Stirling’s MSc in Investment Analysis is well-known in the industry and a number of my former colleagues had already completed the course by the time I enrolled in September 2000. It interested me as the curriculum mirrored the UKSIP’s professional exams and taught the technical investment analysis skills I wanted to know. Importantly, too, the teaching staff are highly-regarded worldwide, while my brother had also graduated from the University of Stirling and it came well-recommended.
Ten years before joining the course I finished school in Fife, and definitely not ready to get my hands dirty, I was seduced by the bright lights of Edinburgh where I decided to study French and EEC Studies at Edinburgh University. I had never been a huge fan of Maths and Science subjects and so, rightly or wrongly, decided to study my favourite subjects from school. Never a natural student, it was surprise to some that I went on to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing and Languages at Napier University directly afterwards.
After a year and a half of denial and prevarication, I accepted that finding a career could be avoided no longer and so, chose the Financial Services industry, starting as a trainee for Barclays Stockbrokers in Glasgow in 1997. Learning about the various aspects of a retail stockbroker whetted my appetite for investment management, which led me to move on to Tilney Investment Management in 1998 as a private client Trainee Investment Manager in their Glasgow office, followed by Edinburgh Fund Managers Private Clients as a Portfolio Analyst in 1999.
While interesting initially, both positions left my curiosity for pure investment decision-making unsatisfied, as I discovered that private client investment was essentially more to do with asset allocation, tax efficiency, client relationships and… admin! So, I decided that I wanted to develop my career in institutional asset management. Although I had already had my fill of studying after University and many industry exams, I decided that the best way to do so was to get qualified and so, my interest in the University of Stirling was born.
So, I started the course in September 2000, where I tested Professor Goodacre’s patience to the limits with my statistical dim-wittedness. Meanwhile, the dotcom boom had well and truly ended and a bear market was raging worldwide. Thankfully, despite market conditions, I was lucky enough to find employment with Clydesdale Bank in Glasgow as a UK equity analyst directly on completion of my dissertation in 2001.
Not done with the zig-zagging between Glasgow and Edinburgh, I returned to working in the capital one more time in 2003 to join Martin Currie’s UK Income and Growth team. In 2004, I was offered a position in Martin Currie’s Sector Manager team as Utilities Sector Manager. The role has offered me the welcome opportunity to both specialise and, for the first time, analyse opportunities outwith the UK, as the role is global. I now provide Utility investment ideas to regional fund managers and, as a member of the Resources team, also provide long and short ideas for long only and absolute return sector funds.
I am still in touch with a number of friends from the MSc course, although many have moved on from Scotland, enticed by the lure of markets in London and elsewhere. Nevertheless, one or two of us remain in Scotland and are occasionally to be seen sampling the ales in the local hostelries.