One of the most popular Global Travel Seminars offers graduate students an up-close-and-personal look at London’s financial markets.“London is the second largest financial market in the world,” said Assistant Professor of Finance Khaled Amira, who has led the seminar for the past five years and, along with Instructor of Finance Chris Argyrople, will lead this year’s classes and trip, scheduled for spring break, March 13-20. “We live in a world linked by globalization, yet at the same time, each market has its own peculiarities that are important to know,” said Amira.

London is a great introduction to real world situations for students because it’s close to the United States in terms of language, and close to Europe in terms of financial functions, said Amira. “We look at different types of investment analyses, the different ways stocks are listed in the FTSE, and the ways in which cultural differences impact the markets,” he said. By starting with London’s financial world, students gain a perspective on global emerging markets, foreign exchange markets and transactions, European equities, credit and fixed income, which will help them understand the ins and outs of the European Union’s financial regulations.

The trip is open to students with a solid finance background because the focus is very specific. “We visit insurance market brokers and fund managers, as well as corporate and retail banks, asset and wealth managers, and the British Bankers Association,” said Amira. “We offer access to senior level executives and we even have a visit with the man who fixes the LIBOR benchmark interest rate. Students without a background in finance wouldn’t get as much out of the experience.”

In the U.S., the stock market is governed by lots of rules and regulations, while in London, ‘spread betting’ (a risky gamble on a stock, illegal in the U.S.) is a common stock market strategy, and a ‘gentleman’s agreement,’ based on a handshake, is still a valid and binding contract. Experts in both the financial world and British academia will give students insight from their personal experience.

The opportunity for inside access to the London financial community is invaluable, said Amira. “In a global economy, you have to have a competitive advantage, and understanding the similarities and differences between the U.S. and other markets can give you that advantage.”