Kate Lakin, Assistant Director of Global Equity Research Putnam Investments

Lakin-Kathryn-BachmanWhy should you do research as an undergraduate? Successful investments are driven entirely by sound, thorough, and differentiated research processes. Here at Putnam Investments, research is the cornerstone of our work. Whether it is analyzing and quantifying the impact of launching a differentiated product into a new market or thinking through various valuation methodologies based on history and past cycles, research is critical. This is how we learn about the world, the sectors that we cover, and the companies in which we may invest. Rigorous, high-quality research helps us get an edge relative to the street and better predict the earnings power of a company. When we get the earnings right this typically leads to relative outperformance and a good investment.

As the Assistant Director of Global Equity Research at Putnam, I am tasked with hiring, training, and developing our undergraduate and graduate candidates. One of the key attributes we look for is a sound research process. We are excited when we meet applicants who have an interest in learning and can think creatively about fundamental research. Is this a good or bad business? How does the company make money? What are their competitive advantages? What are other people missing and how is your view different?

My path to becoming an investor did not start with a finance major: I joined the field after completing my undergraduate degree in psychology at Wellesley College. My honors thesis was a critical selling point in my applications and interviews. It served as a great example of how I developed a process to quantify and analyze relationships online – at the time, a new field of research. Though not finance-related, this method turned out to be very comparable to the one I now use when picking up a 10-K for a new company. Good research skills are highly transferable and can lead to a differentiated and creative view, which more often than not produces smart, successful investments allowing us to win for our shareholders.