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Alumni Insight: How Networking led to a Career in Equity Research feat. Victoria Madsen ‘16

Victoria Madsen graduated from Hamilton in 2016 with a degree in Economics. At Hamilton, she was the treasurer of Alpha Theta Chi sorority and a member of the Micro-Finance club. She now works as an Equity Research Analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

The internship and post-graduate job search often do not follow a linear path and, in my experience, are most successful when conducted with an emphasis on networking. In order to attain my current position as an Equity Research Analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, I leveraged both my prior experience in finance and the Hamilton network. The summer following my sophomore year at Hamilton, I interned in sales & trading at a broker-dealer in New York City, a position I found through an informational interview. During the internship, I had the opportunity to rotate through various positions outside for S&T, including equity research and prime brokerage, and, in doing so, gained exposure to various roles and narrowed my search going forward. The following summer, I secured a position in BofAML’s 10-week Equity Research Summer Analyst program, on the electric utilities team, which culminated in a presentation to senior management. I applied to the position through HamNet and, during the three rounds of interviews, was able to pivot my prior experience in global markets by drawing parallels between my role in sales & trading and global research. During the internship, I differentiated myself by contributing to published reports, networking throughout the department, and fine-tuning my presentation.

As a full-time analyst in equity research, my work consists of financial modeling, content generation (writing research reports), and interacting with clients. I am part of a three-person team, including a senior analyst, an associate, and myself, covering the paper & packaging sector. Teams typically range in size from two to six members depending on the market cap under coverage and/or the complexity of the companies. Research analysts serve their clients (institutional investors from both long-only and hedge funds) by providing investment advice on specific stocks under coverage, industry knowledge, and access to company management. Equity research analysts develop skills that are easily transferable to various roles, including a strong grasp on corporate finance and accounting, the ability to fundamentally value stocks, and an understanding of the impacts of global macroeconomic events on equity markets. In my experience, equity research is best suited to students with strong analytical, quantitative, writing, and public speaking skills paired with an attention-to-detail. Although courses such as Financial Economics and Accounting certainly aid in the role, a concentration in economics or mathematics is not a prerequisite. Although coming-up the learning curve in the role, especially in terms of financial accounting, was initially a challenge, I have found that the skills that I developed during my liberal arts education – namely the ability to communicate effectively – have been the most essential asset in both my internship search and within my current role. I encourage students interested in the field of finance, and with an applicable skill set, to explore equity research as they conduct their internship and/or job search!

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