University Choices: The Dilemma of a Future Stockbroker

It’s March and like many other ambitious, enthusiastic people in their first year of sixth form, I’ve already started scoping out the universities that I might apply to at the beginning of the next school year.

Here’s the deal: I’m studying four AS-Levels in maths, further maths, chemistry and psychology. I’ve always been interested in mathematics, its various applications and its relevance to the real world. Essentially, I’m a bit of a maths geek.

This coupled with the popular image of the wealthy, successful businessman that my work experience placement with a local stockbroking firm didn’t exactly negate, means that a career in stockbroking sounds, and has always sounded, absolutely ideal to me.

So, what will I need to embark on my stockbroking career? A degree with a firm mathematical grounding seems to be the way to go; with economics proving an obvious and popular choice. Personally though, I am interested in the more analytical side of the profession, i.e. helping other stockbrokers to make informed choices through the sophisticated statistical modelling of market activity.

Personally, I’m mainly interested in a maths degree, which has a high percentage of statistical content. The possibility of a joint maths and chemistry degree, due to the highly numerical and analytical nature of chemistry, is also one that I have considered.

Many degrees at many different universities will set you up fantastically for a career in stockbroking and I’ve already learned that there is no right and wrong decision when it comes to making your university choices. It’s all about finding out what’s right for you! Hopefully though, my own personal dilemma will get you thinking about what you want from your course, your degree and your career in the finance sector.

Right, so let’s get down to the nitty-gritty! Here are some of the courses that have stood out to me during my research:

Option One: MORSE (Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics & Economics) @ Warwick University

Requirements: A*AA (including A* in Maths), plus additional A grade AS-Level. The offer may be lowered if Further Maths and/or the STEP or AEA paper is taken.

This career-focused degree is unique to this highly-acclaimed university and would give me the opportunity to study a mix of different areas that would certainly prepare me for a career in stockbroking.

Considering that Warwick’s internationally-revered business school is regarded as one of the best in the UK, its mathematics department is amongst the elite group of institutions known as ‘COWI’ (an acronym for the four universities considered to house the UK’s premier Maths departments, namely Cambridge, Oxford, Warwick and Imperial), and its statistics department is rated within the top five in the country, it’s safe to say that Warwick is an ideal place for me to study these subjects and prepare for a career in the finance sector.

Furthermore, it’s situated in the heart of England and boasts one of the largest student unions in Europe, which makes it sound like a convenient and enjoyable place to live.

This is my course of choice. The interesting mix of topics will avert the boredom that has become synonymous with highly quantitative courses and will allow me to study quantitative economics without any compulsory qualitative modules.

Like the majority of degrees in Warwick, it’s also highly self-configurable and allows you to tailor a great amount of your own degree.

Option Two: Mathematics & Statistics @ Bath University

Requirements: A*AA / A*AB (including A* in Maths & A in Further Maths). A lower offer will be given if Grade 2 in the STEP paper or Merit in the AEA paper is achieved.

The aforementioned ‘COWI’ group is now often being replaced with the term ‘COWBI’; and there’s no guesses required as to what the ‘B’ stands for. Situated in the historically significant city of Bath, the university is supposed to be as cutting edge as the Romans that inhabited the city thousands of years ago.

This degree is quite simply ideal for helping me to meet the requirements and demands of a career in stockbroking. The only negative aspect is where the university is situated. It could well take around five hours to travel home to Liverpool from the South West of England. Sure, this may sound idealistic for most 18-year olds, but pragmatically it could cause a lot of otherwise avoidable hassle.

Option Three: Mathematics & Chemistry (under the Natural Sciences Programme) @ Durham University

Requirements: AAA (including Maths & Chemistry), plus additional A grade AS-Level in Further Maths if the subject is not taken.

Durham is an excellent university with an extremely high number of degree courses in the top ten of their respective subject tables. It’s no different for the two subjects that I’m considering, with Durham excelling in both, and chemistry in particular.

The university is one of only a small number of ‘collegiate’ institutions in the UK. The students are members of different ‘colleges’ which are basically, to a certain degree, self-governing organisations. This idea really appeals to me!

As studying chemistry at university isn’t my favoured option, this is the only degree that I’ve considered studying that involves outright chemical elements (unfortunately, pun intended!). This is largely down to the excellent reputation that Durham boasts.

I am also seriously considering this course. Even though the grade requirements may not be quite as stringent as those of the other degrees I mentioned, the standard of teaching at Durham University is certainly just as excellent.

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