Duncan Harris, 4th year Physics & Music student, shares his experience with student run social finance fund, Prosper.
Going into the third year of my Physics and Music degree I began to look for ways to use the skills I had been learning on my course for something beyond the realm of quantum mechanics. A friend pointed me in the direction of Prosper Social Finance, I applied to join and have been involved ever since.
Prosper is the UK’s first student run social finance fund, started by some students here at Edinburgh a couple of years ago. We take on student analysts and train them in the fundamentals of financial analysis, stock markets and sustainability assessment methods whilst they research companies who might be suitable for our fund. This culminates in a stock pitch to our panel of industry experts who select the best stocks to invest in with money from the University. We invest with a longer term view, holding our investments for 5 years after which we sell and take any of the profits and distribute them to social enterprises and charities in Edinburgh.
I joined with no investment experience, and one of the great strengths of Prosper is that it brings voices from all degree backgrounds to the table. I found the maths from my degree put me in a good position to understand all of the financial analysis, and the complex systems, analytical thinking helped me pull apart the messiness behind the sustainability issues facing companies today. I of course learned a lot as well, not least that there is far more complexity to sustainability than just net zero carbon targets and tote bags. What’s best is the programme and collaborative nature of the research allowed me to actually develop all of those skills that look great on a CV in a way that I feel I will definitely be able to apply in the future.
It has given me some great experience in an industry I would not have otherwise considered, and though I don’t think I will pursue a career in asset management specifically my time at Prosper has given me such a good foundation in finance, sustainable business practice and a broader approach to social issues that I feel well placed to pursue my interests in any of those areas.
We run the course each semester so if you’re looking to get involved in a project outside your degree within which you can build and apply your skillset, meet likeminded people and be involved in something that makes a difference I can’t recommend Prosper enough. I hope to see you there.”
Find out more: Prosper Social Finance, or visit Prosper on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn.