The MFIN students recently went on a trip to Switzerland where they had exclusive access to the backrooms of a variety of top banks and businesses. Student Vanessa Pemberton explains what happened.

After arriving in Switzerland we made our first visit to Swisslinx, a recruitment company that offers financial, IT, executive recruitment solutions to international businesses. It was founded in 1999 by Olivier and Caroline Ruedin, and Monika Niklaus in Zurich. The Swisslinx Group has an incredible office with large windows which provide an exceptional view to the snowy downtown Zurich. We were received by Caroline Ruedin, and were ushered in to a large conference room where we had the chance to chat with various company executives the presentation commenced. We learned about the job market of the cities in which Swisslinx holds their offices, which also include Geneva and Dubai. We learned valuable tips for our CVs, and they were kind enough to volunteer their help in reviewing our own. After the presentation we got to do some valuable networking.

After visiting The Swisslinx Group, we went to the hotel to prepare for an IUM alumni cocktail party held in the restaurant of our hotel. The alumni there included our own Professor Moscato, and Silvia Gravengaard, an executive headhunter based in Switzerland. The students who had arrived in Switzerland on Friday met us there, and after the cocktail party we headed to a German-Swiss restaurant and enjoyed some traditional food and beer.

The following day was undoubtedly the most chaotic one of all, as there was much confusion at the train station as to which train to go on. Half of us eventually got on a train that went in entirely the wrong direction, but we eventually made it to Man Investments in Pfäffikon, which is, as it turned out, rather a trek from Zurich.

Man Investments is the principal division of Man Group Plc, the largest alternative investment management company in the world. Man Group Plc is a publicly traded company and a constituent of the FTSE 100 index. The presentation was kicked off by Ivo Hubli, a very charismatic young hedge fund analyst for Man Investments. We learned about the hedge fund business at Man Investments (both single and multi-manager funds) and also about their other businesses, including advisory, managed accounts, and structured products. Ivo also presented us with two case studies regarding situations he deals with in doing his job. After the presentation was complete, we did some more networking. It was a very positive experience overall.

We made our way to Pictet, a traditional Swiss private bank founded in Geneva in 1805, and is today one of Switzerland’s largest and most famous private banks. Pictet & Cie solely focuses on managing the wealth of both private and institutional investors (meaning it is a pure player), and is owned by seven managing Partners who stand personally and entirely liable for the Bank’s commitments. In their conference we were shown a short film, Markus Signer spoke in more detail regarding Pictet and also an overview into his world as a senior private banker with Pictet. This visit was much different than the previous two in that the employees and partners in the others were young and there was an energetic vibe. Here you could almost feel the tradition, and there was a strong communication by them about this.

On our final day we went to UBS. Riccardo Ruiba gave us an overview of UBS as a firm and of its recent history. UBS is a global financial services firm, a result of a number of mergers and acquisitions, the most important of which are the merger between of Union Bank of Switzerland and Swiss Bank Corporation in June 1998, and the acquisition of brokerage and securities firm PaineWebber Group, announced in July 2000. We learned about the firm’s various divisions, which unlike Pictet who is a pure player; UBS is an integrated/hybrid model. UBS’s divisions include Investment banking, asset management, and a corporate center among others. After the presentation, Sarah Meister accompanied us on the train to UBS’s investment banking operations right outside of Zurich in Optikon where we were given a tour of the trading floor of their Investment Banking division. We enjoyed a quick walk through and description on the various operations on the floor itself.

The entire MFIN class of 2010 left Zurich with a few more contacts, and a clearer picture of what it may be like to work and live in Switzerland. Not only did we leave with more knowledge, we also left as a stronger, more cohesive unit than ever before. It was back to reality too soon, with only a week before final exams.