On 6th October 2020, BizCare hosted a Finance Internal networking Webinar with a few volunteer panelists from NUS invest, Wealth Management Group (WMG) and seniors specializing in Finance to share about their thoughts and experiences regarding the Finance Specialization.
Our speakers mainly focused on sharing their internship and field-related experiences, also giving us a glimpse into their background and why they chose a finance specialization.
INTERNSHIPS AND EXPERIENCES
Firstly, they shared about their internship applications, emphasizing on the importance of each part of the process. To begin with, one’s resume should reflect their passions, relevant past experiences and feature a cover letter that highlights the key strengths of the individual. For any interview, preparation, confidence and one’s attitude is key to doing well. Having a critical and analytical mind during the interview is also essential as it will allow one to stand out as well as help portray the vast amount of knowledge they have and by showing how they have a different perspective in terms of thinking and analysis.
Being independent and having an open mind was also a common point shared by the speakers, whereby they suggested joining case competitions in order to grow and learn. As mentioned by one of our speakers Calvin, technical skills can be picked up by themselves via the different courses, where one does not actually need the background of finance. But an analytical mind – one which can solve problems and provide different perspectives – is best picked up through hands-on activities such as case competitions and doing consulting CCAs etc. When unsure of anything, one should not be afraid to consult seniors or even professors about their past experiences and garner their advice relating to a certain matter, as they would have the knowledge and expertise to answer our questions.
Here is a brief overview given by one of our speakers, Brandon, on what we can expect to learn in a finance (FIN) specialization:
WHAT IT TAKES TO DO FIN
While FIN mods are relatively math heavy, they are definitely not the main focus of FIN. The main focus is to figure out what the numbers mean, and bring in concepts from other disciplines such as Marketing and Law.
Before deciding to do FIN, it is recommended to take the module FIN2704 as a gauge to see if they enjoy the mod and if they are able to do well in the mod. Nevertheless, if one has the passion to pursue the FIN industry in the future, they can still utilize other skills (such as networking) in order to move towards the FIN industry, rather than depending on one’s grades to decide on whether to continue forward.
Some challenges faced by the speakers whilst doing FIN modules was from when they were doing group projects. Key takeaway: ideally, one should partner up with members who can complement their existing skillset when doing group projects.
Regarding case competitions, if one is unfamiliar, one should spend more time on learning things on their own, thus allowing them to learn new skills and gain resilience. There is definitely no easy way out and a huge amount of effort has to be put into it. However, the upside is that the learnings from case competitions are largely rewarding.
Moving on, choosing double specializations and understanding module synergies seemed to be another concern of the students. First, some of the important FIN spec modules to take include : Portfolio Management, Corporate Finance etc. There are also other modules such as Wealth Management and Corporate Banking that assist the students in having a better overview of where they want to be in the realm of finance. These modules are good to be taken early in order to strengthen their foundations as well.
For double specializations in Accounting and Finance, the workload is definitely heavy but Accounting (ACC) does help in providing for the basic accounting and the application side when it comes to FIN. However, if one intends to focus on FIN, such as in investment banking or corporate finance, it is not a loss to drop ACC and focus on FIN as ACC might only affect one’s CAP more negatively if they are unable to cope.
For career prospects, there is definitely a large range of variety when it comes to the finance industry – front and back office, technology, compliance, anti-money laundering and many more opportunities. To get a better understanding of the job scope and explore their options, it is recommended for individuals to visit career pages of each company to look at the job descriptions.
Even though there are many graduates specializing in FIN at the moment, one can always differentiate themselves from the crowd by taking double specializations, majors and even minors. It will be beneficial if one is able to identify what they want to do in the future, so they can focus on and take up the modules which will provide them with the specific skills to do well.
SEP, MODULES AND MISC
Lastly, it is recommended to map modules such as FIN3701 (Corporate Finance) and FIN3702 (Portfolio Analysis) during exchange programmes as they are more competitive in Singapore and could be done more easily overseas. However, research on the module provided by the partner school must be done before applying for the programmes as the scope of study might vary.
With regards to investment, start early! The speakers advocated the usefulness of investing in allowing FIN students to have a forward testing and a better understanding of the models. It is also recommended to start with paper trading and not with real money. It is important to know where and how to get the accounts started, which can be achieved by researching on the various platforms that are beneficial and finding a broker.
If one is interested in entering the field of Investment Banking (IB), joining relevant niche CCAs such as NUS Invest and WMG will definitely be a plus point. But one could also have the discipline to learn modelling, valuation and start observing stocks by themselves. One can also approach seniors who have had internship experiences in IB via platforms such as LinkedIn to ask for any advice.
Here are the contacts of the speakers from our webinar. Feel free to contact them and drop them any questions you may have regarding the Finance Specialization or the Finance field!