Gaining valuable practical experience in finance and investments with the USIS Society and the Twikker Fund

BSc Economics students Will and Ralph are Chairman and Vice-Chairman for the Twikker Fund, Europe's largest student run investment fund which sits within the University of Sheffield Investment Society.

Economics students Will and Ralph at a podium speaking about the Twikker Fund.

Will Dimitrov and Ralph Atkinson are both currently studying BSc Economics at the University of Sheffield. Alongside their studies, they both joined the University of Sheffield Investment Society (USIS) and subsequently the Twikker Fund as they had a real interest in investment and finance and also wanted to make the most out of the opportunities both the society and the fund had to offer to help further their career prospects. 

We recently spoke to Will and Ralph to find out a bit more about USIS, the Twikker Fund and why they've found them such a valuable addition to their University experience.  

What is the University of Sheffield Investment Society (USIS)?

USIS provides a platform for students to share their passion for anything investment and finance related. Our favourite thing about USIS is the sheer breadth of opportunities available to students. Students can choose to join our student investment fund (Twikker Fund), or write for our quarterly financial publication (USIS Review), or join our Trading Division if you are interested in trading derivatives, commodities, bitcoin, forex and other volatile assets. All members have access to our social events, such as the Wolf of West Steet and the USIS Christmas and Summer Ball, which are brilliant opportunities to make friends and meet new people.

A group of students stood on steps in suits, who part of the Twikker Fund and USIS Society

What is the Twikker Fund and how is it related to USIS?

The Twikker Fund is the largest student managed investment fund in Europe, based right here at the University of Sheffield. We manage £200,000 of real money invested in the stock market. We use our profits to fund careers resources, educational courses, and social events for members of the University of Sheffield Investment Society (USIS). The Twikker Fund is USIS’s student managed investment fund, and so once you become a member of USIS you are then eligible to join the Twikker Fund.

The Twikker Fund is made upon of 2 sections – the Competition Fund and the Long Term Fund. The Competition Fund consists of five teams of five students. Each team has £9,000 of real money to invest in the stock market. The team that achieves the most profit in one academic year is crowned the winner at our yearly USIS Summer Ball.

The Long Term Fund manages £160,000, also invested in the stock market. The Long Term Fund has dedicated teams of analysts that cover different sectors of the stock market, pitching their ideas weekly. The Long Term Fund is excellent for careers, attracting people interested in building a career in finance and having helped students to gain experience with the very top firms.

How did you both get involved in the Twikker Fund?

Will: I joined the Twikker Fund at the start of my placement year in 2021. I was very fortunate to be selected to join the Long-Term Fund. After 6 months, along with Ralph, I was selected to lead the Yorkshire Fund. A few months later, I was selected as Chairman for the 2021/22 academic year. My advice would be to join Twikker as early as possible – I only found out about the Fund late into my university experience. The earlier you join, the more activities you can be involved with and the better your career prospects are.

Ralph: I was fortunate to join the Twikker Fund (Long-Term Fund) as a first-year student. From day one you are given the opportunity to learn by osmosis and design investment ideas for a multi-asset portfolio. In February 2021 myself and Will were allocated £15,000 by the original Twikker Fund donor, Steve Kiln, to build a portfolio of Yorkshire-based equities. I have managed the Yorkshire Fund since its inception and have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity of getting to speak with C-level executives in the region and learning about what drives their business. Since then, I have been helping to manage the Twikker Fund alongside Will while also looking to further the Fund’s brand by speaking at the UK’s inaugural SMIF conference and Sheffield’s Managing Directors Club. My biggest takeaway has been the careers support; it is very reassuring to get to work alongside students going through the same rigorous recruitment processes, getting application help from students in the Fund has been instrumental to me securing internship offers across Investment Banking, Private Equity and Fintech.

Economics students Will and Ralph speaking about the Twikker Fund on stage at an event
Will and Ralph speaking at the Sheffield's Managing Director's Club event

How can students get involved?

The Twikker Fund runs a formal recruitment process which usually commences in the Autumn semester. Historically this has involved a written application followed by an interview where prospective analysts get to pitch a stock. Due to the success Twikker Fund has had, it is recruitment can be very competitive so it's good to apply early. Alongside this, USIS is also home to the Trading Division where students can attend weekly meetings and test trading strategies and further their knowledge on the subject; this is non-selective and does not require you to interview.

Do you think this will help you with your future career?

By being part of the Twikker Fund, students get access to a bank of resources e.g financial modelling courses/Bloomberg terminal that can be very useful when it comes to applying for graduate jobs. Equally, students enjoy both the internal and external alumni network of being part of Europe’s largest student-run investment fund, allowing students to gain valuable insights into highly competitive recruitment processes from people who have succeeded in the same processes. Furthermore, Twikker Fund has equipped students with the technical skills and commercial acumen to be able to succeed in the most competitive roles in finance. Our analysts have landed spring weeks, internships, placement years and grad schemes at pretty much every major financial institution. From Goldman Sachs to Blackrock – the list is endless really.

What advice do you have for students who are interested in joining the Twikker Fund?  

The most important thing is that you have a genuine curiosity for markets and investing. While it can be really useful to already have a strong grounding in fundamental analysis and understanding of macroeconomics, you don't have to be an expert in financial modelling or report writing as Twikker Fund will give new analysts the skills necessary to be able to contribute and grow/preserve the fund. 

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