What we do
Since our launch in September 2011, Upgrade Capital has worked with banks, hedge funds, and trading firms to design and run a wide variety of research and trading competitions to identify and develop extraordinary young talent. Over time we have shifted our focus away from marketing our proprietary programs and towards providing personalised engagement. Above all, we strive to be a valuable resource for those young people who are committed to realising their full potential.
To get involved, simply register here and we will come back to you with advice catered to your particular interests.
If you would make a strong candidate for one of the firms we work with, we are happy to highlight you to them right away. If you are not quite there yet, we are able to advise you on how you can strengthen your candidacy. And if you are still figuring out what you want, we will help you determine which career path is the best fit for you.
We would attribute our resilience to a focus on identifying and testing for the specific skills needed by each our industry partners. We don’t presume to have a single screen that works for everyone; instead, we work with each firm to define a bespoke set of criteria.
Over the years we have developed and run programs for firms including:
In the 2016/2017 academic year we were running seven programs in parallel and began to see students struggle to figure out which one or two were most appropriate for them. In 2017 all seven competitions were retained but concealed behind a recommendation system. For the 2018/2019 academic year we repurposed that recommendation system to provide personalised guidance instead of promoting our in-house programs, although where appropriate we will still suggest that students join our flagship trading competition - now in its eighth year.
Most employers want your background to reflect a deep personal interest in the field you are looking to join. For trading, it’s often enough just to show that you were actively managing a portfolio for a meaningful length of time. To provide that filter we have been running annual trading competitions since 2011.
Beyond trading, we have identified three areas where the industry has a persistent appetite for graduate hires – and consistently struggles to find suitable candidates:
For a wide variety of reasons, very few of the students who enjoy researching and debating stocks put in the hard work necessary to get to a level where they can impress top-tier investment professionals.
A single sample stock pitch is usually enough for us to determine how far along each student is.
It is now common for finance students to be able to code, but some really stand out. Through extensive hands-on work, they’ve built strong intuition around how investors can best extract value from so-called ‘alternative data’.
We usually try to build a holistic understanding of what each student has been doing to develop their skills.
The best ‘quant strategists’ are students who enjoy reading quant papers, replicating the work they read about, and building on it.
Research reports serve as a first screen but we usually need to interview students to determine how far they can go on their own beyond established literature.
We have previously also helped students gain exposure to macro research and private deal sourcing, but ultimately found the number and quality of graduate opportunities in those fields to be limited.
What sets apart the students our industry partners want to meet is that they have invested a lot of time and energy developing very specific skills. It is actually quite rare for students to have done that work when we first meet them. In many cases, they are still just trying to figure out what they want to do.
And that’s fine. By showing you what outstanding work looks like in different areas, our goal is to help you decide what you would enjoy best – and figure out what you should be doing to turn that into a career.
Once we’ve connected with an outstanding student, there are a few ways we can help:
Over the years we have accumulated a variety of resources which can help you develop your skills. These include a value investing primer specifically developed for students by a fund we’re close to, multiple sample datasets for data scientists to play around, and relationships with analytics platforms like Ayasdi.
You see what your immediate peers are doing – but does that really constitute outstanding work, or should you aim higher? Through programs like the Ben Graham Fellowship, we have accumulated dozens of examples of truly exceptional independent research done by students.
There comes a point when you can’t progress any further without guidance from people in the industry. Fortunately many of the most promising students we found in years past are now working on the buy-side, and they tend to be very open to supporting the next generation of top talent.
If you decide to support your peers by taking a leadership role in a student group, you may be interested in joining one of our Leaders’ Summits – annual conferences held to allow the heads of student groups to share their experiences working to develop emerging talent. The biggest Summit drew representation from 78 student groups across 47 universities.
When a student gets to a level where their work is truly exceptional, we are more than happy to highlight them to the growing number of firms in our network interested in connecting with young talent.