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Impact

Impact: How Excellence Unlocks Change

By Impact No Comments

At Scholars of Finance, we have six core values that are at the center of what we teach and strive to lead with: Integrity, Compassion, Humility, Curiosity, Impact, and Courage. Each month, our members vote on the “Value of the Month”, which has increasingly been at the center of discussions we have at both undergraduate chapters and among our national team.

For the month of February, our Value of the Month is Impact. Some of our members asked me to share a brief background on why Impact was selected as one of our core values and how it helps us achieve our mission at SOF. So, I am going to walk through the value, its “epithet”, and the 4 principles we believe reflect this value. I hope to explain the rationale behind them and provide you with some examples and questions to help you consider how these may apply to you personally. Here they are:

Impact

Do excellent work

  • Accept nothing less than your best
  • Develop credibility through consistency
  • Operate patiently and think long term
  • Live a healthy and balanced life

We use the term “Impact” interchangeably at the organization to mean two things. Most commonly, we use  “making an impact” to mean doing excellent work that advances our mission. Secondly, we “make an impact” on others, our organization, and the world by doing good, making a difference, or making lasting, positive contributions to society. The latter has become incredibly common today. We believe our mission of inspiring character and integrity in the finance leaders of tomorrow will make an enormous impact on the world in this sense. Ultimately, It will change how billions of dollars are invested and allocated – toward solving problems, improving communities, and helping people thrive.

Do excellent work

We define Impact as “doing excellent work” because we believe that is integral to making an impact (the “doing good” kind). Our vision is a future where all finance leaders steward the world’s capital to serve the greater good. This requires several components. First, we need ALL finance leaders on board. Yes, they need to view themselves as stewards – as fiduciaries who are entrusted with capital on behalf of others in a role of service. They do need to be motivated by improving the world around them, rather than self-gain, greed, or power. Accordingly, at Scholars of Finance, we often emphasize developing “highly principled” future leaders as the means of achieving this vision. But a clear reality is that we also must be the “highest performing” future leaders as well if our members are to enter finance, succeed, and ascend the ranks of leadership and reach a level of seniority where they can make a significant impact. They need to do excellent work to get in the door and then climb the ladder.

So, with that in mind, let’s break down our four principles for Impact, which we believe define the behaviors that reflect this in action – and also discuss why they are so important.

Accept nothing less than your best

Finance demands this from us. The gravity of our future decisions demands it. We believe members of Scholars of Finance will one day allocate millions or even billions of dollars. That’s an enormous responsibility and deserves our very best effort because those decisions can influence thousands of lives – and many more. I sometimes reflect on the precision that engineers at NASA or SpaceX have to employ in their work, and I genuinely believe investors should apply the same level of rigor in trying to allocate capital to its highest purposes – where it can do the most good. Practically, today, this looks like being detail-oriented, doing thorough research, and thinking critically. It’s putting in the extra effort.

Develop credibility through consistency

Finance is largely a relationship business. Our ability to bring projects to fruition or deals to close requires that others trust and respect us. Large and complex projects also require the collaboration of many people, so we need to consistently build credibility, across teams, companies, and contexts. We need to be consistent so people know they can count on both our word and our work. They need to know we will deliver. Many of our speakers and mentors share that they only want to work with people they trust, and in Wall Street, expectations of excellence are incredibly high – trust has to be earned constantly. Ralph Acampora, one of our Advisors, who is renowned on Wall Street, often says “it took me 50 years to build my reputation, and it could take me less than 5 minutes to destroy it”.

Operate patiently and think long term

Short-termism has been argued to be one of the largest hindrances to advancing society as quickly as we are capable of through investment in innovation and moving capital toward businesses and products that are in our collective, long-term best interest. For example, many have argued that short-term profit pressure has slowed our transition to renewable energy sources, leaving us with the prolonged effect of pollution and carbonization of our atmosphere – all of which are creating growing costs we will have to pay for years from now. In addition to the need to be patient with our investing to unlock progress for society, we need to be patient to advance deals, as they are often complex and take time. For example, I spoke to the former CEO of a top investment bank that had once acquired another sizable firm, and the CEO said that they had been building the relationships needed to close that acquisition for more than a decade.

