Name: Mark Underhill
Degree: BA Business Economics, 1997, University of Leicester
Job Title: Investment Manager Company
Name: State Street Global Advisors
What do you do in your job?
I Work in a team of 7 running c.$200bn of indexed or passive equity mandates in the London office of State Street which is the world’s largest fund manager. Daily responsibility is for the performance of about 20 funds and for the implementation of equity, FX, derivative and convertible bond strategies on these funds.
How did you hear about the job and what did the application process involve?
I was recommended to my now boss by a contact at a major investment bank. At this level (2nd or 3rd job) the application process involved showing interest in the role and then multiple interviews (6 in total), all while your current employer doesn’t know. Having worked through a graduate trainee program and then various different roles at a much smaller firm, this is only my second company since leaving university so going back through the interview process after 10 years was a bit of a shock to the system.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I don’t get bored, well mostly anyway. I was never going to enjoy a 9-5 job so the fact that our hours, which can be very long, are unpredictable is a good thing once you get used to it. Financial markets are ever changing with daily news flow to keep you thinking and applying economics to real world situations. It’s at this point where skills learnt in the classroom can become relevant to work. Also, the fact that the markets change so much means that if you get bored in one role there is a chance you will be able to move into something totally new.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
The level of accuracy and focus required can be exhausting. As asset managers we are dealing with a lot of other people’s money on a daily basis, small mistakes can cost large sums of money. In most cases, you can make one mistake, but a second will generally cost you your job. That sort of pressure is why the burnout rate at some of the big firms can be so high. Choose the firm and the role you apply for carefully. There’s something out there to suit most people, though.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
After a few years of trying different markets, I’ve found a role and a section of the industry I like and am apparently good at, so I will see where this takes me. One great aspect of the business is that it is truly global and I quite fancy working abroad at some point. For example, we have offices in Boston, Hong Kong, and Sydney to name a few, so the scope is there.