Benoit Collin
Benoit Collin is a MSc Investment & Wealth Management class of 2017-18 student.

About you

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

I secured my first internship within the finance industry in 2014 at Amundi Asset Management (London Branch), the Europe’s largest asset manager, as a Middle Office Analyst on Forex transactions. Thanks to this previous experience, I had the opportunity to join Louis Capital Markets and HSBC in Paris as an Equity Analyst on European Small and Mid Caps. Finally, as it is quite common to take a gap year in France to get extra experience before graduation, I spent another year working closely with a three-manager team in the management of the Euro Small Cap & European Equity Positive Economy funds.

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

For multiple reasons: the quality of the programme, its specialisation in asset management, Imperial Business School Careers, Imperial’s reputation, its strong corporate connections, and the alumni network.

Did you receive a scholarship? If yes, what were the benefits of receiving this?

I received a scholarship for my year at Imperial, “based on the strengths of my application and interview performance”. Beyond the obvious financial advantage, a scholarship is very appreciated by recruiters because it is a great achievement and because it is also perceived as an acknowledgement of my previous academic and professional successes before beginning with Imperial College Business School.

Programme

What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy, and find most rewarding?

Most of the modules are highly challenging, depending on the student’s background. I really enjoyed studying with bright people from different cultures and backgrounds. It’s one of the major strength of Imperial College Business School: being able to attract individuals from all over the world with around half of the cohort having quantitative background while the other half having an economic one (with some exceptions). We learn a lot from the modules but also from the people we are working with and this complement gives good results.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

I intend to pursue my career as an Equity Analyst. Therefore, the Advanced Company Valuation module was very beneficial. We have studied various examples and company valuation techniques. But the key takeaway was about the necessity to look beyond the figures and financial models. As the professor, Marc Kitten, says, company valuation is 50% technique and 50% experience and good judgement.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme?

Some modules rely heavily on coding and modelling skills, mainly using Matlab and I think this part has been the most challenging one for me. I had no coding experience before and was quite happy to work and learn from other students in my group with an engineering background.

The other challenging element, for me but also for the main part of the cohort, was to combine lectures at Imperial College Business School and applications for Graduate Programmes during the first term, between September and December. The pace is fast during this term, we had lots of coursework and, in addition, we had to prepare for tests, interviews and assessment days. Time management is key.

People

How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

My cohort is very diverse in terms of background and culture with 32 different nationalities this year. This is a good opportunity to be exposed to a variety of business cultures and working practices.

Also, the selection process is tough, meaning that all the students in the cohort are smart and motivated.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?

My favourite professor was Robbin Herring, the Real Estate Investment lecturer. Mr Herring is not an academic and has many years of experience in the Real Estate industry. He was able to combine the theory, through the lecture slides, and the practice through challenging material and the invitation of five guest speakers to bring the most possible value to his course. He was also highly receptive to student feedback at the end of the module.

Imperial places a large emphasis on group work; what did you like the most about working in this type of environment?

When collaborating with other students on group projects, the most interesting part was about combining different skills, practices and knowledge to end up with a result we could not have achieved on our own. Group work also prepared us for our future career, as we are likely to work as part of a team in our future jobs. Recruiters are looking for proactive people with the ability to defend their ideas, but also be bale to compromise on a solution within a team.

Opportunities

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

I had the opportunity to be part of the launch of the Imperial’s Student Investment Fund this year. Unfortunately, I was not able to get involved as much as I wanted given the heavy workload required by the Business School’s modules. But this project is very exciting and it emphasises the support Imperial College Business School can bring to its students when it comes to entrepreneurial and innovative ideas.

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

I was amazed by the number of workshops and events offered to students throughout the year. The most useful events were the recruitment events, held by HR or Executives, to present their own companies, their graduate schemes and explain the student’s profiles they were looking for. Imperial College Business School benefits from its world-class ranking to attract top employers and being able to speak with HR or Executives before even applying to their graduate scheme gives a significant edge over the other applicants.

What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial? Do you hold a student leadership position?

Beside the Student Investment Fund, I was also part of the Finance Club. They organise networking sessions with alumni and finance professionals and also guest speaker events covering specific topics in finance.

Career

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

I’m currently looking for an Analyst position within an Asset Management or Private Equity firm. I really liked my previous experiences as Equity Analyst and would like to keep doing this job at the beginning of my career. I have learnt a lot at Imperial in terms of investment strategies and valuation techniques and I feel even more prepared and knowledgeable to get a full-time position.

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

Careers is another strength of the Business School. I have used their services multiple times for CV review or mock interview and they have always provided valuable feedback and advice. I recommend future students to use these services as much as possible because mock interviews and assessment days are an excellent training and enable you to be much more confident during real interviews. Imperial students are not only good technically and academically, they are also better prepared to match employer’s requirements through these training sessions.

London location

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

London is an international hub for financial services and I sincerely think it is the best place to start a career in this field. Studying in London is a great opportunity to get to interact with finance professionals during events and maximize your chance to get hired. A significant advantage is also to have visiting lecturers who are professionals in their fields. This is key to provide students with a business-like view and to be aware of the differences between theory and real business practices.

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

I am living at GradPad Woodlane, near the White City station. Gradpad offers student apartments for postgraduate students with study areas and a shuttle going directly to the South Kensington campus. It is very convenient and other students from my cohort are also living there.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time in London? Have you had opportunities to travel?

London is a very pleasant city to live in, especially as a student. The city has a lot to offer: dozens of parks and museums, restaurants and markets offering food from all over the world, significant number of sport facilities, etc. There really is something for everyone in London. I really enjoy meeting my friends in parks or even in restaurants and tasting new foods. We also had the opportunity to be in London during the FIFA World Cup, and everyone knows that English people are big football fans and know how to celebrate!

If you had to move to London for the programme, what have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London? What advice would you give to someone in a similar position?

I lived in London for six months for my previous internship at Amundi Asset Management. Therefore, I knew already the city quite well. Finding an affordable apartment can be sometimes a laborious task. That is also the reason why I choose to live in Gradpad Wood Lane. You can book your apartment in advance, with access to all the facilities a student may need, for a reasonable price compared to the overall market.

Tips

Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online webinars or on-campus information sessions? 

I could not attend information sessions as I was working at that time. I have only attended an online webinar regarding Gradpad accommodation. However, attending information sessions is always a good thing to learn more about the recruitment process, what Imperial College is looking for and what it has to offer.

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

The MSc Investment & Wealth Management is highly quantitative, even more than I expected when I applied. My first advice is to be well prepared for those modules. Any applicant can contact students from the current cohort to get an overview of what to expect.

Group work is  a significant part of the programme. Therefore, future applicants need to like working as part of a team or they might not take the best from this year at Imperial.

And lastly, applicants who intend to find a job in London after their year at Imperial should look at the different deadlines for graduate schemes, even before starting the programme. A significant part of the graduate scheme application processes closes between September and December.

Role
Pre-MSc Investment & Wealth Management
Nationality
France
Undergraduate Education :

Master’s Degree in Finance, ESSCA (France)