Professional profile of an economist

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Jenny Smith studied economics at Edinburgh University and spent her last two summer holidays working on a placement at the Bank of England. After university she joined the bank full time, working on the credit risk team. She and her colleagues assess the creditworthiness of various companies and organisations.

What is your role as an an economist?

The Bank of England acts as agent for the Treasury, managing the UK's foreign currency reserves. My job is to analyse the creditworthiness of the financial institutions dealt with, using as much financial information as I can find. To help with this analysis, I draw on expertise from my colleagues throughout the bank.

Are you responsible for one area?

Yes, each member of the team is allocated an area, which is called a parish, made up of specific countries. I am responsible for undertaking credit assessments on financial institutions in my parish. A certain element of the job is trying to predict what might happen and guard against it. I am constantly monitoring the risk to the bank in anything it undertakes financially, either in the UK or in other parts of the world.

What do you like about your working environment?

It is very lively in the markets area and we are in close contact with the trading floor, which is exciting and dynamic. The bank has a modern, young and friendly atmosphere. Culturally, it is very people focused, with a strong emphasis on work/life balance. The training is extremely comprehensive with lots of opportunities to accept responsibility early in your career.

What hours do you work as an an economist?

I usually work Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, and the bank operates a flexible working arrangement, so if I have a pressing deadline to meet I will work longer hours some days and then leave earlier on other days.

How useful are job placements?

I was offered work placements during two summers and these proved to be very helpful. Both were useful in securing the job at the end of my degree, and it meant I wasn't new to the challenges when starting my full-time position. Another advantage was that I didn't have to undergo job assessment rounds during the last year at university, which can be incredibly stressful when taking your finals. Also, I got paid for both holiday work periods (known as internships), which helped to fund my studies.

What sort of training have you completed as an an economist?

All graduates join the bank's Analyst Career Training (ACT) Programme lasting around three years. This starts with a two-week induction programme followed by compulsory and optional workshops. A lot is learnt on the job and I don't need to complete regulatory or professional examinations.We operate a 'buddy' system here, so everyone has someone in his or her division to support them and answer questions.

What skills are important in an an economist's job?

You need a strong analytical mind, as there is a lot of detail to examine, and you need to be able to quickly extract the right information. Organisational and presentation skills are also important.

Are there any major challenges in being an economist?

The step from university to immediate interaction with senior people can be a daunting transition, but the people here couldn't have been more supportive.

What are your plans for the future?

Having been in the job for just six months, it's early days. I like the immediacy of the work in the markets area, but there is so much variety and opportunity to focus on different areas. At the moment, I'm keeping my options open!

Jenny's route to her career as a professional economist

  • A levels.
  • Degree in Economics.
  • Two eight-week summer internships at the bank.
  • Offered full-time job.

Jenny's economist tips

  • Try and get some work experience to make sure the industry is right for you.
  • Entrants are mainly graduates, although part-time study for an economics degree is always an option for someone working in an administrative role.

Economist related jobs

Salary of a professional economist

  • There is a wide salary range for economists.
  • They normally start on around £25,000, earning in the range of £35,000 to £55,000 once experienced.
  • It is possible for a top economist in industry to earn up to £200,000.

Getting a job as a professional economist

  • Most economist jobs are based in London.
  • Competition for economist posts is usually high. The normal minimum entry requirement is a Degree in Economics and good A level grades. It is a real advantage to have a postgraduate qualification in either economics or a closely related subject.
  • Many employers support or encourage part-time study for postgraduate courses. Some provide fast-stream training programmes.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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