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LSE. You must present a personal statement with your application form, between 1,000 and 1,500 words


Hello, I would really appreciate some feedback, criticism or general comments of my personal statement to the London School of Economics to study MSc Risk & Finance, so can improve upon it. Thank you in advance for any comments.

LSE - You must submit a personal statement with your application form. This should be between 1,000 and 1,500 words. It should describe your academic interests and your purpose and objectives in undertaking graduate study. (The word count for my essay is 1150)

London School of Economics personal statement



Banks are essential components of a prosperous economy. Today's modern society has been sculpted and enriched through the development of the banking system. The extension of available credit has acted as a catalyst for growth while contributing towards the universal reduction of poverty. However, banking's fundamental role within the global economy provides a ubiquitous exposure to their failings, and disturbingly, the consequences of failure consistently befall the poor and vulnerable above those directly responsible. I consider this to be the basis of my deep passion for the subject and one of the many reasons I wish to study risk and finance at the highest level.

My undergraduate degree of Banking and Finance has enabled me to develop a profound understanding in numerous areas of finance, two of my current modules have indubitably reaffirmed my desire to study risk in combination with finance: Risk Management in Banking & Insurance and Corporate Financial Management. The former is providing me with an in-depth knowledge of the types of risks that financial institutions face, including: strategic, reputational, operational, financial, and compliance-related risks. As well as processes, products and the evaluation of risk through VaR. The latter providing a comprehensive analysis of the theory and practicalities of investment which includes: Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM), cash flow valuation, portfolio theory, capital structure and dividend policy.

Upon starting university, I began supplementing my theoretical understanding by building an equity portfolio, enabling me to better understand the practical side of investment. I have found great satisfaction in the development of my corporate knowledge and analytical skills through the researching and analysis of small capital equities, while also developing a greater awareness of the risks individual investors face.

As a result of my engagement within finance and investment, I secured an internship at Gaotime, an international financial information service provider based in Shanghai, China. My role as a business and financial analyst enabled me to immerse myself within China's workplace culture, strengthen my interpersonal skills and come to understand multiple aspects of Chinese culture. My work researching the commodities market coincided with the commodity crash of 2015, the crash was caused by the speculation surrounding China's economic slowdown, and it was captivating to witness such a rare development from that extraordinary perspective. I also earned a unique opportunity to work for Microsoft's sister company Wicrosoft, and then Microsoft. After initially being asked to provide evening English classes to Wicrosoft employees I was requested to do a narrative part for a Microsoft application tutorial. The process helped me to be more patient, open-minded, and it was gratifying to contribute towards a high-profile company's project.

After completing an investment based internship, I sought to develop my understanding of the practical side of risk within a bank. In the summer of 2016, I joined Handelsbanken as an account management support intern. Handelsbanken's unique culture initially caught me off guard, the relaxed team-orientated tone was very different to that of Gaotime's somewhat frenzied approach, but I really appreciated the unity and alliance between staff, and it really made me aware of how different corporate cultures can impact our behavior, the way we conduct work and how we solve challenges. After a few weeks, I was entrusted with managing the transition of external credit card provider for the branch, as the bank moved from HSBC to Lloyds. The task provided invaluable experience in tackling a significant solo project with minimal supervision.

I believe that the experiences mentioned above have contributed towards a relevant foundation of skills and understanding necessary for me to succeed on the MSc Risk and Finance programme alongside the dedication, determination and commitment I would devote to the course.

In addition to my enthusiasm for developing a greater understanding of risk and finance, my decision to pursue the master's programme stems from my overall career objective - to contribute towards the overall understanding of risk financial institutions face and help mitigate the risks banks pose to society and future generations. In pursuit of my objective, I have established the five-year goal of graduating from the London School of Economics and becoming a risk analyst at a reputable institution. My long-term goal is to ascend to the role of either Chief Risk Officer of a financial institution or become a Risk Advisory Director. I believe that graduating from LSE is an imperative step in developing the knowledge and characteristics necessary to become the individual I strive to be.

