A Head for Numbers
May 30, 2019
May 30, 2019
Growing up in Stuart, Florida, Jared Welsh ’19 knew he loved numbers. When he chose to enroll at Southwestern, he initially thought accounting would be the best way to indulge that fascination. But after taking a finance course with Dr. Patrick Van Horn, former assistant professor of economics, Welsh was inspired to pursue a different path, and he pivoted to majoring in business. But not unlike many other Southwestern students, Welsh saw value in balancing his numerophilia with a humanities-based course of study. So he minored in communication studies because he knew it would help him improve his writing, “which will help in all kinds of industries and prepare me for the real-world experiences I’ll be facing.”
A crash course in investments
In summer 2018, Welsh embarked on an eight-week internship at the Brown University Investment Office, in Providence, Rhode Island. The Investment Office manages Brown University’s $3.8 billion endowment and other assets by recommending sound financial policies and strategies. Welsh worked as a summer associate investment analyst.
“I was exposed to and learned so much information, it is difficult to put it all in words,” he reflects. Similar to what he had learned in his finance courses at Southwestern, he spent the summer reading a great deal of material on advanced financial topics, such as readings required for Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) certification as well as articles and other resources about financial analysis, derivatives, manager evaluation, behavioral finance, and bond math. Luckily, the Corporate Finance course that he had taken with Van Horn the previous year helped him understand these more advanced concepts and prepared him to “make an immediate impact around the office.”
In the afternoons, Welsh and the other interns would help the associate directors with their projects. Investment managers from various fields (e.g., real estate, private equity, and credit asset) would come to the office to pitch financial strategies while Welsh would take notes; he would then write one-page recommendations that he would present at weekly team meetings, which he felt was a particularly valuable experience. But “the highlight of my internship was when I pitched Brown’s head of direct investments a stock based on in-depth stock analysis I conducted,” Welsh recalls. The stock was in a pet insurance company, which he thought was a sound investment given millenials’ tendency to view companion animals as family members, owners’ desire to protect their pets, and the company’s overall positive growth potential.
“The whole experience broadened my knowledge and built on the foundations that I’d previously had from my classes at Southwestern,” he comments. He credits the internship with helping him solidify his passion for investments and discovering his desire to pursue a career in equity or credit research.
Adventures in the stock market
When he returned to Southwestern for his senior year, Welsh was able to apply what he had taken away from his summer internship at Brown to his coursework. In the Investments class taught by Assistant Professor of Business Hazel Nguyen, for example, he felt ahead of the game because he had already spent the summer familiarizing himself with such topics as the various fee structures investment managers use. But because he had the opportunity to learn about those topics in both a real-world and a classroom context, he says the different perspectives generated those “Paideia moments” Southwestern is known for.
He also applied what he learned about managing Brown’s endowment to Southwestern’s highly competitive Financial Analyst Program (FAP), where he spent this past year working as the group’s trader. “It’s similar to Brown’s Investment Office, but here, we deal strictly with equities and stocks—no bonds or fixed-income funds,” Welsh says. As the trader, Welsh was responsible for the FAP’s security transactions, drafting orders for the shares the group had decided to sell or buy and executing them through the University’s business office and the bank. Along with the rest of the FAP members, he also researched and presented several stock recommendations throughout the year, which he feels improved his public-speaking skills.
Welsh feels like he was able to bring his experiences at the Brown internship to the FAP to help improve the program. “It’s something I’ve really enjoyed and something I hope makes me stand out when I’m applying for jobs,” Welsh says.
Showing up and having that drive
Perhaps unsurprising given his knack for analyzing numbers, Welsh is the kind of student who values time management and organization. In addition to his coursework and contributions to the FAP, Welsh has stayed actively involved in a number of campus activities.
For example, besides the University’s academic reputation, one of the features that attracted Welsh to Southwestern was the opportunity to play lacrosse, which he’s played since seventh grade. He appreciates Bill Bowman (“the ultimate player’s coach: he’ll do anything for his players”), the University’s state-of-the-art fields and newly refurbished athletic facilities, and the general camaraderie of the lacrosse team. He says that whereas team dynamics at other schools can be “kind of cliquey,” here, lacrosse is very much a supportive community of players.
He also served as a resident assistant (RA) for three years, which he enjoyed because he got to meet new people and interact with the range of personalities represented by his residents. Serving as an RA meant that he benefited from training so that he’s “prepared to handle any situation.”
Welsh graduates from Southwestern valuing that the University gave him the time and support to be involved in so many different activities. But it has also taught him a range of lessons that will prepare him to be successful after college. “Keep a planner because time management is very important; you need to meet deadlines and show up on time,” he advises fellow students. He also says that being proactive is essential: “Don’t sit back and wait for people to ask you for stuff. Go to their offices, and ask what you can help with. Also, talk with alumni, and join the Alumni [Network] Mentoring Program. No one’s going to just hand you an internship or opportunity. You have to have that drive.” Welsh leaves no doubt that he’ll be demonstrating that drive as he ventures out into the postgraduate world.