Interview with Marion Laboure
Updated: May 3, 2021
Marion is a Senior Economist at Deutsche Bank, where she covers payment, digital currencies, and financial technology. She lectures in finance and economics at Harvard University and Harvard Kennedy School of Government on a weekly basis. Marion has been awarded, for the second time, the First Prize of the US Society of Actuaries for her research covering Financial Technology.
Quick summary of Marion’s career journey
Marion completed her undergraduate degree in Quantitative Mathematics and Econometrics at the University of Paris Dauphine and Masters in European Politics and International Relations at the LSE. Following her Masters, Marion worked for the European Commission under Manuel Barroso for a 6-month internship. Marion then joined the European Economics team at Barclays.
Marion completed a PhD in Economics from the Ecole Normale Superieure. After its completion, Marion and her husband decided to move to the US, where she ended up teaching at Harvard in the Economics department for 3 years. Going back to Europe, Marion was interested in joining an Investment Bank. Harvard offered Marion to keep her position there, so she still teaches on a weekly basis to executive education and graduate students.
You're a part of the research team at Deutsche Bank. Why did you choose Thematic research? Could you describe what your role entails and the responsibilities you hold on a daily basis?
The way Research is structured in Investment Banking is:
Regional economics team - it covers Europe, Asia, US, America, Africa
Strategy – FX, credit, rates, equity
Thematic team – covering global topics, such as vaccines, ESG, payments. They are very topical, including macroeconomics and strategy. My cyclical topic coverage is vaccines and the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, and my “structural coverage” is payments.
How should you prepare for a job in Research?
Read the news – FT, The Economics, NYT.
Know who you are interviewing with very well – check who is interviewing you and their interests.
Understand the position you are applying for.
Show your passion for the job. Show that you know what you are talking about, that you are well prepared, you are motivated, and you are hardworking.
Communicate what you can bring to the team, and what is your real value added.
Could you quickly talk about your Deutsche Bank research that's been released in 2020? What role does COVID-19 play in the payment methods transformation?
In January 2020, we released a big survey and interviewed more than 3,700 customers in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and in China, asking them what they think about the means of payment. Looking at the past, current and future trends in terms of cash, digital payments of our bank, digital currency and cryptocurrency, we found some striking results. For instance, nearly a third of millennials think that digital currencies will replace cash and paper money over the next decade.
Do you have daily or hourly check-ins with your team?
Research is special and different from other departments because everyone is looking at their own topics. We keep in close contact, but we do not have daily check ins.
Could you tell me a little bit about your IMF experience?
I went to the IMF for 2 months for my research when I was at Harvard. I was in the Fiscal Affairs department, and it is a fascinating place.
What led you to become part of the teaching team at Harvard? What kind of qualification do you need?
First of all, I started teaching when I was 22. Right after my Masters, I was teaching Macroeconomics at the Sciences Po, Paris. Teaching is amazing, because you are with young people who motivate you. It is a wonderful exchange - you teach them a lot, but they can also teach you. Teaching challenges you a lot as well - you have incredibly smart students, and it keeps you well aware of your topic. Students are very motivated, hardworking, and friendly.
The qualifications for teaching depend on which level you are teaching. You need a PhD to teach at a lecturer/professorial level. In my case, I'm teaching macroeconomics this term to a big class – 200 students - at Harvard. We have a big team behind the scenes – 6 teaching assistants, 1 producer recording the class and 1 course designer designing the website. They are taking care of change in a great way.
Who are the people that inspire you at Harvard?
I'm quite lucky to be in the Economics department.. We would have inspiring discussions by the coffee machine, and it is just fascinating to discuss multifarious topics with such great minds. The corridor is like a fashion show – you see people from a variety of countries and backgrounds.
You wrote books on capital markets and financial technology. What were the most interesting findings that you made?
I am especially interested in the topics of inequality and democratization of Finance. My book is about financial technology and how financial technology can reduce inequality.
I think it is fascinating how technology can help people to overcome the poverty trap, especially in emerging economies. If you look at what is happening in Africa, in India, in Asia overall, and even in Latin America, it is spectacular.
What is the one piece of advice you would like to share with young women aspiring to enter the financial industry?
You should keep applying even if rejected, because the truth is that everyone gets rejected and rejections do not mean failure. Perhaps if you interviewed on another day or with someone different, you would have gotten a different answer. You may have gotten a different topic and a different answer.
Don’t be shy to apply to the same company again. If you don't get the position this time, you may get it later. You will get your dream job if you keep applying, continue to hope and to believe in yourself.
You were also on the Board of the Global Policy Journal. Could you share your advice on how you balance so many responsibilities?
It may be obvious, but it takes hard work and dedication. I think it also helps to have a very diverse background, because I got a PhD, been in academia and in investment banking. I am lucky to have many colleagues and friends who I talk to on a frequent basis in different parts of the world.
Let’s talk about your research. What is the digital wealth management revolution happening in Europe? Could you explain the robo-advisor market you wrote about?
I am very happy to mention it. I found the process of financial democratization extremely interesting. Previously, wealth management was accessible only to highly rich individuals. Now we have algorithmics - you can have an algorithm taking care of your personal revenue, and it is accessible to most people who have some savings.
What were the findings of your latest research into Fintech’s development and potential effect on the Retirement Saving System, authored by yourself, Dr. Yael Hadass, Sally Shen and John Turner?
These two projects were part of my time at Harvard when I was full time in academia, and it took some time to get published due to the peer review process.
The project was regarding people's thoughts on savings for their retirement in the US. We were asked to complete this project by the Society of American Actuaries. People mostly think of savings for retirement when they are in their mid to late 30s, which is very late.
We were asked to look at the ways to encourage people to save much earlier and how artificial intelligence, robotics automation, and all the difference in tech developments could help to make sure people are saving and have enough money to retire.
Perfect. Thank you so much for joining us today, Marion. It was a pleasure to meet you.
To find out more about Marion’s work, please head over to the Deutsche Bank’s Research website: https://www.dbresearch.com.