The MSc Risk and Finance programme undoubtedly stands out above alternative course to me, due to the scope and depth the course offers in conjunction with its applicability to my chosen career path. The opportunity to take the MSc Risk and Finance programme at LSE would firstly enable me to develop a profound understanding of the areas of risk and finance from highly skilled lecturers. Secondly, provide a competitive, international environment, which I can contribute to and draw from the experiences of others that also exhibit a passion for the subject, and thirdly provide the necessary skills and capabilities for me to establish a promising career.

As well as developing my ability, I believe that I can contribute a great deal towards the program as a highly dedicated and motivated individual. I would also relish the opportunity to

actively participate in societies and projects at LSE as I currently do. At present, I am part of a small ethics team writing a research paper on the effective methods of teaching ethics and sustainability to business students that will be presented at the PRME (Principles for Responsible Management Education) conference this year. I would be very interested in taking part in comparable projects or something entirely different that also sparks my interest.

Ultimately, I consider myself to be an extremely driven individual that strives to succeed in all of my endeavours. Throughout university I have achieved grades of 70% - 95% in all of the assignments and examinations that I have undertaken, displaying my ability to perform at a high level consistently. As rewards for my academic dedication, I was named in the Dean's List in 2015 and 2016, also obtaining the academic excellence award twice after finishing top of my class for my first and second year. Unsurprisingly, my zeal and enthusiasm for risk and finance have been expressed within this year's assignments, in my Risk Management in Banking & Insurance assignment on the risk culture of HSBC I achieved 91%, and in the Corporate Financial Management assignment, my valuation report achieved 95%.

In conclusion, I believe that the MSc Risk and Finance programme would provide me with the necessary level of expertise to achieve my academic and career aspirations while enabling me to develop into a skilled and capable leader.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my application, and I hope that this personal statement faithfully reflects the passion, dedication and exuberance I would contribute towards LSE and the MSc Programme.

Zak, first of all, I want to welcome you to Essay Forum and I do hope that you will be happy with our efforts in reviewing your essay in the long run. You really must be ready to write severally so as to effect the changes that would be pointed out in respect to current draft.

If the prompt you posted are the only parts you are expected to discuss in 1000-1500 words, it means that you must approach your essay with high level of organisation of ideas, otherwise, to a reviewer, it would be as boring as the current draft. It is difficult to read your current essay because it lacks fluidity, contains lots of punctuation errors, unnecessary vocabularies, and devoid of organisation of ideas. This is part of the reasons your current draft is not really answering the prompt. You have a lot points but they are not appropriately developed and organised to answer the prompt in a coherent manner.The prompt contain three key contents which I would like to highlight in bullet points (paraphrased) for clarity:

Describe your academic interests
Describe your purpose of undertaking graduate study
Describe your objectives in undertaking graduate study


You will agree with me that if you do not plan how to develop your ideas, you will definitely run out of points to put down on paper because 1000 words are a whole lot to deal with in few prompts. It is like giving more words than required, so the onus is on you to develop points clearly and interestingly in other to attain the word count without meandering or twisting points, while engaging the reviewer to keep reading your essay.

My next post will contain my suggestions...
Hello okorobiadimma14, thank you for your detailed comment.

I certainly agree that the essay lacks fluidity and has become messy. I have amended the first two paragraphs and would really appreciate your opinion and critique if you would provide it.
I proposed that you have to make a list of your academic interests, the purpose (i.e reason behind your desire to undertake graduate study) and your objectives during your graduate study. After this step, take time to arrange and then review your current essay to know if these points are well captured therein and how efficiently and clearly you have described them. If not, you have to make a new draft to elaborate and describe the points on your list.

Considering your post, the 2nd paragraph makes better efforts in answering the first prompt, as shown in the bullet points above, than the 1st paragraph. When developing your points, ensure that each paragraph begins with a topic sentence and then throw more light on it in the next couple of sentences. Having done so, use a transition sentence to connect the previous paragraph to the next paragraph which in turn will start with a topic sentence that relates to the point you want to develop. That way, your essay will be coherent enough so that a reviewer will remember the points you discussed in a previous paragraph while reading the next.

