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Sarah Madison

Women in Business

Sarah Madison

For Women’s History Month, First National Bank is profiling outstanding women in male-dominated or stereotypically male industries. Check out our other “Women in Business” features!


“I’ve had clients of both genders tell me they’ve never worked with a female investor before and that they weren’t sure about it. I try to take it with a good sense of humor and let everyone know that they have options for who they want to work with.”

Sarah Madison is one of four Portfolio Managers here at First National Wealth Management, and she’s one in a minority of female portfolio managers across the United States.

Sarah Madison and Adam Cox record and episode of Common Cents on the Prairie.

According to a 2016 report by the CFA Institute Research Foundation, women made up just 16.4% of the investment profession’s workforce in the U.S. that year.

And while this statistic has likely (and hopefully) risen in the past seven years, something that hasn’t changed is the assumptions people make about women who work in investing.

“I regularly receive emails and letters addressed to Mr. Sarah Madison,” Sarah said. “I’ve had numerous people mistake me for an assistant or secretary. I’ve had institutional traders not take me seriously.”

But the truth of the matter is, those who doubt Sarah because of her gender are the ones missing out.

She holds a bachelor’s in business economics from South Dakota State University and a highly regarded Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) designation from the CFA Institute, she’s worked as a Portfolio Manager at First National Bank for 17 years, and she’s one of the best around at what she does — if we do say so ourselves.

“I’ve always been a saver and quirky good with money,” Sarah said. “I’m usually unemotional when it comes to investments, which is important in keeping a long-term perspective and adapting as the world changes.”

Portfolio Manager Sarah Madison meets with a man in her office.

However, while Sarah remains unemotional and level-headed when serving her clients’ needs, it’s her love for investing that drew her to this male-dominated industry in the first place.

“I got passionate about investing in stocks and bonds in college, after my mom passed away,” Sarah said. “I wanted to make her proud with what she had left my sister and me.”

Sarah has been pursuing that passion ever since by serving as a Portfolio Manager and even taking on a role as team leader.

The First National Investments Team poses for a group picture in the FNB atrium.

But as her career grew, so did her family.

“I was the division manager when my husband and I found out we were expecting our third child,” Sarah said, “and the hours and energy required to advocate for clients and my talented team was more than I was willing and able to do. The season had changed, and it was time for someone else to lead.”

Stepping down from her leadership role, Sarah chose to dedicate more time to her family and less to work.

“One of the greatest challenges I believe women face today is the pressure of doing it all,” Sarah said.

For many women in male-dominated industries, a move like this could potentially be harmful for their career in the long run.

Nevertheless, Sarah ignored that pressure to “do it all” and, instead, made the conscious decision to do only what mattered most: raise her family alongside her “smart, hard-working husband” and use her passion for investing to help others along their financial journey.

If anything, Sarah’s career has thrived since she took a step back.

In her spare time, Sarah serves on the board for the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation and chairs their Investment Management Committee.

She’s also an advocate for women in investing, like the time she came on our podcast and told host Adam Cox about how female investors outperform their male counterparts:

“Investing is my hobby,” Sarah said. “I’m just lucky enough to get paid to do it. Nothing is more rewarding than having a client tell me I’m the reason they sleep well at night.”


Check out our other “Women in Business” features:

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