In an Alumni Association Alumni Career Services event on Tuesday, November 9, 2010, in New York City, alumni experts in the financial services industry participated in a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Michael Gombola, Drexel University Professor of Finance. Guests first enjoyed an hour of networking as they got to know the panelists, Bonnie Richards '92, Vince Roth '99, '02, and John Wambold '83. The panel discussion consisted of several questions fielded by Dr. Gombola, as well as questions from the audience of local alumni. Read on to learn more about the featured alumni panelists, as well as some of the highlights from the evening's question and answer session.
Michael Gombola is a Professor of Finance at the Drexel University LeBow College of Business. He currently works on topics involving empirical methods in corporate finance, particularly those that overlap with accounting issues. He has been studying earnings management and distress risk in several contexts, including reverse leveraged buyouts and private placements.
Bonnie Richards '92, is a Senior Vice President of Investments at UBS Private Wealth Management. She, along with her investment management team, specializes in working with ultra high net worth individuals for their wealth management needs. Bonnie specializes in personal, corporate, partnership and transfer tax planning.
Vincent J. Roth '99, '02, is an Assistant Vice President and Investment Management Specialist with the newly formed Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in New York, NY. Vincent and his partner currently manage approximately $200MM in client assets for athletes, entertainers, executives, corporations, foundations, trusts and high net worth families.
John Wambold '83, is a highly experienced investment professional with more than 25 years of research, trading and management experience. John is currently a Sales/Trader at CF Global Trading, a global boutique investment bank/broker dealer. He focuses on trading corporate securities, which include common and preferred stock and corporate debt. John advises investors and issuers on a global basis.
What has changed at your company since the recent upheaval in the financial services industry and Wall Street?
Bonnie: On a personal level the biggest thing was that we had to make clients understand their risks. They used to say, "Invest my money and get me the highest return" but now they want to know, "If something like this happens again, how will I get through it?" We've had to be much more realistic with our clients. What happened was a terrible thing but it helped us learn how to frame a conversation. Clients wanted more than just someone with good investment advice. They now want someone who understands the big picture – someone with more expertise.
It also really brought to light the difference between Main Street and Wall Street. Main Street is very skeptical of Wall Street and that has required more transparency on Wall Street. Our clients are much more interested in understanding what's going on.
If you were Chair of the Federal Reserve, what would you do right now?
John: The Federal Reserve is facing a bit of a conundrum. It must stimulate growth while controlling inflation. I would hope that we get inflation back – not hyper inflation – but some inflation can be good. I would remember that time is our friend. Bottom line is that inflation needs to come back and I would sit and wait for it.
Do you think the Federal Reserve should do more on the job creation side?
John: Job creation is mainly fueled by the private sector. The Fed is doing everything it can at this point to stimulate growth. They are keeping short-term interest rates low and buying longer dated asset in an attempt to keep longer-term interest low. The best things the fed can do to stimulate job growth is to stay the course for a longer period of time than they normally would, which might mean pushing through the upper band of their inflation targets. Attrition of workers, improved pricing power and productivity gains that improve operating efficiency would ultimately lead to job growth.
How do you think the outcome of last week's election will affect the industry/your company?
Vince: Since the Republicans gained control of the House they will have more control of the independence of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and over rules of trading derivatives. Meaning they would attempt to restrict the writing of rules that they might feel are too restrictive on financial firms. A slowdown in rule making or a pressure on rule making it may benefit companies which lobbied against some of Dodd Frank.
How could someone applying for a job in the financial services industry really stand out?
Bonnie: We are always looking for people who are good working as part of a team. Client service and attention to detail are paramount. So things like proper formatting on a resume are very important. Clients expect and demand perfection all the time so we would need someone who can provide that. Express how what you did in your last job can translate into the financial industry.
Vince: Above all, network and meet people as often as possible.
What advice do you have for women who are looking to get ahead in the industry, but don't want to seem pushy or over the top?
Bonnie: I've held a variety of positions and never felt discriminated against until I got into finance. Over the last 12 years, I have had to fight every day, and the best advice I can give is that women can't show any emotion, they have to be deadpan, and pretend that they don't care. This is no place for a woman to show emotion in the industry, especially during the recent downturn where 14% of the female workforce was laid off; when things started to come back, 19% of the workers added were men. I see myself as a resource for other women in the field and I try to lend support where I can.