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Hall of Fame 22 - Patricia McConnell

Patricia McConnell’s career at Bear, Stearns & Co. began during her quest for advanced degrees — an MBA and a Ph.D. in accounting and economics — at New York University. (She would eventually earn the former and complete the coursework for the latter, but she didn’t produce the required dissertation.) A referral from an undergraduate accounting professor at ­Lancaster, Pennsylvania’s ­Franklin & Marshall College led to a position as a graduate assistant with an NYU professor who was consulting at Bear Stearns. McConnell started working in the firm’s accounting department in 1974 with All-­America Research Team Hall of Famer Lee Seidler (page 69). “I worked with Lee until he retired,” says McConnell. That was in 1989; the following year she debuted on the team, taking second place in Accounting. She climbed to No. 1 in 1991 and held that spot until her own retirement, in 2006. McConnell recalls being summoned one evening in 1992 by the firm’s head of investment banking, Alan Schwartz, to explain inflation accounting to a committee trying to determine whether to help take a Mexican company public. “It’s a good thing I went to NYU in the 1970s, because I knew inflation accounting and could actually use it,” she says. “It was clear that if our commitment committee didn’t understand inflation accounting, our clients wouldn’t either.” By 1995, McConnell was tackling such issues as whether a flat tax or consumption tax would be broached before the 1996 U.S. presidential election and warning clients that any value-­added-tax plan would be inflationary unless it was phased in over several years. “Pat has all the answers,” one impressed buy-side supporter told ­Institutional ­Investor in 1996. (We expanded the category and renamed it Accounting & Tax Policy in 1997.)

McConnell, 62, came out of retirement in 2009 and relocated to London to represent the Charlottesville, Virginia–based CFA Institute on the International Accounting Standards Board. She still keeps an eye on former colleagues, noting with justifiable pride that all of the analysts who ranked in Accounting & Tax Policy on last year’s All-­America Research Team “had been part of my group” at Bear Stearns.    

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