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Five Days at SETL

By Madeleine Myers


0.72 Seconds is Slow

07/08/2019– Today I started my work experience at SETL; It is my first taste of the complex world of fintech, and already I am hungry for more. From what I learnt in my first hour on the job – banking isn’t as complicated as it seems; it’s moving money in and out of various accounts.

So, why did I think it was so difficult to begin with? The hard part in all this comes from tracking these movements. Peter Randall explained to me, in layman’s terms – imagine you’re sat in a room with five people and you pass around a coin. Each person can physically watch the coin, knows where it has come from and where it is going. But what happens when you can no longer see that coin? Or, instead of everyone sitting in the same room, they are sat 9000 miles apart? Who tracks the coin then, and how do you know the path it has taken?

On my first day, I have already been impressed with the efficiency of SETL. Compared to the big banks, SETL’s way of logging money transactions is revolutionary. All transactions are kept on the same online forum, being accessible to all who are authorised. It takes 0.72 seconds for information to be passed from San Francisco to Singapore (being over 8700 miles apart). I thought that was incredibly fast, but Peter exclaimed brightly, “0.72 seconds is slow!”

Well, I guess that is compared to the speed of SETL’s transactions – being one transaction every 0.1 milliseconds (quite literally, faster than a blink of the eye).


What are you reading?

07/09/2019– I’m an English student. The things I thrive in are long essays, analysing books and memorising quotations. I’ve never been exceptional in maths, nor computer science, but my work experience so far has incorporated spreadsheets and recording data. I suppose it’s important to push myself and I’m definitely glad I took that leap. I have been tasked to researching aspects of finance that I’d only ever heard my parents discuss. Finally, I can join in that conversation.

Entering the world of fintech has not only widened my general knowledge, but also my range of reading materials. I have found myself eager to learn as much as I can, mainly through news articles pertaining to the financial sector. I have been following the story behind one of the most influential social media platforms, Facebook, and watching how some of its decisions have sent tremors through the banking world.

Now, instead of re-reading The Handmaid’s Tale on the train, I’m reading the Financial Times– and that’s only after two days…


Public Image

07/10/2019– I found myself thinking about public image today after a brief business meeting. One slide seemed to ask an impossible question, “How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?”

I mean, how do you promote yourself without sounding cheesy?

Turns out there’s an easy answer – look at the statistics.

Numbers are wonderful; they never lie. And in the world of fintech, numbers are your best friend. For any company, its public façade is everything. It’s what attracts clientele, promotes recognition, and allows for connections around the globe.

Over these past two days I have been researching various banks and financial companies. It’s fascinating to see the information they display, and I wonder about the iceberg that looms under.


Communication is key

07/11/2019– Today I participated in a conference call. And yes, I mean participated. I wasn’t just a silent member; I had work to report. Unlike other work placements I have enjoyed, my job at SETL isn’t to photocopy and be quiet. In fact, I haven’t photocopied a single document my entire time here. Instead, I have been encouraged to express my opinion and truly grow in confidence.

Funnily enough, my project of the day is researching ITU (International Telecommunication Union). I have been looking at the history surrounding ITU and the reason it was put in place. It has fascinating links with the electrical revolution and has been aiding communication issues for the past 150 years.


The End

07/12/2019– Every day this week I have taken the train into the city alongside other ‘worker bees’. At lunch I walk to Pret, surrounded by suits and people on phone calls. As the work day comes to a close, the tube is packed with satchels and ID cards. This week I discovered myself in a different type of London to the one I previously knew.

Working for SETL has sparked my curiosity in fintech. It’s a focus that seemed like an estranged cousin to my A Level subjects (History, English and History of Art), but I have found relevance such as analysing the history of ITU and writing my own blog. What’s more, in my History of Art class at school I studied Christopher Wren. I am positive when I say I now know St. Paul’s Cathedral better than any of my classmates, having walked past it several times this week with the ‘worker bees’ and tourists.

Thank you, Peter, for this incredible opportunity that I have truly relished. I have learnt so much that I will carry with me into the future.


About Me
My name is Madeleine Myers; I am 17 years old and going into my final year at Wycombe Abbey School. I am currently studying the A Levels English, History and History of Art. For University, I am looking to study English (either in the UK or US). In addition, I am a keen pianist and cellist, and enjoy playing netball and tennis at school.

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