For alumnus Jordan McNiven (BA’06), the decision to major in economics came after studying a little bit of everything, from physics to Japanese.
“It was microeconomics that got me interested in economics but it was upper-level macro that really hooked me,” said McNiven.
His time at UBC helped shape his understanding of market fundamentals and equity research, leading to his current job as Director, Equity at Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co., an investment bank in Calgary.
McNiven talks about his work and his time at UBC in this Q&A.
What is your current job like?
I currently work as a research analyst for an investment bank and I love it. Effectively our job is to figure out which stocks are going up and which are going down and write reports on them. It’s fast paced, there is always something new going on, and the market serves as a scoreboard on whether you’re making good picks or bad ones. It involves a lot of the skills you learn in economics in terms of data analytics but also involves a lot of creativity to think about things differently and come up with new report ideas.
What’s been the value of having an economics degree?
I think it’s been invaluable to me. I see it as an advantage to not come from a traditional finance background. I never learned how to value a stock but I think that helps me think outside the box and in some cases challenge traditional valuation paradigms. Economics gives you very good training in critical thinking and cause-and-effect relationships. It extremely helpful and I think my economics training set me up well to perform my role in equity research.
Why study economics at UBC? What did you enjoy most about it?
Prof. Gateman’s class on law of economics really stood out to me. He really pushed you to think through the logic, not just memorize things, and instead develop a thought process that can be applied to all sorts of different problems. The class itself was incredibly engaging. I enjoyed going to class and the energy and passion he brought to teaching was very inspiring. I’ve always thought that towards the end of my career I’d like to get into teaching and this course is part of that desire.
What advice do you have for current students interested in breaking into your industry?
Network. It’s a tough industry to get into and without knowing a few people in the industry it can be very difficult to break in. Grab a coffee with people in the field, and at every meetup try to get another contact for your next coffee appointment. Once you get in the door, I find the biggest differentiating trait is curiousity. The most successful analysts I’ve worked with are always trying new ideas or thinking about things in different ways.