Avoid acronyms but if you must use them, ensure you give the full meaning in the previous parts of your essay where they first appeared. Also, do not try to impress the reviewer with new words. Draft your essay using simple English words that are tactically structured in simple, compound, and if necessary, complex sentences. I would not comment much on punctuation now. Let's first develop an essay that can strongly compete with other good ones during the selection process. That does not mean you should not accurately punctuate your essay.

Your point about Microsoft and its sister should not come in your essay as it does not relate to the course you want to study. Your work experience in Chinese financial firm is good except that you need to organize your point in that paragraph so as to make a strong case.

"I believe that the experiences mentioned above have contributed towards a relevant foundation of skills and understanding necessary for me to succeed on the MSc Risk and Finance programme alongside the dedication, determination and commitment I would devote to the course" This alone cannot make a paragraph. A paragraph must contain at least 3 sentences.

The paragraph where you discussed your grades should tactical be incorporated when developing points about your academic interests. And let your conclusion be made in a paragraph form such that it summarizes the entire prompt.

Try and put all these suggestions to work and I hope your next post will be better. I assure you that we will see to it that you develop a very sound and competitive essay at the end.
Hello okorobiadimma14,

Thanks again for your comment. I will do as you suggest and compile a list in the manner you stated above, and then get to work.

I will come back to you with an improved essay in the next few days. Thank you for your help, I really do appreciate it.

Many thanks, Zak
Feb 12, 2017   #6
Zak, I find your essay to not be following an interesting format because you are too focused on presenting too much information about your background and your professional experience. In a personal statement that is prompt inclusive, such as this, you should just work on presenting the required information in the best way possible.

In order to create a far more comprehensive personal statement, you should first state the purpose of your undergraduate study in the first paragraph. The purpose paragraph must present the most significant work experience that you have had to date. This work experience should be one where you began to experience work problems because you found that you were not fully trained to handle the new problems coming up in your line of work. So you purpose will be all about training yourself for the future of Banking in the area of Risk & Finance.

The objective of your essay come next. Without any further use of word fillers, present the objectives of your your reason for choosing to study at the London School of Economics. Tell the reviewer the reasons why you believe that you need to gain further training in this field. What kind of work do you hope to do in the future? How does that relate to further training in Risk and Finance? Then indicate that because London is a financial hub, it was quite obvious that you needed to go there for additional training.

It is only after these 2 presentations that you should present a detailed explanation of why your academic interests led you to the London School of Economics. Summarize your college education. Do not be too detailed about it because this is only an overview of the Statement of Purpose that will be a detailed accompaniment of your other application documents. Show the reviewer that you are familiar with the university by explaining how you hope to become a better financial analyst in the future because of the classes, training and networking (be specific about these 3) that you will gain from them during your time as a student. Connect it with your future plans for invigorating the field of Risk and Finance in your country or the bank where you work.

Close the essay by repeating your desire to attend the upcoming semester at the London School of Economics.

Your essay can be presented in as short as 3 to 4 paragraphs thanks to the list of discussions that you were given. All you have to do is write in a tighter manner and make sure to just include relevant information in every paragraph. You don't need to over expand the information. You just need to present the barest and most basic information demanded of you in order to create a relevant and interesting essay for the reviewer to consider.
Hello Holt, thank you for your feedback. I have begun my second redraft with both of your comments in mind. These are my opening two paragraphs. After this, I will be moving on to why I would like to join LSE specifically. I would really appreciate your views on it. Thanks again for your assistance!

Almost ten years on, the effects of the financial crisis are still being felt across the globe. As banks rethink their operating strategies and adjust to new regulatory requirements, risk management is taking on a new level of significance. There is a call for the next generation of risk managers to develop an intimate knowledge of risk policies, methodologies and infrastructure as to enact a fundamental change in the industry. This demand for a deeper understanding of risk management and my passion for the subject prompts my desire to take the MSc in Risk and Finance at LSE.

