Why students should [re]consider a career in investment

Mar 7, 2018 | Blog

On Monday evening, Gabrielle, Charlotte and I gave a talk about a career in investing at Cambridge University, called ‘Investment Uncovered’. This was designed to advertise the profession to students but, more specifically, women. The three of us from different ends of the investment spectrum spoke about what we do, how we got into the industry and the positives of the job.

Whilst it was great to see so many enthusiastic male undergraduates, unfortunately only two women were there to hear it.

In many ways this is a good illustration of the issue we see when hiring people into the industry. The vast majority of the applicants we see are privately educated, white men.

This disparity is reflected in the data — just 10.5% of active fund managers globally are female and just 13% of VC Partners in the UK.

We are passionate about encouraging more diversity in the investment industry, because we think it’s right, but also because it’s been proven that greater diversity leads to better decision making. Diverse teams make better decisions 87% of the time versus 58% for all-male teams, according to a Cloverpop survey, so it is in the interests of our industry to get this right. We want to spread the message far and wide, so to that end, we have written a blog post below with the main points of advice which we’d encourage you to share as widely as possible.

Notes from talk at Corpus Christi, University of Cambridge, 6–11–17.

Speakers

Charlotte, Gabrielle & Check

  • Charlotte Yonge, investment manager at Troy Asset Management; 7 years’ industry experience, manager on the Trojan Fund. Graduated from Cambridge with a degree in MML
  • Gabrielle fund manager with 27 years’ experience; runs the Global Equity Fund at Troy Asset Management, Graduated from University College Dublin with an MA in Economics.
  • Francesca (Check) Warner, Principal at Downing Ventures, 2 years in Venture Capital, Co-Founder of Diversity VC. Graduated from Cambridge with a degree in English Literature.

Why is investment attractive?

We are clearly biased, given that we all work in it, but we believe that investment is one of the most stimulating careers that you can have, for the following reasons:

  1. Objective measure of performance — investment is one of the few industries in which you are actually measured by, and rewarded for, your abilities. The performance of the fund that you run, or the investments you manage, is the true and indisputable measure of your worth, something that you rarely get in other industries.

 

Gabrielle’s slide showing the performance of her fund (in blue) vs benchmarks

2. Interest & variety — no two days are the same (literally), and you get to spend your time reading, learning, analysing business which is hugely engaging, tangible and rewarding.

3. A career, rather than a job — many jobs that you get out of university are stepping stones to other things, but with investment you can truly build a long-term career at one fund, or in one niche, without ever becoming bored or ceasing to learn.

4. A good work/ life balance — investment is largely a job which you can do from anywhere. Unlike with some client work, there’s no imperative to be physically in the office every day and theoretically, you can easily pack-up and work from home. It should lend itself to balancing the needs or a family more than many other jobs.

What the job involves

“Unlike the sterotype you might see in films with agressive traders shouting down the phones, the reality is more congenial. We spend much of our time reading annual reports, analysing the the latest earnings from companies in our sector, reseraching the buying habits of millenials” — Gabrielle, Troy

“In venture capital, I spend roughly a third of my time meeting new companies; a third working on analysing investment opportunities and a third working with the companies we’ve already invested in to guide them on boards and help them build their businesses. Each day is fascinating and filled with new knowledge and challenges. It’s a bit like having a bit of exposure to helping run several companies all at the same time.” — Check, Downing Ventures

Just some of the companies that Charlotte has spent time with in her time at Troy

“I’ve done a significant amount of travelling in my job as an investor, mainly to spend time with the companies that we have either invested in already, or are looking to invest in in the future. I’ve done everything from working on the shop floor at a Dr Pepper warehouse in Iowa, to touring the original Unilever workers campus in Port Sunlight and trying to understand the psychology of Burberry customers.” — Charlotte, Troy

Conclusion

In summary, it’s our belief that this is a job which could be extremely rewarding to wide range of people from a wide range of backgrounds, particularly since having an understanding of the end-customer gives you a competitive advantage in seeing opportunities where others don’t.

To that end, Troy Asset Management have a paid internship space available next year and would like to have applicants from as broad a base as possible. If you’d like to find out more, please email cy@taml.co.uk

If you are interested in a career at Downing LLP, please email your CV to careers@downing.co.uk. If you want to find out more about careers in VC, take a look at the Diversity VC website and the blog post with resources on getting into the VC industry here, and sign up to the newsletter for more content and tips about breaking into VC.

If you run a university society that might be interested to hear from us to give a talk like this, please let us know, or if you have any other ideas about how to reach young people with this message, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

Thanks for reading.