Three more teams to consider at an investment bank | Investment banking on The Gateway

Three more teams to consider at an investment bank

Hannah Langworth finds out about the work of Credit Suisse's Finance, IT and Operations teams and graduate opportunities here

Credit Suisse is a leading financial services organisation, but non-banking functions are also critical to it. Finance, IT and Operations are all large and vital departments that work with all areas of the business, and often with clients as well. Together, they're collectively known as the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) Division, which indicates their centrality to the organisation's operations and its success as a business.

"Our functions are incredibly varied," says Karen Newton, a Managing Director in Operations. "They range from financial controls, to operations, to strategic change, and everything in between. Someone in CFO will be involved in every move the organisation makes. Whether it's negotiating business deals, liaising with regulators on new laws, or working out profits and losses on individual trades or across an entire business, CFO will be participating."

To find out more, we spoke to Karen and two of her senior colleagues in Finance and IT about the work of their teams and how graduate recruits fit in to them.

Finance

Tony Bullman, Managing Director

How would you sum up how Finance fits into the bank?

First and foremost, we're here to provide an independent assessment on business activity in accordance with accounting and regulatory standards. Finance is concerned with the integrity and consistency of financial information, both for our stakeholders and internal decision making. However, we're also a commercial partner working with and providing support to the business to service our clients.

Can you talk about a particularly interesting project you've been involved in?

My team and I have spent a lot of time recently working on collateralised adjusted valuation (CAV), a big topic for the industry. As a result of the financial crisis, our industry is increasingly asking parties we trade with to give us collateral, rights over assets they hold, a bit like when a bank takes rights over a house when it lends you the money to buy it. That has led to significant changes in the way some financial products are valued and has made our work more complicated.

What might graduates joining Finance do?

In Product Control for example, you might start out by monitoring a simple trading portfolio, perhaps for a relatively straightforward and low-risk product like government bonds. Once you'd got to grips with that, we might give you an interest rate swaps portfolio, then an options portfolio, and then something even more complicated - a so-called "exotics" book. You'd be exercising your own judgement and making decisions yourself, but you'd be supervised and encouraged to ask questions to help you learn and progress.

What do you look for in applicants for graduate roles in Finance?

Having a robust personality and a willingness to challenge the status quo is important. In areas such as Product Control, you'll often be faced with having to challenge a trader on revenue recognition or valuation. You'll also need to be an analytical, inquisitive and proactive learner. The industry is ever-changing, so there's a need to monitor developments and understand their impact on Credit Suisse.

What's coming up in the future for your area of work?

System and infrastructure enhancements will lead to more automation in the processing of financial data, so we'll be spending less time producing and reconciling numbers and more time reviewing and analysing them.

IT

Matthew Yu, Director

How would you sum up how IT fits into the bank?

We focus on automating complex tasks so that they can be conducted more consistently and faster than a human could perform them, making the business more efficient. We develop systems for particular business areas that then might be adapted for other business areas or even sold as a service to external clients, providing an additional revenue stream for the bank.

Can you talk about a particularly interesting project you've been involved in?

I've been significantly involved in developing a platform called AES - Advanced Execution Services. AES is the Credit Suisse flagship algorithmic trading platform that's recognised as the global market leader and has won multiple industry awards. The platform automates trading strategies that have been designed by expert traders to perform optimally against target industry benchmarks. I've also been involved in developing two key systems to optimise our trading performance. CrossFinder is an internal exchange that nets off matching buy and sell orders, thus saving us trading fees and minimising market impact. Smart Order Router (SOR) finds the best trading venue on which to buy or sell a particular stock, taking account of price, liquidity, and the option of splitting an order across more than one exchange.

What might graduates joining IT do?

There are all sorts of opportunities here from engaging with a business area to clarify what they want from a technology product, to the analysis of what technology we should use, to developing the product, to testing it and making sure that it actually does what the business wants.

What do you look for in applicants for graduate roles in IT?

For developer roles, we typically look for some programming experience, but for our less programming-focused roles, we've had graduates who've successfully joined us who don't have programming or technology-related degrees. Whatever their past experience or degree, we're looking for candidates who can add something to the team, and who also have career potential that we can help them develop.

What's coming up in the future for your area of work?

The biggest developments in the financial markets over the past few years have been an increase in the number of transactions we process and the fragmentation of the markets - there are now far more places than there used to be where you can buy any given financial product. For those of us working in technology, that means the environment in which we operate has been increasing in complexity and will continue to do so.

Operations

Karen Newton, Managing Director

How would you sum up how Operations fits into the bank?

In Operations, we support the revenue-generating parts of the business by providing an operational and control infrastructure. The pace of change in the finance industry is phenomenal, so a large part of our work is leading the process of introducing new products or ways of working.

Can you talk about a particularly interesting project you've been involved in?

I've recently been involved in a multi-million pound programme to make sure Credit Suisse is well-positioned to deal with regulatory reform. We've been working with regulators, central banks, and banking associations to think about the consequences of these regulatory changes. We're now working to implement the necessary changes to our ways of working, which has involved designing and building many new systems and processes.

What might graduates joining Operations do?

To give an example, one very new graduate on my team at the moment is managing workshops with experienced members of staff where they're thinking about exactly how some of the new processes we're introducing to respond to regulatory reform will work. Once that's done, she'll then get approval for these new processes, and she'll then train people in them. She's doing extraordinarily well in a tough job.

What do you look for in applicants for graduate roles in Operations?

I look for graduates with great problem-solving skills and meticulous attention to detail. They must like working in teams. They also need to be able to develop a strong understanding of a wide range of products, markets and business lines. Adaptability is important as this industry is constantly evolving, with new products, systems and processes being introduced at a very rapid rate - pretty much every week I see something on my desk that's brand new. Finally, many Operations roles are client-facing, so we all need to make sure that the service clients experience at Credit Suisse is the best it can be.

What's coming up in the future for your area of work?

Regulatory change is probably going to be our biggest focus for the next three or four years. Also, as Operations is a very global business, we're always building new teams around the world - I've currently got members of my London team over in Singapore and Pune in south India hiring and training new staff, and members of my US and London teams engaged in similar initiatives in Wroclaw, Poland.

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