Francisco García Paramés, perhaps one of the best-known investment managers in the country, today in charge of Cobas AM, has a degree in Economics from the Complutense University of Madrid and an MBA from the IESE Business School. A training that we can consider classic for an expert born in 1963 and who considers himself self-taught.
Something similar could be said of Lola Solana, a well-known fund manager at Santander AM, with more than 30 years of experience and who studied Law at the Autonomous University of Madrid, Economics at the University of California, and completed her training at the IE Business School.
In both cases they have developed brilliant careers in the investment management sector, an area that, however, today is renewing its requirements in both training and skills. These changes are also evident in the case of 10 young women who are already standing out in Spanish management, as they themselves recently confirmed to Five days. In addition to graduates in Economics or ADE, among these promises in the sector who already work in the main management entities in the country there is a biologist and a physicist, another is an industrial engineer, and two of them are graduates in Mathematics. And practically all of them have a master’s degree to specialize in quantitative finance, markets or financial analysis, and have obtained some certification or are studying to achieve it.
And it is that, if a few decades ago studying Economics was the most common training to become an investment fund manager or financial analyst, today the profile of these professionals has clearly evolved, and it is increasingly common for entities to require candidates with a multidisciplinary profile and greater technical training.
For Rodrigo Utrera, an active investment professional and professor of the IEB’s Master’s in Stock Market and Financial Markets, versatility is key in a sector as changing as this one. “Profiles with a good financial technical base are in demand, who have extensive knowledge of the industry, but also the ability to adapt and carry out continuous learning according to the new needs that arise,” he points out.
And he’s right; Lately many important needs have arisen. Starting with knowing how to take advantage of the potential of technology. “More than a third of CFA Institute members surveyed globally believe the role they will play will be substantially different in 5-10 years, and a big disruptor for the industry will be new analytics methods, including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning,” said Chris Wiese, managing director of training at CFA Institute, a global association of investment professionals.
“In addition to a good level of English (minimum of B2), the most demanded training is, on the one hand, knowledge of markets and financial products and, on the other, technical knowledge of programming, data analysis, artificial intelligence and DLT technologies (blockchain)”, emphasizes Enrique Castellanos, director of the BME Institute, the training center of the Spanish Stock Exchange.
In fact, five years ago they launched the Master’s Degree in Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Computing (MIAX) applied to financial markets. “Students graduated from it are in high demand,” says Castellanos. In addition, in the BME Institute’s Master’s in Financial Markets and Alternative Investments (MFIA), which is widely studied among Economics and Business Administration students, they have incorporated programming in R (open source language), Python (to analyze financial data and investments) and artificial intelligence.
“It is not that everyone is going to dedicate themselves to programming, but they must have some fundamentals and be able to do a script against a Bloomberg API or any other information system, from which to extract data and apply certain algorithms or calculations”, explains the director of the BME Institute, referring to the fact of customizing tools to analyze and make the most of the available information.
Craving for accreditations
But as was the case with César’s wife, who must not only be honest, but also appear so, it is not enough to have training, you have to prove that knowledge. In fact, the latest European directive on financial markets, known as Mifid II, requires some type of accreditation from employees in the financial sector when they manage investments or advise on clients’ assets. hence the boom of the certifications.
Some are focused on financial risks, such as the FRM awarded by the Global Association of Risk Professions (GARP), or the CAIA certification, a benchmark in alternative asset management. But if there is a truly coveted accreditation, it is that of a CFA certified financial analyst (chartered financial analyst), the most prestigious and difficult seal to obtain, managed by the aforementioned CFA Institute.
Listed as the gold standard of financial education by The Economistit is a demanding study program that requires passing three levels that, after passing about 300 hours of study per year, and depending on the fulfillment of a series of professional and, very important, also ethical requirements, the candidate obtains this CFA degree.
Who gets to be a CFA charterholder does not hesitate to add these acronyms to their profiles on social networks, the signature on their emails or to your business cards. Even, it is counted in the groups, there are those who have embroidered it near the knot of the tie or the neck of the blouse. There are only 190,000 professionals with this accreditation worldwide and it must be taught.
Training in sustainability, also on the rise
In the sector, it is urgent to have professionals who can move freely in the analysis and integration of ESG (environmental, social and governance) factors in investment decisions. The weight of this type of strategy, which takes extra-financial criteria into account, is growing at the same rate as international organizations that promulgate regulations to classify sustainable investments and clarify which are and which are not.
The European Federation of Financial Analyst Societies (EFFAS) has launched an international professional certification in sustainability (Certified ESG Analyst, CESGA), while the CFA Institute also has it in ESG Investing.