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Help us imagine the future and you’ll see how far yours can go too.
When imagining a role in the investment industry, you may picture a traditional financial position filled with mathematical analysis and number-crunching. But instead, let’s imagine a role where your creativity and curiosity are held in higher esteem than your numeracy skills. At Baillie Gifford, we like to see things differently. For us, it’s not about looking for graduates from a particular degree. Instead, we look for particular graduates – people who are inquisitive thinkers who have the vision to see what the future could look like. That’s why we are just as likely to hire a musician, a doctor or a politics graduate, as we are a mathematician.
What we do is so much more than just buying stakes in companies. We think about a company’s potential to grow significantly in the next five to ten years, which is often influenced by many diverse and conflicting factors. Our work is a million miles from that stereotype of investors who constantly track markets looking for short-term gains.
Instead, our focus is on developing a deep understanding of the underlying drivers behind potential investments. That means questioning everything that happens around us and anticipating the consequences of local, regional and global events. In other words, we try to imagine what the future holds.
As a graduate trainee, 80% of your time will be spent researching. And for us, inspiration can come from anywhere. You’ll have to cast your net far and wide to collect information and create your own unique viewpoint. This will enable you to spot investment opportunities that others may have missed.
It takes creativity to look at the world and imagine how it could change in the next five to ten years. It takes skill to identify the direction of corporate culture, how industries may evolve and the sways of our society. You’ll have to explore politics, socio-economic conditions, and current affairs. It’s challenging, but it’s also incredibly intellectually rewarding.
“We are trying to consider probability and possibility adjusted outcomes for (often) revolutionary business models a decade ahead. We could term it ‘imagining the future’. Creativity not analysis is our calling.”
The beginning of your time here at Baillie Gifford is as important as it is inspiring. You’ll begin with a structured induction, which will take you through the basics of investment analysis, introduce you to the firm and give you an overview of the clients we work with.
Within your first year, you’ll start to work towards CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Level 1 and IMC (Investment Management Certificate) qualifications. We’ll give you our full support by paying for your registration, tuition and materials, as well as the time you need to study. You’ll spend time with one team, learning about its specialism in detail before rotating to the next.
In years two and three, you’ll have the option to continue with CFA Levels 2 and 3, again with our full support. You’ll also rotate each year to a new team, gaining a broad view of the different investment areas and geographical regions we work in. There’s the opportunity to travel both within the UK and internationally to attend conferences, visit companies and speak to experts.
The annual rotation will usually involve placements on both equity and non-equity teams. While our equity teams spend most of their time trying to identify companies with the potential to grow significantly over the next five or ten years, we also have income teams that invest primarily in bond markets (where we try to identify particular companies or countries to lend to based on their ability to repay that debt in the future), and multi-asset teams (where we take a more ‘top-down’ view on the attractions of a wide range of asset classes, including equities, bonds, property and infrastructure). The aim is to give you a broad understanding of how we invest, although we try to accommodate those with a desire to specialise in a particular area.
Your learning won’t stop there either. We support every one of our colleagues to continue their professional development throughout their time with us. As for the future, you could develop your career into an Investment Manager, Senior Analyst or Client Management role. You could even become a partner in the firm. In other words, your career potential is as abundant as your own.
We encourage applications from any degree background and there’s no one type of person we’re looking for at Baillie Gifford. However, there are some vital qualities that will help you to flourish.
You possess an appetite for learning and are interested in a wide range of subjects, even those you know little about. You are open to new ideas and have the humility to know how much you don't know.
You pride yourself on your ability to spot trends and opportunities before others do and know how to distinguish short-term noise from what really matters. Research comes naturally to you and you’re imaginative about where you find your sources of information and inspiration.
You have the ability to cope with uncertainty, as it may be many years before you know whether your decisions are right. You know that mistakes happen, but that’s okay. At Baillie Gifford, we support you to learn from the things that go wrong and help you develop as an investor.
To get started, you need to complete a short online application form, attaching your CV and covering letter. We’ll review your application to assess whether you have the skills, attributes and curiosity we’re looking for to make a good Investment Research trainee.
You will be invited to our offices in Edinburgh for a first interview with one of our senior investors and a member of the HR team. We’ll discuss the academic and professional choices you’ve made so far, as well as your own interests. Together, we’ll also have a chance to discuss your thoughts on topical issues and the world around us.
The final stage is more in-depth. Along with further meetings with senior investors, you’ll also have the opportunity to meet different members of the teams you might join – from experienced analysts to graduates who were in your position last year. At each stage, we’ll be open and honest with you, so you get a clear idea of what it’s like to work at Baillie Gifford.
