Two Key Career Takeaways for Finance
Currently, I work for Perella Weinberg Partners in asset management, which is an approximately $14 billion platform of private and public funds (think hedge funds and private equity funds) that invest on behalf of an institutional investor base (i.e.: pension funds, endowments, foundations, etc.). While the goal of our business, is to provide stable risk adjusted returns and act as a fiduciary to our investors, there are a number of components beyond investing that enable this to happen. My role is within capital raising — I maintain relationships with our current investor base and answer nuanced/granular questions on our fund portfolios; help develop the strategy for how we raise capital for the funds; raise capital from prospective investors; and create our marketing content that we use to pitch our funds.
However, I never knew that this was what I wanted to do. In fact, five years ago I didn’t even know this role existed. I came to Hamilton as a January admit with an “undecided” major and eventually chose Government at the last possible instant after being captivated by Professor Cafruny’s explanation of the Eurozone crisis and the nuances between economic relationships. Important to note that I had taken a few Economics courses: Intro to Marco & Micro, and Micro & Macro Theory, but my friend, Bobby, who told me that he would drag me through an economics major “kicking and screaming” if he had to, and Professor Jensen’s unwavering commitment to teach me the materials, were the only reasons I made it through those classes. So, I decided that Government was a better major for me.
As time went on and I started thinking past my major and towards my potential career path, I became lost. Most of my friends were economics majors and their desire and natural career path was towards finance (or a related field). As such, those of them with good grades (and even those without good grades) were looking at two paths within the field: investment banking and trading. As a government major, I still thought I wanted to go into finance too. After all, Hamilton is a liberal arts school not focused on vocation, so my government major didn’t mean I had to go into government work. However, due to my friends, I thought that those were the only paths in finance, which was devastating as my GPA was consistently below the 3.5 threshold needed to apply for these jobs with big banks…. My thoughts on the jobs and the industry, however, couldn’t have been more incorrect.
After graduating from Hamilton I attended the Tuck Bridge Program at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, where I was pretty much brainwashed into pursuing consulting instead of finance. Shortly thereafter, I joined a startup tech/digital strategy consulting firm that specialized in search engine optimization, where I was one of the first three employees (it now consists of over 40 people). I left after three months (and five new employees), however, to take a 30-day temp accounting role with Marathon Asset Management (a credit focused asset management firm), despite only having studied one intro Accounting course in my life. Despite my lack of training, my analytical/critical reasoning skills from Hamilton enabled me to get up to speed and to also add-value in other areas. I learned on the fly, was resourceful and creative, and thought my way through every project. However, once again, I decided that accounting wasn’t what I wanted to do. The only problem was that Marathon’s management noticed my achievements and decided to give me a full-time offer … in Accounting. So, I accepted it, but did so under the pretense that we would revisit my role with management in six months, assuming I continued doing a good job and therefore Marathon wanted to keep me.
Fast forward six months, I was sitting down with the CFO, COO, head of accounting, and my boss, discussing the best fit for me internally. Somehow I ended up joining the Residential Mortgage Backed Securities team working under a Managing Director, evaluating issuances. A month and a half later, I spoke with the COO about whether this was the best fit for me. We decided that the Investor Relations team would be better — I would have the opportunity to learn about all aspects of the firm, interact with clients, and develop a foundation of knowledge.
Now, I have been working in that area for approximately five years. I started when the asset management industry was recovering from the financial crisis, and now it is debatably at the tail end of a nine-year bull market. I have been part of firms that have been growing, and others that have been shrinking. I have been in roles (and continue to be in a role) that I never knew existed. Through it all I have continued to advance my career. I have been opportunistic, and capitalized on non-traditional opportunities leveraging off of my analytical abilities developed at Hamilton. I took a business course, worked at a startup tech consulting firm, had a brief stint in accounting then on a Residential Mortgage backed Securities desk at a hedge fund, and now have found a niche in capital raising/investor relations.
If you have take anything away from ny experience, it is these two things:
1. Your career doesn’t have to be linear, and,
2. There is more to finance than just investment banking and trading.
Lucas Albert graduated from Hamilton in 2013 with a major in Government and a minor in Economics. He is currently a Marketing & Product Specialist Associate at Perella Weinberg Partners in New York City.