Alumni Return to Campus for Second Annual Economics and Finance Forum

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

This past Saturday, Redefine Her Street (RHS) and Clarus Capital hosted the second annual Economics and Finance Forum, titled “Entering The Trump Economy.” The forum featured four alumni from four different fields of finance and included networking opportunities for students who attended. Karen Nguyen ‘18 and Irene Xiang ‘18, two of the organizers of the event, said the title was chosen to reflect the way in which the new administration is affecting the fields of finance and economics.

“Many of our topics touched upon […] the implications of Dodd-Frank, divesting away from the fossil fuel industry and into renewable energy, using financial and philanthropic capital for social good, the rise in options trading to hedge against the risk of an increasingly volatile market, and the use of fintech in emerging markets,” they said.

Sampriti Ganguli ‘95, the first speaker, discussed her work as the CEO of Arabella Advisors, a group that helps foundations, philanthropists, and investors achieve the greatest impact with their resources.

“Currently, there isn’t a standardized method for measuring the social impact philanthropy,” she said.

She mentioned that developing these kinds of measures is extremely important as a type of investing known as “impact investing” has started to grow in popularity. For an impact investment, financial returns are not the only metric of success; environmental and social impacts are also factored into measures of success as well.

However, she believed it would be some time before the financial sector as a whole moved towards impact investing.

“I would say that it will take about two decades before impact investing becomes mainstream in the financial sector,” she said.

Jayson Yost ‘03 spoke about the impact of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill on the investment banking sector. Yost currently works in the Financial Institutions Group (FIG) at Citi. He discussed the inner workings of the 848 page bill, diving into how it has affected the way companies like Citi comply with financial regulations.

He also noted, however, that with the Trump administration, it is possible that the bill would be repealed, though it would require 60 votes in the Senate in order for that to happen.

After a brief lunch and networking session with the attendees, Chris Murphy ‘04 dove into his work as an options trader at Susquehanna Financial Group. His work primarily centers around selling put and call options to clients on their assets. He began his talk with a discussion of what options were.

Murphy also discussed how statistical topics like the Normal distribution, skew, and correlation impact his work on a day to day basis. Most notably, he discussed how most traders were completely wrong about their predicted movement of the market in the event of a Trump victory.

“Most traders thought that if Trump won, the market would move downward and volatility would go up,” he said.

However, the market actually rallied and volatility levels in Trump’s first few months have been at their lowest levels in recent history. In the end, he said, trading boiled down to making educated guesses about the movement of assets, and that those predictions can be wrong.

The final speaker, Eleanor Joseph ‘07, discussed her work as the Co-Founder and CEO of Ubuntu Capital, a financial technology firm that works in Uganda to help provide digital marketing solutions to small businesses.

“We work to help small business owners in Uganda grow their businesses by developing their social media and online presence,” she said.

After serving as a Fellow in the Office of Mayor Martin J. Walsh in Boston, she co-founded Ubuntu Capital. Although she still lives in Boston, she spends a considerable amount of time in Uganda.

By the end, many attendees felt satisfied with the forum and thought it proved beneficial.

“I thought it was good. It was really informative,” Nerissa Nashin ‘19 said.

Nguyen and Xiang felt the same way.

“We were proud to see such a strong turnout from students and alumni, from all different years and backgrounds and look forward to what next year’s coordinators will bring to the table,” they said.

Siddharth Srivatsan

Sid is a sophomore from Ashburn, Virginia (NoVA!) planning on double majoring in Mathematics and Economics. He enjoys backpacking, and DJ’s a radio show on WSRN-FM. You can probably catch him watching Law & Order or reading The Economist.

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