A – Alcentra. The obvious place to start this list. Alcentra is an Asset manager in the fixed income space with 4 different investment strategies: Direct Lending, Liquid Credit, Structured Credit and Special Situations.
B – Bonds. As a fixed income asset manager bonds are obviously the main focus of our investing, along with loans.
C – Charity work. Alcentra strongly encourages everyone to get involved in some kind of charity work each year and we get 1 extra day off to do this. I took my charity day with some colleagues at Refettorio Felix a charity who help feed homeless people in West London. It was an eye-opening experience and I think it is important that we all do things like this to give back to the community.
D – Debt. As a credit manager this is the name of the game for Alcentra. View of the Thames at sunriseWe invest in both the private and publicly traded debt markets as well printing 1-2 CLOs per year.
E – Excel spreadsheets. The bread and butter of day-to-day life on placement has been using Excel. My skills have come a massively long way since last June but there is always more to learn!
F – Free lunch. I have been very fortunate on placement that we have a Lunch provider, so we don’t need to worry about going and buying something in. Trust me – that £12 salad from across the road is not worth it at all.
G – getting into the office early. It might be tough when you’re first starting out on placement, but it makes a massive difference to productivity to get in the office early and just get going with your tasks.
H – HR. Your point of contact if you have any queries about placement.
I – Investment Committee. The IC for each strategy will have a meeting where analysts present a potential new investment idea, which will include the credit thesis, financial models and a summary of the due diligence which will assess the potential credit risk. Given approval from the IC, an investment can be made.
J – Job offers. Some placements will offer a job after graduation, but this is entirely dependent on the company your work for, as well as the current situation in terms of churn and headcount.
K – KPIs. Some of the metrics you will be looking at when doing credit analysis.
L – Liquidity. On my placement I have seen the 2 opposite sides of the liquidity coin. On the liquid credit desk, Loans and HY Bonds are actively traded in a highly liquid market by the traders who are instructed on what to buy or sell by the portfolio managers. On the other side, Direct Lending enters agreements to lend money to businesses, usually as the sole lender over a fixed timeframe, usually 5-7 years. This makes totally illiquid; they cannot trade out of the position before the repayment date.view of a desk with three screens
M – Monitors. Another thing we were very lucky to be able to receive as part of placement was a full wfh setup including an extra monitor, keyboard and headset to accompany our laptop and make remote working more straightforward. I tend to work from home 1 day per week which is what the teams I have worked with do, though it varies between teams.
N – Networking. On placement you have a great opportunity to grow your network so it’s always useful to go to any networking events that you may be invited to – these can range from networking events specifically for young people in leveraged finance to simply getting some drinks with your colleagues on a Thursday. The University also usually runs a networking event around halfway through the year for everyone in the HSS department on placement.
O – Office life. I’m fortunate to sit next to some great people in our office and post Covid it is really useful to be able to be face to face with people so I can ask questions if I’m not sure about something.
P – Powerpoint. Another great skill with many applications that we have learned this year is Powerpoint – whatever job you end up doing this is something you will always be able to use.
Q – Questions. Quite simply the best way to learn. One thing to note is always write down the answers you get to complicated questions, so you don’t ask the same one twice.
R – Railcard. I think this is something that is quite underrated if, like me, you live at home and commute into London by train. I calculated that the railcard that I received from Santander as part of their student account deal when I started at university has saved me over £1300 in rail fares this year.
S – Saving money. I think something that isn’t mentioned enough when applying to placement is that it is most likely your first “proper” job. For the first time you will be getting paid a monthly salary – and whilst it may be tempting to enjoy that money – it’s also worth remembering that you still have a year on university left and this can really go a long way to helping with that. I am obviously not endorsing never spending any money on yourself, but I would recommend being mindful that it might also be nice to have some money saved for final year, and a high interest savings account is easily set up.
T – The Tube. It gets everyone to work on time (mostly) – what would we do without it?St Pauls Cathedral dome
U – Underwrite. In direct lending we see over 500 deals per year but will only underwrite just over 10 per year. It is important to understand how careful the investment decision is.
V – VLOOKUP. Just use the INDEX/MATCH function please!
W – Wealth management. As an asset manager the fundamental objective of our job is to manage funds on behalf of clients, and to generate returns for them over a specified period. At Alcentra we have 4 main strategies, Direct Lending, Liquid Credit, Special Situations and Structured Credit.
X – (I said almost A-Z for a reason!)
Y – Yield. The measure of how much a bond pays based on the price (i.e. including any discount it is trading at)
Z – Zero coupon bond. This was something we learned about in Money and Finance (ES20070) in second year. As Alcentra operates in the sub-investment grade space I can assure you that I haven’t seen any bonds offering a zero coupon!

Thanks for reading!

Posted in: Department of Economics, Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Placements, Uncategorized


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