My Journey Through Finance – #SU Edition
Growing up I’ve always known that I wanted to be involved in the finance industry, from studying economics and mathematics at A-level to accounting and finance at University and now working as a Graduate Tax Consultant at Deloitte. My desire to be a part of the industry has grown. I have explored several areas including but not limited to becoming a day trader, learning to invest for the long term, learning about various financial terms such as Isa’s and credit scores, studying management accounting, studying business and personal taxation, and so much more. This is only the start of my journey and I am excited to learn a lot more. As a recent graduate, I wanted to reflect on my experience at University leveraging my finance knowledge to learn more about the industry and markets whilst of course attempting to make some income from it.
“Please note this blog is not an endorsement for trading of any kind, just some reflections from a keen learner and not an expert.”Note from the author
The above is a very polished version of my journey to date, but the reality of it is my desire to earn a lot of money led me down this path and has taught me so much in the process. I do have a passion for finance but I would be lying if I said my earning potential doesn’t fuel part of that passion, or at least it used to. It is a cliche but money isn’t everything (but just because I say that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be rich lol). I’d much rather discover a career that I see myself enjoying in the long term. Thankfully for me and my weird obsession with numbers, finance is that career. Below I go into a bit more detail regarding the several areas I’ve explored that I touched on above. If you decide to explore any of them further, ensure it is for the right reasons and your chances of succeeding will significantly rise.
I remember wanting to become a day trader because it looked like the fastest and easiest way to make money. Now it was fast and easy, but not in the way I would have preferred. I don’t think in my entire day-trading career did I ever end the day with a profit… and if I did, it would be gone the next day as soon as the market opened. The idea of looking at charts, drawing in trend lines and making ‘calculated’ predictions for a stock price was so exciting to me that I devoted a lot of time to learning and experimenting with day-trading. People may ask if I regret doing it as I lost some money, but I would do it again if given the chance to repeat that period of my life. The reason is that I learned so much, not just about markets, but also about myself and my behaviours and feelings. Losing money affects people in different ways, but at the end of the day, it’s about how you react and evaluate the situation at hand. To someone looking to start, I would suggest doing a lot of research, only using the money you’re willing to part with, and making sure you stick to your own personal rules/targets.
As would any failed day trader, I made the transition to long-term investing. This was the right decision, not just for my finances, but for my peace of mind too. They say you should never sell during a market crash or never sell whilst you’re stock is down… and it’s true! Why should I sell whilst my stock is in the red when in 10 years it could be in the green 10 times over due to an investment strategy called dollar-cost averaging? In reality, it’s not that simple, and putting aside my mediocre-at-best investment advice, there is so much to learn from investing in financial markets. You learn to treat different pools of your money differently. Some can only be used for investing or acting as an emergency fund, whilst others can be used daily. You also learn to be disciplined with your money. This could come about through budgeting every month so you can reach your monthly investment amount goals, or it could be through seeing your investment portfolio in the red and learning not to pull out due to your emotions. Perhaps my time as a day trader has helped me with managing the latter, but regardless, my experience so far has been positive. If you want to start investing in the market, make sure to research different trading platforms and find one that suits you best. Also, make sure to remember that anything can happen, and nothing is guaranteed!
Discoveries along the way
Throughout this whole journey and each chapter within it, I have discovered different ways of becoming more financially literate. They don’t teach you enough about personal finance in the school system and maybe if they did, the wealth gap wouldn’t be what it is today. The average state-school kid doesn’t know about things like credit scores, Isa’s, mortgages etc… and if they do, they don’t know what needs to be done to obtain these things. For example, it wasn’t until I got to university that I discovered a credit card is the best way for me to build up a good credit score to one day be able to take out a loan for a mortgage. I didn’t even know how credit cards worked before Uni! I always assumed they were just for people with no money, and in case you haven’t realized yet, they are not. Moreover, discovering Isa’s was a real shock to me. This is a tool people use to earn 25% interest (max benefit of £1000 a year) on their house deposit savings. In my opinion, things like this should be common knowledge but I’m thankful I was able to discover them during my journey. I know there is so much more for me to discover, and I am looking forward to it, but to those worried about discovering these gems when it’s too late, take advantage of the free resources around you, for example, YouTube.
My time at university has been incredibly insightful and will unfortunately soon come to an end. I have been able to study a variety of accounting and finance modules, some of which were extremely long and dull, but others full of challenges and interesting scenarios. It is the latter which kept me going and continued to strengthen my desire to work in the finance industry. Two stand-out modules for me included Management Accounting and Business/Personal Taxation. I enjoyed these two the most as they had a great blend of numerical and commercial acumen challenges. Through studying I discovered that I don’t just want to crunch numbers all the time, I want to be in an environment that encourages innovative thinking and creative ways of doing things. This led me to pursue graduate opportunities involving becoming a management accountant or a chartered tax advisor. My advice to a university student would be to take the time to discover what you like and what you’re interested in. Remember that your degree doesn’t have to be linked to what you want to do after uni. You don’t even need to know what you want to do after university right now, but I would suggest having a backup plan in progress whilst you are taking the time to discover what it is you want to do.
SkillStruct University Network
SkillStruct and the network SkillStruct University have had a significant impact on my journey so far. Its methodologies and various ways of doing things have been instilled in me to the point where I subconsciously conduct them through everything I do. I worked closely with them when I was applying for a year in industry placement and thankfully, I managed to secure one. Since then, I made sure to utilize their teachings going forward, and this has now led me to secure a graduate job. Joining the network doesn’t guarantee that you’ll secure a role, but it makes you more employable.
My journey has barely begun. I am looking forward to discovering the many career paths within the industry I’m going down in. I know along the way I may find new interests, a new desire, or maybe some unfortunate drawbacks, but I am looking forward to it all. This has been my journey to date through finance so far, and I am excited to see where the next 5 years take me.