Spring 2018 Finance Newsletter

In this issue:


Hope your spring semester is off to a great start! We are off to another exciting year as our Finance major (both on campus and Penn State World Campus) continues to soar and become the largest major on campus! Below are some highlights of our program:

  1. The Intrieri Family Student Managed Fund has grown to about $700,000! Both residential and World Campus students can join the team to manage the fund by registering for a 1-credit course, FIN 362 Student Managed Fund – Associate Analyst or FIN 462 Student Managed Fund – Lead Analyst.
  2. Our Investment Research Challenge (IRC) Behrend team is back to compete this semester at the 2018 CFA Institute Research Challenge.
  3. Our Canvas Pride group, Behrend Finance Department, has now over 170 residential students and 190 World Campus students. Please check this group on Canvas for exciting news, speaker schedules, club meetings, and job/internship opportunities.
  4. Starting in fall 2018, we will offer hybrid sessions for both FIN 301 Corporate Finance and FIN 450 Retirement Planning.
  5. In fall 2018, Harry Feng, assistant professor of finance, will offer a new course, FIN 497A Special Topics: Excel Modeling as a new option for finance 400-level electives. This course applies spreadsheets to build financial models and solve numerically intensive problems in finance.

Please check details on all the great events occurring within our program during spring 2018 in this newsletter!

Dr. Jessica Zhao
Professor of Finance
Chair, Finance and Economics

Faculty Spotlight

Barbara J. Welton, Esq.

Barbara J. Welton, Esq.

Instructor, FIN 430 Estate Planning

What is your educational background?

I graduated from Behrend in 1994 with a degree in Political Science. I received my Juris Doctorate in 1997 from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

How would you describe your teaching style?

By the time I reach the classroom at 6:00 p.m., I’ve been up for fourteen hours and worked a full day. The students are also tired. I try to be lively and engaged as I describe topics that can be less than exciting. I also give examples from my practice to show how certain rules may work out in the theory of the classroom but can go haywire in real life.

What is your favorite part about being a faculty member?

I enjoy interacting with the students. They are enthusiastic to learn and excited to start their professional careers. I especially like it when they ask a question that takes a lot of thought to answer.

What do you like most about Behrend? 

I loved my four years at Behrend. Many professors had a role in making me the person I am today. I will never forget the opportunities I had at Behrend to learn and explore what I wanted to do in the law and in life. In return, I take advantage of any opportunity to return to campus to help, either as a member of the Council of Fellows or the Political Science Advisory Board. It’s been nearly twenty-four years since I graduated from Behrend and I still jump to do whatever Dr. Ken Miller, senior director of administration and student affairs, tells me to do!

What are you looking forward to?

I am looking forward to seeing the students learn the fundamentals of estate planning and know that they will be able to apply it in their personal and professional lives.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like to run on my treadmill while watching reruns of “The Big Bang Theory.”

What topics do you find most interesting?

Although I love the law, I believe my practice also requires a knowledge of psychology, especially in negotiations. I like to read articles about human behavior and how our genetics and environment shape our opinions.

Do you have any advice for current students majoring in finance?

Although class work is important, so is real-life experience. Take every opportunity to be involved outside the classroom. You will see the practical application of what you’ve learned and potentially make contacts for internships and employment.

Alumni Spotlight

Bradley Prosper ’15

Bradley Prosper ’15

I graduated with a dual major in Accounting and Finance and a minor in Applied Economics. I also received three certificates: Financial Planning, General Business, and Advanced General Business. I graduated with 165.5 credits in four years.

What is your current position and where?

I’m currently employed as an investment analyst at XPYRIA Investment Advisors, a Pittsburgh-based registered investment advisor. I use MorningStar Direct, Microsoft Excel, and a Bloomberg Terminal daily in order to research attractive investment opportunities and perform due diligence in equities, fixed income, alternative investments, ETFs, and mutual funds. I lead the search for new mutual funds and conduct over 200 meetings with mutual fund managers per year. In addition, I perform general economic and market analysis to put together investment strategies that allow our clients to achieve their financial goals. I am responsible for all quarterly recaps and ad-hoc analysis that we send to clients. I am also a member of the firm’s Investment Committee, where I lead discussions on what I’m seeing in markets, provide updates on the mutual funds we own, and illustrate how we should position our portfolios.

