Careers – The Credit Analyst

The Bank of England

Matthew Greenwood is a Credit Analyst at Northern Trust Global Investments.

Why did you want to study English at university?

I studied English, History, and Economics A-Levels at my sixth-form
college. Each subject was interesting in its own way, but I decided to do
an English degree because this was the subject I was most passionate about
and it gave me a totally unique opportunity to spend three years of my life
reading some of the best books ever written.

What did you enjoy most about the course? What was the most difficult thing about the course?

I have never regretted my choice. I was introduced to a wide variety of
authors; there was always encouragement from tutors to think innovatively
about what I was reading; and I particularly enjoyed doing dissertations on
both Jane Austen and the Brontes. The most difficult thing was trying to
learn Old English as my foreign language option as I didn’t do a
at A-Level. But overall I enjoyed English so much that I went on to pursue
some postgraduate study in Victorian literature.

What did you go on to do after university?

After deciding I didn’t want a ‘career’ in English, I joined the
investment management arm of Prudential in London as a graduate trainee.
Somewhat to my surprise, all the trainees that year were either History or
English graduates! We all attended a 3-month course covering the basics of
finance and fund management to begin with. After placements in a variety of
departments I chose to specialise in credit analysis. This involves using a
broad range of sources to analyse the ability of a wide variety of UK and
European companies to borrow money in the capital markets. I have since
moved to American firm Northern Trust, where my opinions are used not just
by fund managers in our London office but in Chicago and Frankfurt.

How did your English degree prepare you for this?

Obviously an English degree gives no specific training for my current
role. But I would say that the ability to read and analyse vast amounts of
material quickly and effectively, and to produce concise written reports
and presentations on my conclusions, is one I honed during my degree.

What’s your typical day?

It’s a bit of a cliche, but there’s no such thing as a typical
day in my
job. What I do will be driven by breaking company news and I will
constantly be asked for my opinion on companies and sectors in the light of
this. I also attend company presentations and sit on credit committees. I
like the variety this entails. There is a genuine intellectual challenge to
the work, but I know that at the same time there is real money resting on
getting things right. Not everyone who studies English will be either
suited or willing to do this job, but for the right person is a challenging
and rewarding career to pursue. In my view the worst thing is the daily
commute in and out of the City!

What’s your advice for young people who are thinking about choosing
A-levels and a degree course?

My advice to anyone thinking of studying English is, above all, do the
subject because you really enjoy it. You must love reading! If you do, you
won’t regret it and you may be pleasantly surprised at the variety of
opportunities open to you when you finish studying – I was.