My First Impressions

My name is Jess and I joined A&O as a trainee in September 2014. Since then I’ve completed my first seat in the Banking department and I’m now a couple of months in to my second department, which is the General Securities Group within the International Capital Markets practice.

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this department. I  researched the capital markets before joining and I remembered some terms, such as the ‘Prospectus Directive’ from the LPC, but besides that, ICM GSG seemed like a whole new world!

The ICM department provided us with a week of intense training at the beginning of the seat, which was a great way to learn the basics of capital markets law and begin to understand the regulatory requirements. It acted as a useful introduction into the type of work we would be doing, such as drafting base prospectuses and running the signing of programme updates, as well as providing an opportunity to meet the other trainees and associates in our teams.

Since then I’ve learnt so much. The general securities group is split into several smaller groups, with one or two partners overseeing each one. The two partners in my group are both called Jonathan, which makes it easy to mix them up every now and again! The group is very welcoming and warm. We often go for team lunches and everyone helps out if someone is particularly busy and. I tend to ask lots of questions about the markets and the trades we are working on, and I’ve found that this is always well received by the associates and partners. My experience is that there is no such thing as a stupid question and the training I’ve received has been fantastic as everyone, my trainer Stephanie in particular, consistently takes the time to explain the mechanics of the deal and our role.

In terms of the work, we focus on setting up trades, updating programmes and helping to publish supplements to trades. This involves numerous stages including drafting documents, submitting documents to the relevant stock exchanges and then running the signings and closings. Trainees get involved in all aspects, and I’ve even had the opportunity to run my own updates, which were challenging but really interesting. There is lots of direct communication with clients and other research tasks to get involved in too. So there is plenty of work to keep you busy!

Speaking of being busy, the work-life balance in my department is really good. The days are  busy but you can leave at a reasonable hour most nights. Generally the timetables are set in advance and it’s possible to and manage your own workload accordingly. Obviously some times are busier than others, but that is part of the job and can make it quite exciting! Overall though, there is a general sense that work-life balance is important and you’ll often see people heading off to a spinning or running class for an hour in the middle of the day.

I’ve really enjoyed my first couple of months in this department and I’m eager to learn and get involved in much more over the next few more months! I will keep you posted.