Imperial welcomed representatives from Avantage Reply, PRMIA and RBS to the Business School to host a Risk & Regulatory Hackathon. Students from MSc Risk Management & Financial Engineering and MSc Investment & Wealth Management took part in the live challenge, competing against students at top-ranking universities in Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Liege and Rome. Mentored by industry professionals, they were tasked to save a struggling bank in just one day.
Split into teams, the students were challenged to advise the bank’s senior management on a strategy to save it from resolution, with additional information and financial shocks released throughout the course of the day.
In class we learn to calculate measures like capital and coverage ratios, but today has deepened my understanding of what figures like that really mean.
Those taking part felt the exercise provided excellent practice for case studies they are likely to be faced with when interviewing for jobs in the financial and consulting sectors, while they also appreciated the opportunity to put academic concepts into practice. Zhi Yang Cheng, who is a current MSc Risk Management & Financial Engineering student, explained how the event furthered and consolidated concepts taught in the classroom: “We learn to calculate measures like capital and coverage ratios, but today has deepened my understanding of what figures like that really mean and how you can take actions to affect them. These things are difficult to fully appreciate from a lecturer or a textbook but today they became real.”
It’s a very tangible topic that the students have been given, and highly relevant to the key challenges that banks will face in the near future.
While students grappled with the complexities of the task, mentors from each company were on hand to assist the teams and pass on crucial knowledge and experience. Arnold Veldhoen, the Managing Director at Avantage Reply Netherlands, commented that the live case study was a particularly tricky one, with complexities that would challenge even seasoned bankers and consultants. However, he emphasised that the task was not designed to be solved perfectly, but rather to encourage curiosity and the students’ interest in challenging banking situations: “It’s a very tangible topic that the students have been given, and highly relevant to the key challenges that banks will face in the near future. Already the European Central Bank has recognised that there are too many banks in Europe. Soon many will start to struggle – some already are – and they will face very similar challenges to those featured in this case study today.”
In addition to case study insight, working with the mentors gave the students a valuable opportunity to network with experienced bankers, risk consultants and financial regulators. The MSc Risk Management & Financial Engineering programme is accredited by the Professional Risk Managers’ International Association (PRMIA), and students benefit throughout the year from access to exclusive networking events and speaker presentations. The accreditation further gives students access to online PRMIA resources and considerable discounts on PRMIA exams.
HR representatives were present throughout the day to provide the students with job advice and assistance. Jess Smith, who works in Graduate Recruitment at Avantage Reply, commented that her company actively recruit students from Imperial College Business School because in addition to being academically strong, the MSc programmes teach crucial soft skills such as teamwork and how to communicate with a client.
Students also had the chance to engage with MSc Risk Management & Financial Engineering alumnus Ram Ananth, who is now Head of Quantitative Practice at Avantage Reply and helped to organise the event. Ram is well-known to the Business School, as he regularly presents guest lectures. Ram also mentored the winning Imperial student team at the Financial Times Global Business Challenge 2015.
Having completed their strategies, the students then presented their proposals to a team of judges, who commented on the incredibly high standard and the difficulty of selecting their winner.
Congratulations to ‘Hireus’, who were announced as the winners of the Case Study Award for London, and to the Belgium team announced as the overall winners of the Hackathon.