Live a healthy and balanced life

This may seem counterintuitive, and to some, almost tone-deaf considering what we hear about the lifestyle and workload of investors. Our members pursuing roles in investment banking dread the 80-100 hour work weeks they’ve heard horror stories about. Rightfully so, because that kind of lifestyle drives burnout and sleep deprivation, which can lower our moral awareness and, not surprisingly, dramatically reduce our cognitive performance. In finance, the stakes are often high, with millions of dollars on the line. Tending to our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health is critical for our decision-making under those intense circumstances. Excellence requires us to operate at our highest levels, so sleep, nutrition, exercise, relationships, and every aspect of our lives need to be in order. Becoming an executive is also a multi-decade journey, which burnout would halt before we even get close to the “finish line”. We need to operate sustainably.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this begins to paint a picture of what Impact means to us at Scholars of Finance and why it’s important. Like most, we think it guides us toward making a difference in the world and people’s lives. And we also believe it entails holding ourselves to a high standard of excellence in the process. 

In the months ahead, with members, mentors, and speakers, we will dive deeply into each of these principles. We hope that, as February winds to a close and you reflect on your impact, you can identify a few ways to do even better work – excellent work – that advances a mission that’s important to you. 

Ask yourself: Are you doing your best work or spread so thin everything you produce is just “good enough?” Are you building credibility through consistency or creating for yourself a reputation for underdelivering? Are you thinking long-term or only thinking about this quarter, this month, or even this week? Are you living a healthy and balanced life or are you stressed, anxious, eating poorly, and barely sleeping? 

Taking a bit of time to pause and soberly face these questions will almost always yield actionable insights. I hope that you’ll set aside even just 15-20 minutes sometime after reading this to ponder these questions, and ideally identify 1-2 things you can change in the week ahead to make more impact. 

As I do the same, I am raising a virtual toast to you and to all of the long-term impact you’ll unlock as a result. 

Six Questions with Jenny Han

By Curiosity, Impact, Values No Comments

Six Questions with Scholars of Finance is a series intended to highlight the thoughts and lives of our students at Scholars of Finance. In the series, the students are simply asked six questions which we think embody the SOF experience and their answers are shared right here on the Scholars of Finance blog. In this second edition, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Jenny Han, a rising Sophomore at UC – Berkeley. If you are a student and would like to be featured in a segment of Six Questions with Scholars of Finance, please reach out to Jake Kranz via email.

What school do you go to?

University of California at Berkeley Class of 2023

Do you have any employment plans in the near future?

I am interning at a company called Kaali that is part of UC-Berkeley’s SkyDeck accelerator program.

Could you tell me a little bit about your experience with Scholars of Finance so far?

I joined Scholars of Finance in the spring of 2020 and gravitated towards it because of how differentiated of a business club it was, and still is. I was drawn in by the focus on morals and values and my strong belief in the mission. I’m a part of the associate team for the LDP out here and I’ve really enjoyed building deep, meaningful relationships with members through this program.

What is your favorite memory from Scholars of Finance so far?

My favorite memory so far is definitely the LDP. It’s given me the opportunity to learn about myself and others much more than I have in any of my other clubs or classes at college.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from Scholars of Finance?

The most important thing that I’ve learned to do in my time at SOF is the ability to implement my values and morals into everything that I do. Instead of thinking of success in the traditional way, I now think of success as sticking true to my values and living life in accordance with them.

If you could tell the next generation of SOF students anything – what would you tell them?

Take this time to truly reflect on who you want to be and what you really want out of life.

Six Questions with Noah Haverlock

By Curiosity, Impact No Comments

Six Questions with Scholars of Finance is a series intended to highlight the thoughts and lives of our students at Scholars of Finance. In the series the students are simply asked six questions which we think embody the SOF experience and their answers are shared right here on the Scholars of Finance blog. In the first edition of Scholars of Finance we had the pleasure of sitting down with Noah Haverlock, a graduating senior at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. If you are a student and would like to be featured in a segment of Six Questions with Scholars of Finance, please reach out to Jake Kranz via email.

What school do you go to?

University of St. Thomas Class of 2020

Do you have any employment plans in the near future?

I will be joining Chartwell full-time as an ESOP(Employee Stock Ownership Plan) Analyst.

Could you tell me a little bit about your experience with Scholars of Finance so far?

It’s been a long leadership journey for me so far. I’ve been involved with SOF for three years and started as a member of the symposium team in a minor role. From there I wanted to take on more of a leadership role and slowly worked my way up the ranks until I became the president of the chapter this last year. As a part of my role this year I had the opportunity to facilitate the LDP and it was very fulfilling seeing the participants grow. 

What is your favorite memory from Scholars of Finance so far?

My first symposium was a big memory especially since I was able to help out behind the scenes. That was the 2018 Symposium back when I was a sophomore. I didn’t know what it would feel like being a part of the leadership team pulling the event together, but it was really cool being a part of something that big.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from Scholars of Finance?

It’s important to think about your values and bring them top of mind before you enter your career. Even if we don’t encounter ethical issues now, we will encounter them in the future. Knowing your values and having a line in the sand to guide you is huge.