My motivation to take the MSc in Risk and Finance also stems from my career objectives. I have the short-term goal of becoming a Risk Analyst, with the long-term ambition of becoming a Chief Risk Officer or Risk Advisory Director. I am convinced this course will qualify me for these roles by vastly expanding my knowledge of risk management and regulation; the implementation of risk management processes; and corporate finance. Additionally, I believe the insight provided via Deutsche Bank's integrated seminars will reinforce my personal development and provide an edge over other candidates.
Feb 14, 2017   #8
Zak, since there have been a number of financial crisis around the world over the years, you will need to be specific about the year and region of the financial crisis that you are referring to in the essay. If you are talking about the European financial crisis, then that will be even better because the the British economy was somehow directly affected by that. So if you can show a direct interest in the European financial market, you will increase your consideration chances. As far as I can tell, even with the lacking information, this is a pretty impressive presentation so far. Your objective for studying is clear and your motivation is well presented. In my opinion, this first half of the essay is all set. All we need to do now is work on the second half and make sure that it blends well with the first.
Hello Holt, Thankyou for your feedback, I will amend my opening paragraph and make it more European centred. I have completed the next two paragraphs and would really appreciate your feedback once again! After these two paragraphs, my plan is to talk concisely about my internships and then write the conclusion for my essay.

My decision to apply to LSE for my postgraduate education is due to the universities exemplary name in the fields of finance and economics, the reputation for high-quality teaching, and its ability to generate leaders of the future. LSE's location within the heart of the London is also very appealing from a cultural, academic, and employment perspective, providing numerous opportunities for self-development and career enhancement.

My undergraduate degree of Banking and Finance has provided a strong foundation of knowledge to start my advanced studies. I have covered a number of the topics I will encounter within the MSc in Risk and Finance at some depth, but not at the level necessary to meet my objectives. Over the course of my studies, I have found the topics of Corporate Finance and Risk Management in Banking & Insurance to have really flared my passion in this area of finance. I have also supplemented the theory by establishing an equity portfolio and completing relevant internships. In the construction of my portfolio, I have found great satisfaction in the research and analysis of small to medium sized enterprises. This process has helped me to develop my analytical skills and appreciate the risks individual investors face.
Feb 15, 2017   #10
Zak, there are some points for expansion in the discussion. When you say that your passion was flared for this area, you need to indicate the topics during your study that helped to fan that spark of interest. Give some specific reasons for your passion. That way you explain the foundation for your interest in a more engaging and descriptive manner. The mention of your internships should indicate an example or two of the companies you interned with. Just give an overview of those in the personal statement. The extensive discussion will follow in the statement of purpose.

Your description of your decision to study at LSE is still not as impressive as it can be. It would be beneficial to your application if you can show a strong familiarity with the university. This can be done through a reference to either their academic and training programs or, notable professors whom you look forward to meeting as your professor or thesis adviser. As your thesis adviser, you will be able to learn from a specific professor, one on one. If the professor just so happens to be a part of the academic department of LSE, then you will be very lucky to have a chance to come under his tutelage. That sort of discussion will strengthen your discussion regarding the reasons why you are passionate about attending the university.
Hello Holt, I have improved upon the two paragraphs and split them into three. Do you feel this is more appropriate? Thanks again!

My decision to apply to LSE for my postgraduate education is due to the universities exemplary name in the fields of finance and economics, the reputation for high-quality teaching, and the universities ability to generate the intellectual leaders of tomorrow. I feel that it would be a great honour to follow in the footsteps of the many intellectual greats who graduated from the LSE and receive one-to-one contact with the course tutor's, being leaders in their fields. LSE's location within the heart of the London is very appealing from a cultural, academic, and employment perspective. Being on of the global leaders in business and finance provides numerous opportunities for self-development and career enhancement.

My undergraduate degree of Banking and Finance has provided a strong foundation of knowledge to start my advanced studies. I have covered a number of the topics I will encounter within the MSc in Risk and Finance at some depth, but not at the level necessary to meet my objectives. Over the course of my studies, I have found the topics of Corporate Finance and Risk Management in Banking & Insurance has flared my passion in this area of finance. Specifically, within risk management, I am fascinated by the types of risks financial institutions face, the use of Value at Risk in the evaluation of risk, and the implementation of processes and infrastructure to mitigate individual and systemic risks. Within corporate finance, I am particularly captivated by investment theory, including The Capital Asset Pricing Model, cash flow valuation, modern portfolio theory, capital structure and dividend policy.

