It's no secret: Working in the financial services sector can be a lucrative endeavour, if not the road to early retirement. As for landing a job in the field, or climbing the corporate ladder once you do, two factors continue to dominate the decision-making criteria among hiring managers - education and experience.
Clearly, the same can be said for most any profession. But with the rewards of success in finance being as high as they are, a great number of the city's professionals spend a fair amount of time and effort and money pruning themselves for high-paid banking jobs by way of part-time education programmes.
But how much can such programmes genuinely contribute to an individual's skill set and career prospects? According to Simon Davies, executive chairman at investment management firm Threadneedle Investments, a fair bit
As far as analysing past data is concerned, a solid education is critical, especially when it comes to creating financial models, he says.
"In some ways, investment management is just a giant research project," he explains. "And if you've done this sort of thing at university and have been trained to do it right, you're probably going to be better at it than others. This is where education favours you."
Nevertheless, the seasoned financial executive expresses grave concerns about over-relianc on book smarts.
"There is a worrying tendency in the investment industry to think purely about financial analysis - a notion that the numbers will always give you the answers," Davies says. "Ultimately, quantitative models always blow up. In fact, all models based purely on analysis of quantitative data usually only work until they get money under management - then they blow up."
Another issue Davies warns of is that of the growing "obsession" with detail and spreadsheet models. "People become so bogged down in the details that they don't actually think about what's going on in the company that they're analysing," he says. "That's something that experience will help you overcome."
Having said that, the investment manager goes on to say that experience too has its limits and, in some cases, may even be detrimental. As an example, he refers to some former colleagues who, after working through tough market conditions in the early '70s, went on to become overly pessimistic through the '80s, causing them to miss out on some key opportun