The Financial Services sector in Ireland is booming, contrary to popular opinion, and IT Sligo has introduced an innovative work placement scheme for students who can offer hands-on experience in such areas as Hedge Fund Administration, Asset Management, and Financial Advice.
The Government announced a strategy last July to create 10,000 jobs in the financial services industry over the next five years. Financial services accounts for about 7 per cent of GDP and 10 per cent of staff in multinationals based in Ireland.
Sligo student Juliea Wasson, a third year on the Bachelor of Business in Financial Services at the Institute, has just secured a six month placement with prestigious fund administration company Apex Fund Services which a year ago opened a second Irish office in Dublin to meet the growing demand for its services here.
Juliea (30) who has previous work experience with the Bank of America and AIB, is the first of her class to participate in this innovative work placement scheme which was introduced after a review of how the programme could best liaise with the industry.
“It is so exciting – the company has 20 offices around the world and after just one week I can’t believe how much hands-on experience I have got,” said Juliea. “Today for example, I attended an accounts presentation on the legislation governing hedge fund administration in the Cayman Islands and tomorrow I have to take part in a conference call with company staff from offices in four or five other countries.”
Juliea who admitted that she felt apprehensive on her first day and feared that she would be out of depth in this high powered world of finance, says that she is surprised at how much responsibility she has been given – and how well prepared she is for the work. “I can’t believe how useful everything I learned on the course is proving to be,” she explained. “We do everything on the Financial Services course from company law to learning about dividends and rights issues and it is all so useful”.
All Juliea’s class mates will in the coming months be participating in work placement programmes with companies all over the country who work in such areas as hedge funds, insurance, pensions and personal finance.
Dr Catherine McGuinn, Acting Head of Department of Business at IT Sligo said the placements would give students’ invaluable experience and would also allow employers to work with the brightest students. “The Bachelor of Business in Financial Services is a perfect choice for students who would like to build a career in the world of finance and the third year work placement will really complement a graduates academic qualifications.”
Fergal Keane lecturer and chair of the B BS in Financial Services programme, said it was important stress how buoyant this sector is in Ireland. “I think there is a perception out there that because of the problems in some banks, that financial services is not a good prospect but in fact it is one of our most buoyant sectors, up there with pharmaceuticals and information technology,” he stressed. “Ireland has gained a reputation in the whole area of investment and hedge fund administration and there is a lot of international money coming into the country, partly because of our regulatory regime and also because of the very impressive skills set we have built up”.
The Bachelor of Business in Financial Services at IT Sligo is a three year, Level 7 degree programme, which feeds into a Level 8 (honours) degree. General business subjects such as Maths, Economics, Accounting, Marketing, Law and Technology are covered as well more focussed subjects in such areas as Financial Services in Ireland, Life & Pensions, Personal Finance, Financial Markets, Investment Funds, and Compliance.
“The programme, like all programmes in IT Sligo, strives to respond rapidly to industry needs,” stressed Mr Keane.