Friday, August 6, 2010

Tocqueville Asset Management

Brian Krieger
BBA: Accounting

Tocqueville Asset Management focuses on contrarian value investing. The firm has about $8 billion under management. Tocqueville has six funds as well as many private accounts. I spend most of my time working with the Tocqueville Gold Fund.

The internship has a lot of freedom. The theme is you get what you put into it. I basically have the freedom to choose my own path. I told my superior I was interested in the precious metals industry and I was immediately introduced to the senior analyst of the Tocqueville Gold Fund. I have been working under him ever since. We do have somewhat of a “base” program, but the majority of my time is spent doing work that I have direct influence on.

Typically, I am given (or I choose) a company to look at. I start by trying to understand the industry if I am not familiar with it. Then I start looking at the company’s annual report and quarterly filings and building a financial model. For example, I am looking at platinum mining companies right now, so I started by learning the platinum and palladium markets (supply, demand, industrial uses, etc). After I understood the platinum industry, I started researching specific companies within it.

Having a background in accounting has helped me immensely. Knowing how the financial statements flow together is vital to my position since we often recreate them and project out into the future.

I have learned a lot in the first month of my internship. Some of the most valuable knowledge I gain is from our internal meetings. I am able to absorb how very intelligent individuals think about the market. It’s something that you will never learn from a textbook.

We (there are 3 other interns) are also allowed to sit in, with some limitations, meetings with CEOs, CFOs, industry analysts, etc. It is a great experience. I also have access to a variety of information sources that I would never have been exposed to if I was not working here.

The other analysts are always willing to help the interns out. They take time out of their day to show us what they are working on and give us a lot of valuable information.

My main challenge was encountered the first week of the internship. I had no idea what to expect. To my (pleasant) surprise, the work environment is very easy going and promotes self discipline. Spending all day surrounded by individuals on a whole different intellectual level as yourself creates motivation to put in extra time and effort to learn as much as I can while I’m here.

I didn’t really know what to do at first. My expectations were that I would show up and they would just tell me what to do. It took me a few days to realize I was going to have to put myself out there to get the most out of this experience. The challenge was having the courage talk to my superiors to open up new opportunities. In hindsight, I should have never hesitated since the culture here eliminates the typical company hierarchy. Overall, its a great experience being able to work alongside so many intelligent people.

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