Outside of class, I have supplemented the theory I have been taught by establishing an equity portfolio and completing relevant internships. In the construction of my portfolio, I have found great satisfaction in the research and analysis of small to medium sized enterprises. This process has helped me to develop my analytical skills and appreciate the risks individual investors face.
Feb 16, 2017   #12
I am not sure about the final part about your portfolio being relevant to the personal statement. It has been the only paragraph that I am worried about so far. Since we are working on the later parts of your personal statement, I think we should put a pin in these paragraphs for now. That means set is aside because it seems almost ready for use. Can you finish the first part of your essay now? Post the first part here so that I can get a sense of how the whole essay feels when read in totality. It is the only way I can decide where to place the part about your portfolio and if it is a necessary part of the personal statement. Thanks. Like I said, the parts you presented now for consideration already work. So we can set is aside for now.
No worries Holt, I have now got an outlined second draft, and I will post it below. I have got some further details on what LSE expect within the personal statement which I will also post below. Thanks again!

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

*Your academic interests - This part of your answer should show your understanding of what the course entails and can include subject specific language.
Outline what are your academic interests specifically and how they are related to the course.
How do you see the course furthering these interests?
Do you have previous experience of studying these areas?
Was your undergraduate dissertation, major project or a group presentation relevant to the course or your academic interests?
Have you attended conferences, seminars or networking events outside your studies to increase your knowledge?
What have you learnt recently, and how does this link to the course you are applying for?
Perhaps you can link your academic interests to work experience you have gained?

*Purpose in undertaking graduate study - Why are you applying for postgraduate study? This could be linked to discussing your academic interests, or perhaps you have a career orientated goal.

*Objectives in undertaking graduate study - What do you hope to achieve by the end of your postgraduate study, whether educationally or professionally? If you have professional objectives, how will this course help you move towards your career goal?

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Almost ten years on, the effects of the financial crisis are still being felt across the globe. As banks rethink their operating strategies and adjust to new regulatory requirements, risk management is taking on a new level of significance. There is a call for the next generation of risk managers to develop an intimate knowledge of risk policies, methodologies and infrastructure as to enact a fundamental change in the industry. This demand for a deeper understanding of risk management and my passion for the subject prompts my desire to take the MSc Risk and Finance at LSE.

My motivation to take the MSc Risk and Finance also stems from my career objectives. I have the short-term goal of becoming a Risk Analyst, with the long-term ambition of becoming a Chief Risk Officer or a Risk Advisory Director. I am convinced this course will qualify me for these roles by vastly expanding my knowledge of risk management and regulation; the implementation of risk management processes; and corporate finance. Additionally, I believe the insight provided via Deutsche Bank's integrated seminars will reinforce my personal development and provide an edge over other candidates.

My decision to apply to LSE for my postgraduate education is due to the universities exemplary name in the fields of finance and economics, the reputation for high-quality teaching, and the universities ability to generate the intellectual leaders of tomorrow. I feel that it would be a great honour to follow in the footsteps of the many intellectual greats who graduated from the LSE and receive one-to-one contact with the course tutor's, being leaders in their fields. LSE's location within the heart of the London is very appealing from a cultural, academic, and employment perspective. Being on of the global leaders in business and finance provides numerous opportunities for self-development and career enhancement.

My undergraduate degree of Banking and Finance has provided a strong foundation of knowledge to start my advanced studies. I have covered a number of the topics I will encounter within the MSc in Risk and Finance at some depth, but not at the level necessary to meet my objectives. Over the course of my studies, I have found the topics of Corporate Finance and Risk Management in Banking & Insurance has flared my passion in this area of finance. Specifically, within risk management, I am fascinated by the types of risks financial institutions face, the use of Value at Risk in the evaluation of risk, and the implementation of processes and infrastructure to mitigate individual and systemic risks. Within corporate finance, I am particularly captivated by investment theory, including The Capital Asset Pricing Model, cash flow valuation, modern portfolio theory, capital structure and dividend policy.