If you could tell the next generation of SOF students anything – what would you tell them?

DIVE IN! You’ll get out of SoF what you put in and if there’s anything you’d like to learn about, or any skills you’d like to develop – you can – just ask around. Also, be sure to take advantage of the Speaker Series events and stay in contact with your mentor(s).

Enduring the COVID-19 Quarantine

By Courage, Curiosity, Humility, Impact, Integrity No Comments

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the world as a singular, integrated entity—one free of borders, restrictions, or individual nations. Rather, a massive unit of free-flowing thought, boundless inspiration, and limitless ideas. With our current circumstances, how could I not? No matter which corner of the Earth you hail from, you are likely to be one of billions stuck at home, battling similar feelings of concern, angst, or frustration toward the COVID-19 quarantine. However, looking past its overtly devastating impact and a tragic impediment to society, COVID-19 has left one particularly remarkable effect on the world—solidarity

A new degree of global awareness, one that is far too often lost in the hectic pace of everyday life, has been garnered by so many of us. For example, never have I found myself so engaged in the daily lives and feelings of those from Italy or China, who were initially afflicted the most dramatically. Never have I been so inspired by the collective voices of citizens singing from balconies, or videos of healthcare workers stripping their masks off in celebration of success. Never have I felt so in sync with the world or understood so clearly the nature of humanity—to suffer, and heal, as one.

Still, even with a firm grasp of the nature and severity of the situation, how are we going to get through this? As Scholars of Finance members, business students, and analytical enthusiasts, we are certainly accustomed to a level of unpredictability, but never before on this scale. How can we make the most of our time during the COVID-19 quarantine? In what ways can we harness growth and continue to build our personal and professional skillsets? While I am no expert, I am happy to share the number of ways I have been sustaining my productivity and sanity, plus a few more that might help you do the same.

First and foremost, while I have continued maintaining relationships that I have formed with professionals during my first semester at NYU Stern, I have also continued maintaining personal relationships. It is equally as important to check in on those who care about you and to be responsive. Allow your academic and professional roles to be principal in your life, but prioritize your friends and family just as carefully. From personal experience, when you have trouble balancing all of these different sectors of life, consider revisiting the Scholars of Finance core values—integrity, humility, curiosity, courage, and impact—to help guide your decisions.

Furthermore, it is very possible to excel in your academics. Following a relatively strict time schedule to complete your coursework, possibly one identical to your pre-quarantine schedule, deems itself a promising plan. Give yourself a structure. Consistency is key. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to change out of those pajamas you’ve worn for three days!

On a more professional note, it is unfortunate to hear that many summer internships have been canceled. However, there are a number of firms that are willing to accommodate internships digitally. In fact, just last week I interviewed for a firm that told me to expect the possibility of an online transition. Additionally, there is a multitude of online resources aimed at providing alternatives to those whose internships have been canceled: I’d recommend simply opening up your LinkedIn account, and I can guarantee that a number of these resources will pop up on your feed. If you’re having trouble, be sure to reach out to your established connections or create a post—you never know who might be able to help you. Luckily, interview prep, resume workshops, and career panels are still in abundance. Many companies are hosting live and interactive webinars, such as Wells Fargo’s 2020 Beyond College Webinar Series, and are committed to your success now more than ever.

With that, I hope a weight is lifted off your shoulders and you are able to find clarity in the transition to a digital academic/professional experience if it comes down to it. Again, it can be extremely beneficial to stay busy. Keep up with your coursework, continue advancing your professional skills, and maybe even pick up a new hobby—personally, I’m trying to learn Spanish!

To the extent that you can, try to mirror or slightly modify activities that helped you find success, and peace, before the days of the COVID-19 quarantine. In the midst of enormous chaos, it is vital that you keep stillness inside of you. Here at Scholars of Finance, there is a tremendous amount of support and guidance through all of this, so do not hesitate to reach out to a member or an executive should you feel lost or defeated—maybe even consider joining our organization in the future. Lean on your family, friends, and mentors as you see fit. It is difficult to overstate the tragedy and disturbance that COVID-19 has brought us, so please know that any fears or concerns you may have are valid, understood, and empathized with. Above all, stay positive and hopeful for the future—your own future, the future of the sick or less fortunate, the future of the economy, and the future of the cities you might call home. As not just a member of Scholars of Finance but a student at NYU Stern, I am incredibly hopeful and optimistic for the greatest city in the world (and others) to beat COVID-19 and to return just a little bit greater.

 

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Tony Ferrara is a member of Scholars of Finance and one of the original Co-Founders at New York University. Tony is currently a freshmen at New York University and is majoring in finance and sustainable business with a minor in public policy at the Stern School of Business.