Aloys Fortier, Class of 2015, is Credit Derivative Strategist at Goldman Sachs in London. From engineering student at ESILV to la City… the career path and advice of a finance enthusiast.
The American investment bank has offices in the world’s biggest financial centres. Aloys joined the London team of Goldman Sachs in November 2016.
Five years to mature a career objective at ESILV
I chose ESILV after a scientific French baccalauréat because it was the only engineering school to offer a financial engineering major. At the beginning of my studies, I was still hesitating between computer science and finance. After a three-month internship in web development during my third year at ESILV, it became clear that I would go into the finance major!
I keep excellent memories of my years at ESILV, as a matter of fact I come back on campus sometimes, invited by Daniel Aidan who teaches there. Every year, he gathers alumni, a great occasion to talk about our jobs in front of the financial engineering major students. In London, there is also a network of ESILV graduates which gets stronger every year.
During my final year internship, I worked at BRED, as sales trader assistant. I really enjoyed seeing various sides of the job: I was assisting traders on FOREX options, interest rate swaps, fixed income… It gave me the opportunity to become quickly operational. After graduating, I did a MSc in financial techniques at ESSEC.
The Summer Internship, a potential first step into Goldman Sachs
After graduation, I applied to several summer internship programmes in London. Many banks in the City offer students from all over the world the opportunity to become interns for two months. Of course, in sales & trading, the two most renowned banks are Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan. I was selected by Goldman Sachs, which was my number one choice.
Each year, GS welcomes about sixty students coming from 15 countries. It is a good way for the human resources department to identify high potential profiles, since one out of two interns is offered a job. This was the case for me, I started to work for Goldman Sachs in the City in November 2016.
I am a Credit Derivatives Market Strat. I am part of the derivates expert team, we work for the clients and for the other GS departments. A lot of my time is dedicated to working with the derivatives and correlation traders, but my team also meets clients to pitch investments or cover strategies. Daily, I work on derivative credit (stock index, options and tranches mainly but also structured or exotic products).
My team tries to solve specific problems clients may meet. I also took part in the launch of new financial products, innovation is indeed very important at Goldman. Goldman Sachs has a reputation of being a challenging bank, and it is. Teams are rather small, the work pace is demanding, but people who want to get hired know all this very well. Everybody is carried away by the same will to excel.
However, as it is an American bank, the mindset is more flexible than in many other banks. It is not because one just got hired that one’s ideas, if they are relevant, are not taken into account, on the contrary!
Good morning London! A regular day in the City
My day starts at 7AM with a morning meeting. We make an assessment of what happened the day before and talk about the news which can affect the market: central bank reports, major company results, etc. Then, come what may! We depend on the market, most of the time it dictates our day. If it is stable, we check our clients’ positions in the books and come up with ideas to offer the best investments, and if the market surprises us, we adapt quickly to be able to supply our clients with liquidity.
I spend approximately twelve hours a day at work, but time flies because I really like what I’m doing.
Right now I’m a rank 3 analyst. As long as I like my job, that I keep on learning and that I am as stimulated as I am today, I have no other plan than to keep going. In banking, it is hard to know what tomorrow will be, but my goal is to get better at my job and to get promoted.
Why London? This is the place where there are the most job opportunities in finance. In terms of activity, volume, clients, Paris remains far from London! Many traders go back and forth the two cities. In London, the French outnumber the other international nationalities in finance and at Goldman. I like life in London, its cosmopolitan and dynamic atmosphere, compared to Paris.
Advice for future traders
If I had advice to give to engineering students who would like to work in finance, I would tell them to build a network during their years at school in order to meet professionals. Financial engineering is so diverse that getting feedback from people hired in banks may help them maturing their career objectives. Then, I would recommend to make sure they are really passionate about finance, the only condition to cope!
The job is demanding, with a lot of pressure, it is not for everybody. It is not worth going into finance if one is not genuinely driven by capital market.
Also, even if it is not common in France yet, apply as soon as the fourth year for the Spring internships (two weeks of internship in April) and for Summer Internships in the fifth year (a successful Spring internship can be a good opportunity to join again in the summer). Finally, reading and being willing to learn is essential, this domain evolves quickly and one has to keep up-to-date, interested and curious.
Interested in financial engineering? Learn more about the degree-seeking student programmes at ESILV, engineering school in Paris.