Sunday, March 30, 2008

Buy side/sell side joke

Passed on to me by a friend on the buy-side (if an investment banker ever asks you to tell him a joke in the job interview, this may a a great one for him ;-))) ):

"What is the difference between a buy-side and a sell-side trader?"
"One says "f*** you" and hangs up the phone - the other hangs up the phone and then says "f*** u"

hehehe :-).

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Welcome message from the finance professor

What a great school where you get greeted to an upcoming course like this!! I am copying a shortened version of a message from our International Finance professor, which he sent about 6 weeks before the start of the class. What I really like about our finance and economics professors is that they really love their subjects, some to a somewhat crazy extent, but that's how you spread enthusiasm and advance knowledge. Here it goes:

Dear Friends,

I am the professor for the elective course on International Finance, which is scheduled for Summer 2008.

Why am I writing this email to you? I am writing this email to welcome you to the course and to tell you a bit about my objectives for the course so that you understand what I wish to accomplish in the time that we spend together.

I have been teaching in business schools for about 20 years now, and about 10 years ago I decided that I wanted to do more than just teach "Course X" -- given how short life is, this was simply not sufficiently rewarding for me. And, after some contemplation, I realized that given the opportunity cost to you of being in school, you should also expect much more than just learning about finance, or accounting or some other subject while you are in school.

What are my objectives for the course?
So, I now have two objectives in teaching the course on International Finance. First, I wish to imbed in your head a systematic structure for thinking about all issues related to international financial markets and international corporate finance. With a little bit of cooperation from you, I am confident that we will achieve this objective. My second objective is to help you to think about your life and to help you change it in a direction that you want. To accomplish this, we will spend the last 10 minutes of each class talking about issues not related to finance. The topics covered during this time will range from philosophy, physics, anthropology, biology, psychology, mountain-climbing, baseball, genetics, bike-racing ... and whatever else I need to talk about in order to rekindle the fire in you so that your dreams are about achieving extraordinary goals rather than just finding the best job in consulting or investment banking.

What else you may wish to do before the start of the course?
The best way to get value from the course (and your time in school) is through introspection and contemplation about the issues that are important for you in life (not just in finance). To help you do this, I have enclosed below a list of books (all of which are unrelated to finance) that will help you think about the important issues in life. I strongly encourage you to read at least one of these books. Other than reading these books, I suggest that you spend some time walking (and thinking) in Regents Park.

Best wishes, and looking forward to seeing you in class.
Due to popular request, I am adding the list of recommended books. I have bought "Three Cups of Tea" and "Tuesdays with Morrie" and will read them over spring break:

1. How each individual can have a tremendous impact on life on Earth
- Mortenson, Greg. Three Cups of Tea.

2. Thinking about what you wish to accomplish in life
- Hess, Hermann. Siddhartha.
- Albom, Mitch. Tuesdays With Morrie.

3. An example of accomplishing a lot despite a very modest starting point
- Mandela, Nelson. Long Walk to Freedom.

4. Examples of accomplishing what seems impossible
- Weihenmayer, Erik. Touch the Top of the World.
- Armstrong, Lance. It Is Not About The Bike: My Journey Back To Life.

5. How to walk the path in order to get to where you want to go
- Zander, Benjamin and Zander. The Art of Possibility.
- Herrigel, Eugen. 1999. Zen and the Art of Archery, Random House.
- Suzuki, Shunryu. 1970. Zen Mind, Beginners Mind, J. Weatherhill Inc., New York.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tick tock tick tock - the second year

Yes, I am still here, even though I don't write much anymore. There is just too much going on. As always I was hoping for a relaxing term but I have the ability to always end up doing lots of exciting things that keep me busy. The downside of this exciting life is that time is passing much too fast, the term is as good as over and there are now less than 4 months till the end of the MBA. It feels even less because lots of my friends are taking the summer term off to go traveling, so there are a lot of people now in the classroom who are finishing up.

I have been traveling a lot this term, working on a consulting project in the Scottish highlands, and going to Southeast Asia with three friends, I absolutely love Thailand!! I have been reading a lot this term, something I used to do a lot when I was younger and almost gave up while I was working at McKinsey, and now I am getting into the habit again, which is great. I have also just spend a few lovely days with my family in Hamburg, enjoying the great food and spending time with my grandmother and parents. Hamburg is such a great place to live and so cheap compared to London. No wonder it has won 3rd place as one of the best places to invest in for 2008 (along with Moscow and Istanbul) :-).

Now there is one week left of the spring term. I am working hard to finish up the consulting project for the Scottish tourism venture that I have mentioned before, and other than that really need to get started with my take home exam for time series analysis due on Monday. It was handed out 1 or 2 weeks ago but I just haven't had any time to even look at it so far. I also need to prepare for the Fixed Income exam next week, and since this is a course I have enjoyed a lot, the outcome is much more important to me, so I will need to prioritise my fixed income preparation over the rest for the next week.

On the side, I have also joined a team of classmates for our inter-school Tennis league, and we have won the first round, yay!! Playing Tennis in Regent's Park on a Friday morning is just something I need to enjoy as much as possible while I'm not working.

That's it for today, I will keep writing once I get all the exams and papers out of the way!