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The University of Southampton
Economic, Social and Political Sciences

Austen Robilliard BSc in Economics and Finance, 2005

Senior Investment Research Analyst at Murdoch Asset Management

Austen Robilliard's Photo

Hi, I'm Austen Robilliard and I studied BSc in Economics and Finance within Social Sciences at the University of Southampton.

A foundation in Economics is useful and having the joint honours of Finance really helped push me over the edge as it gave me exposure to a broader range of subjects, which employers found attractive.

What was your first job after graduating?

I joined Towry Law six months after graduating, initially as an assistant’s assistant, working on the international division with two financial advisors. I did this role for several months before the company was taken over by another firm and the central operations team, which I was part of, was re-jigged.

What were your major responsibilities/duties in this role and what skills did you develop?

I was responsible for providing support to the financial advisors, getting quotes, doing valuations and general administration – allowing them to focus on their clients rather than doing paperwork. I learnt how a large organisation operates, how to work on my own and within a team and how to communicate with different people in different countries (and time zones). I also learnt how to use different back-office systems (which is very important when starting out one’s career) and how general financial products work.

What is your current job?

I work at Murdoch Asset Management and my job title is Senior Investment Research Analyst.

What are your major responsibilities/duties in your current role?

I am responsible for all of the research and analysis of investment funds (called collective investment schemes), constructing portfolios, risk management and meeting fund managers to get an update as to what is going on in the market. Essentially I need to know not only what is happening but why and how it affects our clients.

What has been your favourite job since you graduated? Why was it your favourite?

My current role, as I am responsible for all of our clients’ money and making it work as hard as possible. Each day is different as one moment I could be meeting a sales rep to talk about fixed interest funds, then the next I could be meeting a fund manager going over a long/short equity portfolio.

What have been the turning points in your career?

Being listed in the “Top 30 Under 30” by Citywire Wealth Magazine gave my profile a big boost as there were few true analysts on this list; which also gave our company a nice bonus as well. However, the biggest turning point in my career was getting the job in the first place and no matter what people say, that is the most difficult thing to do.

What are you most proud of?

On a personal level it was becoming a father last year when my son was born and on a professional level it was designing and building a risk profile model to assess/compare collective investment schemes. In my industry you want to maximise total returns whilst minimising investment risk and there weren’t any risk/return models that were up to the job I needed – so I built my own model – and it works great! I should point out that it has been stress tested and signed off not only by the directors at Murdoch’s but also by Standard Life Investments.

What advice would you give to new Southampton graduates?

The job market is especially tough right now for graduates and even those who 10 years ago who would have been shoe-ins for practically any job are struggling to find work. You need to do something to make your CV stand out and show what you can add to an organisation. If you can afford it, offer to work for free for a month at a company or find as much relevant work experience as you can for the role you want to do. Half of the learning experience is finding out what you don’t want to do, so the job isn’t right for you, don’t be discouraged and find something else you would like to do.

Why did you decide to do your course?

I am a bit of a geek when it comes to finance and since the age of 12 I have wanted to work with money and manage investment portfolios; specifically equities. When I was 16 and choosing my A-level subjects I chose Maths, Physics and Economics with a view of studying Economics at University, aiming to become an investment analyst within 5 years of graduation (yes I really did all this when I was 16)! I am still on this career path and within 2 years of graduating I became an investment analyst, which I have been doing now for 6 years.

Why did you choose Southampton as your preferred destination?

A representative from the Admissions Department came to our sixth form and gave a presentation on the University, including league tables for different subjects. As I had my heart set on Economics, I looked at the courses available and saw there was a joint honours degree with Finance and as the University was one of the top establishments for the subject, I put it on my UCAS form.

How did your education at Southampton prepare you for your chosen career?

A foundation in Economics is useful and having the joint honours of Finance really helped push me over the edge as it gave me exposure to a broader range of subjects, which employers found attractive.

What aspects of your degree do you use in your day-to-day job?

I use my understanding of macro and micro-economics when analysing managers’ investment processes. The most information from the degree I use is for professional qualifications as there is quite a bit of cross-over in material; which is helpful.

Why would you recommend studying at Southampton?

Absolutely, the University of Southampton has a fantastic economics department with some really good lecturers and personal tutors. Outside of social science there are a number of other strong departments and there have been so many break-throughs directly from the research projects at the University.

What were the strengths of your course and/or department?

The department had a strong teaching reputation (24/24) and there were some lecturers who definitely didn’t disappoint and my personal tutor; Dr Peter Smith, was absolutely brilliant. He really helped me out and I cannot thank him enough for everything he has done for me.

If you could start your time at University again, what would you do differently?

I would study smarter than I did; learning as many references as possible and answering them in the exam questions. I would also make sure I have the answers to ALL assignments for each course. I was unfortunate when at university to sustain an injury which affected my ability to revise and sit in an exam hall. The university gave me a lot of support but I wish I had asked for help sooner as it made a big difference.

Did you enjoy your time at Southampton and what memories stand out from your time here?

Honestly I loved it, especially the first year as I was in the halls of residence – which I would recommend to all new-comers. It is the people who make it what it is and the fun times with friends really stand out for me.

What advice would you give to prospective students looking at the University of Southampton?

If you already know the subject you want to study then check the scoreboards to see which universities rank at the top and what grades are needed to be enrolled onto that course. Every university has open-days so prospective students can look round the campus and you should also think about where you want to live. Not everyone can get into halls of residence but applying early can help avoid disappointment.

What are your future career plans?

I still want to become a fund manager and whilst I am not there yet, I am not that far away and am still focusing on enhancing my skills, gaining qualifications and building/managing my reputation within the industry. The company I work for has been very supportive of my aspirations and whilst I am keen to fulfil my goals as soon as possible, there aren’t many positions outside of London so I have to be patient.

Are you still in touch with fellow alumni?

Some, but I didn’t stay in touch with as many people as I should, although social media has helped me keep in touch with some people I otherwise would have lost contact with years ago.

How else are you involved with your University and your alumni community?

I have returned to the campus a couple times; once to see friends and once to give a presentation to the University of Southampton Investment Society (USIS). I am more than happy to give advice to both under-graduates and alumni who want to work in the industry and do look out for alumni events to see if there is anyone attending who I would like to meet up with.

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