I am on the Finance and Banking Advisory Board at my Alma Mater, Appalachian State University.   This fall, I was invited to attend a trip to New York City with a group of students roughly one month into a one-year portfolio management course that I took while in college.  This course requires an interview and a rigorous selection process, analyst type research, company valuations, modeling and frequent presentations.  To make it even more exciting for a college student, they’re investing real money.  When I was in the course, the portfolio was valued at roughly $60,000.  Over the last eight years, the students have grown the portfolio to roughly $160,000.

The purpose of this trip to New York is to allow the students the opportunity to get a taste of life on Wall Street, and to understand what it takes to procure one of these entry level analyst or coveted portfolio manager positions. We spent time with the analysts on Wall Street who are developing portfolios and research used by corporations, endowments and individuals.  At Gaskin Asset Management, the team serves the larger vision and goals of the individual utilizing tools, portfolios and research curated by these analysts.  It is so interesting to be on the other side, understanding what the individual client is looking for, and to see how Wall Street develops the research that advisors like us use to make portfolio recommendations.

I spend a lot of time with young people, helping them prepare for the next phase in life after college, or young people out of college trying to determine their next move.  Life has afforded me the opportunity to experience both the corporate world and entrepreneurship through private business.  It is such an honor to be able to give young people some perspective from both sides.

Maybe this is cheesy, but I have seen this advice work for me in my own life: “Just be yourself and work really hard”.  It was refreshing to hear a few companies share a similar message to the students.  It is so important that what we do everyday is in alignment with who we are.  In my opinion, the moment we “sell out” or sacrifice our integrity and identity to be someone we are not, that is the moment when work becomes harder than it needs to be, when we become anxious and stressed, or when our happiness and joy in life greatly decreases.  It feels like a slippery slope, with all risk and no reward.  In this intensely competitive industry, it excites me beyond measure to see these hard-working Appalachian State students eager and willing to embrace their identities and to take the risk to fight competition with the Ivy Leagues for what they want.

Lessons directly from Wall Street: Embrace identity, take the risk and work hard.


Author & Image: Ivey Gaskin Baker, CFP ®

Any opinions are those of Ivey Gaskin Baker and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. Raymond James is not affiliated with Appalachian State University. Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, Certified Financial Planner™ and CFP® in the U.S.