Succeeding in Finance: Tips from Industry Leaders

Regulation, compliance, technology—much has changed since the financial crisis hit in 2008. So if you’re in the world of finance, how do you navigate this evolving landscape and strategize for what’s ahead?

In December, nearly 60 Gettysburg College alumni and parents from across the profession gathered to explore these questions and more at Envisioning the Future of the Finance Industry, a panel event held at the Penn Club in New York City.

Finance panel in NYC

Moderated by Economics lecturer and entrepreneur Drew Murphy ’84, P’20, the panel featured four prominent financial leaders in the Gettysburg network:

  • Eric Allyn P’16, Former Chair of the Board of Welch-Allyn, Inc.
  • Andy Larkin ’86, Managing Director, JP Morgan Chase
  • Chris Matthaei ’01, Principal, Elevation LLC
  • Daria Lo Presti Wallach ’76, Managing Partner of Lord Abbett & Co. LLC

And like so many Gettysburg events, the conversation quickly turned to today’s students—specifically, what steps they can take to make an impact from Main Street to Wall Street.

“A liberal arts background is wonderful for problem solving,” said Wallach, who majored in English and secondary education at Gettysburg before diving into the finance industry and ascending the leadership ranks. “The bar is much, much higher in the industry today, so a mix of a liberal arts degree with technical knowledge is certainly a benefit.”

Larkin agreed.

As a former economics major and lacrosse player, Larkin’s career in currency sales and trading has taken him around the globe, including to Tokyo and Hong Kong. He stressed the importance of fluency in the universal language—mathematics and qualitative statistics.

“If you can speak with substance in these areas, you will hold your own in any conversation,” Larkin shared, encouraging students and attendees alike to pursue coding courses and stay abreast of the latest technological advances.

“Today we have fewer banks, so we’re far more focused on hiring the right people. Gettysburgians need to compete with graduates from the Ivy League and MIT, so you need to be able to speak the language—it’s essential.”

NYC Finance Symposium networkingFor Allyn, landing great employees means recruiting great communicators.

“Extraordinary communication skills—that’s really what I’m looking for,” said Allyn, whose healthcare technology company was recently sold to Hill-Rom, Inc., in a deal worth more than $2 billion. “You need to be able to synthesize information and bring complex topics down to layman’s terms for your clients.”

Lastly, Matthaei, a former Gettysburg management major and football player, believes that staying disciplined to how you communicate is equally as important for young professionals.

“Detach from social media,” advised Matthaei, who previously served as a senior trader for a $3 billion multi-strategy hedge fund based in London. “It can be a big distraction and is a very real problem today. You need to step back from all the noise and focus on the work at hand.”