“One of the biggest misconceptions about finance is that it’s investment banking and that’s it, but I feel there is a role for everyone.”

Joseph Walsh studies BSc Financial Economics alongside his role as a Front Office Services Analyst at an asset management firm. Now President of Birkbeck’s Economics and Finance Society (EFS), he shares how the EFS has supported his career journey and his vision for the future of the society.

Joseph Walsh wearing a suit and tie against a white background.Why did you apply for BSc Financial Economics at Birkbeck?

After my A Levels, I went straight into work as an apprentice in Cyber Security. I started earning my own money and became more interested in investing and the world of finance, so I was keen to pursue further education and a career in finance and investing. I really liked the flexibility of Birkbeck’s evening study format, which allowed me to work and study at the same time. The course modules looked really interesting and had a good balance between economics and finance.

How did you get involved in the Economics and Finance Society (EFS)?

I found out about EFS through the Students’ Union at the start of term. It was one of the more prominent societies in the School of Business, Economics and Informatics and had a good range of ongoing events and activities.

One great guest speaker who sticks in my mind is an investor called James Hughes, who gave a really useful introductory talk about finance and investing. At that point, he was running his own private equity fund in Hong Kong, so it was really interesting to hear his experience of working in different locations and areas of finance.

What is your vision for the future of EFS?

As President of EFS, I’m looking to direct the society to cover two distinct areas. Firstly, the networking and social aspect, because it can be difficult to socialise spontaneously after class when everyone is juggling work and busy lives. I’ll be pushing for more structured events and activities. It could be something as simple as arranging a time for members meet at the student bar, but hopefully going forward we can host socials around London and do a range of different activities to get to know one another outside of lectures.

Secondly, and just as importantly is the technical knowledge and experience that you can get from having experts giving talks and speeches. That’s a really important part of the society and it’s something that is unique to EFS to hear from experts across finance and economics. It’s been difficult to replicate our networking events online, especially during exam term, so we’re looking forward to hosting in-person events when restrictions allow. In the meantime, we’ve been sharing useful industry-led content on our website and social media pages.

What are your career ambitions after Birkbeck?

I consider myself fairly lucky in that I know what I want to do in terms of a career and how to get there. I’m really interested in asset management, basically investing across the markets, so I’m strongly considering doing a master’s after my undergraduate degree to develop my knowledge and technical skills. Looking further ahead, I would like to go into some kind of investment research role. The dream role would be a portfolio manager, but I acknowledge that it’s quite a competitive field!

I appreciate that some people might not have that clarity of what they want to do, and that’s something that I and the other committee members are trying to address through the society. Through networking, talks and the different resources we post online, we can help people figure out what they’re interested in and whether they want to take economics and finance further and develop a career in it. One of the biggest misconceptions about finance is that it’s investment banking and that’s it, but I feel there is a role for everyone. Even for undergrads that haven’t got their degree yet, there are a variety of trainee schemes available. That’s how I started and was able to get a role at an asset management company.

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