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Business Professionals Deliver “Path to Wall Street” Lecture

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Photo courtesy of Flickr

The “Path to Wall Street” panel, which took place on Tuesday, Oct. 20, consisted of four prominent business professionals, all of who presently serve on Loyola’s Board of Trustees. The panelists included Louis R. Cestello, executive vice president at PNC Bank, James Forbes, vice chairman of UBS Group, J. Richard Fredericks, managing director at Main Management, and Kevin Finnerty, partner and co-founder at Galton Capital Bank and the former head of mortgage securities at J.P. Morgan.

Students serious about obtaining high-end jobs in the financial industry listened to the businessmen with unwavering attention. For those only considering such a career, the lecture was honest about the demands of the industry and this may lead to hesitation for future Wall Street plans. The panel wasted no time relaying the demands of the taxing occupations, asserting that those doubtful of their abilities to withstand potential 90 to 100-hour workweeks should reconsider their plans.

First to introduce himself was Mr. Finnerty, who spoke on the topic of internships at Wall Street investment banks. His recommendations can be summed up in one statement: get your foot in the door early. Marking your presence in the business world early in the game makes you a much more marketable candidate. Mr. Finnerty reinforced the dual purpose of an internship: the intern benefits from the increased experience, crucial business connections, and knowledge particular to the job, while higher authority benefits from the observations made about how you perform and integrate into the company. Your ability to interact and collaborate efficiently with your peers is held to the same standard as your academic credentials.

This integration, as the panelists explained, is largely dependent on your ability to collaborate with your colleagues, ask questions and expand your intellectual capacities. They said to ask yourself, what am I doing wrong? How did we come to this conclusion? More importantly, know your place. Throughout your career there will be multiple opportunities for advancement. Mr. Fredericks cautioned those quick to demean the person, for example, responsible for sharpening pencils. For if you think you are above the person who sharpens pencils, you better be the best pencil sharpener in the office.

The gentlemen also stressed the importance of being able to defend your arguments and state your opinions confidently and in a concise manner. Mr. Forbes emphasized the necessity of shrinking what could be a 20-page report down to two, succinct pages. It is also important to ask what are the strengths and weaknesses of this company and see if you can boil the information down to a 30-second pitch. Of all the things valued on Wall Street, time is one of them. Quick decisions need to be made. Mr. Fredericks described an instance where it was necessary for him and an intern to immediately take a trip to D.C. The workday was long over, but the intern went without hesitation. The rationalization? There was work to be done.

The panelists may very well have described the characteristics of an analytical robot rather than an eager intern looking to start on the path to a career on Wall Street. The difference between the two lies in one fundamental quality: passion. To acquire a profound interest in what the field has to offer is reason enough to aspire to work within it. As put by Mr. Cestello, “I live this” and “life goes pretty quick.” These accomplished businessmen concluded their discussion by encouraging students in the audience to pursue something they are passionate about, a lesson quite unspecific to Wall Street, yet vital to the world of business as a whole.

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Business Professionals Deliver “Path to Wall Street” Lecture