Day in my life on Placement

Posted in: Department of Economics, Placements

Hello and welcome back to my blog – it’s been a couple of months since my last post and today I’d like to take you through a normal day in my life on Placement – from when I wake up until when I go to sleep. This has been written about a Wednesday in November.

My day starts fairly early – getting up around 6:40 am – I need to be out of the house by 7:10 in order to catch my train so it’s usually a case of a quick shower, get dressed and eat a bagel - then brush my teeth and out of the door. I am fortunate to have a fairly easy commute – my train leaves at 7:27 and gets into Blackfriars station just before 8 – from where it is just a 2 minute walk to the office. On the train I tend to listen to music or a podcast – View of the Thames at sunriseusually music because it is still quite early!

When I get to the office, I have a fairly set routine of getting down to work as soon as possible – there’s no point in getting up early if you’re going to waste the first hour of the day with getting distracted! On Wednesday we have our weekly team meeting, and I am responsible for making the relative value and trade recommendation sheets. The trade recommendations come from the analysts and I just have to run some formulas on an excel file which pull the data from Allvue – our portfolio management software – though more on that later. I send them a quick reminder to have them submitted before 10:45 am.

The Relative Value sheets are compiled from various excel spreadsheets which track certain market indicators and help both analysts and portfolio managers make investment decisions as well as seeing how certain assets in our portfolio are performing relative to their peers. I tend to complete these on Tuesday evening if I have time so that Wednesday mornings are less time pressured. On Wednesday I just add the finishing touches including the Trader’s market commentary from their early morning email and get it all printed off.

After this I had a few more tasks I needed to get on with – first priority on this particular day was a model update on a food company where the bond is being repaid so we need to update the final quarterly numbers into the model. This is a fairly straightforward task and often makes up part of my day to day routine – the challenge was that some of their reporting had a few pro forma adjustments due to acquisitions (that weren’t explicitly mentioned) meaning some of the growth rates were not lining up QoQ. After a quick chat with the analysts who covers the credit we were able to figure out what was wrong and add the adjustments. I am always really impressed how quickly my colleagues are able to spot issues with a model and just as quickly resolve them – view of a desk with three screensit clearly comes with experience, but I always find it very motivating to keep learning.

By the time that was wrapped up it was almost time for the weekly team meeting – time for the trade recommendations to be downloaded and printed… Unfortunately, when we got to running the trade recommendations sheet – our software had a momentary glitch which meant the sheet was not able to be printed. As my 11:00am deadline approached – with maybe 2 minutes to go – the glitch was finally resolved and I was able to print and email out the sheet. Whilst this was slightly pulse raising (perhaps not what you want from an office job) – within moments of the issue to have been spotted one of my colleagues had set up the sheet on his PC to see if the issue was machine specific or a wider issue – whilst it was a system wide and he encountered the same issue – I am always impressed by how proactive all of my colleagues at Alcentra are in looking to help out.

With the materials ready we had our weekly team meeting, updates from the Portfolio Managers regarding Investor meetings as well as market and portfolio themes for the week. Following this each analyst will give a rundown of their trade recommendations based on relative value between bonds and loans in their sector. This meeting is one of my favourite parts of the week; it is fascinating to see how potential trade ideas between names can help to optimise the portfolio based on current market performance. I always like to take notes in the meeting which I can refer back to at a later date to see what was discussed.

Immediately after the team meeting we have the investment committee (IC), where analysts will present any names that are either new, or have new issuance of bonds or loans, to be approved by the IC. This week we had a Healthcare name which I had helped work on the one pager and research – so it was enjoyable to see this be discussed and have a limit approved for investment.

After a fairly busy morning it was time for a quick break and to eat my lunch. I always bring lunch from home (personal preference), but we are lucky to have a free lunch service as well as free snacks in the office. view looking up at St Paul's cathedralIt did take a lot of self-discipline when I first started my placement not to eat 5 bars of Cadbury’s every day.

My afternoon was slightly different – I was able to spend longer on a couple of tasks I am currently working on. The first of these is a tracker that we have set up on excel to keep tabs on all of the quarterly numbers from every investment as the notes come in from analysts. In addition to continually updating them as new data is sent to me, I also spent time building an area into the sheet which pulls the exchange rate from Bloomberg at the end of each quarter so that we can have the whole sheet in Euros, to make comparisons between names more easy.

The afternoon was also populated with a couple of credit discussions, which happen when there is a significant event that affects a credit that may affect investment performance or outlook. My other task for the afternoon was to continue with my LBO model. My placement is split into rotations, liquid credit (June – December 2023) and Direct Lending (January – June 2024). To help facilitate the transition the Direct Lending team has been running an LBO modelling course which I have been taking part in. This afternoon’s task was to building an RCF into the Debt Schedule of the model, quite complicated given the circularity of an RCF in excel so it did take a few emails to the great people in Direct Lending to make sure my model was working properly.

After a couple of hours of that it was approaching 6pm which is when I usually head home – if we have urgent deadlines I will, of course, stay longer or log on again from home but today was thankfully not one of those days. I caught the 18:12 train from London Blackfriars and as it wasn’t too late, able to get an hour or so in the gym near where I live – and be home by 8. After a shower and some dinner, I finished the day with some Netflix to relax. I try and get to sleep by 10 as (I am one of those people who really can’t function when short of sleep) so I will be well rested, ready to do it all again tomorrow.

Posted in: Department of Economics, Placements


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