When I joined Baillie Gifford, I met so many interesting people within the investment team. They were deep and analytical thinkers with insightful conversation but who were also humble and interested in what I had to say. 80% of the time is spent researching, looking for the right inspiration. By posing the right questions, we can often get to interesting answers, which can have the power to unearth huge opportunities.
My first placement was in the Japanese team and they’re focused on producing reports every few weeks. I started my first report in my second week of joining and presented it to colleagues three weeks later. I also had my first meeting with a CEO in my third week. The training is on-going, but colleagues are always available to help. For example, at first, I was struggling with a small part of a report, valuing a stock. After my presentation, a team member offered to talk it through. Within a couple of hours, we’d solved the problem together.
At Baillie Gifford you get access to so many new experiences. In my first year, I went to Utah to do a course on investment processes and took a two-week trip to Japan, where I met with CEOs and other company management but also had the opportunity to explore a place I had never visited. It’s fantastic to have these opportunities so early in my career. I also went to a trade fair in Munich with some graduates to look at Robotics – it is key in this business to have an information edge over competitors so meeting companies that were working on robot prototypes really helped our work.
The most challenging aspect of the role is not knowing if your analysis and conclusion are right or wrong. We’re making recommendations based on what will happen five or ten years from now. It’s impossible to know whether things will work out that way. You have to know things can go wrong and that’s ok, but be resilient enough to continue working hard – the next big idea could be revolutionary.
I enjoyed studying clinical medicine, but the further I went in science the narrower my area of expertise became. I love learning about new things and I wanted a career where I could bring in all of my interests, which is exactly what I found at Baillie Gifford. Since joining three years ago I have been on two equities teams researching everything from traditional Chinese medicine to video game companies, and also a multi-asset team, researching topics like Argentinian history and renewable energy infrastructure. It’s helped me learn so much more about the world.
I came to Baillie Gifford because I believe in investing for a better future. I was always interested in how policies can make change happen, but I came to realise that money is also a big enabler. Managing capital effectively can make a big difference to the world. Crucial to this is a longer-term, sustainable attitude to business practice, which Baillie Gifford has long demonstrated in its investment style. This creates a great platform for encouraging ever better business practice – both for ourselves and the companies we invest in.
I think my science background does help me in this career. In science you have to be perpetually open-minded to new information and how this affects your hypothesis. You can’t form an attachment to your preconceived ideas. Science is comfortable with the idea that there is no single truth and long-term investing is very similar. You have to be prepared for your thinking to be challenged and to update or change your views.
My favourite experience so far was visiting a primary school that works with a mental health charity Baillie Gifford sponsors, Place2Be. Much of the work we do in the office is in the hopes of making a difference in five or ten years’ time. It was a change in perspective and really special, therefore, to see how much of a difference one of the charities we support is making to children’s lives today.
After finishing my undergraduate degree in Philosophy and Criminology, I applied to law school in Canada before deciding to take a year out for grad school at LSE. Grad school opened my eyes to other career options that had the intellectual stimulus and debating characteristics I found most attractive about a legal career. When I joined Baillie Gifford, there was all of that and more. The quality of the debate here is far-reaching, very challenging and always stimulating.
At Baillie Gifford they don’t turn you into a particular type of investor. My peers are far more interested in the reasoning process than my stance, which is quite liberating as it gives me significant freedom to explore alternative hypotheses. This is as true today as it was when I joined in 2016. I’m also encouraged to imagine what the ‘blue sky’ scenario is rather than just finding the faults of a company.
Over the last three years, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and research dozens of companies across several industries. You’re given autonomy to pursue what interests you, determine your research agenda and plan your trips. Some of my research projects include luxury goods, diabetes treatment, car distribution, telecommunications and cybersecurity. Importantly, you’re given as much autonomy as you need, and have mentors to support you when you feel stuck.
The culture at Baillie Gifford is relaxed but intellectually challenging. This is mostly because of our long-term investment style. You’ll have a considerable amount of time to think about and write research reports, and you’ll seldom need to work into the evening or weekend. The long-term approach also translates into the training, where you’re given time to grow as an investor. Edinburgh is also a very liveable city. The quality of life is very high, and the festivals/markets keep you engaged.
I’m currently working in the Emerging Markets team and so far, I have researched Mexican supermarkets, Indian cement companies, South African retailers, Latin American airports and Brazilian software companies. On the team we consider the merits of the business as well as the context of the country, currency and the macroeconomic narrative. I’ve had the opportunity to host or join many company management meetings; from internet conglomerates to startup Biotechs. My team is experienced but eager to share their knowledge. In my research and in the weekly meetings I aim to bring a new perspective to company discussions or complex issues such as the implications of Modi’s re-election or the US-China trade situation.
