Starting a placement at an Asset Manager

Posted in: Department of Economics, Placements

Hi, my name is Chris, and welcome to the first entry to my blog. In May I concluded the second year of my Economics degree and now I’m out in the real world, doing a year-long work placement. I am working at Alcentra – an Asset Manager specialising in sub investment grade corporate credit. It’s amazing how fast time has passed - I’ve already been with Alcentra for nearly 2 months, so I’d like to take this as an opportunity to discuss what I have learned from my time on placement so far – and my 3 key tips if you are about to start a placement.

Organisation is key

My first tip is a very simple one - be organised. Whilst it might seem like an obvious thing to say – staying organised and keeping an up to date to do list is easily the most important thing I have learned in my 2 months on the job. I am frequently doing tasks for at least 2 or 3 different analysts, be it updating a financial model with the latest financials or gathering ESG data for the names held in one of the funds, so it is vital to be aware of deadlines. The easiest way of making a good impression is making sure all of your work is done by the deadline, to the best of your ability, every time. Make sure you have a list that you regularly update with what you need to do, and a little extra tip is that it’s worth having a list of non-time sensitive tasks which help you improve your integration into the team you are working in such as reading up about the previous performance of the fund or revising key valuation metrics. It’s always handy to have this list of things for whenever you have a spare 10 minutes between meetings so you’re not wasting any valuable time.

Give yourself a breather

My next tip is quite obvious, but very important – always remember to breathe.

This one may sound a bit weird but it’s something I learned during exam season at University – it is so important to remember to have a break and catch your breath. In order to make sure you’re operating to the best of your abilities, fresh air and exercise is important. I always make sure to go for a short walk around lunchtime each day.

At Alcentra we are lucky to be located in such a nice area of London, just around the corner of St Paul’s Cathedral – and this 10 or 15 minute allows me to take a moment to refocus. It is often the case that I might not have spotted an error in my work or can just operate much more efficiently when I come back to work. The 15 minutes are so quickly made back up by the improvement in productivity and concentration throughout the afternoon. Additionally, it’s important to do exercise outside of working hours, be it going to the gym or playing a team sport, there is (rightly) a big push for better work-life balance nowadays and this is a crucial part of it. If you take care of yourself, you’ll find the motivation to take care of your work to the best of your abilities comes so much more easily.

Don't be afraid to ask questions

My final tip is to always ask questions. Something that my managers have reassuringly repeated numerous times is that they don’t expect us as placement students to be the finished product, it is both early days within the placement year, and also early days within your career. What they want to see is someone who is proactive and eager to learn and make the most of this opportunity. Whilst coming from university it may seem quite daunting to be asking so many questions – working 1 on 1 with an analyst is a very different dynamic to being in a lecture theatre with 350 others.

We are incredibly fortunate at Bath to have the opportunity to work on placements with market leading companies, employing people with 10- or 15-years specialist experience in the sector. From my experience over the last 2 months, I’ve found it very impressive how quickly my colleagues will spot the error in the excel sheet or how effortlessly they can explain a complex financial model. They are a truly invaluable resource. I will also caveat this all with that it’s also important to show initiative – always try and figure something out yourself first, but do make sure to make the most of asking questions on your placement.

I hope these tips can be useful if you are either just starting your placement, or give some insight at what doing a placement is like if you are considering it as part of your degree
Please do also look out for my next blog – where I will walk through a day in the life of a placement student and if you have any questions, I’ll do my best to answer them, just send me an email at

Posted in: Department of Economics, Placements


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