London Finance Tour for our Finance students - from a Quantitative Finance student's perspective

Bram Houben, Student Advanced Master in Quantitative Finance 2018-2019 06/05/2019 Finance, advancedmasters

Within the framework of our Advanced Masters, a student trip is organised every year. During this trip, participants have the opportunity to visit different institutions and companies and meet with top of the line professionals. In this light, in March 2019, our Financial Markets and Quantitative Finance students visited various institutions in London.

Here is the testimonial of Bram Houben, student in the Advanced Master in Quantitative Finance, on how he lived this experience :

"In the third term of the programme, we had to opportunity to participate in a field trip to London. Outside of visiting noteworthy companies, we enjoyed each other’s company for 5 days as we thought it was a good idea to extend the academic trip to a 5-day leisure trip. Therefore, arriving on Sunday morning allowed us to visit the vibrant city by sightseeing along the Thames, visiting Tate Modern and enjoying the classical fish ‘n chips in the evening. This was the ideal introduction to several days of exciting visits.

? Day 1 ?

On the first day, we plunged into the intricacies of risk management at the global institution Deutsche Bank. After the risk management professor received us and gave a brief introduction, Bevan Cowie, Head Market Risk and Brian Brown, Head Liquidity Risk UK gave us an interesting outline on how their divisions operate within the Investment Bank. We discussed not only about the general frameworks utilised within the bank, but also the specific problems the banks encounter.

Next up was a delightful lunch at Broadleaf where we could further discuss the previous presentations as well as mingle with the financial markets students who accompanied us along this trip and exchange on other topics.

After a satisfying lunch, we walked towards a nearby WeWork open-office space where we would receive a pitch of Henri Winand, CEO and founder of AkinovA Ltd. After launching several successful start-ups, Henri saw an opportunity to disrupt the cyber security insurance business by establishing a marketplace for it. AkinovA Ltd already received several funding series and is on the verge of launching their product. After receiving lots of encouragement to become an entrepreneur and naturally accompanied with a bunch of tips on how to do so, we hopped on the tube towards Marble Arch. The office of Acheron Capital Ltd is located in one of the fanciest neighbourhoods in London, whilst at the same time the charming office was not a stone too big. It was filled with personal items and it definitely gave off the vibe of a small hedge fund. After a brief introduction from the CEO Jean-Michel Paul, we received an elaborate speech on the impact of regulation on hedge funds by Carlo Toller, the operations officer.

The presentation was followed up by a young FinTech entrepreneur Victoria Van Lennep. The enthusiastic lady explained in detail how she and co-founders started the retail micro-lending start up, as well as the inner workings of the platform. Many male and female felt empowered after such energising and inspiring appearance. To finish the day, Acheron Capital Ltd had arranged a wonderful dinner at a Chinese Restaurant that left nobody unsatisfied.

Day 2 ?

During the second day, we visited the premises of Riverrock Capital LLP. The alternative investment manager maintains a multitude of portfolios in various spaces ranging from corporate credit towards project finance. Several individuals responsible for each division spoke to us about what their portfolio entails, how it is being managed and how idea generation occurs. Particularly interesting, in my opinion, was the Project Finance presentation about how the hedge fund invested in a local police station in Spain. The speaker explained the structure of such a transaction as well as the difficulties that arise from an information asymmetry.

In the afternoon we headed to Canary Wharf, where the biggest banks are based with their towering skyscrapers on a man-made island. The stylish visit to S&P global helped us find out more about the rating agency’s activities. Apart from ratings, they are also involved in numerous additional businesses. 2 analysts from our programme detailed the whole process on how ratings are being constructed and gave well done visual representation of the process flow.

In the evening, we enjoyed Japanese Barbecue at Kintan offered by Solvay. Once more, the variety of the meal was staggering! Afterwards we all headed to the pub for several drinks and mingle with the financial markets students. It was amazing to enjoy the evening with such a bunch of diverse individuals. To round out the evening, we headed to a nearby club to finish with some dance moves before the last day was swiftly upon us.

? Day 3 ?

The last day, we visited the offices of ING where numerous individuals provided presentations on Corporate Finance, Interest Rate Derivatives and Equity Derivatives. After the respective division heads provided an elaborate explanation on the aforementioned topics, we were accompanied to the trading floor where we had the opportunity to talk to several traders. After observing the trading floor, we were offered a big lunch where we could further converse with ING employees to ask them follow up questions or even receive tips on how to apply to positions within the firm.

As said before, we had decided to extend our stay and hence we spent the afternoon of the third day and the following day sightseeing and visiting the Parliament, Buckingham Palace or enjoy a bike ride around the city.

A lovely and enriching experience that I will always remember!

The finance trip provided us with a remarkable 5 days of leisure and enriching visits. It was a true learning experience in various ways: 

  • First of all, it allowed us to test our current knowledge into the practical field and it filled us with confidence knowing that we have definitely broadened our knowledge in the past several months.
  • Secondly, having the opportunity to talk to industry professionals at the heart of the business also gave us the chance to ask them questions about things we have already seen in the advanced masters we participate in at Solvay Brussels School. It is the perfect opportunity to test everyting you have been learning through the assignments or inside the classroom. It allows you to see that different models are employed within each bank and they all have their own way of doing things.

The visit was definitely complementary to the programme for the aforementioned reasons and it even gave me the opportunity to connect and network with all the individuals I encountered. I even had several follow up skype calls and conversations with individuals about the topics that they spoke about as well as general career advice."

Solvay Brussels School’s Advanced Masters have been developed to create a breed of ‘out-thinkers’ ready to tackle the continual changes of the business world. These postgraduate programmes confer Advanced Master degrees in focused areas for Master students with no or limited professional experience (normally maximum 3 years). They are designed as full-time programmes for one academic year, and represent 60 ECTS each.
With a placement rate 3 months even before graduation of nearly 90% for our graduates in finance, discover how our Advanced Masters can help you launch your career !

The Advanced Master in Quantitative Finance:
The main objective of this programme is to train a new generation of financial professionals. The programme guarantees a full coverage of financial disciplines, such as asset and derivative pricing, numerical methods and programming skills. Afternoon and Evening classes. Includes a 3 months internship.

Contact us for more information: Vasiliki Boukouvala, Marketing & Recruitment, +32 (0)2 650 3915, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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