‘Trading is an incredibly exciting career’ - ZISHI

‘Trading is an incredibly exciting career’:

how Sheffield Hallam is giving students a shot at top jobs in finance

Source: Benady, David (2023, March 27), ‘Trading is an incredibly exciting career’: how Sheffield Hallam is giving students a shot at top jobs in finance, The Guardian.

Lecturer Damion Taylor says the financial industry is beginning to open up and recruit from a wider group of graduates. His groundbreaking trading course aims to show companies the flair and aptitude of those from less traditional backgrounds.

Financial trading is a high risk, high reward profession where the successful can earn multimillion-pound salaries, but which is traditionally a hard field to break into. To give a wider pool of talent a shot at this exciting and lucrative career, Sheffield Business School at Sheffield Hallam University launched the UK’s first undergraduate degree course in financial trading in 2018.

The three-year financial trading and investment management course is open to students from a wide range of backgrounds and offers them training in financial and investment skills and opportunities to secure a work placement on a real-world trading floor.

As course leader Damion Taylor explains, the financial trading industry has tended to recruit those from privileged backgrounds.

“It is very exclusive recruitment, but we are breaking those barriers down and we are already placing people from a range of backgrounds into financial trading roles. The market is changing and I think the industry is realising that they’re missing out on a lot of talent by not considering a wider pool of graduates when they recruit,” he says.

Sheffield Hallam University’s student intake is diverse and the university’s financial trading degree is promoted to prospective candidates in schools across the UK, says Taylor.

“We tell school students that they don’t need to be from a privileged background to follow a career in financial markets,” he says. “We put the message out there that this course will equip them with the knowledge, skills and behaviours necessary to succeed regardless of their background. So if you come forward, we will give you the experience and you’ll be taught by professional traders.”

The course accepts some 40 undergraduates each year who spend the first and third years studying in Sheffield and the second year studying in London, when they’ll also have a stint on a trading floor run by the financial training company ZISHI.

However, this is still a career path that fewer women or girls choose, which led to the government launching its Women in Finance Charter to encourage the financial services industry to improve gender balance. Student Alina Vyerova, now in her third year, passionately believes that more women can get involved in trading.

“I know there are so many women out there who have the potential to thrive in such an intense environment, but I think they’re overwhelmed by the idea, so they never take that first step,” she says. “I’ve been blogging my journey on LinkedIn to show the reality of this career, in the hope that I can inspire other women and girls to have the bravery to take that first step.”

She had a taste of life as a trader during the second year of her course in London. She found it exciting to arrive on the trading floor by 7am every morning with the latest market news at her fingertips.

“As soon as we got in, we gave the traders a breakdown of what was happening in global financial markets, and we had to be up on the latest overnight market news,” Vyerova says.

Traders quizzed the students about their analysis of these events and their impacts on trading strategies. They studied market theory during quiet periods of the day and practised trading using virtual money.

“The work was high pressure but incredibly exciting,” says Vyerova. “It helped me grow on a personal level and gave me a real feel for the markets. I was able to develop my trading skills and it helped me discover what a great career this can be.”

Following the success of the undergraduate course, the business school, which will move into a new state-of-the-art building next year, has created a 14-month master’s in global financial trading, which offers a mock trading floor where students can practise simulated market trading.

On graduating, Vyerova hopes to find work in financial trading, though says success in this career is not always a straight line and she might have to work her way up through related roles in finance.

“The great thing about Sheffield Hallam’s trading course is that it gives you a really good foundation in finance and prepares you for any financial career you may wish to choose,” she says.

Find out more about the range of business and finance courses on offer at Sheffield Business School. Courses provide the opportunity to tackle real projects with major brands, take placements with global employers and work and study overseas.

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