18 June 2024

Gaining Financial Wisdom: My Internship at Carbon

I was thrilled to receive news from the University of Aberdeen that I had won an academic award sponsored by Carbon for my performance in one of my finance modules.

I then met Barry and Liam at Carbon’s Aberdeen office, where Barry introduced me to Carbon's investment philosophy, which is rooted in academia, using the work of Nobel prize winning economists to overweight investments into specific types of global bonds and equities. The tilts to value and small-cap stocks are designed to generate additional returns when compared to the broad market. This approach differs from traditional active management which uses stock selection, frequent trading and market-timing in an attempt to generate excess returns. I strongly resonated with Carbon's philosophy, especially having read "The Intelligent Investor," a book that educates investors about value investing and the distinction between investing and pure speculation. Carbon's approach is designed to preserve and compound capital over a long-term investment time horizon.

Following an interview with Shireen and Alison, I was subsequently offered an internship at the Carbon Edinburgh office.

During my internship, I had great opportunities to network and speak with people in different departments at Carbon, learning about their roles and responsibilities. Everyone contributes to helping clients write their own life stories and live their best lives. Carbon uses cash flow modelling to help avoid future cash shortfalls in retirement. This gives their clients the confidence to enjoy life, safe in the knowledge that they will never run out of money.

The culture at Carbon is extremely friendly, and asking questions is encouraged. My office ‘buddy’ was particularly helpful throughout.

I was fortunate that my internship aligned with two important events at Carbon: the quarterly training day and Carbon’s birthday. At the former, I met with all the planners and participated in sessions about how to discover clients’ intrinsic motivations. By the end of the session, I realised that financial planning involves much more than just the statistical returns on investments. It also includes key variables such as clients' motivations and self-limiting beliefs. I also learned many technical phrases used in financial planning. One of the most interesting was "TTFAC," which stands for Transitional Tax-Free Amount Certificate.

Carbon’s birthday event was the perfect icebreaker, as it allowed me to meet colleagues in a more social environment. The day included a session on Insights, followed by outdoor team-building activities in Edinburgh. It was really fun and my team came in second place.

I then worked on an interesting project analysing the vulnerability of Carbon’s clients and another analysing the thousands of available funds for the annual portfolio review. Given my interest in investments, I was glad to provide my insights. Through this experience, I further developed my networking, communication, team building, and Microsoft application skills. I was also introduced to FE Analytics, a powerful piece of software that I used for my projects.

This internship has solidified my interest in the financial sector. I highly recommend the Carbon Internship Program and advise future interns to network and be as inquisitive as possible.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Carbon and see this experience as an important step towards pursuing a career path in becoming a Certified or Chartered Financial Planner at Carbon.

Varun Sahani

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