Student Investment Fund January 2020 Hackathon

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The Imperial College Business School Student Investment Fund was established in 2018 to give students the opportunity to gain real-world experience in buy-side investments, equipping them with the essential practical skills needed to secure a role in this sector.

Run by an executive committee of current students, supported by both faculty and alumni of Imperial College Business School, the Fund manages £100,000 of assets split across both quantitative and fundamental investment strategies.

At the start of each academic year, students are invited to apply for voluntary positions within the Fund, where they are then made responsible for areas such as:

  • Researching companies within a given sector
  • Building and maintaining financial models
  • Providing investment recommendations
  • Generating forecasts

The fund also gives students the opportunity to enhance their careers through a series of unique events and ‘Hackathons’ held in conjunction with partners from the investment banking and wealth management world.

Matthew Day Student Investment Fund Matthew's first day at the Morgan Stanley Office

Connecting with Morgan Stanley at the Student Investment Fund Hackathon

In January 2020, MSc Financial Technology 2019-20 student Matthew Day attended a Hackathon that was held in partnership with Morgan Stanley. The event saw teams of students competing in pairs in a ‘Systematic Trading Game’ - a simulated re-enactment of some of Morgan Stanley’s everyday activity.

The objective of the day was to build a strategy to compete against others in the electronic market making sphere, where each incoming request takes the best price on offer among multiple agents.

Speaking about the task, Matthew said, “It was about balancing the fine line between loss from aggressive pricing and gain from expected future returns. Whilst our team didn’t come first in the challenge, we presented some interesting ways of tackling the problem, using pre-existing financial python libraries as opposed to traditional signal-based strategies”.

Based on his performance at the event, Matthew was offered an internship at Morgan Stanley as a Quantitative Analyst, something which he feels he was well prepared for during his time at Imperial:

“The MSc Financial Technology has opened my eyes to the financial world, allowing me to see it through a lens that Computer Science (which I studied as an undergrad) didn’t offer. Although quite intense, the payoff was worth it, as the programme managed to compress a large amount of information into what little time there was in a year. Everything taught in the programme is applicable to roles out there that are currently recruiting, and the range of choice is huge.”

The hackathon event was just a small part of Matthew’s involvement with the fund, as he also took on the role of team lead for one of its departments throughout the year:

“My first thought on discovering the Student Investment Fund was: ‘wait, I can get involved in multiple financial strategies using real money? Sign me up!’. I had been working with machine learning (ML) models before Imperial, and my knowledge came in handy. Assigned as team lead for the Sentiment / ML team within the Fund, we came together to produce several powerful models that allowed us to tackle financial problems with data-science finesse.”

Standing out to potential employers

Events such as the one Matthew attended are not uncommon at the Business School, and give both students and employers the opportunity to network in a more informal setting.

Agata Bartnik, the Morgan Stanley recruiter responsible for Quantitative finance events on university campuses across Europe, gives an insight into the motivations and considerations of a global investment bank when collaborating on these events:

“The objective is to engage with students and ensure we attract the best talent to our programmes. From the title of an intern or full-time programme, it isn’t always easy to understand the specifics of what the role may entail, so we take a pragmatic approach during our events and tend to focus on day-to-day responsibilities and example case studies.”

During the Hackathon, Agata and her colleagues observed the students to ascertain levels of knowledge and areas of expertise that may potentially serve them well in a role at Morgan Stanley. Impressed by those who attended on the day, Agata said:

“Imperial College Business School students were knowledgeable, especially on the finance side. They were very familiar with the financial terminology and concepts, which helped whilst explaining the rules of the Systematic Trading game. They were also very keen on learning Python, and they managed to come up with some interesting implementations on the day.

Matthew came up with a really good solution to solve the problem and had a good handle on the tools that we use at Morgan Stanley (git, PyCharms). Our business representatives were watching the students whilst they were working on their codes, so they were able to see his talent at programming! During the networking, he was very engaged, asked many questions about Morgan Stanley as well as the role. He came across as very authentic and genuinely interested in what we do on the quant finance side."

Recruitment and the impact of COVID-19

Following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the UK, face-to-face events are only just beginning to become possible again, and many businesses have had to adapt their recruitment processes to remain agile in this uncertain environment. For Morgan Stanley, this has meant a move to virtual spaces. Agata said:

“Our recruitment process has been fully transformed to fit into a virtual setting which was initially a new challenge for all of us. This has worked out very successfully so far and allows us to continue recruitment as normal.”

Whether physical or virtual, there is a wealth of resources available to students of Imperial, including our world-class Careers service, student-run initiatives such as the Student Investment Fund, and opportunities to engage with alumni forming an integral part of the experience. These connections are also highly valued by employers such as Morgan Stanley, as Agata mentions:

“My advice to all students would be to try and engage with as many people as you can. Find a mentor who will be able to guide you and share some best practises. Even senior members of Morgan Stanley had to apply for their first job at some point in their lives, so any insights from business representatives are vital, and I’m sure students will find them exceptionally useful when preparing for the interview process.”

To find out more about the Student Investment Fund and how students like Matthew are contributing to its success, visit their webpage.

You can also learn more about our programme, including the programme content and entry requirements, by visiting the MSc Financial Technology page.

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