My name is Arne Finster, I am from Germany and I was enrolled in the full-time MSc Investment Analysis at Stirling Management School (hereafter “SMS”) from September 2016 to August 2017. Before beginning my studies in Stirling, I graduated with a BSc in ‘Industrial Engineering’ from a German University, and collected subject-related work experience (that is working as a student employee in the global Risk Review Department of a global financial services provider in Germany and as a full-time employee in the global head office for Financial Reporting and Controlling for a Supply Chain Manager in Hong Kong).
My decision to apply to SMS was driven by its focused curriculum and its good reputation. I liked SMS very much for its industry-related, practical approach.
Reasons for choosing SMS
(Almost) every university worldwide provides some form of education in finance or business administration. In my opinion, however, most of these classes come with a lack of focus and in the end, one has some ‘surface-knowledge’ in different economic and financial fields, but not a deep understanding of one particular topic. By studying the topic-specific MSc Investment Analysis, I therefore hoped to get a competitive advantage in the labour market. The second main reason to choose the MSc Investment Analysis was its status as a CFA Pro-gram Partner.
Opinion on SMS
Looking back, the modules taught were well organized around either basic (1st semester) or advanced (2nd semester) subjects. Having a different academic background, this made the transition into Finance not too hard for me. (However, this should not indicate, that the first semester was easy-going for people with a relevant background, but it was just very fair to all students). I also like the fact that Stirling is not an anonymous mass-university. Students can easily network among each other and the module instructors provide a friendly ear at any time. Moreover, the classes are compartmentalized into small seminar groups of 15-20 people providing a good learning atmosphere.
From my past work experience, I know that university education and job-related tasks are really a different pair of shoes. Keeping this in mind, I admire the practical approach of the MSc Investment Analysis. We not only covered the theoretical material, but also discussed recent Financial Statements or, now and then, the latest Financial Times headline in class. Looking beyond the academic requirements, it was very stimulating to engage in non-curricular activities, such as talks or competitions. There were regular talks for management school students covering a wide range of topics, such as current developments in the markets, rogue trading scandals or the everyday working life of a CFO.
Though the MSc Investment Analysis is famous for its successful participation in the CFA Institute Research Challenge, there are other opportunities to apply theoretical knowledge to practice, which are less well-known, but nevertheless provide a terrific opportunity to those participating. I had the joy of engaging in the “Benjamin Graham Stock Picking Competition 2017” and the “CME Group Trading Challenge” together with other students. The former competition focuses on firm valuation skills and the latter one simulates real-word commodity trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Participating helped me to find my strengths and interests, which were a key factor for job applications. Certainly, the finest hour of the industry-related education was the Amplify Trading week. In those five days, a training company from London set up a trading floor in the PC-Labs. All students had their individual trading desk and could feel what trading is really about – with all its ups and downs.
Finally, I want to point out the beautiful campus. Though this should not be a major criterion to select a degree, the University of Stirling is nicely embedded in the Scottish Highlands and gives students many opportunities to counterbalance their studies with many kinds of sports or hiking in the countryside.
Concluding, I can recommend the MSc Investment Analysis at the University of Stirling to anyone, who aims for a career in the financial sector, banking or investment management and/or wants to sit for the CFA exams. SMS provides a well-rounded degree and students interested in seeing the bigger picture are encouraged to do so by plenty different opportunities.