On Saturday February 5, Vishnu Aggarwal organised Imperial College's Finance Society's first conference. It gave students the opportunity to listen to experienced finance professionals about issues that have concerned the markets in the recent, and not-so-recent past, and get some valuable insights into this much-scrutinised world. During the breaks, society members got the chance to mingle and network with the society's sponsors.
Henri Sartorius, head of media for the event said: "Its success is a direct result of Vishnu's professionalism, leadership and organisational skills." However, Vishnu certainly didn't do it alone. The marketing and advertising team's efforts were also crucial - no-one wants to go to a poorly attended event! So, the marketing team set up their very own website (www.icfsconference.com), sifting through dozens of CVs and applications to hunting down the chosen few who got to attend. And their efforts paid off, with many of the 250 delegates coming from a wide range of top universities such as LSE, Warwick, UCL and Imperial.
The first task was finding a venue. They managed to secure the Bloomberg headquarters for the event - their famous fish tanks made a superb backdrop to proceedings. Next on the to-do list was the selection of speakers. Vishnu and his team contacted various senior professionals currently working in the city. The speakers certainly gave a range of perspectives, varying from a renowned maths professor dishing out formulas to a former investment banker revealing inside stories of a credit crunch-struck bank. From a gloomy prediction of an inevitable financial doomsday to an optimistic view of junk bonds, there was something for everybody.
The day kicked off with a challenging talk on high yield bonds by Teo Lasarte of BoAML, followed by an overview of commodities, given by the lively Morgan Stanley duo Michael Brennan and Russell Dyk. The attendees were then advised how to deal with risk by Professor Lane Hughston, and were then told by Dr. Mike Haywood that society as we know it may cease to exist due to a deadly cocktail of debt, population growth and ageing, climate change and the reaching of peak oil production. Lovely! After a well deserved break, guests attended three different workshops. The first two, organised by Amplify Trading, covered market analysis and trading patterns, looking at market activity the previous Friday, while the third dealt with trading psychology.
The afternoon started with a valuable talk on what sparked the financial crisis by a very experienced former Societe Generale Global Head of Fixed Income and FX, Frederic Desclaux, followed by talks from David Simmonds, Global Head of Strategy and Research at RBS, and Catherine Flax, EMEA CEO of Commodities from J.P. Morgan about their respective industry sectors. The day ended with a panel discussion on banking's future mediated by Philip Alexander, journalist at The Banker.
Following the success of the conference, the society is planning a similar event for next year already. Henri hopes that the conference will eventually be able to compete with other more established equivalents. He told The Gateway: "LSE, we're coming for you!"