WCM US Industry Conference Recap

Words of Wisdom from 17 US-Based Finance Professionals

This past December, WCM hosted our 2020 US Industry Conference. This was our first time hosting an event of this nature. Typically around that time of year we host our annual Wall Street Conference, where we send a group of students to tour investment banks in New York City and hear from a panel of finance professionals. Due to the challenges presented by the pandemic, some modifications to the trip were in order for this year. Fortunately our Events team managed to pivot rapidly and delivered a fantastic experience. Over 250 students took part in nine different events with 17 finance professionals! Additionally, because of the virtual format of the trip, it was possible to expand the mandate to include West Coast-based professionals, something that was not possible in the past. In case you missed out, you can find some highlights from the panels and guest speakers below!

…And quick FYI, our next event is our Canada Conference and it’s happening at the end of this month (Jan 27th-30th)! This event will feature a similar format but for Canadian finance professionals. You can register here! Now, back to the recap…

Investment Banking Panels

On the East Coast Panel we had:

  • Eric Kang (HBA ‘18), Greenhill
  • Hannah Kim (HBA ‘20), Evercore
  • Erinna Ma (HBA ‘19), Goldman Sachs
  • Arshdeep Toor (HBA ‘20), Morgan Stanley

Featured on the West Coast Panel were:

  • Kabir Karki (HBA ‘19), Centerview Partners
  • Amir Khod (HBA ‘20), Qatalyst Partners
  • Andrew Tan (HBA ‘20), Houlihan Lokey
  • Jim Zhou (HBA ‘20), Silver Lake

Key Takeaways

On the East Coast vs the West Coast:

What’s it like to work in investment banking and the surprises encountered along the way:

Boutique vs Bulge Bracket Banks:

Advice on breaking in/prepping:

Private Equity Panel

The private equity panel featured:

  • Alex Cook (HBA ‘12), Tiger Global, previously Apollo and CPPIB
  • Harsh Naik (HBA ‘18), Silverlake

Key Takeaways

Should you go directly to private equity or do investment banking first?

How does investment banking prepare you for private equity?

Any advice for students starting their career?

Guest Speaker: Ashley MacNeill

Ashley is currently a Managing Director and Head of Technology Equity Capital Markets Americas at Morgan Stanley, based in New York. Ashley started her career at UBS in Toronto, where she worked as an Analyst and subsequently as an Associate Director. Ashley received her HBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business and also has a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Western. Throughout her university experience, Ashley was also a member of the varsity track and field team and graduated on the dean’s list.

Key Takeaways:

  • Coachability is an essential characteristic: Though it is important to strive and take initiative, it is crucial to learn the right way to do things. Ashley quoted one of her mentors, telling us to remember: “You need to learn to walk before you can run.”
  • Focus on the people: Focus less on the job, and more on the people and firm. You should also work on building a professional network — the Canadian business network is small but mighty.

Guest Speaker: Charles Korn

Charles grew up in Toronto and attended Western University from 2006 through 2010. Charles attended the Richard Ivey School of Business from 2008 through 2010 and graduated as an Ivey Scholar. As an undergraduate, Charles considered careers in both medicine and law before discovering finance following a summer internship in investment banking at Goldman Sachs. Following graduation, Charles assumed a full time position as an analyst at Goldman Sachs in the Technology, Media and Telecom group in New York. In 2012 Charles joined KKR as a private equity associate, where he focused on media, communications and industrials. In 2014, Charles joined the investment team at Pershing Square, where today he is a Partner. Charles has worked on various high-profile investments, including notable public activist campaigns.

Key Takeaways:

Focus on business quality first: It’s hard to lose money as a long-term investor if you buy a great business with attractive long-term growth potential.

  • Most investments usually hinge on getting 2–3 critical issues right, which are determinate to the ultimate outcome. Better to figure out the 2–3 critical issues and be right on those than focus obsessively over details which won’t ultimately move the needle.

Valuation is a relative concept: Valuation is a relative concept; a stock might appear “cheap” or “expensive” on current earnings, but that is simply a point in time, and the real question is the businesses future earnings prospects. What will the company’s earnings look like in 3, 4, 5 years time? Focus on identifying business with attractive long-term earnings growth and paying a fair price on current earnings.

  • Businesses which can compound earnings at a high rate for a long time are worth a fortune.
  • A high rate of earnings growth will rapidly “buy down” your entry-multiple, conversely, being wrong on business quality leaves little margin for error.

Trading is Hard: Buying “cheap” companies with a goal of flipping them at a higher price is a hard way to make money. You introduce frictional costs (notably capital gains taxes) and reinvestment risk. It’s much easier to find a great business and let it compound (time is your friend).

  • There is no substitute for hard work: Many of the entry-level career options in finance require hard work. There’s no shortcut to success. Working hard now (be that in school, or early on in your career) has a force multiplier effect on the ultimate lifestyle you will have 10 to 20 years in the future.

Guest Speaker: Ian Friedman

Ian Friedman is an Ivey HBA alumnus who is currently the CEO of Highland Transcend Partners. Upon graduating from Ivey, Ian worked at the Boston Consulting Group in Los Angeles as a Management Consultant. Following this, he worked at Bain Capital in Boston, working on technology-focused leveraged buyouts. He left Bain Capital to complete his MBA at Stanford Graduate School of Business, and then took a job at Goldman Sachs with their long-short equity hedge fund team. He missed the private markets, and as a result, alongside his partner, he pitched Goldman Sachs on starting a growth equity fund. They liked the idea, and he became Co-Head of Venture Capital & Growth Equity at Goldman Sachs Investment Partners (GSIP). He left Goldman Sachs recently and assumed his current Chief Executive role at Highland Capital Partners after feeling driven to do something more entrepreneurial.

Key Takeaways:

  • Investments will go wrong… but you want to lose small and win big. The people who get into the biggest problems are those who double down and don’t reassess the facts.
  • Stick to something you love: Don’t just follow the path because everyone else is doing that. Find good mentors, keep doors open, and align yourself with people who will co-own your success.

Guest Speaker: Colin Evran

Colin Evran is an Executive at Protocol Labs, an R&D lab that builds protocols, tools, and services to radically improve the internet. Protocol Labs’ flagship project is Filecoin, the world’s largest decentralized cloud storage network, backed by a cryptocurrency. An alternative to costly cloud storage, the Filecoin network offers efficiently priced and geographically decentralized storage. Previously, Evran was the Founder & CEO of Yard Club, a marketplace for underutilized industrial assets. Yard Club was acquired by Caterpillar in 2017. Colin began his career as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company and was an associate at Bain Capital. He holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an HBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business.

Key Takeaways

  • Embrace the different opportunities that come up: Your career doesn’t have to be a straight line. Don’t be afraid to stray from finance because there are plenty of different careers out there.
  • Business relationships are like personal relationships: Invest time into them just like you would with friends. All of Colin’s opportunities have stemmed from meaningful relationships.
  • Don’t be afraid to take risks: Look for areas that are less competitive and emerging. When Colin joined crypto in 2017, there were very few business people in the field. If you fail that’s a good thing since you learned lessons.

Those were the key takeaways from our 2020 U.S. Industry Conference! WCM’s educationals have resumed for second semester. Make sure to join us on Tuesdays at 5:30pm if you’d like to keep learning about the career paths within finance and the best practices for breaking in!

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