Q) Why did you choose FinTech over pure Finance?
A)I wanted to ‘future-proof’ my MSc. In hindsight that was a very good decision which is reaping benefits already due to Covid-19. With millions of professionals working from home, understanding technology and its implications are more relevant. This MSc lets you play with Big Data while understanding the theory behind Cloud Computing. Data Science modules such as Machine Learning and Python helped me to analyse large Data Sets. Finally, the Cryptocurrency module interested me to explore ‘internet of value’/ Blockchain as Don Tapscott would put it. My BSc was Tech/ CS related and this MSc ensured I apply that knowledge to the Financial Services domain. FinTech also helps evaluate trends in ‘impact investing’ (ESG), crowdfunding, P2P lending, ICOs and other innovative ways to raise capital.
Q) What did you enjoy the most on-campus/ which activities interested you the most?
Career events held by both ICMA centre and Henley Business School definitely. I walked into pretty much every event there was on a Thursday/ Tuesday night during my first semester. Learnt about Marketing, Investment Banking, Wealth Management, Trading, etc by industry practitioners. My favourite talk was Private Equity related- delivered by Draper Esprit. Talking to Matthew, Jake, Graham and Dan (Career Coaches/ Mentors at university) over a Pizza after helps to gauge their insights on recruitment. There are multiple events on a single day at times, and this requires attendants to run different buildings to make it on time for sessions!
Q) Something that makes campus special for you.
To be honest, I was too busy in first semester to notice much on campus! I travel to university every day from my parents’ home, so this question is a little difficult to answer! However, I do enjoy my walks to the agriculture building for ‘Big Data in Business’ module. It is serene! The little footbridge (Friend’s bridge) next to the Whiteknights lake is a great place to walk with your mates. Best place to eat/ have a coffee – Dolce Vita IMO.
Q) Something miscellaneous about ICMA centre.
It has to be the ‘coffee chats’ between lectures at the café. You stumble into students from other programmes and it’s great to have a quick chat before getting to grips with terms like ‘heteroskedasticity’ or ‘autocorrelation’ (Yes, QMF was a nightmare module!). This is also the area where group projects are divided between individuals (at least in my case) over some lunch, at times.
Q) 5 highlights/ takeaways from your programme.
1) Learning about KNIME platform, Python programming, understanding tech side of business – Big Data, Business intelligence, Cloud Computing. Take time to improve your coding skills.
2) FinTech Regulation and Blockchain modules. Learning about the FCA and PRA. Digital Banking taught by BSQ and Tony’s regulation lectures were my personal favourite.
3) Bloomberg Terminal trading sessions. It gets competitive in there when Mike decides to put up the scores on screen!
4) Teamwork, it really matters. Time management – sometimes (if you are on the 9-month programme rather than 12-month), you will have 7 simultaneous projects and probably around 3-5 final exams. It is essential to stay on top of your work!
5) Landing a job at a bank within FinTech division.
Q)What module did you find most challenging?
Programming for the first time. There are tips to overcome this issue in a previous post. QMF module can be a bit too abstract at times for students who have not had Math/ Stats in a while but persevere through it! QMF is essential to understand research papers – econometrics module. You will also use QMF statistics concepts in Big Data, Machine Learning modules in 2nd semester. Finally, on a funny note, doing Harvard style references can be a nightmare!
By Veda Varun Ramireddy & Negin Alam
MSc Finance and Financial Technology