As the catchline for another reputable business rag goes, we live in financial times. These days, finance is front page news and conversation fodder everywhere from lecture halls to the pubs. The unprecedented interest in the areas of banking and finance has, naturally, been transferred to the education sector, where more and more students are flocking to study these disciplines and work in the City.
For the organisers of the UCL Finance Conference, the increasing appetite for all things financial is something they've noticed, year on year. This year's third annual event, held this month in BMA House, London, was attended by delegates from four continents. The organisers selected the best 250 from 1,700 applicants - 1,000 more than last year. Says Tommy Tan, the director of sponsorship: "The whole day was a great success!"
Tommy continues: "For this year's conference, we wanted to broaden our appeal by catering for those interested in career paths outside of the investment banking and trading fields. We wanted to accommodate those thinking of private equity, asset management, law... the whole financial industry. We also made a conscious decision to make this year's event a more international one. We got in touch with universities across Europe, Asia and the US and invited applications from their students. Some of our speakers flew in from across Europe and Africa, too. With all these people coming from abroad, we even had to find partner hotels for them to sleep in. It was all worth it, though."
The conference had 40 speakers, including senior directors from the likes of Barclays, Nomura, Clifford Chance and J.P. Morgan. Finding such prestigious orators was a challenge for Tommy and the six strong organising committee (there was also a dedicated marketing team, including 110 university marketing partners at campuses across the UK). "It involved lots of cold-calling, emailing firms and presenting and pitching to the speakers themselves," explains Tommy. "Last year, we retrieved a lot of feedback and so were able to improve the selection of speakers based on what delegates had told us. My main role was organising sponsorship - and that definitely wasn't easy! There was a lot of competition from other conferences, societies and universities. Also, last year the economy wasn't so good but, in the end, we were fully sponsored and funded. I think we were very successful!"
As a law student, Tommy was unsurprisingly picks as his personal highlight of the event a discussion panel on growth markets chaired by David Childs, a global managing partner at Clifford Chance. "The focus was on the seismic shifts in that industry right now," he says, "-and the implications on us young adults in Europe as we get ready to go out into the working world. It was refreshingly frank and something you wouldn't hear at every conference."