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Ammar works in a fast-paced, pulsating global economy of stock markets, oil prices and high risk estimates.
Student name: Ammar Salem
Course title: Msc International Economics, Banking and Finance
Year of graduation: 2004
Current employer: Oman Arab Bank
Being a senior research analyst in the Oman Arab Bank, he works under tight deadlines and produces reports that many people around the world read. Being very modest about his achievements, he graduated with a distinction and is very grateful to Cardiff for the knowledge he's gained.
Why did you choose Cardiff University to do your MSc?
I was looking for a good master’s programme and Cardiff came to mind because many students have done their master’s here. Living in the city was also attractive to me and plus I knew that I had wanted to be part of the UK education system.
I didn’t really like big cities and therefore Cardiff was perfect. It also had many international students and I loved that aspect of it. After I joined the business school I emerged with good results and was recommended to other institutions and employers.
Did you enjoy your time here?
Sometimes I enjoyed my social life more than my degree. I definitely enjoyed working with numbers and thus thoroughly enjoyed my time here. I spent a lot of time in the Students' Union and thought it was just a lovely place. I also enjoyed places like Queen Street and Bute Park – especially the green areas around the city.
Could you tell us what the function of a senior research analyst is?
My main objective is to get vested companies in the submarket to invest in fundamentals. I look at the financials of the companies of a specific market in order to forecast the company’s revenue, operations and sales to see if they can meet their own goals. I then independently make my own representation and welcome queries based on my research.
I initiate research and write reports on monetary budgets. I also look at macroeconomic indicators such as production, oil, financial and non-financial budgets of the country itself. I look at products that get published either weekly or on a monthly basis in global newspapers. To a certain extent I deal with both micro and macroeconomics and the main part of that is equity research.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
I work in the research department and cover the financial side of things. We start the day by doing the morning news, which covers the Gulf Coast countries market, the local and international market and looking at different resources like newspapers to know what is happening in the market.
We then wait for market trading hours to start to track live streaming comments on the stocks. After trading hours we create a daily report of what is happening that day and we cover things like prices in different markets – e.g. the fluctuations of the GCC market or other markets. At weekends we put together the weekly report and it gets published in the newspapers which form the basis of one of the indicators of the market.
It’s a fast-paced economy – what is the biggest risk about your job?
It is all about avoiding making wrong assumptions. Thus for the specific types of research we do, we use assumptions based on the industry and risks based on company assessments.
I deal with rich GCC countries – Gulf Coast Countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, etc. These countries have a large amount of oil and we build assumptions based on the prices of it. They are assumptions with extremely big risks.
Whether a country announces its 2012 budget based on $60 or $70 a barrel, it is important that I do my research, that I understand the industry and nature of company in each scenario. Whilst doing so I need to act as the company representative and make investment decisions based on those calculations. Investments made need to be in lieu with prior estimations to avoid investors losing money. This industry cannot accept any loss, even marginal ones.
What important lessons did you learn in Cardiff?
Being patient is an important one. I had to deal with things such as bank accounts, emails, numbers, etc. At the start I was very overwhelmed and even thought of going back home! Then my professors said, 'Don’t give up’ and ‘Just keep trying and you’ll see the result of your hard work’. I’m glad I listened and eventually graduated with a degree.