Organised via Speakers For Schools, Senior Economic Adviser at HSBC, Stephen King, came to Stationers’ Crown Woods on October 3rd. Speaking to a group of over 50 Post 16 students Stephen delivered a highly engaging and useful presentation.

Career Path

Beginning with a summary of his own career path, Stephen explained that in his current role he advises both the bank and its clients on what he sees as current economic trends including investments, pensions and the possible ramifications of political matters such as Brexit. His job includes a great deal of travelling to the U.S.A, Asia (China, Japan and Hong Kong in particular), the Middle East and sometimes Africa.

However, Stephen had not always wanted to be an economist and related that life is about grabbing opportunities; he described himself as an “accidental economist” . Explaining, that he had wanted to be a classical musician when at school and when taking “A” level options had been unable to take one of his chosen subjects, English, along with Mathematics and double Music so opted for economics- a subject that he knew nothing about! Once he had begun studying he grew to like the subject and when his inspirational teacher suggested that he opt for Economics at University rather than Music, he decided that this would be the route for him. Stephen went on to study Economics at Oxford University and was the first person in his family to gain a degree. He explained that he has, in later life, taken up music again and that life has given him the opportunity to revisit those skills too. He has no regrets that he did not take up music as a profession.


Leaving University in the mid 1980’s, there were two main career choices for post graduates in Economics such as Stephen: Employment with the Bank of England or Central Government. Stephen spent three years working for the Treasury and then moved into banking in the City. He commented that working in Government gave him an in depth understanding of the day to day logistical challenges of that environment. He became the Chief Economic Adviser at HSBC in 1998, a post which he held for seventeen years. In 1999, he wrote a major report commenting on the huge financial bubble in the U.S.A which must burst- a prediction of the crash which did indeed happen.


With a heightened profile, Stephen again commented that opportunities are to be exploited in that he came to be noticed initially by the Independent newspaper and later by Yale Publishers; his first book was published in 2010 with the request for a engaging read for a general audience. He enjoys being an author as it gives him the time to think and recharge his intellectual battery as well as expanding his educational experience by looking at economic and political history from which he thinks there are many lessons to be learnt.


A key aspect of Stephen’s presentation was to explore globalisation as a topic and he talked about several areas including the U.K’s vote to leave the EU and the policies of the Trump Government in the U.S.A.

Q & A

Students and teachers alike took the opportunity to participate in a question and answer session with Stephen. Questions were as follows:

  • Is there a specific career route into becoming an economist?
  • What do you see as the impact of Brexit upon the film and arts sectors?
  • How can students translate the advice given into their personal statements?
  • Would you have achieved what you have without the grades you achieved?
  • What forward opportunities would you like for yourself?
  • What advice would you give to post 16 students on their studies?
  • Would the world economy be better with only one global currency?
  • Do you think that the UK vote for Brexit leaves the future of the EU in doubt?

Stephen gave comprehensive answers to each including explaining what the career path would be now for someone wanting to become an economist; this route now would be more competitive with a requirement for at least a second degree. He also explained the various routes into banking commenting that the pathway into becoming an economist is very specific. He was firm in stating that his success was down to hard work, sometimes luck and taking opportunities as they arise; without gaining the academic grades that he had, none of his achievements would have been possible.


Further general advice to students was:

  • Do your homework
  • Complete coursework
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it
  • Have a life outside of academia
  • 6th form is only two years so use the time wisely

On the subject of personal statements, advice was:

  • Show enthusiasm
  • Show knowledge
  • Demonstrate your extra curricular activities that expand your experience
  • Don’t add anything that is not true!


Mr Doyle, Head of Arden School sincerely thanked Stephen for coming to the academy, for such an interesting presentation and reinforcing so many of the messages that teachers also give to students.