2023-24 Finance Newsletter

2023-2024 Finance Newsletter

In This Issue

What's New with the Finance Major?

Jessica Zhao

Jessica Zhao

Credit: Penn State Behrend

In October, the Finance department held a very successful Finance Day. The event featured many speakers on topics such as Investment Management, Traditional Banking, and Alternative Investments, as well as a networking session with alumni. A big thank-you goes out to faculty member Eric Robbins for organizing this event.

We continue to find ways to engage our students with professionals and attend conferences, which you can learn more about below.

Dr. Jessica Zhao, Program Chair for Economics and Finance

2023 Charles Schwab IMPACT Conference

Photo of Students at IMPACT 2023

Finance Students at IMPACT 2023. From left, Christopher Dicesare, Ryan Hanes, Owen Valasek, and Ronan Murphy 

Credit: Penn State

For the first time, Penn State Behrend was able to send four students to the October Charles Schwab IMPACT Conference in Philadelphia. This was an amazing opportunity for students to learn more about the registered investment advisor (RIA) industry and network with thousands of financial advisors all over the country! We hope to be invited back to IMPACT next year.

Penn State Behrend 2023-2024 CFA Institute Research Challenge

2023-2024 CFA Team Photo

From left, Matthew Muldowney, Sergei Stojanovic, Jayda Plonski, Jordan Irvine, Sam Marsteller, and Dr. Greg Filbeck, Interim Vice Chancellor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

Credit: Penn State

The annual Institute Research Challenge is a global competition that provides university students with hands-on mentoring and intensive training in financial analysis and professional ethics. Students are tested on their analytical, valuation, report writing, and presentation skills. They gain real-world experience as they assume the role of a research analyst. This year’s Behrend team is Jayda Plonski, Jordan Irvine, Sam Marsteller, Matthew Muldowney, and Sergei Stojanovic. The team is looking forward to working together in the local CFA Institute Research Challenge to learn more about investment analysis through researching and analyzing Koppers, a company based in Pittsburgh.

Eleven Students Receive CFA Institute University Affiliation Scholarships

Photo of scholarship winners

2023/2024 CFA University Affiliation Program Scholarship Recipients

Credit: Penn State Behrend

Congratulations to the Penn State Behrend Black School of Business scholarship recipients selected through the CFA University Affiliation Program! All will be sitting for the CFA Level 1 exam (with Richard Liddick sitting for the Level 2 exam) in 2024.

Faculty Spotlight

Eric Robbins, CFA, CFP, Associate Teaching Professor of Finance

Eric Robbins, assistant teaching professor of finance and associate director of corporate outreach and research in the Black School of Business.

Eric Robbins wears many hats in the school of business—he's an associate teaching professor of Finance, the administrative chair of the MBA program, and the associate director for corporate outreach and research.

He teaches FIN 420 (Investment and Portfolio Analysis), FIN 450 (Retirement Planning), and FIN 477 (Behavioral Finance), and is also the co-adviser for the Financial Planning (FPA) club. He also spent the last nine years leading student trips like the Spring Business Trip, sponsored by the SUE Club.

This past semester, Professor Robbins organized a two-day trip for financial planning students to Pittsburgh and a four-day trip taking four students to Charles Schwab's national conference.

What inspired you to pursue a career in your field of expertise?

I began my professional career at a wealth management firm in 1998. My father was in the industry and was one of the first 1,000 CFP recipients in the United States. I found the wealth management industry to pair well with my natural desire to help people navigate financial decisions.

How do you stay updated and incorporate new developments or trends in your field into your teaching methods?

To stay up to date on current industry trends, I remain well-connected with numerous firms in the financial planning and wealth management industries. I visit their offices, talk with their employees, and bring students to visit my contacts. I also read several books each year, monitor news outlets like the Wall Street Journal and the Epoch Times, and listen to a high volume of podcasts. Some of my favorite podcasts are Kitces and Carl, Morning Wire, The Long View (by Morningstar), The Compound & Friends, The Julia La Roche Show, ReThinking (with Adam Grant), The Human Side of Money, First Trust's ROI Podcast, and WSJ Opinion: Free Expression.

What advice would you give to aspiring students or individuals considering a career in your field?

I would tell students interested in the wealth management industry to focus on ethics. The fiduciary standard will be essential to their success. The registered investment advisor (RIA) business model is a disruptor in this industry, and it is probably the best option out there. Find a mentor and get very serious about preparing for your future career. Join the FPA Club to learn from industry insiders and enjoy great networking opportunities.

Alumni Spotlight

Isaac Echard '23

Photo of Isaac Echard

Isaac Echard graduated in May with dual degrees in Finance and Business Economics. In his role as a research, trading, and investment analyst at Hapanowicz & Associates, he processes day-to-day trading, quarterly rebalances, new account forms, and transfer paperwork, and provides analysis for future strategic allocations.

