Gary Cottle, graduate profile

"After studying for a degree in Mathematics and Statistics at Plymouth University, I went on to do a Computational Statistics MSc at Bath University. Subsequently I went to London to work as a Research Associate with the lure of a PhD on the horizon. Unfortunately, the Big Bang came along and, as generous as the SERC grants were, having to walk past 18 year old kids with their Porsches proved to be too difficult for me, and I went to work for a consultant specialising in currency risk management for FTSE companies and European and US pension funds.

This company, owned by an ex-Bank of England economist and replicating Black-Scholes options, went on to become one of the largest independent currency risk management company across Europe. Here I used the statistical skills I had learned in Plymouth and Bath to the absolute full. I left there a few years later to work for Chase Manhattan, a US investment bank, where I was building structured derivative products for US/European pension funds. The cornerstone of their business was a Bayesian learning model that accurately predicted the equity, bond, and FX markets for quite a while.

I left Chase Manhattan when they merged with Chemical Bank to work for BZW the investment banking arm of Barclays Bank which then morphed to become Barclays Capital, one of the growth stories of investment banking over the last decade. Again, I was hired as a problem solving statistician/consultant to span the business and work with clients across the globe, and my solid statistical training allowed me to become an established derivative practitioner and problem solver. The Corporate Risk Advisory business utilising this model and approach grew by more than ten fold in revenues between 1994 and 2006, when I "semi retired".

After six months I realised that I didn't like retirement or golf as much as I thought and was tempted into coming back by Morgan Stanley to try and improve/re-build their debt and derivative business. However, the prospect of working for one of the top three global banks in wholesale financing and risk management drew me toward RBS, where I am currently Global Head of Corporate Risk to all corporate clients, governments and local authorities.

Having now spent 17 years in Financial Services, I have achieved more than I ever thought possible (partly thanks to my Plymouth lecturers) and had an amazing time. I have spent ten years being involved in the graduate recruitment process, constantly telling people that having a decent understanding of Mathematics and Statistics is a huge advantage in the financial services industry."