RI boys' UBS experience

RI boys' UBS experience
Graduates of the inaugural UBS Youth Finance Academy with Edmund Koh, Country Head of UBS Singapore (Front row first from left); Ong Puay See, CEO of Institute of Banking & Finance (Front row fifth from left) and some senior management from UBS Singapore.

Suits may be a US TV show focused on lawyers but for Raffles Institution (RI) student Hari Narayan Kope, a section of the show that dealt with investment banking had him curious about the career.

"I saw it as a role which seemed very intellectually challenging. I've heard you have to be really smart to be able to handle it, and many people say it's a very stressful job because you have to do things which are really challenging and can hurt a lot of people at the same time," explained the 17-year-old Year 5 student at RI.

As someone who enjoys playing chess and has been participating in debates since his secondary school days, Hari felt that this was a challenge that he wanted to take up, and a career where he would never be bored.

He recently got the chance to experience the finance industry first-hand at the inaugural UBS Youth Finance Academy, a two-day programme held on June 9 and 10 that introduces pre-tertiary students to the world of finance and business. He was one of three students from RI selected for the programme.

The 50 students from 18 pre-tertiary institutions were selected by their schools based on their achievements, their strength in mathematics and/or economics and their interest in finance.

They learnt about the various roles in the industry, rubbed shoulders with and received invaluable tips from senior management staff, witnessed how a trading floor functions and learnt what a day in the life of an investment banker is like, among other things.

Some of the highlights of the two days for Hari were touring the trading floor and seeing what goes on behind the scenes at UBS. He noted that while a majority of similar events target students who are already in university, "this is the only programme that is for pre-university students".

The focus on pre-tertiary students was a deliberate choice by UBS, which announced the UBS Youth Finance Academy last September. The inaugural programme was launched with 50 students as part of the nation's 50th birthday celebrations.

UBS Singapore's country head Edmund Koh explained that the finance industry in Singapore has a growing importance in the country's economy, making up about 12.5 per cent of the country's GDP. "It is important for us, in our own little way, as part of the SG50 celebrations, to signify that we are here to mentor the next generation," he said.

He stressed that regardless of whether or not these students eventually end up in the industry, "no matter what business they are in, it is important that they understand how financial markets work".

Indeed, it was quite an eye-opening experience for Hari, who also appreciated the chance to speak with members of the senior management like Mr Koh.

Encouraging students with an interest in the industry to consider the programme's next edition, Hari said: "It's a good chance to learn about the industry."

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