Summer Internship with Edelweiss Financial Services
The decision of leaving a well-paying product developer job to join a two year MBA programme was not an easy one for me. Barely a couple of months into the hectic routine at IIM Indore, making a move to a completely different career path depended largely on how well I performed during my summer internship process on campus. Luckily I found my opportunity early by bagging a summer internship offer with one of India’s fastest growing and well diversified financial services company, Edelweiss Capital.
Having worked in one of the world’s largest internet payment companies as a product developer before joining my MBA programme, switching to a financial services firm required a fair amount of professional adaptation in the beginning. For instance, since as a company Edelweiss is largely a client facing organization, the dress code followed is strictly formal, much different to what one would expect in a start-up or in an IT company. Yet Edelweiss Capital managed to hold on to its entrepreneurial roots with employees encouraged to push beyond status quo and explore new ideas in the field of financial services, at the same time respecting the ten different guiding principles that the company so heavily banked on.
The starting three days of my internship were spent interacting with the company leaders and getting a foray into the various businesses of Edelweiss. A combined session with all the co interns under one roof provided good networking opportunities right from the start. On the second day soon after the introductory session all the interns were introduced to their respective mentors. The ice breaker session with my own mentor revolved mostly around the fundamentals of derivative markets and structured products that the Global Wealth Management division was dealing with. Soon afterwards I was introduced to the rest of the team working in the division, while waiting for my own desk to be set up by staff from the IT section.
Next morning I received a general briefing about my project. The Global Wealth Management division was working on revamping its analytics division and arming it with more capabilities such as investigating and attributing portfolio returns and integrating the reports to the existing online portal. My work thus dealt largely with portfolio performance analytics, requiring fundamental concepts in finance and statistics. The initial two weeks went in studying the concepts of portfolio performance and developing a plan of approach to build an analytical framework using spreadsheet modelling. Fortunately my experience in computer programming helped a lot in automating repetitive actions on excel using VBA scripts. Soon I found myself gaining time and avoiding the scope of human error while doing data analysis. I realized that coding in VBA is a very important skill to have, to find success as a financial analyst, apart from knowing the basic concepts in finance. Contrary to the popular belief that finance is largely a game for the accounting and commerce graduates, most of the employees in the Wealth Management Division had an engineering degree hailing from premier institutes of the country. I was fortunate that I could approach any of them for clarifying my doubts during my work, which was extremely crucial given that any assumption made while developing a financial model can lead to serious blunders if it is not supported by a sound argument.
Working with a diversified set of professionals ensured that I got the chance to interact with employees working for different divisions with different skill sets. The open door policy heavily preached and executed well in practice helped a lot as well. A brief session with a financial advisor for instance, gave me insights into how a client might perceive my solution – whether the amount of number crunching would be meaningful to him or is it just going to overburden him with a lot of redundant information. Similarly while chatting with the head of client services I came to learn about the organization’s outside in approach of developing financial products instead of going for an inside out approach.
The HR team at Edelweiss ensured that our brief stay with the organization was made into a memorable experience. A two day outing to the company owned resort at Alibaug gave a chance to break away from the hectic schedule of daily activities and find some time to relax amidst the beautifully managed natural surroundings. There were activities organized by the Edelgive foundation as well such as tree planting drive and school visits on weekends. Overall we got a glimpse into how a leading financial services firm also focussed on taking care of its employees and making sure they were not overstressed beyond their human limits.
Working in a financial services firm dispelled several myths that I had in mind, especially from what is depicted in movies such as the Wolf of Wall Street. The HNI trading desk used to be on the same floor as the Global Wealth Management division and we got a glimpse into how intense and animated a trading floor can get right from the opening to the closing bell of the markets.
At the end of about five weeks it was time for my mid-term review. While my mentors were seemingly pleased with the progress of my work, the most crucial feedback that came from them was about realizing the importance of networking during an internship. I soon realized that this brief period of stay in the organization was the best time to meet and talk to people to find out more about the various aspects and challenges involved in running a large business. I took the opportunity to connect to the co-employees more. Through them I came to know about different aspects of financial services such as research in equity markets, algorithmic trading and products with innovative tax structures for the clients.
The last three weeks went into consolidating most of what I did over the past month and a half. It was important to realize that no matter how hard one might have worked during one’s internship, the biggest impact came during presenting the solution to the reviewing committee comprising of senior executives in most organizations. I therefore emphasized on making simple power point slides to explain in brief all that I had accomplished during my stay in Edelweiss and my future recommendations to integrate the same with the existing analytics portal of the division. Overall getting a glimpse into the workings of a diversified financial services organization with strong emphasis on value driven growth was the biggest takeaway during my summer internship saga.