Graduates from MSc Finance at Imperial College Business School have an outstanding international reputation for being high calibre graduates because of their unique combination of quantitative excellence, practical experience and technical skills. MSc Finance is ranked 1st in the UK and 11th in the world by the Financial Times MSc Finance ranking 2015. It was the international reputation that attracted James McDonald, Credit Trader at Nomura and MSc Finance (2013) alumnus, to relocate from Melbourne, Australia to London to join the programme.
“I chose to study at Imperial College Business School because it is one of the best finance programmes in the world and is internationally regarded. The idea of studying in the UK appealed to me and as an Australian, I was able to get a visa to study in the UK. The excellent industry reputation of this highly regarded programme has already benefited my career and I’m sure it will continue to do so in the future,” said James.
Before studying MSc Finance at Imperial, James graduated from The University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Commerce, with a specialisation in Actuarial Science. He then worked as an Actuarial Consultant at PwC in Melbourne, Australia, in the banking and finance team servicing asset managers, retail banks and investment banks.
It is one of the best finance programmes in the world and is internationally regarded.
“My reason for studying MSc Finance was that I wanted to change the direction of my career towards the investment industry. I became interested in the applications of finance from my work experience at ASX (Australian Stock Exchange) and working with banking and asset manager clients at PwC,” explained James.
The modules and electives offered by MSc Finance at Imperial are specific and have a practical focus to prepare students for careers in the finance sector. “You can take electives directly related to your preferred field within finance, so you can tailor the programme to your interests. The programme also equips you with technical knowledge and skills such as MATLAB programming and its applications, which have been useful in my career,” James said.
Imperial College Business School has an outstanding Career & Professional Development Service, who work with students to ensure that they receive the very best support, advice and guidance that is tailored to their individual career needs. The Career Consultants in the team have many years of experience within industry and valuable contacts with Business School alumni.
“We had the opportunity to attend a lot of company presentations and events in the first few months of the programme, which enabled me to quickly determine who I wanted to work for and why. The events provided invaluable networking opportunities, and are unique to top MSc Finance programmes like Imperial’s,” recalled James.
“I attended a lot of interview preparation and practice, which I enjoyed and it was extremely helpful during the recruitment process. The practical interview sessions were valuable, especially with experts in the field and recruiters in the industry coming in to critique us. In fact, since graduating I have returned to assist in interview practice for current students seeking markets roles, and I am a Nomura mentor for students who have been given an offer of employment at Nomura; I help by giving them industry insight and specific career information,” James said.
The personal approach to career guidance at Imperial contributes to the impressive graduate employment record. 81% of students who graduated from MSc Finance in 2015 had already secured a job before completing the programme.
Upon graduation, James completed an internship in London at Nomura in Global markets, Flow Credit Trading and FX Structuring. Internships offer a fantastic taster of a role and industry, and can provide an excellent entry point into a company, as it did for James: “Immediately after the internship, I was hired full-time in Flow Credit Trading, and have been in this team ever since. My career has been focused on Traded IG, Crossover and High Yield Corporates in cash and CDS products.”
James commented, “I act as an Imperial Ambassador at Nomura by attending Nomura events, representing the company at Imperial’s careers fairs and helping Nomura to recruit more graduates from Imperial because of their high calibre and quantitative ability.”
The network you gain will carry you forward for the rest of your career. I now have a solid network of professionals that I can leverage for advice and career opportunities
Networking is an important part of the experience of studying at Imperial. James explained how he continues to benefit from his network of alumni: “Whilst studying MSc Finance at Imperial, you can make long lasting connections not just in your personal life, but also professionally; the network you gain will carry you forward for the rest of your career. I now have a solid network of professionals that I can leverage for advice and career opportunities.
“My peers on the programme were all very intelligent and came from diverse backgrounds. I have stayed in touch with my classmates, and in fact some of my good friends are from the Master’s. I now know people in many different industries working in countries all around the world including the US, Sweden, Kuwait, Thailand and Germany. The lecturers and tutors that I worked with were always extremely friendly and gave invaluable insights into their own careers and life which you could leverage.”
James had never been to London before studying at Imperial, but has since pursued a career in London. “London is a fantastic, multicultural city with lots to offer. When I was a student, weekends were always jam packed with socialising after a long week of studying and classes. South Kensington is one of the nicest areas in London and the university’s proximity to Hyde Park was not lost on me, whenever I needed a break or wanted to catch up with friends we would go to a café or chill in the park,” he remembered fondly.
When asked what advice he would give to anyone considering studying MSc Finance, James recommended: “Do your research and decide what you want to do after school and position yourself accordingly. When comparing Master’s programmes, consider the modules you will actually study. If you want a practical programme with the prerequisite theoretical knowledge, then Imperial is far and away the best because it is an industry focused degree.”
For further information about James McDonald’s career, visit his LinkedIn page.