Core skills and how to demonstrate them in asset management interviews

So, you’re thinking about a career in asset management? There are lots of good reasons to do so. It’s a career that presents a lot of possibilities and you can expect annual earnings of min. £40,000. The work is varied and interesting, constantly throwing up new challenges, and it really rewards intelligence. But do you have the skills to get ahead? If you’re currently working on improving your CV with a view to getting a job in this field, these are some of the things you could usefully add to it.

Personal skills

Asset management is a great career for people who like puzzles. Good problem-solving skills and a diligent approach to data will get you a long way, and some companies will even test you on these as part of the recruitment process. Much of asset management is about developing good instincts and combining them with well attuned critical thinking skills. You’ll need to be good at communicating with clients and have the natural self-assurance that they need to see to feel confident about your work on their behalf. You’ll also need to be good at presenting complex data in a clear, easily understandable way.

Education

A good degree in finance, business or economics is the easiest way to prepare for a career in asset management, but there are also some excellent specialist courses now available through leading universities. A degree in another subject that promotes strong organisational skill, such as chemistry, can also suffice if combined with a suitable master’s. It’s also likely that you’ll need to spend a period as an intern.

Financial modelling and statistics

Good financial modelling skills lie at the heart of asset management. They depend on the ability to manage multiple variables and build them into forecasts which can in turn be summarised in an easily accessible form. Connected with this is the need for a good understanding of statistics, enabling you to make predictions and place observations in context. There are several accredited short statistics courses expressly linked to the finance sector that are publicly available throughout the year.

Business sense

Although it’s not essential to have a background in business or a business degree when going into asset management, it helps to have a good understanding of how markets work. That also means that you’ll need to read or watch financial news regularly to ensure that you stay up to date on any major developments. Having a basic sense of the issues faced by businesses is also useful in predicting their behaviour and creating models that intersect meaningfully with the real world. Clients often appreciate the opportunity to discuss the businesses in which they’re thinking of investing in detail that goes beyond just the numbers.

Report writing

Working as an asset manager means continually having to produce reports. They can relate to individual assets or to whole portfolios, and you’ll need to be able to use them to justify decisions you make on your clients’ behalf – including in situations where bad luck means things don’t work out in accordance with your reasonable expectations. You’ll need a good command of written English and sufficient IT experience to set out reports impressively, and you’ll need to be very good at meeting deadlines.

Finding opportunities

When you’re ready to look for a job in asset management, you’ll find most of the leading employers represented at graduate recruitment fairs. Shard Capital Partners LLP, a major supplier of investment advice to clients around the world, routinely recruits young people with promise in this area and supports them in learning the job as they work. Do your research on the company that most interests you so that you can make a good impression even as it tries to impress you.

Developing your career in this sector also depends heavily on networking, so take every opportunity to make new contacts. If you’re unable to find a position you want in the immediate term, a job in sales or marketing is a good interim solution and will make it easier to find an asset management position in the future.

The finance industry has demonstrated its strength even during the difficult economic times the past decade has seen, so it’s a secure place to plan out a future. With great long-term prospects, this is the kind of career that will give you a lot to look forward to.

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