What do you like best about your job or your employer? 

XPYRIA is a ten-person firm, so it’s a close-knit, family environment. One of the best parts of working in an office like this is that your job description is very broad and you get to learn about every aspect of the business. In other words, you have the opportunity to be a jack-of-all-trades and provide real value on day one. The autonomy is also a great value-add, and my responsibilities continue to grow over time.

Do you intend to pursue any further education or training?

I am currently a Level III Candidate in the CFA Program. I intend to also sit for the CFP® designation in the next two years.

How has your minor/certifications helped you? 

I use my Economics minor every day in analyzing long-term trends and the connectivity of the global markets. I also use my Financial Planning certificate on a daily basis to put together comprehensive plans for clients. Having a strong foundation and well-rounded skillset is very important in the business world, and I feel that my Economics minor and Financial Planning certificate provided me with that foundation.

What advice do you have for future graduates?

Become as well-rounded as you can and work hard. Intelligence, which isn’t measured by a 4.0 GPA by the way, will only get you so far, and you need to have soft skills to succeed in both your personal and professional life. Being respectful, demonstrating strong communication skills, and having integrity are valuable traits that can set you apart from the crowd and serve you well in life. Always look for opportunities to grow your skillset and learn. Other than that, the best advice I can give you is to build a diverse network of people, such as peers, alumni, professors, or other professionals, who have taken different career paths. Learn from their experiences, find out where your interests lie, and blaze your own trail.

What would you tell your college self if you could go back in time? 

You don’t have to do everything on your own. Your professors have industry experience, they’re incredibly knowledgeable, and they’re willing to help you. I wish I had spent more time with them outside of class to really ask questions and learn more about their personal experiences both positive and negative to prepare for my career and learn about the roles within certain industries.

What was your favorite class at Behrend? 

Tough question – any class with Eric Robbins, lecturer in finance, or Dr. Filbeck. If forced to choose, I’d say that FIN 450 Retirement Planning with Eric Robbins was my favorite class. Not only is Eric Robbins one of the most likeable people I’ve ever met, but he’s always willing to help students. I remember this course vividly because it was my first semester at Behrend (after changing location from Penn State Beaver) and helped me realize that I made the right decision in choosing Behrend. It was a fast-paced course, but it humanized the finance industry for me and motivated me to learn more about financial planning from both a professional and personal standpoint.

Senior Spotlights

Jared Orr

Jared Orr

What’s your major?


What has been your favorite course?

FIN 420 Investment and Portfolio Analysis

What do you like most about attending Behrend?

The Behrend professors genuinely care for the students and go out of their way to give students the opportunity to succeed. The professors at this school get to know their students on a personal basis and are willing to go above and beyond the call of duty. The bonds that I have formed with professors at Behrend are unique, and unmatched by friends attending other universities.

How will a Behrend degree help you in your field?

Behrend connects me to a vast alumni network, not only from Penn State Behrend, but Penn State, as a whole. I think that Behrend provides a hands-on approach that other schools and campuses don’t. Professors from Behrend do a tremendous job of relating in-class learning to real-world application, which I feel gives Behrend students the competitive edge when competing for jobs against students that only know how to give a textbook answer.

If you could do it all again, would you have chosen Behrend?

I am a major advocate of Behrend, and would do almost everything the same, if I could do it all over. If I were a senior in high school again, I would try to convince more of my classmates to choose Penn State Behrend. I still keep in touch with friends, teammates, and coaches from high school, and I tell them all that choosing Behrend was the best thing that I could’ve done. I encourage them to explore it further if it isn’t their number-one choice already.

