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Fall 2016 NYC Finance Trip

By: Penelope Shao, Brown '19

Right at 4:30am, 18  young women, ranging from freshmen to senior, took off from Faunce to visit four renowned finance firms in the heart of the finance world - JP Morgan, BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, and Barclays.

The six-hour bus ride thanks to the New York City morning commute traffic was not enough to stop us from starting the day with JP Morgan. We were greeted with a "Happy Friday" sign and friendly faces as we worked through security procedures and got ready for the main event. The panel featuring 7 women (6 of whom are Brown alumnae) from across the division and experience level in JPMorgan addressed a variety of pressing topics, such as being a women in finance (30% of the top level at JP Morgan is women, compared to the industry average of 9%), their work in different divisions, "Why JP Morgan," and interview do's and don'ts - all in the span of a shortened 40 minute session. On our way out, we passed a band setting up in the lobby, showing us how Fridays at JP Morgan is done.

We then stepped into the warm September sun of New York City for a short walk to BlackRock. For the very first time in WiB Finance Trip history, we got to visit the largest investment manager in the world. We were introduced to their singular devotion to asset management with fiduciary obligations (distinct from the other investment banks that we were visiting today), as well as their embrace of new technologies and platform as the leader of the asset management industry. We then broke off into casual networking with 7 excited Brown alumnae from a range of expertise and a lot of pizza. Being awake since 4am was clearly not enough to dampen our enthusiasm and the conversations in the room, and before long, we had to bid our goodbyes and take the metro downtown for our third stop of the day - Goldman Sachs.

At the downtown headquarters of Goldman Sachs, we were treated to a panel with 6 Brown alumnae from all three divisions of GS: Investment Banking, Investment Management, and Securities. We learned a lot about the specific work and responsibilities behind the different groups, and gained a lot of insight into the experiences of the panelists leading to the positions at GS (including why they love GS, interview tips, and more). After the insightful panel, more Brown alumni at GS joined the networking session with lively conversations and another reluctant goodbye.

Our final stop at Barclays enabled even more insight into the industry (and the renowned firm itself). After brief introduction of the many Brown alumni at Barclays, they joined us in small groups for a tailored and engaging round of financial ratios exercise. We were given the description for six firms from a variety of industries - Amgen (biotech), Apple, Delta (airline), Ford, Facebook, and Tesla.

Our task was to match them to three unnamed companies using the financial ratios and metrics provided (from respective income statements, balance sheets, and ratio analysis). Working in small groups, we identified the most significant characteristics of each of the three companies: Company A had the least revenue but the most %growth at 58.8%, very small EBITDA and %margin, largest capital expenditure as %revenue, significant inventory, and was actually not (yet) profitable (losing money in its operations); Company B had the largest revenue but the least growth percentage at 6.8%, and remarkably, no meaningful figure for inventory; Company C stood out for its high %revenue growth, extremely high margins at 84% for gross profit, and also no meaningful figure for its inventory. Working together with everyone in my group and occasionally asking questions to the three Barclays professionals who joined and supported us with the meaning and significance of certain terms (such as amortization) , we correctly matched Company A with Tesla, Company B with Delta, and Company C with Facebook. This short exercise introduced us to some of the daily tasks that professionals face in finance.

While the upperclassmen stayed for a session on the recruitment process, the underclassmen were lead through a tour of the offices themselves to get a sense of the professional atmosphere at Barclays. We started with the product floor, a trading floor style open office for the different product group teams (debt capital markets, equity capital markets, leveraged finance, and more). Then we visited the industry group floors for the TMT group (technology, media, and telecom) and Healthcare group. What better way to get to know Barclays than walking through the offices and greeting the bankers themselves? The view was an added bonus!

Good bye New York City, until next time. Many thanks to the four incredible firms for hosting us, to the wonderful Brown alumni for their continued support and for making this Friday full of insight and inspiration, to the Off-Campus Educational Chairs for making this happen, and to the WIB members who make WIB so special!

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