Risk-taking is fine, gambling is not

Investing people's money carries huge responsibility, but the rewards are equally great

Ever dream of earning a couple of million a year but have neither the assets of Jordan nor the bankable charisma of Tom Cruise? Is £30,000 your idea of a good starting salary? Are you opinionated and able to convince others that you're right? Do you like taking risks? Are you unafraid to put your money where your mouth is?

If so, you should consider a career in investment management, one of the world's booming financial industries. In the UK, as a result of the pensions crisis, people are being pushed to save for their retirement. The result - more private money is going into the investment market, and more time, effort and people are needed to increase returns.

Which is why, in September, Reading University's ICMA Centre - a hands-on training academy for future stockbrokers and traders - is launching a new MSc in Investment Management, aimed at economic graduates and stockbrokers who want to change direction.

As a finance school, the ICMA centre is state of the art. It was the first in Britain to have a simulated dealing room where students could buy and sell shares without risking real money. For the new MSc, they have developed a computer program that mimics the markets, giving students experience of buying, selling and managing funds. Think LMA Manager (the fantasy football management game) with bonds rather than Barcelona. It's also a chance for students to muster the analytical composure they need to work in this industry - and to practise explaining why their decisions lost them money.

Mark Dampier, head of research at Hargreaves Lansdown, a Bristol-based asset management company, isn't convinced that simulation models will give trainee fund managers an edge. "If anything, a simulation will cause you to gamble. The only way to learn is to lose money - preferably your own. It's a pretty sobering experience. Even worse are those sleepless nights when you've lost someone else's money."

That's not to say he's not in favour of the MSc, though. "We do need courses like that, because most of the fund management industry is quite dreadful. Only 4 or 5 per cent of fund managers are any good. You only need look at the unit trust statistics to see how badly money is handled."

The academic part of the course also has a firm footing in the real world. ICMA asked fund management companies what they were looking for in potential employees. Their response: someone who knows the theory, and can apply it to the current trends leading the markets.

Which is why the lecturing staff include not only former stockbrokers and government advisers, but six guest lecturers who are currently big players in fund management. Their job is to give students a direct line into what is happening in the markets now.

Students will also have to read for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) level 1 qualification, regarded in the industry as one of the most gruelling and important professional qualifications for fund managers. Usually, trainee fund managers would do this in their first year of work, spending 12 hours every weekend with their noses in the book.

"It's going to be an intense year," says the course convenor John Evans, "but the pay-off is extremely high. Employers want people who are prepared to put in the effort and who can manage heavy workloads. Our graduates will have proved they have the capacity to take on this industry."

Richard Barry, human resources manager for Baillie Gifford, an Edinburgh-based investment management company, likes the fact that they will do CFA 1: "It'll save us money, and it means they can get straight into on-the-job training, analysing companies, getting involved in the markets, learning from their peers."

But Barry admits that this wouldn't favour them more than any other potential employee. "We don't stipulate any degree discipline for our investment managers. Some of classical civilisation graduates who have absolutely no knowledge of finance - and they end up as some of the best fund managers."

Dampier agrees. "It's more of an art than a science. Some of the top earners have degrees in English literature and philosophy. To be good, you have to think laterally, you've got to be able to do something different from everybody else, and that's very hard. Most of us are sheep. You can't teach intuition."

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Junior Analyst - Graduate - 6 Month fixed term contract

£17000 - £20000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

Nursery Room Leader

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: JOB DESCRIPTION - NURSERY ROOM LEADER...

Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £40 - £50K first year: SThree: SThree Group an...

Nursery Room Leader

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: JOB DESCRIPTION - NURSERY ROOM LEADER...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone