Friends: Abdullah Riaz and Arda Fettin met on their Foundation Year at Warwick Business School
Formed out of friendship and helped along by a shared fondness for chow mein in the WBS Café, there is a new club at Warwick that is challenging the old ways of doing things.
The Warwick Investment Banking Society is the brainchild of two students, Abdullah Riaz and Arda Fettin. They met on their Foundation Year at Warwick Business School, a year offered on a scholarship basis to students from under-represented groups who face multiple barriers stemming from restricted economic and educational opportunities.
The Society held its first event on 16 February, won WBS accreditation in March, and is already offering its members in-depth analysis of the financial markets on a weekly basis.
“The traditional investment and finance societies at university tend to be full of people who already have good connections in the finance industry,” says Abdullah Riaz, who is from Hodge Hill, the most deprived constituency in Birmingham across several indices, including educational attainment.
“So, in November last year, we decided to start our own society with a totally different ethos. Instead of a group built on connections and who you know, we wanted to be diverse, open and inclusive.”
The other founding principle of their new society is knowledge.
“The traditional clubs are geared towards people who already have training or work experience in banking, perhaps through family connections,” says fellow founder Arda Fettin. “So their events are tailored to people who already have an understanding of the industry.
“As Foundation Year students, we didn’t have that background and didn’t want it to be a prerequisite for our members. The only qualification you need to join our society is a passion for investment banking. We want to build up knowledge from that foundation.”
Both students, who are now in their first year of BSc Accounting & Finance Degrees, are thankful for their Foundation Year. Abdullah credits it with building up his interpersonal and communication skills, and Arda believes it gave him a sense of belonging after struggles with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia at school.
With their diverse backgrounds, Abdullah and Arda have set about building an executive board which includes members from Jordan and Mauritius, adding to their own respective Pakistani and Turkish heritages. In terms of general membership, the two founders want to cast the net beyond business students to students of any discipline across the university who share their passion for finance.
Hailing from Haryana state in northern India, Lakshay Lather is the newly appointed marketing executive. “We discussed my interest in the society over chow mein in the WBS Café, and it was decided I would be a good fit for the role,” he explains.
He arrived in October last year as a fresher on the BSc Accounting & Finance Degree, and, like his colleagues, has no special connections in the industry. “Before I came to Warwick, I had to sit my father down and explain what investment banking was, like you would with a child!”
Lackshay is responsible for social media and on-campus marketing, and it is clear that the Warwick Investment Banking Society is gaining traction. Its Instagram page has grown by nearly 1,000 per cent in a matter of months, there have been good turnouts at the early meetings, and an outside speaker from an Asset Management firm has been secured for the next meeting.
Then there are the weekly articles on the Society’s Linked in page, helping its members to gain knowledge and awareness of everything from the recent collapse of Credit Suisse to floating a bond.
If Abdullah and Arda are right, in the end, it really is about what you know, not just who you know.