A degree in finance Axel Sategna can take to the bank

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axel1Axel Sategna is one of thirteen students to complete the first year of the International University of Monaco’s “Monaco Banking and Financial Services” Bachelor Program.

IUM’s Bachelor of Finance is an apprenticeship program whereby students work Monday to Wednesday, in one of a dozen banks in Monaco, which include BNP Paribas, CMB, Société General, Union Bancaire Privé, CFM Indosuez, BNP Wealth Management and Barclays, for which they are paid, and the rest of the week they attend classes specialising in Monaco’s financial sector.

Mr Sategna was born in Monaco and began his apprenticeship training in Nice. In 2016, his third year, he decided to go to IUM for the Bachelor of Finance program. “It has a good business reputation,” the 22-year-old explained. “The courses are taught in English, and it’s also a work-study program, which meant I could continue my apprenticeship at Barclays that I started two and half years ago with another school while finishing my education.”

Growing up in Monaco, Mr Sategna shared that as a young boy he dreamt of maybe being a policeman but discovered the world of finance when he was eight or so. “My father’s friend worked in the finance and banking. I was attracted by what he did and it became a project.”

IUM’s 80 nationalities is a reflection of Monaco itself
He said that while studying in Nice his degree was quite broad, pertaining to managing a commercial entity. “I have learned so much about the banking sector since I joined Barclays Monaco. I also discovered the areas I needed to improve, such as my English, which is really important because Monaco is so international.”

Citing that IUM has some 80 different nationalities, which “is a reflection of Monaco itself”, Mr Sategna added, “The ability to work with other cultures is another skill I have to develop. I realise that I need to continue my studies in finance to a Master’s level to get the expertise to deal with the specific needs of clients in Monaco – and I’d like to do an option in hedge funds and private equity.”

Describing both work, and especially customer service, and the intensity of IUM courses as tiring, Mr Sategna still believes that doing a Master’s rather than trying for a full-time work contract with a bank is the right move. “I need the level of a Master’s degree to show potential employers that I have not just financial but also a broad range of skills. For example, as part of IUM’s Master’s program, I have the possibility to go to London – “The London Track” as they call it – as well as to do a 6-month internship anywhere in the world. Ideally though, I’d like to do this internship somewhere outside Monaco for both personal and professional reasons, to see other cultures, other systems, other mentalities.”

However, while Mr Sategna thinks the US or London could be interesting from these perspectives, he feels many employees come from London, and the idea is to present a different profile. “Singapore, or a major financial centre like that, would be very enriching.”

Mr Sategna, at ease in his suit and tie, has a maturity that might escape other Monaco residents the same age. “We all change, but the speed of this change is different. During my time at Barclays my point of view has certainly expanded.”

axel2Finance is not the Wolf of Wall Street
“Like other people, I used to think that finance is like the Wolf of Wall Street, for example. But, in reality, there is governance to guide us: there are regulations.

Mr Sategna was only 19 when he started at Barclays and recalled he felt nervous and lost on his first day. “Everything was new. My colleagues were from different countries, had different mentalities, were different ages, and I didn’t know a thing about finance or banking. I tried to understand what my co-workers were doing in front of their computer screens. Since then, I have gained confidence and have better communication, and I interact more with people, we use the same language.”

He added there’s a good atmosphere at Barclays Monaco. “We are unified. We work together well, with a good cohesion between the back, middle and front offices.”

Mr Sategna, who said his strongest asset is his determination – “I never give up” – recommends IUM’s Bachelor of Finance program to those even who may not have the right background, “It’s a great program but intense, so you have to be motivated.”

A “Made in Monaco” program
The course, which is taught in English, is divided into three core areas tailored to a “Made in Monaco” theme: the technical side of the industry such as markets, products and the banking system; the culture of the industry and very high-end customer service; and regulation and etiquette.

“I am interested in all the main subjects, from accounting through finance markets to macro economics, because it’s all linked to politics, and everything has an impact.”

Mr Sategna appreciated the teachers’ experience, which he described as “high level” allowing the students to apply theory to real life scenarios.

Stating that since he began working at Barclays his goals have changed, Mr Sategna now sees the added value in travel, although he would be happy to build his career in Monaco.

“Given my little experience and from what I have learned from my courses, my dream job would either be to create a fund, in Monaco, or outside, or work as an asset manager.”

He specified, “I like the communication aspect and the psychological aspect of understanding a client’s needs linked with the finance and economy aspects.”

Article first published May 10, 2017.

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