Hall of Fame 5 - Steven Fleishman
Fortune came looking for Steven Fleishman at a young age. “Having the chance to become the lead utility analyst at Kidder at the age of 24 — at the same time that the industry started to change dramatically — was a lifetime opportunity,” he says. “I am just happy I took advantage of it.” In 1991, after graduating from the State University of New York at Binghamton, Fleishman started at Kidder, Peabody & Co. as an assistant to the firm’s utilities analyst. When his boss decided to leave for the buy side, he recommended the job be given to his young sidekick.
Even as the rise in rank and pay delighted Fleishman, he quickly realized he was young and green in a sector filled with experienced and heavily entrenched analysts. He knew he could have trouble being taken seriously. “It was a perfect opportunity for me to crash and burn,” he says with a laugh. But fate intervened again, this time in the guise of deregulation. “Suddenly, being new wasn’t such a bad thing, because the sector was now new to everybody,” says Fleishman, 42.
He debuted on the All-America Research Team in 1996, as a runner-up in Electric Utilities; by then he had moved to Merrill Lynch. The following year he vaulted to first place, and there he stayed until 2006. “After I placed No. 1 in Institutional Investor ten times, I began to burn out,” he says. He moved to Catapult Capital in 2007 to help launch a utilities-focused hedge fund. Before long he realized he missed his old job. “When the sell-side analyst position at Merrill Lynch opened up again, I decided that I wanted to come back,” he says. Fleishman returned to BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research in 2009 and to the ranking last year.