Jason Nong ’15, SEI Investments Company

Jason-NongMy one-day Princeternship at SEI Investments Company, with special thanks to Susan Ramonat ’80, Director of Enterprise Risk Management, allowed me to gain a good understanding of all aspects of the company and the people.

SEI’s sprawling campus is in Oaks, Pennsylvania, about a half hour car ride outside of Philadelphia on what used to be a barn and farmland. From the first glimpse of the building exterior, one can tell that SEI is unlike other financial services companies. The interior prove to be no less remarkable. From the clean but brightly colored and rustic exteriors to the recycled tire floors and contemporary visual art (courtesy of the West family ), everything about SEI is focused on inspiring employees to think differently. One particularly unique feature of SEI is the lack of offices; everybody sits in the center of the floor (including the CEO, Al West) with all furniture on wheels and electricity supplied through “pythons,” which are proprietary, coiled power cords that hang from the ceiling. This allows employees to relocate easily, which more importantly promotes a free exchange of ideas.

Other features of the SEI campusNong with sramonat include a gym, cafeteria, café, dry cleaner, babysitter and a concierge service that helps employees with everything from delivering roses to getting a car’s oil changed. All of these amenities are designed to allow employees to not only be as productive as possible with their time but to allow for a good work/life balance. In this aspect, SEI seems to be more like a modern tech company than a financial services company, bringing a bit of Silicon Valley to the Northeast.

My day at SEI was highly productive with a packed schedule letting me meet seven people over different business units. SEI’s business includes investment processing, investment operations, and investment management.

SEI’s investment processing business mainly involves the SEI Wealth Platform, a software solution that allows investment managers to manage their client’s portfolios across different global markets. The SEI Wealth Platform is customized for each customer according to each customer’s needs and requirements. This requires a great deal of communication between clients and programmers through intermediaries.

SEI’s investment operations business (Investment Manager Services) provides middle-office outsourcing for investment managers and is SEI’s fastest growing business. Essentially, the IMS unit takes care of everything necessary to make a trade occur, making an investment manager’s abstract decisions a reality. SEI also practices what it preaches and outsources some of its work as well. Holly Miller, Managing Director, Middle Office Services, IMS, shared with me that her role is to help make the process as efficient as possible, eliminating jobs  (as well as creating new ones) along the way.

In its Investment Management Unit, SEI is a manager of managers. Bill Lawrence, Managing Director, Global Fixed Income Investment Strategy, IMU, was also very helpful in his advice, explaining not only how his work differed from that of several other jobs in the financial services industry but also how he looked for investment managers. He focused on analyzing the 5 P’s: people, philosophy, process, profile, and performance.

After gaining a better understanding of SEI’s business units, I spent more time with my alumni host, Susan, to learn how she looked at all aspects of SEI. As Director of Enterprise Risk Management, she has to look for potential business risks in everything from the company’s many vendors and outsourcing suppliers to the company’s own employees to the potential of terrorists cutting the underground sea cables that allows the company in the U.S. to connect via the Internet with its people in India. I found the sheer amount of knowledge required—every single little detail about the company’s operations – the global markets, regulations, security and infrastructure—to be extremely impressive and interesting.

My day at SEI allowed me to see many potentially worthwhile career paths in the company. The work done is meant to make the company more resilient and to serve entrepreneurs who have already taken on risk and reaped the benefits, which is very meaningful and interesting.


Yujie Jack Zhou ’15, Roundview Capital

Yujie-ZhouPromptly at 10, I met Mr. Stephen Shueh ’97 who was the managing partner at Roundview Capital. We began by introducing ourselves – our backgrounds, interests, and perspectives. The first on the day’s agenda were a set of conferences calls to from various clients. But before these calls I was given time to familiarize myself with some of the concepts that would be useful to know. Then, promptly, at eleven we began the first conference call with a lawyer in California, then another call with a potential client who was travelling in India. In these conference calls I observed many of the underlying subtleties in client relationships and I believe the lessons I learnt just by observing the interaction between Steve and his client can by applied to any type of social interaction. In addition to his role at Roundview Capital, Steve is also a member of the board of the Bank of Princeton, and on that afternoon I was fortunate enough to sit in on one of the boardZhou, Jack meetings. As a local bank, the setting of this meeting was very different from what I was expecting, nonetheless I thoroughly enjoyed the more casual, yet meticulously efficient manner of execution in this meeting. During the return trip to Princeton I had some time to talk to Steve, reflecting on the events of that day, and learning some of the softer aspects important to a career in finance.

