unrealistic and scary as is seemed before. And although I am sad to leave this city behind, I feel confident that it won’t be for long.

London, we’ll see each other soon!


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