What advice would you give to current students looking to pursue a similar career path?

Take every possible course with Professor Phil Stuczynski. Also, do not just network at events or at career fairs. Network with fellow students as well as professors. You never know where an opportunity will stem from. You get out what you put in.

How do you think your college education has influenced or contributed to your career success?

Not to say classes are obsolete, however, you will learn the tangibles through training at your job. What Behrend is rich in are professors who are well-adapted to teaching the intangibles. These are the "cheat codes" when it comes to the job hunt.

Student Spotlight

Yonari Asgedom

Photo of Yonari Asgedom

Yonari Asgedom is a senior pursuing a dual major in Finance and Business Economics. He is completing an internship with Vanguard's Investment Management Group.

How did the Black School of Business prepare you for your internship?

The Black School of Business was pivotal in shaping my journey toward an internship with Vanguard. My active involvement in the Financial Management Association as club president, and my role as a lead analyst for the Intrieri Family Student-Managed Fund (worth approximately $1.2 million) provided invaluable real-world experience. These opportunities equipped me with the practical skills and insights necessary to excel in the competitive field of investment management. The Black School of Business provided hands-on finance theory and practical Bloomberg lab exposure, shaping me into a proficient equity analyst ready for the challenges of the financial world.

What inspired you to attend Penn State Behrend, and how did you choose your major?

I chose Penn State Behrend for its strong academic reputation and diverse staff members with various finance backgrounds. My majors, Finance and Business Economics, were influenced by my passion for entrepreneurship and investment.

Can you tell us about one of your favorite classes and why you enjoyed it?

I enjoyed being a part of the Intrieri Family Student-Managed Fund class with Dr. Timothy Krause and Philip Stuczynski. This investment fund allowed me to serve as lead analyst and as vice president of economics and markets. The class taught me real-world investment skills, including conducting fundamental research and performing equity valuation using Bloomberg.

Finance Club Updates

Business Analytics Team (BAT)

Throughout this semester, the Business Analytics Team has orchestrated a diverse array of meetings and informative speakers. The club kicked off the semester on a high note with a session centered around Alternative Investments, guided by Aaron Filbeck. For the second half of the semester, BAT focused on Auto Finance in collaboration with Ally Bank. This involved an engaging two-part case study that not only provided students with a deep dive into the business model but also encouraged them to dissect the nuances of the industry.

If you are a student who is interested in joining the Business Analytics Team, reach out to Owen Valasek, the team’s president.

Financial Management Association (FMA)

The Financial Management Association’s semester was filled with informative meetings and engagement. The group organized a helpful session featuring a panel of three alumni before the college’s Fall Career and Internship Fair, offering students practical advice and insights on networking and interviews. Dr. Greg Filbeck spoke about the CFA Program and how students can get involved. The club also hosted the Audit Department from Erie Insurance, providing students with the opportunity to ask questions and learn about the company’s student hiring processes.

If you are a student who is interested in joining the Financial Management Association, reach out to Yonari Asgedom, club president.

Financial Planning Association (FPA)

This year, Behrend's Financial Planning Association has been sponsored by Beratung Advisors, Freedom Investment Management Group, and Fort Pitt Capital. The club's sponsors help members with expertise and networking. Having these sponsors has allowed the club members to take trips to Pittsburgh and tour the firms.

The club also hosted Margo McCullough of Freedom Investment Management Group, who spoke to the club about her experience as a financial advisor.

Club members also conducted a case study with Beratung Advisors in which students were given a fictitious client and asked to assume the role of financial advisor. Club members used Money Guide Pro financial planning software to produce a successful retirement plan.

Many club members are pursuing the Certificate in Financial Planning, a useful accomplishment because it satisfies the education requirement to sit for the CFP Exam—the gold standard in financial planning.

The club is open to both Behrend and World Campus finance students. Students interested in learning more about FPA should reach out to President Kylie Pinetti or Club Advisers—Professor Eric Robbins and Professor Richard Hedderick. Club information can also be found on BehrendSync.

Celebrating Behrend’s 75th Anniversary

Photo of old program booklet

We are busy celebrating Penn State Behrend's 75th anniversary! A fun finance fact: The Finance Major first appeared as a Behrend business degree offering in the 2000–02 Undergraduate Degree Programs Bulletin, a 2” thick book filled with every available Penn State degree along with every degree’s class requirements. Our finance degree has grown over the years and is now offered to World Campus students, whose classes are taught by Black School of Business faculty, allowing students from around the globe to earn a Finance degree from Penn State Behrend.

Those who attended classes before the “days of the internet” will remember those blue-covered books that served as a roadmap to scheduling classes.

You can find out more about Behrend's history.