"One of the main reasons I picked Surrey was because they offered a Professional Training placement. I also noticed that Surrey was high in the league tables, particularly for the subject I was interested in studying, economics.
I chose to study economics after studying it at A Level. I find the subject particularly interesting due to the relevance to day-to-day life and more broadly, how the world functions. The choice of modules is great and you can focus on areas of economics which you’re most interested in. This is particularly helpful in narrowing down which areas you think you would be interested in pursuing a career in.
Last year I undertook a Professional Training placement at HM Treasury, working on macro-prudential policies within Financial Stability.
I found my placement by advice emails sent out by the Professional Training placement tutors in the faculty. To secure my job, I completed some online tests and was then invited to an interview and numerical assessment at the Treasury. Prior to attending this interview, I sought help from various resources at the University, including CV checks and interview practice.
My work fell into four areas: Contingency planning, Economic Risk Group, Financial Policy Committee and the Chancellor’s Office.
Investment Bank Monitoring
In the Resilience and Resolution team in the Contingency Planning Unit, I was tasked with monitoring the major investment banks with subsidiaries in the UK. The work coincided with the release of banks’ quarterly results and focused on critically examining performance indicators. Based on this and on regular discussions I had with the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), an analysis of the firm’s performance was produced noting any areas of concern and outlook for the coming year.
This information would be available to seniors within the Treasury to monitor, with the aim to attempt to identify potential financial stability risks.
Economics Risk Group
One of the ways in which HM Treasury monitors risk is through regular meetings with senior staff across the Treasury. The Economics Risk Group (ERG) is a committee designed to monitor risks to financial and macroeconomic stability.
My role was to monitor the data for risks to financial stability and produce an analysis to be presented at each committee meeting. I monitored key indicators and made an assessment of risks. I would regularly update the data using various sources including: DataStream, the Bloomberg terminal, Bank of England FPC core indicator sheets and the ONS and BIS websites. I would identify key trends and themes for the ERG to discuss, produce presentation slides, a RAG rating, and graphs to illustrate recent trends.
Financial Policy Committee
The Financial Policy Committee (FPC) is an independent committee of the Bank of England established in 2013 to introduce a regulatory framework more focused on financial stability.
Through my work with the FPC, my role was to brief the Director General of Financial Services on HMT’s views on policies and government work. We also provided our input on any macro-prudential issues, as this was our main area of expertise.
I was also responsible for preparing for the Financial Stability Report (FSR), to be laid in Parliament twice a year. I prepared press briefings, Q&As, and summaries detailing the contents of the report, for this process.
My highlight during placement year were my two locums to the Chancellor’s private office during the Autumn Statement and again for the Budget. I worked in the office for around three months, managing the process in which the Chancellor formally signs off all budgetary decisions, working closely with the Chancellor and his advisers.
My role was to co-ordinate and organise the process, especially keeping track of decisions and making sure everyone was informed on these.
On the day of the spending review/autumn statement, I was fortunate to get the opportunity to sit in the Houses of Commons while the Chancellor was making his speech. As part of his private office, we sat in the officials’ box within the House and would be called upon by the Chancellor if he needed any notes or prompts. My success working in the Chancellor’s office was recognised by a special bonus and prompted my return to the team at the next Budget.
The whole year was both fascinating and inspiring and I left my placement motivated to return or to enter a career in a similar area of study.
I would highly recommend completing a placement year. It helps you understand what work life is like and gives the confidence to apply for graduate schemes when you get to final year. You also learn which areas of work you may be interested in pursuing in the future.
My greatest achievement of 2016 was being presented two special bonuses from the Treasury for my hard work within the Chancellor’s Office as well as creating a new database for Financial Stability Risk assessment.
I think I’ve matured a lot since I started at Surrey. A lot of this maturity, I think, I gained on my placement year where you have to adjust to a professional environment. I also think I have gained confidence due to the achievements I have succeeded in.
I am currently applying for graduate jobs, hoping to go into a similar professional to the role I took on my placement year. My placement year will definitely help me in acquiring a job due to the fantastic experience I now have on my CV, as well as knowledge of how to apply for schemes, as I did two years ago."