Ortec Finance: Econometrics, Software and consultancy
Ortec Finance is a Rotterdam-based consultancy company which was founded by a professor of the Erasmus University. They advise their customers by using their knowledge and try to help them to make better decisions. When the company started, all employees were students from Erasmus. Ortec Finance used to be part of Ortec but they have split up and are now functioning as two fully separate companies.
Text by: Job Hoven
Their HQ is situated in the Netherlands, Rotterdam, but they also have offices abroad, for example in Switzerland, London and Toronto. These offices around the world also help each other. Globally, Ortec Finance employs about 250 people. Joris, 23 years old, has done a Master in Quantitative Finance in Rotterdam and started working at Ortec Finance as Junior Consultant in March. He grew up in the neighborhood of Breda and works now in the Pensions and Insurance department. Most of the time, he is working for Dutch employers. Joris has always been very interested the courses related to Quantitative Finance and consultancy. He does not use his econometric knowledge explicitly all the time at work, like you do at the university. However, the analytical skills you develop as an econometrics student, as well as the model-based way of thinking, do come very much in handy as a consultant at Ortec Finance. Joris receives assignments like making an efficient management policy or modulating the obligations of Dutch pensions funds. These are long term assignments with lots of councils and calculating. His work is very eclectic: sometimes Joris has to process results into an Excel file, sometimes he needs to prepare a presentation by making a powerpoint, sometimes he is filling in calculations to a model, but of course hardcore programming is involved.
There are also other departments like private client solutions, who are more focused on individual client advisory; a real estate management department, who are doing things like house pricing; a research department, who are trying to keep improving Ortec Finance’s technics. Also, there is an investment performance team. Working students and thesis interns are often working in the latter department. You can perform your own research, or you can work on a research line already set out by Ortec Finance.
Joris has good memories of his student life. He advises to enjoy the freedom you have while you still can. He was not part of a study association in his student life, but went on exchange to London in his third year, which he could very much recommend.
The company was founded by an econometrician and you still notice this throughout the company as everything is built quantitatively on models. Their vision distinguishes them from other companies, as they build their own software using advanced models which they use for their consultancy practice. Ortec Finance is very special because they make software for most of their clients, which they can use themselves after Ortec Finance developed it. Hence, they are actually also a software company. Joris is using a program called Glass. This is a program where you can read the entire financial situations of a pension funds. You can also read the participants of a fund, the investment mix and then by calculations you can create alternatives with this program. You can make a comparison with these alternatives and discuss why this would be better or worse at some points.
Ortec Finance uses its software a lot to produce output for their clients. They get questions from their clients and pass this on to the team who actually programs the software. At first, there were only econometricians working for Ortec Finance. Now, there are more people working with other educations, like Physics or Applied Mathematics. For consultants it is more about the way of thinking that is needed, than the actual applicability of their background knowledge.
Joris works together in his department with a “scrum” team. These are the programmers, people who process everything in terms of software. When they get questions about their software from clients, then these questions are sent to the scrum-team. A department consists approximately for onethird out of support staff and two-third out of consultants. This support staff consists of the programmers in scrum teams and for example teams that work out different scenarios for software implementation.
The hierarchy at Ortec Finance is open and the atmosphere is really relaxed and nice. Sometimes it is of course hectic, but most of the times it is very pleasant. There is some hierarchy at the company, but you do not really notice it on a daily basis. They have every Friday a meeting where all the departments can give a presentation to give everyone an update on field-specific updates. This is always very cosy and helps keeping the relations between the company’s employees good. Joris is also planning to go on a ski trip with his colleagues soon. Ortec Finance is interesting for econometricians because it is very innovative and challenging. They use lots of new techniques.
Currently Joris is really enjoying his job and he thinks that he will keep on working there. He has always been interested in consultancy because of the different aspects it has. He thinks it is difficult to say in which direction he will go in the future. There are some people who try to unfold themselves more in the direction of account management, whereas others try to go more in the commercial direction of the company. Other people specialize themselves in more in depth into specific aspects of the work field. There are many options, but Joris still does not know yet which direction he wants to go to. He is still being challenged in his current job which he really enjoys. The company is also still growing and he would love to be part of this growth in the future too.