Alejandro Nicoli, MSc Investment & Wealth Management 2019-20, student at Imperial College Business School
MSc Investment & Wealth Management

Information Management for Business, UCL

About you

What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?

Before coming to Imperial, I gained different kinds of experiences. I worked in the financial sector in Shanghai, represented my country at the World Bank and the Organization of the American States. I also launched a startup called “Bruno” which aimed to help small retail investors by allowing them to invest small amounts of capital without much financial knowledge. These experiences provided me with the opportunity to broaden my perspective on the workplace.

Why did you decide to study an MSc Investment & Wealth Management at Imperial College Business School?

The uniqueness of this programme is what motivated me to apply. I knew that I wanted to immerse myself in the world of investing in order to navigate through all types of investment philosophies, ranging from value to quant as well as understanding the mathematics behind risk management. Hence, Imperial provided exactly that, which is the combination between the extremely technical side as well as the practical one. I truly believe that in order to excel at anything, you need to understand the foundations through “first principles” thinking, which is what Imperial teaches you.  

Did you receive a scholarship?

I was fortunate to be awarded the W L “Bill” Byrnes Global Scholarship, for which I have no words to express my gratitude. This enabled me not only to go beyond my intellectual boundaries, but also personal ones. In other words, besides having the opportunity to network with countless individuals working in the industry, I had the chance to have the best cohort that I have ever had in my life. Driven, smart and funny individuals from all around the world that want to help each other to succeed in an extremely competitive world. I sincerely believed that there was going to be competition between students, but it is actually the opposite – a collaborative atmosphere where growing is the only place to go. As a scholarship recipient, I also had the chance to attend networking events where I met all the other scholarship recipient students from different programmes, which was an amazing opportunity to meet bright and motivated people.


What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy the most?

My cohort and professors are undoubtedly the most enjoyable factors of the programme. I don’t want to repeat myself, but I truly believe that people are the only thing in the world that you can’t replicate. When you are in a programme surrounded by smart, happy and driven individuals, then the output will inevitably be great!

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

This one is a tough one. I have two answers which are Derivatives taught by Harjoat S. Bhamra and Private Equity & Venture Capital (PEVC) taught by Sebastien Canderle. The reason why I chose these two is that they are completely different types of modules. The former is more about the mathematical aspect of derivatives where we go to challenge the assumptions of the Black Scholes Model, while the latter is an extremely practical module where you learn how LBOs and VCs actually work in practice. To put this idea into context, one could say that Derivatives is more about where the ingredients of a meal are coming from and PEVC is the recipe on how to do it. Thus, by choosing the best ingredients and having the best recipe, you could become the greatest chef in the world!

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?

The two most rewarding things have been the amount of knowledge that I have acquired from a technical side as well as how my network has grown as a result of the events that I’ve attended here at Imperial. My quantitative skills have significantly improved and I have met people from different companies ranging from big firms such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, to smaller fast grower ones such as Revolut.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme? 

This one is an easy one, the quantitative side of the programme has been challenging for me. Don’t get me wrong, I like it and I think that it is a key component of investment management. It is just that some days we love each other and others we don’t, but at the end of the day we always get along acknowledging that our relationship is getting stronger.


How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

I have the best cohort that I could have ever asked for. They are truly amazing. It is like having a London family with people from all around the world who have the same interests and ambitions as you do.


What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?

Participating in the Student Investment Fund has been, by far, the best experience for me. I’m currently the Portfolio Manager (Principal Trader) of the fund. This position allows me to construct a market-neutral portfolio working alongside the Chief Investment Officer by choosing simple, predictable cash-flow generative companies from different industries while hedging the market. We are over 60 students participating in this fund meaning that the ability to apply the theories learnt in class has been a remarkable experience.

Which workshops, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?

Imperial provides numerous workshops that you can attend to tailor your skills. These activities range from teaching you how to code in Python to polishing your LBO modelling skills. On top of that, Imperial offers access to online resources such as Wall Street Prep and CFA literature which are extremely useful to prepare you for your future career.

Have you had opportunities to work/socialise with students across programmes within the Business School?

I have had the chance to meet students across different programmes within the Business School. Imperial also organises networking events (with drinks included) where all students are reunited and can meet each other. Professors do come along as well, meaning that you will be able to get to know more people than the names that you will remember.

How have you benefited from the Business School’s connection to the Imperial College London community?

Through the Student Investment Fund, I had the opportunity to meet people who studied the MSc Investment & Wealth Management programme in previous years and are currently working in the finance industry. Moreover, during the pitches of the fund, these alumni were able to bring professional analysts from firms such as JP Morgan to not only provide us feedback, but also to help us expose us to professionals. Thinking retrospectively, it is remarkable how many practical and real-life experiences I have had since I came to Imperial.


What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?

My short-term goal is to break into the Hedge Fund industry and the medium-term is becoming an Activist Investor. The term Hedge Fund is a complex one because it involves many types of funds. Thus, my plan is to start in a fund where value investing prevails, which will allow me to enhance my understanding of businesses as well as learning how to improve them; which are two key skills of an Activist.

How did the services from Careers help in your professional development/securing employment?

Careers at Imperial College Business School is one of the most organised and efficient departments that I have ever come across. I completed my undergraduate in London as well, which allows me to have a benchmark on how incredible Imperial is regarding Careers. Imperial will support you through workshops about how to break into your desired industry, as well as personalised appointments to assist you with your CV, cover letter and assessment centres. In other words, you can simulate any stage of the recruitment process at Imperial with well-prepared professionals that will provide you with solid and constructive feedback.

London Location

Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?

I can’t think of another city where I’d like to study besides London. This city is equipped with ongoing activities ranging from the professional side to the entertainment one. For example, you could go to classes in the morning, meet a professional in Canary Wharf in the afternoon and then go for any kind of activity at night. This is just a simple example, but your days here will be fully-packed with new meetings and an infinite number of invitations from your new friends to go and discover the city.

Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?

I currently live near Canary Wharf, which is not that close to Imperial. However, I chose this area because it allowed me to use my free time to meet new people from the industry around the area. I guess that this is an uncommon answer, but I enjoy taking full advantage of my time as well as trying to meet as many people as I can. I truly believe that everyone has a really good story that needs to be told.

When you’re not studying, what do you enjoy doing?

You will most likely find me at the gym, playing tennis or running around the city. My sister studies nutrition, meaning that when I turn my mind off I immerse myself into her world as much as I can. If you can’t find me working-out then I’d be grabbing a pint with someone – so come and join us!

What have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London? 

London is a fast-paced city where you need to adapt as fast as possible in order to enjoy it at its fullest. I can’t think of anything negative besides how long the distance between different places is. My advice here is don’t lock yourself in your room, but rather take advantage of the city, even if it’s raining. And don’t forget to buy an umbrella!


What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?

If I were to start all over again there are two things that I’d continuously remind myself which are one, talk to as many people as you can and two, be yourself because authenticity is underrated. I truly believe that by doing these two things you’ll enjoy your time with the best people by being the best version of yourself. Enjoy it!

MSc Investment & Wealth Management

Information Management for Business, UCL