Working in finance: Mrs Moneypenny gives students the real deal

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Did you know?

  • Banks regularly get 5,000-7,000 applications for just a few hundred graduate trainee positions?
  • Any sort of relevant work experience in finance boosts your chances of getting through to the next round, even if it was just photocopying and getting coffee at a small brokerage?
  • Your UCAS (Universities & Colleges Admissions Service) points will be considered in your application, along with your predicted degree grades?
  • These days you have to know exactly what sector you want to work in, rather than being able to rotate until you find a slot that suits you?
  • If there's a common denominator in all successful people, it's likely to be strong sales technique?

So says Mrs Moneypenny, columnist, author, headhunter, and former investment banking specialist salesperson, sharing her wide experience of the financial world with business students at Oxford, Imperial and LSE in a recent series of lectures sponsored by

Having worked in the City for ten years in a variety of roles prior to leaving to run her own business, Mrs Moneypenny gave practical and up-to-date advice to students on how to get ahead if they want a career in finance. She described the realities of which qualifications really make a difference, which don't, and what you need to know to get yourself that all-important interview.

Nuggets from Mrs Moneypenny

  • At interview, be prepared to back up your statements that you are 'good with people' or 'very results-focused' - or hirers will pounce on you and demand concrete examples.
  • Don't be dull. Emphasise what it is that differentiates you from the herd (this gives women an immediate advantage in the City). Be fantastically keen about the role you're applying for.
  • Use available resources. It's unforgivable at interview not to have researched the company - and the people - giving you that interview. It's what the internet (and is for!
  • Stay in touch with your university peers. One day you'll be doing the deals that they'll be looking for when they're captains of industry. Get your network going from day one.
  • Treat yourself as a brand, and market yourself accordingly.

Topics at the events covered where to start; how to differentiate yourself at CV and interview stages; the importance of notching up the right work experience; knowing where you need to position yourself as well as what to expect when you do bag a job in the financial arena.

Q&A... with a punch

Given the opportunity to question Mrs Moneypenny at the end of each of the lectures, students praised her for 'telling it like it really is', in contrast to some of the presentations they receive from City firms: "Our students found it very entertaining and informative," says student Shah Sameer Alam of Imperial College Finance Society. "We've held a few events for investment banks but they have pretty much been the same thing over and over again."

Mrs Moneypenny's presentation gave students practical insights into entering the City, according to student Adam Taylor at LSE Business Society: "This was a great event - Mrs. Moneypenny's hour-long talk contained more information than anything from the dozen or so official corporate presentations I've been to in the last month! She cut below the usual varnished PR-speak we are subjected to by the investment bank corporate presentations to describe to us the real City."

"She provided plenty of real, practical advice ranging from what the interviewers really don't care about to the best strategy with regards to the timing of my application," says Taylor. "Out of the 500 or so investment banking skills sessions, firm-wide presentations, CV workshops etc. within our university each year this was definitely one of the most useful." is considering sponsoring further presentations to give students the opportunity to hear experts on different aspects of the financial world. Let us know if you would be interested in hosting such events.

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