Nick Findley

Nick Findley

What’s your major?

Finance and Business Economics

What has been your favorite course?

If I have to choose one, it would be FIN 420 Investment and Portfolio Analysis with Eric Robbins, lecturer in finance. Without naming the entire curriculum, FIN 301 Corporation Finance with Greg Filbeck; FIN 410 Derivatives Markets with Tim Krause, assistant professor of finance; ECON 302 Intermediate Microeconomic Analysis with Kerry Adzima, associate professor of economics; and ECON 304 Intermediate Macroeconomic Analysis with Valerica Vlad, assistant professor of economics, are all among my favorites.

What do you like most about attending Behrend?

There are so many great things happening here, specifically in the Black School of Business! We have so many opportunities to be involved in various clubs and organizations. The Spring Student Trip sponsored by the Society of Undergraduate Economists, the Intrieri Family Student Managed Fund, and our various clubs are all great opportunities to build relationships with professionals, professors, and peers. Additionally, our faculty and staff truly want to make a difference in our education and our transition to our careers.

How will a Behrend degree help you in your field?

We have a very powerful reputation underlying our programs at Behrend. I am confident my Behrend degree will set me apart as I begin and continue through my career.

2018 CFA Institute Investment Research Challenge

The Penn State Behrend Investment Research Challenge (IRC) Team competed on Tuesday, February 13, at the Rivers Club in Pittsburgh. The challenge is a global competition hosted by the CFA Institute. This global challenge involves over 140 CFA member societies, 3,500-member volunteers and more than 5,000 students from over 1,000 universities. This year, the team competed against many top universities in the Greater Pittsburgh region. After countless hours of due diligence, research, and financial analysis, the team completed a comprehensive report of WESCO International Inc., a multinational electronics distribution and services company based in Pittsburgh. Each year, Penn State Behrend brings a competitive effort to the challenge, winning the regional competition in 2016 and 2017, placing in the top 21 in the nation in 2016, and finishing second in regional competition in 2018.

2018 IRC Team

From left, IRC team members Matthew Colpoys, Vilyamir Kolesnichenko, Ashley Pettit, and Nicholas Findley with Dr. Greg Filbeck

Join the Financial Management Association (FMA)

Are you interested in the financial services industry, or simply just want to learn more about one of the many options a Finance degree provides? The Financial Management Association chapter on campus is the perfect place to learn what a career in financial management looks like. Learn valuable life and career lessons from industry professionals as well as build a strong career network! If you have any questions about the FMA, please contact Ben Lowery at [email protected].


From left, Phil Stuczynski, lecturer in business; Erik Ovick; Benjamin Lowery; Jarod Orr; Andrea Asbun; Liam O’Brien; and Jeff Coy, assistant professor of finance

How to Join the FMA

To join FMA, go to the FMA home page and sign up to pay the annual rate of $50 to cover national ($35) and local dues ($15). Your membership grants you access to new research and information from top experts in the financial field along with networking opportunities in Pittsburgh and much more!

Go to the FMA website and scroll down to the full-time student option.

Join the Financial Planning Association (FPA)


From left, Tim Hess, Kristopher Knorr, Jason Pettner, Vilyamir Kolesnichenko, Brady Maximovich

How to Join the FPA

To be a part of our local Financial Planning Association chapter on campus, all it takes is for you to pay your local annual dues of $10 at the RUB desk and come to the meetings. Make sure you save your receipt and give it to our treasurer, Brady Maximovich, at the meetings. After that, you are all set to enjoy the many benefits that come along with being in the FPA, including our networking trips to our FPA chapter in Pittsburgh!

To join the national FPA, go to the FPA webpage and sign up to pay the annual national dues of $39. This grants you access to all of the resources on the website, a welcome package, Journal of Financial Planning Monthly, Money, certificate of membership and much more. If you have any questions about the FPA, contact Jason Pettner at [email protected].

Go to the FPA website and scroll down to the full-time student option.