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Voice of Experience: Anne Milne, Managing Director, Emerging Markets Corporate Research, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

anne milne@baml comBy Melissa J. Anderson (New York City)

Looking back on her career, Anne Milne, Managing Director of the Emerging Markets Corporate Research at Bank of American Merrill Lynch, believes she could have benefited by focusing on career development earlier on.

“When I first started work, like many women, I thought if you just worked hard, you’ll get recognized, not realizing you need to market yourself to seniors – and not just your direct senior but people high up too,” Milne said. “A lot of the time, people might not know how hard you’re working.”

Similarly, she said, seeking input from mentors can help with advancement. “I think maybe what I could have done more is ask for more advice.”

It’s also important to set long-term goals and plan your advancement, she added. “You have to look at your career as a business and don’t get too emotional about it. Set larger term goals.”

Career in Emerging Markets

Milne says her lifelong interest in international affairs drew her to the field of emerging markets. While earning a masters degree in international economics at Johns Hopkins, Milne worked at the World Bank. “And after working on both the finance and development side, I realized I found the private sector most fascinating,” she recalled. “It cemented everything I wanted to do.”

She joined Bankers Trust in 1989, then moved to Trust Company of the West, working as an analyst then assistant portfolio manager. From there, she moved to ING, and then JP Morgan Chase where she became Head of Latin American Corporate Bond Research. Then, in 2002, became Managing Director at Deutsche Bank Securities. And, most recently, in 2010, she moved to Bank of America Merrill Lynch as Managing Director of Emerging Markets Corporate Research.

“One thing I get great pleasure out of is that I started corporate research teams at many different firms,” she explained. “The teams I’ve worked with have always been ranked number one in the world. It’s always nice to see your hard work recognized by the people you prepare it for.”

“And even though analysts come and go,” she continued, “It’s nice to have people you can contact and go to later on.”

Right now, Milne continued, she’s enjoying tracking the growth of emerging markets. “More and more people are looking at ways to invest in it apart from traditional ways to invest. It’s exciting to see this tiny niche market becoming mainstream – it’s a lot of fun.”

Nevertheless, she continued, due to the current economic environment, the push to do more with less comes with some frustration. “Across the industry, there’s a lack of resources or declining resources. The sell-side is shrinking and technology can’t solve all our problems.”

She explained, “The same number of people are doing two or three times the work all the time. It takes a toll on everybody. We have to be knowledgeable about everything because everything affects everybody.”

Women in Financial Services

Milne says that while BAML does a good job of recruiting and retaining women, many firms aren’t as far along. She’d like to see a more genuine effort to promote women across the industry. “Everywhere else I’ve been, we talk about bringing women in, but honest to goodness, I just don’t see the programs. Some do programs just to check the box. But until we see more senior women in the industry, we won’t see it getting any better.”

She continued, “You don’t see a lot of women trading and you see them occasionally in sales. There are more women on the buy-side, but it’s still male dominated, especially in emerging markets.”

“There’s more awareness of women helping women, but we need men to help women too,” she added.

Milne advised junior women to think big. “Work hard and be persistent and don’t sell yourself short!” she said. “But you still have to work hard and market yourself.”

For senior women, she continued, “It’s the same thing – I think communication makes a huge difference all around, with peers, your family, your clients. It’s very easy to get stuck – and I’m guilty too – in your niche. It’s very important to reach out for input and advancement.”

In Her Personal Time

“I’ve been very involved in emerging markets charitable organizations for a number of years,” Milne said. “It’s a great way to make new connections to people – and senior people. You’re bonding over something completely different than your day job,” she explained.