All the graduates bring different experiences and the learning curve is steep for the first five years. There’s a real belief in cognitive diversity. This is only furthered by being exposed to new areas through conferences, graduate feedback sessions, partnerships with academia, or consultants teaching us about the industry. Baillie Gifford also invites many fascinating speakers to the firm, so we can learn from their experience and viewpoints. These are almost monthly and most recently I attended talks by Helen Sharman (the first Briton in space) and by Serhii Plokhii (author of Chernobyl).
In our induction, we receive an introduction to the firm and investment management. We then progress to the first of our placements in a team. There is a real focus on encouraging our creativity and breadth of thinking, which I really enjoy. For example, there is a project in our second year where we get to research an area of healthcare that we think is going to see dramatic disruption or innovation over the next five to ten years. A year later we have a placement in the Client Services Department and, in our fourth year, we get the opportunity to do a three-month project. Previous trainees have used this opportunity to travel the Silk Road to meet local businesses or work at a food app startup.
My preconceptions meant the investment world did not appeal to me initially, as I received maintenance grants and worked thirty-hour weeks to support myself throughout university, but Baillie Gifford is unique and welcomes you into its culture. Here it is not about ‘fitting in’ but seeing what you can bring to the table, whilst keeping up the enthusiasm to learn. Through networks such as Women in Banking and Finance, Future Asset and the Social Mobility Foundation, I have been supported by Baillie Gifford to talk to cohorts of people from similar backgrounds and share the experience of starting a career here.
I was looking for a graduate programme that would help me get a sense of the world outside academia. With a background in development research and consultancy, financial services wasn’t my original career focus, but Baillie Gifford was the only company in the industry that truly appealed. I discovered the firm’s emphasis on future-thinking, cognitive diversity, and long-term investment approaches valuing qualitative thinking alongside quantitative methods. I realised this was an attractive opportunity to learn more about the world.
During my time on the Japan team I have primarily focused on small-cap company research. This means I’m looking at the growth potential of smaller companies. Often these are software or tech companies looking to disrupt the established workings of their respective industries. As an example, one the first few companies I researched is aiming to become the Facebook of the cosmetics world with its leading advertising and CRM platform, allowing brands to interact with and manage a large pool of customers directly. Companies such as this are defining a shift from product-based business models to experience-based ones.
On a recent trip to Japan, I meet with 35 different companies. I was given the freedom to choose the companies I wanted to visit and design the objectives and content of my meetings. Speaking to CEOs leading companies from various industries was a great experience to have so early on in my career. There are no short-cuts to gaining practical experience in interviewing management teams and for me, these first-hand opportunities were invaluable. It has given me real context for the work I do day-to-day in Edinburgh.
A key learning point has been that working in investments is not simply about a set of discrete outputs. The work is always in-progress, as the performance of any one stock or investment case is monitored across a long time horizon. I’ve admired the patience of investment managers at Baillie Gifford in continually reflecting upon and revising their previous insights and workings. In my experience I’ve also found the firm on the whole to be a conscientiously self-reflective place. As a business, asking other companies about their management and culture has highlighted the importance of asking the same questions of ourselves.
I’m from Azerbaijan and have studied in Turkey, the Netherlands and the UK. I’m always looking to learn about different countries in political, social and economic senses. I first met Baillie Gifford at a careers fair at Oxford and they seemed to be a firm that was interested in people who are curious about the world. Baillie Gifford’s Investment Research programme attracts graduates from a wide variety of backgrounds, and that appealed to me.
I liked Edinburgh immediately – a mix of the Caucasus of Azerbaijan and the historical buildings of Oxford! I didn’t know anyone in Edinburgh when I relocated, but had plenty of support with lunches, dinners with my fellow grads and advice on where to shop and rent a flat. I was able to ask lots of questions about the programme and help was there at every stage if I needed it.
Before Baillie Gifford, I had minimal exposure to financial services. But the work I’m doing here is surprisingly similar to academia. The bulk of my work is qualitative research – it’s about learning, building arguments and thinking about the future. So far on my placements I’ve researched a wide range of companies – everything from self-driving trucks to life science tools. We’re working with other teams, sharing ideas and looking at opportunities across all industries and geographies.
I am always challenged in my work and got a lot of responsibility early on. I was able to attend an industry conference just three months into my first placement and was responsible for interviewing a CEO and a number of senior managers over the phone – asking them about their companies’ strategies. You are trusted to represent the firm well when you meet different companies. Also, you are given independence in your research to choose your sources and methods.