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At the heart of the economy: Central Banker

At the Bank of England, Edd shapes international finance policy for the benefit of the UK and global economy, drawing on his background in physics to work through complex problems.

Edward Denbee, Central Banker, Bank of England

“Physics teaches you to see problems as systems. This helps me think about what the impacts of a policy proposal could be on the whole system so that I can weed out any unintended consequences.”

First name: Edd | Job title: Senior Manager, Global Engagement | Organisation: Bank of England | Qualifications: MSc, Mathematical Physics, University of Nottingham; MSc, Economics, University College London

How did you get to where you are today?
I studied Maths, Physics and Chemistry at A-level and went to the University of Nottingham for a Mathematical Physics degree. I then went to live in Argentina to learn to speak Spanish and do some volunteering work, before being offered a job through the Bank of England Graduate Programme.

I was lucky enough to be able to defer this position for a year so that I could live in Italy with my now wife while she completed her degree. I eventually came back and joined the Bank in 2008 – just a week after Lehman Brothers collapsed [a key moment in the 2008 financial crisis], so it was quite an interesting time to be going into the Bank of England! I have been involved in work related to financial stability ever since.

What does your job involve?
I manage a team of eight people who are responsible for how the Bank engages with other central banks around the world and how we help to shape international finance policy. We work a lot with specialist experts on economic analysis, banking regulation, insurance and different bits of financial markets, and translate their analysis into policy which we can advocate for internationally.

What do you enjoy about it?
There’s a strong sense of working on something for the public good.  After the 2008 crisis we have been working tirelessly to put in place a more robust regulatory system. I also enjoy the breadth of the work. I get to engage on all different aspects of the Bank’s agenda, from banking policy to the risks from climate change, and that’s fascinating because of the different issues I get to talk about every day with people around the world. And it’s great working with a team of really smart people who bring different perspectives that can make a difference to how we respond to issues.

How does your physics background help you in your role?
Physics teaches you to try to work through a problem in a logical and sequential way. When battling with political issues, having been trained to think in a very methodical way helps me take a step back and find the best way forward. Another good thing physics teaches you is to see problems as systems. This helps me think about what the impacts of a policy proposal could be on the whole system so that I can weed out any unintended consequences.

Why should a young person interested in a career in economics or finance study physics?
Firstly, learning physics at school and university is learning the fundamentals of how the world works – which is exciting in itself.  It’s pretty unlikely that you’re going to find the time and energy to study physics again in your life. So if you don’t do it now, you’ll probably never do it!

But physics also gives you a launchpad into a wide range of economics and finance careers. You can become an extremely strong technical expert in an area where specific physics models have relevance for financial modelling, which is great preparation for roles in quantitative finance, for example. Equally, you can use your physics background to enter a broader area like mine, where you could combine the rigour of physics with an openness to other disciplines, other subjects and other ways of thinking.

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