In the next two days I shadowed some of the other members of Roundview Capital. In the morning I worked with Andrew Lieu ’06 who is a director and he gave me a project on Apple Inc. that day Apple stocks dropped below $500 per share. My project was to investigate, summarize and analyze the cause of this drop in share price. This project involved me going over the last few years of Apple’s Form 10-K and also, for comparative purposes, some of Google Form 10-K’s and Facebook’s Form 10-Q’s.  Also, Mr. Matthew Wallack, President of Orchard Park Capital, gave me a crash course in stock market investment.Zhou, Jack 3 This was in the “Bloomberg room,” a relative innocuous looking room whose main feature was a Bloomberg machine saturated by green and red text. For the rest of the day Matt demonstrated the amount of information the Bloomberg machine had access to, and at the same time imparted to me his value-centric mentality of investment.

This experience was a valuable learning experience for me to learn the many skills in the financial sector. The culture at Roundview Capital is definitely very different from some of the larger financial firms. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed being a Princetern and I greatly appreciate the kindness of Mr. Shueh and his colleagues in offering me this first-hand overview of the workings of Roundview Capital. This experience really motivated my interest in working in the business side of finance and I would like a send a big thank-you to Steve for offering myself and the other Princeterns for this experience.

Robert Siliciano ’15, Roundview Capital

Rob-SilicianoI met my Princeternship host, Steve Shueh ’97, at his firm Roundview Capital. To teach me about banking and finance, Mr. Shueh showed me how the banks published annual reports to their investors, and identified sections where the interesting and helpful information resided. These reports let me see large differences between the banks. In their descriptions of operations, they listed the various functions which the bank preforms, along with the size of the operation, and its progress for the last several years.

Mr. Shueh also introduced me to the financial information powerhouse that is a Bloomberg terminal. After a tour of its use, I proceeded to use the terminal to find more information on the banks whose reports I had read. While I was getting used to the interface and structure of the terminal, I had the opportunity to observe professionals using the system, and see a bit of how they make presentations for clients.

Over lunch, Mr. Shueh, a colleague, and I discussed what I had been learning. Now that I understand the activities of the various banks, Mr. ShuehSiciliano 1 explained the impact of macroeconomic events on the sizes and operations of these various businesses. He and his coworker were also able to explain and clarify the jargon found deep with the annual reports. After that, we discussed money managing, the relevant skills, and stories they had of a typical day.

After lunch, Mr. Shueh brought up other aspects of finance and banking, and pointed me to new sources of information. The things that Mr. Shueh taught me during this Princeternship will be very helpful in my career planning. I am very grateful to Mr. Shueh for the opportunity to learn so much about careers in finance

Stephanie Sanders ’16, Alpha Capital Management

Stephanie-SandersMy three-day Princeternship at Alpha Capital Management was an amazing experience that has given me some very valuable insight into my future career goals. Before Princeton, I was fairly set on going into the field of advertising. After coming to Princeton and taking an economics course, however, I became fascinated by the world of financial markets and began to consider going into investment banking/management. This Princternship allowed me to experience the investment management world first-hand. While I’m still not sure if I want to take the leap and become an investment banker or investment management professional, I am now in a better position to weigh my options.

The moment I arrived at Alpha Capital Management I was immersed in the world of investment management. I had the opportunity to explore various papers on potential funds for the firm. Initially, the jargon was borderline overwhelming; my head was swimming with Sharpe ratios, Sortino ratios, arbitrage strategies, and soft closed investments, among others. The alumna at the firm, Anna Dunn ’07, was very helpful and assured me that most people pick it up as they go along. I breathed a sigh of relief.

The aspect of the Princeternship that I enjoyed the most was listening to conference calls. As I listened to firm representatives detailing the composition of their holdings and relating it to current global events, it instantly reminded me of my macroeconomics class and why I first fell in love with economics. It was really interesting to see concepts I had learned in class applied to real life situations. On the last day, I worked with Ms. Dunn to gather data and create a hypothetical portfolio that projected returns and potential risk. This hands-on portion of the Princeternship was very rewarding. This was a great experience and I urge anyone who is considering a career in finance to take part in this internship.

