My name is Laertis Sherman and I am going into my third year of studying Mechanical Engineering (MEng) at the University of Southampton.
Throughout the entirety of our Great British lockdown I have been studying almost every day on various subjects, mostly related to my degree; like most students I had lots of coursework to be finalising and, of course, lots of online lectures to be watching. Towards the end of this study period I received an email from the University which showed a list of opportunities to keep me busy and occupied whilst I’m cooped up at home during the summer. The University of Zurich’s “Finance for the Future” course was the one that caught my eye the most.
Since starting my degree at Southampton, I have been intrigued by the possibility of being able to explore a finance avenue during and after my course, having never studied this field before. The summer course was the perfect start to get going on this path.
A few weeks before the course was due to start, the organisers were kind enough to send all participants some 150 pages of pre-reading. These documents for me were a huge help in understanding the lingo and concepts that would be presented during the course and were written for complete novices, like myself, in mind.
The first week was certainly busy, with online lectures coming from banks, the organisers of the course and other financial institutions. On top of these lectures you are also thrown into the deep end by being placed in a Zoom call with 4 complete strangers from all over the world who would become my group for the 3 weeks. In this week, we were tasked with making two presentations, one on the political system of Switzerland and one on commodities and presenting these within days to around 50 other students. I was rather surprised at how quickly and easily we were able to work together, at times it felt surreal being thousands of miles away from fellow group members but being able to present with them at the same time.
The second week involved a lot more group work than the first week as on top of the now “usual” lectures and assignments, we were tasked with running an investment bank for two clients, both of whom had different needs – this was known as the Portfolio Management Game. As a bank we were in charge of what percentage of the total investments would be invested in various sectors, as well as managing the cost of running the bank itself (staff salaries, IT investments etc). This game consisted of 6 periods, and at the start of each period we would have to read the economic outlook and judge how best to invest for our clients. It was a very exciting experience to be able to handle a considerable sum of money; as well as having your bank be worth over 1 billion CHF within 10 days of opening.
The final week we were tasked with presenting our bank’s strategies to our clients as well as finishing off the Portfolio Management Game. Whilst my group didn’t win the game, I certainly learnt a lot and was kept very busy, these were the two main factors in my choosing this course.
To conclude I thoroughly recommend that you, the reader, consider taking this course if you are looking to explore anything finance related. I enjoyed every day of the course and am very grateful to have met and worked alongside such diverse group of people from all sorts of different backgrounds – this is an experience which does not happen very often!