University of Queensland Bachelor of Advanced Finance and Economics student, Phoebe Little recently completed an internship with the Plato team. Phoebe is a recipient of the Plato Investment Management Women in Finance Scholarship.
Here’s an insight into her experience as an investment management intern with the Plato team.
What led you to your internship?
I was a second year Bachelor of Advanced Finance and Economics student at the University of Queensland, and received an email from one of my lecturers encouraging female students to apply for the Pinnacle/Plato Women in Finance Scholarships. Some of the recipients from the previous year at UQ had also mentioned that their internship was a fantastic experience.
As I was interested in pursuing a career in finance, after researching the investment management industry and specifically Plato, I believed that this scholarship was well-suited to my career goals and interests. After completing my personal statement and interview, I was informed that I had received the scholarship. In addition to the monetary support, I was offered a six-week internship with Plato, which I thought would be a valuable opportunity to learn about the firm and its industry.
What sort of work did you undertake during the internship?
During my internship, I had the opportunity to work on two projects. The first project involved developing a statistical model that analysed the determinants of executive renumeration for ASX-listed companies. We found that firm size and complexity are the most robust indicators of executive renumeration, and some performance measures also displayed a positive pay-performance link. This model was used to predict outlier CEOs that had high actual renumeration compared to predicted renumeration, which can be used to inform proxy voting on renumeration reports. The second project involved analysing three periods of recovery trades since COVID-19 to identify which sectors and stocks are expected to outperform during a vaccine-led recovery. Through financial analysis and industry research, I selected undervalued stocks to present to the team.
By working on two completely different projects – one on corporate governance, the other on investment research – this internship enabled me to obtain a broader understanding of the investment management industry. Despite completing my internship remotely due to border restrictions, the Plato team were extremely supportive, providing guidance and feedback throughout my projects. I was able to attend client meetings and learn about each person’s role at Plato, which was a fantastic learning opportunity to gain unrivalled exposure to the industry.
Can you point out any interesting facts you’ve discovered about Plato?
I find it interesting that Plato has a more quantitative or mathematical approach to portfolio management compared to some of Pinnacle’s other investment affiliates. As somebody who loves working with numbers, it was fascinating to see the extent of their forecasts and dynamic optimisation models for all of their portfolios.
What do you think can be done to encourage more women to consider a career in finance?
Given the underrepresentation of women in the finance industry, I believe it is absolutely imperative that more women choose or consider choosing finance as a career. Having more diversity in perspectives and experiences would positively contribute to innovation and lead to enhanced investment outcomes.
Exposure to female role models in finance, particularly in leadership positions, at university networking events or internships would empower more women to enter the industry. It is essential that young women are aware that gender is no barrier to success in a male-dominated industry. Addressing harmful stereotypes that men are ‘more well-suited’ for finance, or the industry’s perceived non-inclusive culture or lack of flexibility, would be immensely helpful in closing the gender gap in finance.
I believe that it’s vital that internship programs such as Plato’s program exist, to provide an opportunity for young women to ‘get their foot in the door’ and reinforce that the finance industry is the right career path for them. This scholarship gave me the support and confidence to confirm that I want to pursue a career in finance, and provided me with mentorship that I otherwise would not have had access to.
Where to from here for you studies and career?
This internship with Plato has strengthened my career aspirations in the finance industry, and equipped me with some of the key skills that will assist me with that career path. I don’t have any certain career plans at the moment, but I am definitely interested in pursuing the areas of investment management, corporate finance, or banking.
To find out more about careers with Plato Investment Management, email firstname.lastname@example.org