Investment banking and investment
Graduate roles in investment management explained for students and graduates

Investment management: graduate area of work

Graduates working in investment, fund or asset management contribute ideas to investment portfolios from day one on the job.
From day one, graduates get involved with writing reports on stocks, meeting company management and contributing ideas to portfolios.

Investment management is about managing money by investing it in a variety of asset classes including equities (or shares) and bonds. Working in this area, which is also known as asset management or fund management, will mean using your brain every day to try to outwit thousands of other participants in the financial markets.

Don’t go into investment management if you prize certainty and believe that a computer can provide definite answers to three decimal places. You’ll be more suited to investment management if you’re curious about the world, able to challenge a consensus and not afraid to debate issues with senior colleagues.

The main daily task is to analyse individual companies and try to assess their prospects in order to try to find out which companies are likely to outperform the market. You could be looking at many different types of industry and analysing anything from iPhones to oil rigs or organic food trends. The main business objectives of investment management are to provide a good investment for clients – and good customer service too.

Investment managing jobs

The main roles within investment management are analyst and investment manager. As you might expect, the role of an analyst is to analyse stocks, taking a view on their future outlook and circulating research internally. This could entail meeting with company management and looking at economic data and market trends.

An investment manager (sometimes also known as a portfolio or fund manager) will then be responsible for investing clients’ money in a portfolio of stocks. Investment managers will rely heavily on the in-depth research done by analysts when deciding how to invest. At the same time, they must take overall responsibility for how the fund is constructed, looking at the bigger picture and considering issues such as asset allocation. Many investment managers carry on doing hands-on research to avoid becoming too distant from company analysis.

Starting out as a graduate analyst

The most common route into a career in investment management is through a graduate programme – although it can be possible to transfer into investment management later on with experience in another professional services area.

As a recent graduate you would usually start out as an analyst, doing in-depth research into stocks, perhaps with a focus on a particular country, sector or type of company. From day one, graduates get involved with writing reports on stocks, meeting company management and contributing ideas to portfolios.

You can also expect to study towards professional qualifications, starting with the IMC (investment management certificate) and building up to the CFA (chartered financial analyst) qualification. Most importantly, after an initial training programme, you will also find that you learn a lot ‘on the job’ from working closely with experienced investors.

The amount of travel depends on what stocks you cover but it is likely that your work would involve several trips to the location of the companies you are responsible for researching.

Search for graduate jobs in investment management by typing 'investment management' into the job search box on the TARGETjobs Investment Banking & Investment homepage.

The effects of the credit crunch

The growth stocks of former years may not be those of the future. The longer-term effects of the credit crunch have yet to be seen but are having a powerful impact on all markets and shifting the contours of the global economy.

Skills required

  • A reasonable level of numeracy
  • An open and questioning mind and the ability to express your ideas
  • Commercial awareness

Thanks to Mark Urquhart, partner at Baillie Gifford, for his help with this article.

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