On Wednesday November 14, the moment was finally there: the start of the Finance Expedition 2018. During this multiple-day expedition to Amsterdam, different progressive companies in the field of Finance were visited. Every day, 24 students suited up and worked on multiple cases.
On a cold Tuesday night, the first students arrived at the Esplanade building. Once the group of students was complete, we were ready to go. After a comfortable bus trip we arrived at the OZO Hotel in Amsterdam. When everyone was checked in and freshened up, the first participants rushed to the lounge to enjoy a drink and meet the other participants. Unfortunately, we could not stay up late since the alarm was ready to go off at 6.30 am.
”Subsequently, we went to the trading place where we were impressed by everything that happened there. Yelling traders, the various sounds you hear when something happens on the market, or even a golf court in the middle of the room!
On Wednesday we visited the first two companies: Van Lanschot Kempen and PwC. This day’s theme was Risk Management, a line of work that every company handles differently. A visit to Van Lanschot Kempen was scheduled in the morning. When we arrived, we were welcomed in a room on the 17th floor with a nice view. We started with a company presentation about Van Lanschot Kempen, in which, among other things, the vision of the bank and its service activities were explained. Subsequently, we went to the trading place where we were impressed by everything that happened there. Yelling traders, the various sounds you hear when something happens on the market, or even a golf court in the middle of the room! During the case, we learned how risk management plays an important role within this bank. As the day developed, we became increasingly excited about everything that working at Van Lanschot Kempen entails. The last activity was a lunch at the company, after which it was time to go to PwC.
PwC prepared a concise presentation and showed us the most important insights about the company’s way of working and the opportunities for new talent. After the presentation it was time to start with the real work. The case clarified PwC’s activities as a risk consultant and what their role with respect to their clients entails. Furthermore, we were allowed to pitch our opinion regarding the case, which resulted in an interactive environment. Afterwards, we had a delicious dinner at a restaurant where PwC regularly eats. It was pleasant to meet PwC’s employees in such an informal way where we were able to ask them a lot of questions. After a short drink in the hotel we went back to our room to have some rest.
Thursday’s theme of the Finance Expedition was asset management. We visited a.s.r. and they prepared a broad program for the day. It started with an intriguing presentation about a.s.r.’s history with a focus on what steps they took to survive the financial crisis. Subsequently, we were presented with an interesting and interactive case that introduced how the insurance company handles asset management. For instance, we learned how a.s.r. reacts on certain movements in the market and how they best determine the associated strategy. Afterwards, we had lunch at the company and we met some employees that told us more about a.s.r.’s traineeships and what working at the company is like. Finally, we got a short tour through the building, which after a big renovation looks more brisk and energy-neutral. This look is in line with an important topic that a.s.r. has in its vision: sustainability. After the tour we headed back to the hotel and in the evening we had dinner at Vanzz in Amsterdam.
Friday was already the last day of the Finance Expedition and we visited Rabobank and Deloitte. The discipline corporate finance was this day’s central theme. We started in the city Utrecht where Rabobank prepared an interesting program. The bank started with a presentation in which was clarified what their different projects are like. Furthermore, we received some information about traineeships and other opportunities within Rabobank. Similar to the other days, we were challenged with a case that informed us with further insights of the bank’s activities. We closed the program with a tour and lunch. This was an exciting way to close this visit.
”After the case we got a tour through The Edge, the company’s HQ. The tight interior and the openness of the building enabled the company to have interaction among the different departments.”
On Friday afternoon, a visit at Deloitte was scheduled, which was already the last company that we were going to visit on the Finance Expedition. We started with a presentation about the different stages of mergers and acquisitions, and how the different teams within the company worked together. These important steps were quite understandable and enabled us with the fundamentals for the case. In the case a couple of these steps were covered, and it became clear that they needed a financial perspective in order to function properly. After the case we got a tour through The Edge, the company’s HQ. The tight interior and the openness of the building enabled the company to have interaction among the different departments. Furthermore, the building was renowned as most sustainable, but currently it has not this title anymore since another building took the crown. Afterwards, we went to the company’s bar to have a ‘Friday afternoon drink’ with the employees.
Looking back on the three days in Amsterdam and Utrecht, as Chairman, I am proud on the results that the committee achieved. As organizer, we create a bridge for students between knowledge received during their studies and how this knowledge is implemented at different companies according to their own business model. The Finance Expedition is therefore a perfect opportunity for students and businesses to meet, but also perhaps already an opportunity to have a conversation about a career at those companies. The participants bonded quickly and the committee prepared the activities well. By participating at the Finance Expedition, not only do you expand your network, you also learn about the company’s vision and whether your passion suits those specific companies.