Into which area of HSBC Investment Bank do you intend to go? Are you on the 'direct' or 'broad' training course?
I am on the broad rotation scheme. When I initially applied and interviewed for the graduate programme, I applied for a direct placement into asset management - it was only in the final round when I was offered a position that discussion of where I would best fit occurred and, by mutual agreement, I chose the Broad programme.
Which subject did you study for your first degree, and at which university?
Finance and portfolio management at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
Did this include quantitative subjects? If not, did you study anything quantitative previously?
At university my curriculum covered accountancy, mathematics, statistics, and economics.
List the subject areas covered so far in your training.
Equity, debt and derivative theory, accountancy, personal skills for business, regulatory SFDR (Securities & Financial Derivatives Representative) course.
Which subject has proved most challenging?
Swaps and interest rate forwards calculations. The concept of swapping money flows, without actually exchanging anything, is a challenging one. The mathematics is fairly challenging but I found the concept of complex money market and fixed income products appealing. It is strange to think that people are merely trading money - nothing changes hands and what is made or lost is more money!
Which subject has proved most interesting?
Equity and debt capital markets trends and products. I find the pace and dynamism of the markets more appealing than considering the financial structure and modelling of a company. Equity and debt markets are traded in the trillions of dollars everyday, with news impacting on markets and prices all the time. Keeping abreast is a challenge and makes for an interesting work environment. Days are never quite the same.
How have you been taught, i.e. in classrooms, remotely, through mentoring?
The HSBC Graduate programme incorporates a blend of classroom team-work, lecture style teaching in larger groups, as well as on-the-position training.
Has the training programme reinforced your interest in the area you applied to, or have you become aware of other (more) interesting divisions of the bank?
The HSBC training course is comprehensive, high-lighting the scope of a financial institution the size of HSBC. Training for the initial four weeks was with graduates entering the commercial bank, giving contacts and knowledge into areas other than the investment bank. Training in the final four weeks was tailored to the initial position rotation.
Have you spent time at off-site training centres? If so, how did this differ from being on a university campus or hall of residence?
The first four weeks were entirely residential at the HSBC Management College near St Albans. It was different from a university residence situation in that courses were strictly programmed with punctuality a key observance. There was a comfortable level of professionalism. The weeks at St Albans were also an excellent opportunity to meet people/colleagues from all over the world and to create a network with top-level management as well as future colleagues.
Is the training programme proving more or less of a challenge than the final year of your degree course?
More of a challenge. Graduates are expected to learn and perform while maintaining a professional attitude.
Is the training programme what you were expecting? If not, how does it differ?
It is meeting expectations and has more executive support than I expected.
What would you recommend about HSBC's graduate training programme?
The programme is comprehensive, encompasses a large amount of theory on investment banking, yet manages to incorporate "soft skills" courses and a friendly atmosphere that enhances creativity and respect.
The programme of position rotations offers true opportunity and exposure to many aspects of banking. The level of support from group executive level is encouraging, as are the possibilities of international travel and work exposure.
What are the advantages of HSBC's system of position rotations? Which areas have you rotated between so far?
I have had only this one placement in debt capital markets. However, from my perspective the advantages of the HSBC rotation over other banks is the broad diversity of rotations and exposure available.
It is possible to rotate easily into different areas to work with people who are committed to training you, or at least know the importance of the programme and what it is trying to achieve.
This allows for responsibility and a challenge as well as flexibility. It is not like some banks which take on graduates, treat them like expendable resources and then release them after two years. Here there is a long-term focus.