Liukun Wu ’15, Johnson Lyman Wealth Advisors

Liukuun-WuJohnson Lyman Wealth Advisors (JL) is located in Palo Alto, a small town with cordial weather and warm sunshine. It is a wealth management firm that aims to help families and individuals to “live fully,” to better manage their financial resources and plan for retirement. I first met and talked with the staff: Gary, Linda, Pat, and Jennifer, who are in charge of different aspects of the daily functions at the firm; some are tax professionals, and some are operations experts. I learned that clients are mainly families and individuals who are small business owners. Some clients are investment-only, while others also need advice on tax planning. JL specializes in investment, a key for individuals (especially for those near retirement) to make solid returns on their financial resources.

In the morning, I listened to the meeting between Jennifer and Pat, who were preparing for the meeting with their clients tomorrow. As the clients are near retirement, tax planning was extensively discussed. The current family situations were also considered. Pat and Jennifer also looked at the clients’ investment portfolio and discusses if there was the need to adjust the proportions of different types of assets. I feel that managing financial resources become significantly more challenging when tax issues and personal expenditure plans were taken into account. Financial investments are therefore more people-oriented, rather than just looking for numerical returns.

During lunch Mr. Rob Lyman ’84 and I talked about my interests and career plans and I also got to know what Princeton was like in his time. My greatest takeaway is that it is important to remain flexible and constantly look for new interests as the world around us changes. After 15 years in startups, Mr. Lyman turned from engineering to financial planning, an area that he was very passionate about. He was very devoted to it, having seen the great needs and importance of financial planning. I feel that this spirit of constantly learning and improving oneself is very important, because it makes us more open-minded and enriches our personality as long as we are always curious to explore diverse interests.

In the afternoon, I listened to the meeting between Steve and Jennifer after they had met with the clients. The clients seemed not to have understood the investment plans very well. Steve talked about the main things to be crafted in the email, so that the clients could have a better idea. In this situation, communication is very important; it is crucial to explain wealth management plans in simple terms so that clients could understand the rationale.

As the co-President at JL, Steve was very insightful, and he always had a good sense of humor. As we talked about his SONY DSCexperiences and one of his epiphanies in life, I also started to think about my various interests: could I turn my avocation into vocation? Steve said it was one of the most important realizations he had in life. I have never given it much thought, but our conversation helped me start to explore a way to merge my interests with my career plans.

Day 2
Today I went along with Mr. Lyman to San Carlos for a meeting with Catherine. She is a marriage law attorney. They discussed clients’ needs and the possibility of getting in touch with more professionals in financial planning.

In the afternoon I attended a client meeting. The client is one of JL’s first clients and has established a very good relationship with JL. They discussed the client’s current investment plans and Mr. Lyman suggested some adjustments to it. Looking at the returns from the past ten years and the performance of different asset classes, they discussed a plan to do some minor changes to the proportions of different assets. During the meeting, Mr. Lyman and Jennifer cooperated with the client closely. They helped her understand the meanings of the figures in her investment portfolio, and offered advice and alternative choices. I feel that in financial services, good communication with clients is indeed the key. It establishes mutual trust and allows both sides to be more receptive of each other’s suggestions.

Mr. Lyman also shared with me a lot of insights on wealth management. Investing for families is apparently very different from the Wall Street business. Technically, individual wealth planning has different focuses, such as tax and retirement plans. More importantly, different families and individuals have different preferences and their situations keep changing. Therefore, effective communication is crucial. JL’s mission, to help people “live fully” and make full use of their hard-earned wealth, resonates deeply with me. This Princeternship helped me explore a branch of financial services that has an important impact on people’s daily lives. And I think the spirit of serving people remains even though I will work in a different area.

I truly appreciate Mr. Lyman’s tremendous effort in helping me plan this Princeternship. Besides the technical aspect of wealth management, the more important takeaway for me is to always be ready to serve the needs of the community, and make sure to communicate with clients effectively. Moreover, I have also learned a lot about life planning from Mr. Lyman and Steve, and appreciate the personal advice from all the wonderful people at JL. At this point, it is important to pursue