UCL News


UCL in the News: Bank on a future as a City trader

29 November 2007

This is UCL's "virtual trading floor" or, more accurately, the "financial computing laboratory".

It's all part of a new Masters course, MSc financial computing, which aims to take students from non-technical backgrounds and carve them into banking whizz-kids.

The project is being sponsored by Reuters and has been developed in partnership with four of the biggest investment banks in the City: Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and Merrill Lynch. The aim of the laboratory is to give students a flavour of life in financial services and recreate the excitement of a trading floor. …

Whilst on the trading floor, students get the chance to handle live data from the major world stock exchanges. They will then be able to manipulate that data, using the same software used in the banks, and do some virtual trading. Reuters delivers the data, while the banks and UCL deliver the course content.

"The students see all this real-time data coming in and they get a good understanding of how the financial instruments work," says Christopher Clack [UCL Computer Science]. "That's how they learn, and how the banks can get the best of the best." …

"We wanted a broader intake and a more diverse set of students in terms of background, ethnicity, gender," says Adrian Pearce, head of global technology at Merrill Lynch. "UCL was interesting to us in the breadth of postgraduate students that they could attract." …

Of the 45 students on the oversubscribed programme, more than two thirds are from overseas and nearly half are women, which is unheard of for computer science, and the engineering department that houses it. Susan Taylor-Martin, managing director of Reuters UK and Ireland, thinks that this is due to the type of course.

"What's fantastic about this course is it's a transitional 'switching' course, designed for people who've done arts degrees or something non-technical and want to switch into something more technical," she says. "Suddenly that gives a completely different flavour to the gender make up. It's going to be interesting if the UK offers more of these courses where you give people a steep learning curve into a technically-orientated degree." …

'Irish Independent'