Outside of class, I have supplemented the theory I have been taught by establishing an equity portfolio and completing relevant internships. In the construction of my portfolio, I have found great satisfaction in the research and analysis of small to medium sized enterprises. This process has helped me to develop my analytical skills and appreciate the risks individual investors face.

Due to my engagement within finance and investment, I secured an internship at Gaotime, an international financial information service provider based in Shanghai, China. My role as an analyst allowed me to immerse myself in China's workplace culture, strengthen my interpersonal skills and gain an understanding of Chinese financial markets. I was trusted to research and report on the commodities market. But, at the time of my internship, a devaluation of the Yuan and the weakening outlook for Chinese growth caused a severe commodity crash. It was extraordinary to witness such an unusual development from within the Shanghai World Financial Center. During the internship, I also earned the unique opportunity to work for Microsoft's sister company Wicrosoft, and then Microsoft. After voluntarily providing evening English classes to Wicrosoft employees I was requested to do a narrative part for a Microsoft video tutorial. The process helped me to be more patient, open-minded, and it was great to converse with a wide variety of people from different cultures.

After completing an investment based internship, I wanted to develop my understanding of the practical side of risk within a bank. In the summer of 2016, I joined Handelsbanken as an account management support intern. Handelsbanken's unique culture actually caught me off guard, as the relaxed team-orientated tone was very different to that of Gaotime's somewhat frenzied approach. However, I appreciated the unity between staff and the experience demonstrated how corporate cultures impact behaviour and performance. After a few weeks, I was entrusted to manage the change in the branches credit card provider, as the bank moved supplier from HSBC to Lloyds. The task provided invaluable experience in tackling a significant solo project with minimal supervision.

I also performed anti-money laundering checks and updated security for mortgage contracts, giving me a practical understanding of credit risk and operational risk.
Besides developing my own ability, I believe that I can contribute a great deal to the program and university as a highly dedicated and motivated individual. I would relish the opportunity to take part in societies and projects at the LSE as I currently do. At present, I am part of a small ethics team writing a research paper on the effective methods of teaching ethics and sustainability to business students which we will present at the Principles for Responsible Management Education conference this year. I would be very interested in taking part in comparable projects or something entirely different that also sparks my interest.

Ultimately, I consider myself to be an extremely driven individual that strives to succeed in all of my endeavours. At university I have achieved a First in every assignment and examination I have been set, displaying my ability to perform at the top-level consistently. For my academic dedication, I was named on the Dean's List in 2015 and 2016, while also obtaining the academic excellence award each year after finishing top of my class. Unsurprisingly, my enthusiasm for risk and finance has been expressed within my assignments this year. In my Risk Management in Banking & Insurance assignment on HSBC's risk culture I achieved 91%, and in my Corporate Financial Management assignment, my valuation report earned 95%.

In conclusion, I believe that the MSc Risk and Finance at LSE will allow me to develop a deeper understanding of risk and finance in a competitive, international environment, which in turn will allow me to think and develop independently. I also feel that the Risk and Finance program in combination with the LSE setting will provide me with the expertise I need to achieve my goals and enable me to become a skilled and capable leader. Thank you for taking the time to consider my application, I hope that this personal statement reflects the passion, dedication and exuberance I would contribute to LSE and the MSc programme.
Feb 16, 2017   #14
Zak, since the focus of your personal statement has to clearly and constantly be directed towards the areas of banking and risk management, the mention of the Microsoft and Wicrosoft internships are out of place. Since the activities that you performed there were more English language teaching based than related to your banking and finance experience, it would be best to omit the mention of those internships. Don't wander in your personal statement. Just remain focused on the building up of your banking and finance experience in relation to your interest in this masters degree.

I believe that the essay already reflects all of the requirements you were directed to indicate by the instructions for the personal statement. There is nothing else that you should add to the essay. There are no other content revisions aside from the removal of the Microsoft experience. This essay is all set for submission. By the way, you have an impressive resume. I know it will help you with your application.
Holt, I will make that final adjustment and get ready to send it off. Thank you very much for your help during this process, I will look to contribute to future threads where I can, and look forward to speaking with you again. Best regards, Zak


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