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UCL virtual trading floor to train financial services professionals of the future

Publication date: Nov 20, 2007 3:17:20 PM

A virtual trading floor, opened today at UCL (University College London) with the support of Reuters and four leading investment banks, will help ensure that the capital continues to train the talent it needs to maintain its position as a world-leading financial centre, and give students from non-technical disciplines the skills they require to work in the financial services industry.

The trading floor will recreate the excitement of an investment bank trading floor, and provide students with hands-on experience in a dynamic environment. Real-time data feeds from major exchanges will be displayed on terminals and wall screens, and industry-standard software packages will be used to provide the best possible introduction to investment banking IT. The floor’s market data feeds will be provided by Reuters using their Reuters 3000 Xtra terminal, while the four partner banks – Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley – have worked with UCL to develop course content.

Working on the floor will form an integral element of the MSc in Financial Computing that UCL launched earlier in the year, in response to demand from students for a course that provided the grounding in IT, management and financial systems necessary to embark on a financial services career. In addition to the trading floor, another feature of the course is that all students undertake a work placement at a financial services organisation in the UK.

The programme, already heavily oversubscribed, is especially tailored to the needs of graduates from less technical disciplines, for instance those with degrees in the arts and humanities, as well as those who have taken a career break. It is also proving very popular with women, who account for nearly one in two of the 45 students on the programme. Over two thirds of the students on the programme are from overseas, with thirteen countries represented, including China, Nigeria, Bahrain, Iran and Kazakhstan.

Christopher Clack, UCL Department of Computer Science and programme director, says: “We only launched the programme in the summer and already we are 50% oversubscribed. It is clear that there is huge demand for a programme for bright students who haven’t necessarily followed degree programmes preparing them for a career in financial services technology, and which gives them the skills they need to follow a career in the sector. By running the MSc we are meeting not only student demand, but an identifiable need at the employers’ end. The banks themselves can see the benefits of running a programme that widens the talent pool from which they have traditionally recruited, with the course notably proving extremely popular with both female and overseas students.”

Student Amin Manzouri says: “I am keen to pursue a career within the financial services IT sector, and instead of choosing a typical computer science MSc, I felt that this particular course was more tailored to financial services. The fact that it is being sponsored by four tier one investment banks and that it requires you to undertake your project as part of a placement at a financial services organisation was another key selling point. The opportunity to undertake my project at Merrill Lynch is one that I am relishing. With this placement I hope to get an insight into the different areas of the investment bank and get a better understanding of the technology that is involved in the day-to-day running of a multibillion pound organisation.”

Brad Novak, Global Head of End User Platforms, Credit Suisse says: "Credit Suisse are delighted to support the Masters in Financial Computing initiative as we believe that good financial technologists come from a diverse range of bachelor degree subjects - not just from the typical Computer Science or Engineering backgrounds. We have therefore worked with UCL to ensure this course helps prepare graduates from non-typical backgrounds, for a possible future technology career in Investment Banking. With the constantly changing face of IT, technology within investment banking is a dynamic and challenging environment in which to work and offers some fantastic career opportunities - not just in the variety and type of work offered but also in the context of providing business solutions on a global scale.”

Susan Taylor-Martin, Managing Director of Reuters UK and Ireland, says: "Reuters 3000 Xtra, our premium financial information and trading terminal, will allow students at UCL to really understand the complexities and realities of the world's fast moving financial markets. Reuters is delighted to be working with one of the world's leading universities and four of the most highly regarded Investment Banks, in the launch of UCL's virtual trading floor. We look forward to the creation of a new generation of outstanding market professionals."

Notes for Editors

1. For more information, interview requests or photographs, please contact Dominique Fourniol, UCL Media Relations, on 020 7679 9728, d.fourniol@ucl.ac.uk or Lara Carim, on 020 7679 9726, l.carim@ucl.ac.uk.

2. For further details of the Financial Computing Masters at UCL, visit this link: http://www.cs.ucl.ac.uk/financialcomputing/mscfc_home.htm