1. Undergraduate applicants to City, University of London
  2. Joe Howley

Joe Howley

Joe studied BSc Mathematical Science with Finance and Economics. Now he’s an Investment Analyst at Willis Towers Watson.

What does your job involve doing and what do you enjoy most about it?

The investment team at WTW work with pension funds, insurance companies and other institutes to provide investment advice and fiduciary services. I work in the Defined Benefits advisory team which means I work with defined benefits pension scheme. My clients range in size from around £1bn - £4bn in assets.

My role involves modelling client's current and potential future portfolios and working with them to help build more efficient and effective portfolios. We do this by advising them on asset classes (ranging from simple equities to illiquids and other alternatives), asset managers, strategical asset allocations and hedging strategies. Ultimately our mission is to help our clients meet their liability needs over a long term scale by innovating and enabling them to invest effectively.

The element of my role I enjoy the most is the variety of clients I work with. Whether they be engineering firms, financial services or otherwise. Each client has their own individual beliefs about investment, needs and constraints and understanding this is the key to providing your client with the best service.

What’s the biggest myth surrounding Mathematics students and future careers?

Mathematics students can often think of themselves somewhere between a more technical degree and a more theoretical degree. I would stress that Mathematics students are positioned well to build on the skills they have learnt in their degree and apply it to real life situations. The adaptability you can develop with a mathematics degree and ability to learn new skills is vital in work.

How did a degree in Maths in hindsight prepare you for your own career?

I think my Mathematics degree has enabled me to solve problems and explain my methodology effectively. It is vital in my role that I can solve problems and develop solutions but also explain them to the person I am reporting into.

What do you wish you’d done more of in your final year to prepare for finding graduate work?

It sounds cliched but I would apply earlier. Once term starts it is easy to put your degree first but ideally you will have made use of the months preceding it. Some of the more competitive schemes open in the summer so make use of this time to apply. Further to this, having a diary and a plan for your applications is essential. It is very easy to work on several applications but it can sometime be difficult to press the send button!

Earlier in your career you have worked in recruitment. Did you recruit Mathematics students and if so which Maths applicants stood out and why?

I recruited for investment banks so maths, computer science and engineering degrees were highly sought after. For junior level roles applicants stood out if they had completed other activities outside of their degree. Whether that be a sport/society that showed they had a personality or work experience in a relevant field or being able to talk about financial consepts outside their degree. It's important to distinguish yourself from the crowd.