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From Hockey to Finance: Kevin Kaiser’s Journey to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 List

When Kevin Kaiser graduated from Princeton in 2010 with a degree in economics, he wanted to keep playing hockey.

“I’m not going to lie to and [say] that I was that interested in economics when I was at Princeton,” Kaiser says. “I was more interested in playing hockey, to be totally honest. I chose economics by default.”

The New Hampshire native joined the Tigers in 2006-07 and was a tri-captain by his senior year.

On Dec. 29, 14 games into his senior year, Kaiser suffered a concussion and missed the rest of the season. The concussion also kept Kaiser from pursuing a professional hockey career.

After graduating, Kaiser scrambled to find a job. He contacted a friend he played with at St. Paul’s Prep School, who introduced him to Hedgeye Risk Management.

“I needed a job and the finance industry is a good industry for people that are used to playing on teams,” Kaiser says.  “It’s very much like a team game, and at Hedgeye there’s a lot of ex-hockey players and I don’t think that that’s a coincidence.”

The 26-year-old, who’s worked at Hedgeye Risk Management for three years, was named to Forbes’ Finance 30 under 30 list on Monday.

“The industry sort of fit my personality and I really needed a job so I took it, but it ended up working well,” Kaiser says.

Becoming a Senior Analyst

Kaiser, a senior energy analyst at Hedgeye, is in charge of the firm’s energy section. He researches and creates reports on various energy companies, and Hedgeye Risk Management sells that information to hedge funds and mutual funds.

“It’s a lot of writing of reports, going through financial statements, old reports on these companies [and] making financial projections, doing a lot of financial modelings,” Kaiser says. “Then [I write] my opinion on these different companies and hedge funds and mutual funds pay me for that.”

The New Hampshire native joined Hedgeye as a junior analyst, where he spent the year learning. In 2012, the Princeton alumnus started researching and writing reports of his own.

“We have other young analysts at our company too and I think they do a great job,” Kaiser says. “It’s nothing about you have to [have been] working in the industry for five or six years before you publish a paper or something like that.”

It’s similar to Kaiser’s experience while playing for the Tigers.

“When I was there it didn’t matter what grade you were in, it didn’t matter what experience you had, anybody could play. It was just a matter if you were good enough,” Kaiser says.

“It’s just sort of the same sort of mindset that we have at our company. If you can play, you can play. We’ll put you on the ice.”

The 26-year-old can’t think of one mistake in particular he’s made at Hedgeye. But he’s grateful for all of them and all he’s learned.

“You can’t be afraid to make mistakes,” Kaiser says. “I’m a relatively young analyst for this industry and I’m not afraid to put out a report or say what I think. And there’s always a risk that you could be wrong, but you have to take that chance.”

In September, Kaiser took one of those chances by questioning Kinder Morgan. His comments earned criticism, and some questioned Kaiser’s experience and credibility.

“In a strange way it’s actually a compliment to me,” Kaiser says. “These people are criticizing my age, that I’m not old enough or experienced enough to do this yet I am doing it.”

Finance is Harder Than Hockey

Kaiser’s comments on Kinder Morgan helped him earn his spot on the 30 Under 30 list. But before Forbes announced the list, Kaiser had an idea he’d be on it.

“They interviewed me and did a pre-screening process, so I knew I was at least under consideration. So I guess when I found that out I [was] really honored and humbled that I would even be considered,” Kaiser says.

“[I thought] alright that’s it’s a cool thing to be a part of, and that’s about it. I didn’t think too much of it.”

The 26-year-old, who finished his Princeton career with 33 points (10g, 23a) over 102 career games, said it’s harder being an energy analyst than playing hockey.

“I enjoyed playing hockey a lot more than I enjoy writing research on oil and natural gas companies,” Kaiser says laughing. “I think both, for different reasons, were really difficult.

“But waking up at five in the morning to go to hockey practice is a lot easier than waking up at five in the morning to write a research report on an oil company.”

Some days Kaiser wonders where he’d be if it weren’t for the concussion he sustained his senior year.

“Things worked out really well and I guess things happen for a reason, but I have no idea where I would be if I went and played a year or two in Europe and then came back,” Kaiser says.

“I don’t have any regrets about any of the decisions I’ve made, but yeah I probably wouldn’t be talking to you right now if I’d gone and done that. “

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