ICAP is the world's leading interdealer broker and provider of post trade risk and information services. They bring buyers and sellers together to execute transactions, charging commissions when they're complete, which is their main stream of revenue. ICAP's clients range from investment banks, through to commodities firms and shipping companies.
What made you apply for a summer internship at ICAP?
I've always had a strong interest in finance and a fascination for the power markets have to change the world. I studied economics at the University of Nottingham and was a member of the trading and economics societies, which helped to pique my interest further.
I didn't know much about broking until I encountered ICAP on campus. ICAP were the sponsors of our economics society and I got talking to some of their representatives, who told me all about the firm and the internship. It seemed like everything I was looking for, so I applied.
I was drawn to broking because it's so client-facing - a lot of work goes into building relationships with potential customers on both the buy and sell sides of a deal. I also liked the idea of going home without worrying about what levels of risk you might have incurred, which I feared would be the case in a trading role.
What did you do on your internship?
It started out with a formal induction and three days of intensive market training. We were fully briefed on what broking entailed, and the markets we would be covering. I had already done a good few weeks' research into the broking industry and the firm, but it was great to get properly trained. The induction also helped me to build relationships with the other interns.
Next, we started a period of rotations, spending a week at a time on various desks, which was fantastic and helped me gain a broad, comprehensive overview of the company. I started out on electronic broking (facilitating a transaction between two parties electronically), then moved to voice broking (the traditional oral method of communicating the prices involved in a deal between two parties) and then chose the desks dealing with products I was interested in, like foreign exchange and derivatives.
Because we were rotating from desk to desk, one week was vastly different from another. One week, you might be in the office at 6am and the next, you'd be having a relative lie-in and not starting until 8am!
Each intern was assigned a "buddy", usually a previous intern who would help you out if you had any questions. They were happy to answer them - as was everyone.
What did you learn over the course of your internship?
Perhaps the most important thing I learnt was how to digest and assess data. A lot of a broker's work involves processing large volumes of market data, and the ability to manage it correctly is vital. The internship was brilliant on-the-job training in this skill, and every other aspect of broking.
Technical skills aside, I learnt the importance of networking and how to do it well. Because broking is so client-orientated, it's essential to be socially aware and competent. The internship presented a lot of networking opportunities. We needed to be able to go into a room full of senior people and approach them all confidently. It was quite intimidating at first, but you soon learn that most people are willing to chat to you!
What advice do you have for those considering doing an internship with ICAP?
Make sure you do your research before you apply! Brush up on broking and on ICAP. Even though you'll be given training (if your application is successful), it's important to know what you're getting into. If you don't, you probably won't get past the telephone interview stage.
As an intern, get involved in as much as you can. You need to make an impression, and there's no point just dipping your foot in the water: you have to get stuck in! When I finished my internship, I got offered a full time position on the ICAP graduate programme. Now that I've started my job, I realise how invaluable the internship was.