The 7th Industry Insights event was presented by Mr. Matthew Stiling and organised by the ICMA Centre in partnership with the University of Reading Finance Society.
During an interactive and lively session, Matthew took us through his career, as well as giving us an insight into what working within the hedge fund space is like.
Mr. Matthew Stiling is an Operational Due Diligence Analyst at Kedge Capital, a London-based hedge fund managing the wealth of an important Swiss family. Matthew is an alumni of the ICMA Centre, having done both his undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the University of Reading. Since graduating in 2012, Matthew held various roles, starting as a Fund Accountant for Wells Fargo before moving to Asset Management and ultimately to hedge funds.
During his first two junior roles, Matthew was focusing on P/L calculations, and was in charge of determining the adequate accounting structures required to account for the various asset classes the firms engaged in. He mentioned to us how this forced him to broaden his knowledge in terms of learning about all the software available to him, which ultimately made his job easier. He emphasized the growing need for young students interested in a career in finance to get stuck in with learning about these pieces of software, as they will increasingly be a key aspect of the future financial sphere.
One of the first major challenges Matthew faced as a junior arose while he was working for Twenty-Four Asset Management, when he was delivering a presentation to senior executives who didn’t agree with what he was saying and started to get frustrated. Having put 100% of effort in his presentation, Matthew knew that he was right and had the courage to stand up and say ‘’No. I am right, and here is why’’, ultimately proving his point to the executive who then agreed with him.
He took the example of this presentation to emphasize the need for graduates to be able to speak up and critic the fundamentals of a company, as it is a key employability skill each and every one should master to stand a chance in the financial industry.
Matthew explained to us that when he switched to his first contract role, he realised that he got employed for the skills he already had, not the skills he was going to develop while being at his new company. He felt a pressure of having to know the ins and outs of his subject off by heart to be able to appear performant to his bosses. He explained this to us to emphasize the point that it is during our first two years of employment within the industry that mistakes are allowed, where we can ask all the questions. Once this 2-year threshold is past, you are supposed to know what you are talking about and be the one answering questions.
Matthew has now been with Kedge Capital for two years. Being an operational due diligence analyst, his work ranges from reviewing legal documents to stripping financial statements in the aim of finding any operational risks the fund they will invest in could have, in order to confirm the buy or sell recommendations that the investment research team made.
He once again emphasized the importance of being able, as soon to be graduates, to adapt to the constantly changing landscape of the financial industry. He also outlined how cybersecurity has become the most importance risk factor hedge funds need to account for.
During the Q&A session, Matthew answered all the questions the attendees fired at him. Some of these questions asked about the structure of Kedge, whether his investments were sector or geographically driven, and many others asked Matthew about his top tips to be successful in the financial sector. Matthew stressed the importance of knowing your fundamentals off by heart, as it will prove key in giving weight to your arguments when you will be confronted by more senior people.
The ICMA Centre and the University of Reading Finance Society thank Mr. Stiling for a great talk!
Emmanuel D'Arifat, President of the Finance Society