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Asset management: What is it and why is it relevant to me?

Asset management – or investment management as it’s also known – is about investing money wisely and making sure it grows. But what does that really mean, and what has it got to do with my career?

There are loads of asset management jobs out there, so it's worth considering as a career path. And it's not all about number crunching – you could be talking to the media, looking after computer systems or hiring the next recruits. And if you're keen, you can join a training programme straight from school. In this guide, we'll look at:

What is asset management?

What is an investment?

Nest egg
There are lots of different ways to make an investment

Imagine you have £1, and your friend has a company. You give this pound to your friend because she persuades you that in a year’s time, her company will be worth twice as much money as it is today. So your £1 will be worth £2. You’ve just made an investment.

People make investments like this every day. But in the real world, there are millions of companies to invest in, and there are lots of different ways to invest. For instance, you can take out a savings account and make money through interest, or you can buy a bit of a company called a share. These are just two very simple examples.

What does the asset management industry do?

Asset management companies are part of the world of banking and finance, and their role is to make sure money is invested wisely. Investment companies take customers’ money and invest it for them, and make sure it grows in the best possible way.

"The best way" depends on what type of investment the customer wants to make. For example, you might want to make a lot of money as quickly as possible. Or instead, you might make a long-term investment, which you claim back at a particular point in the future. A pension is a type of long-term investment – one which you usually start claiming when you retire.

When you make an investment, you put your money into a fund, which is a pot of money that you and other investors have paid into. People called "fund managers" take care of these funds, and make sure the money invested grows in the way the customer wants it to.

What companies do this kind of stuff?

A lot of high-street banks have an asset management branch, so you’ve probably heard of more than you think. Here are some of the biggest names:

What qualities do I need?

You don’t have to be a maths whiz to do well in the asset management industry. But you do need to be smart, want to succeed and excited by business. Asset management companies look after huge sums of money and so they have a lot of responsibility. This means they look for people with the right attitude and a lot of potential.

Investment2020 helps young people get trainee roles with asset management companies, and you can find out how to apply to their training programme on our website.

Take a look at this short video, in which young people talk about their experiences on the scheme. You'll see that, whatever asset management jobs they do, they're fascinated by what their companies do and are keen to learn as much as they can about all areas of the business:

If this appeals to you, you might just have discovered your dream career!

What asset management jobs can I do?

Over £5 trillion is invested in around the world today! This means there are loads of asset management jobs out there, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Like all businesses, investment companies need people advertise their products, run their IT systems, and recruit the best people.

Take a look at these mind blowing figures from Kurtosys and you'll get a sense of just how many asset management jobs there are across Europe.

How do I get an asset management job?

1. Decide what you want to do

If you’ve got this far, the chances are you’ve got an inkling of the area of work you want to focus on. If not, think about your skills and interests and how they relate to the different areas of work.

For example, if you couldn’t make a decision to save your life, you might not make the world’s greatest fund manager. 

2. Find out what qualifications you need

Once you’ve found a good fit, find out what qualifications or experience you need.

If you want to be a fund manager or an analyst, you will probably need a university degree in a particular subject, such as maths. If you’re serious about going into this line of work, talk to a teacher, career adviser, or your head of sixth form about applying to university.

But if you’d like to go into another area, such as public relations or human resources, you may be able to join a trainee programme straight from school – which takes us to the next step.

3. Find a training programme

For most asset management jobs, you can join a trainee programme straight from school or university.

We like Investment2020, who help young people into the industry by offering a training programme at one of 29 investment companies. You don't need stellar grades, just intelligence, energy and enthusiasm.

The good news for you is not that many school leavers know about training schemes in asset management. You're 25 times more likely to get onto Investment2020's programme than a normal graduate scheme.

Here are some of the benefits of taking the trainee route:

  • You will get a year of experience in a paid job.
  • Your manager will give you real work but will always be there to make sure you’re not out of your depth.
  • You’ll have the opportunity to meet other trainees at regular meet ups.
  • Your employer wants you to succeed so they can offer you a job. If you impress them, you may well find yourself in a a permanent position.

4. Apply!

Once you’ve found a training programme you like the look of, you should be able to apply on the employer’s website.

Show them you’re a good fit by giving examples of all your skills, talking about any relevant experience you have and telling them why you’re passionate about getting into the industry. Read our article on how to fill in an application form to be sure of a really brilliant application.

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