This year, the Financial Management Association traveled to New York City in the middle of October. I arrived late at night on October 10 after two brief plane delays, and we had multiple site visits the following two days. I, along with many other members, had tremendous experiences outside of the site visits as well.
Stepping off the plane at LaGuardia Airport, I was neither nervous nor excited. I had no idea what to expect from this opportunity, and therefore, I did not want to assume what the experiences would be like. After a brief night’s sleep, it was time for the first site visit at J.P. Morgan. The speaker, John Rosenwald, is a man who has 58 years of experience in the investment banking industry. He had great stories about his experience and also gave us tremendous advice about finance and success, in general. Perhaps my favorite piece of advice was when he told us that taking the first step was the most important in being successful. No matter if that step is in the right direction or wrong direction, initiative can teach a person what is necessary to succeed.
Our next site was Bloomberg Corporate Headquarters. It was the most impressive building I think I have ever been in. Our tour guides, who were young employees at Bloomberg, described to us the key elements of the building as we walked through it. Through the tour, we learned that the three themes of the building are nature, transparency, and communication. There were hardly any walls not made of glass, and the building was designed in a way to where the elevator went a limited amount of floors, which enforces communication and transparency. This forces workers to use the stairs and interact with colleagues that they might not otherwise see. Also, there are multiple fish ponds in the building to reinforce the theme of nature. At the end of our tour, a recent UT graduate, Julian Wood, spoke with us about working at Bloomberg and opportunities available to work there. It was great to see a former UT student succeeding in New York City.
For lunch, we visited PWC and were able to hear from another UT alumni named John. He shared his experiences working with PWC and also described the consulting division of the firm. After lunch, we had about an hour of free time before our next site visit, so a few of us decided to walk to Times Square and Central Park. Times Square was much different than what I expected, and I was actually a little disappointed. However, I rather enjoyed the stroll through Central Park and wish that I had had more time to explore the area. We met at NBC studios where we were scheduled to have a tour. Our tour guides were great, and it was obvious that they enjoyed their jobs very much. We were able to walk onto the sets of the Today Show and Dr. Oz, and we were allowed to see the set for Saturday Night Live. While on the set of the Today Show, many people outside began looking in at all of us as if we were important. It was amusing to see tourists flock to the window hoping to catch a glimpse of a celebrity.
Once the tour was over, it was time for us to eat dinner, and we were all starving. We walked a few blocks to a restaurant called Carmine’s. The food was delicious, and there were so many courses that by the time they were serving dessert, I could barely eat it. After dinner, I walked to Barclays to meet an acquaintance, Diego, who had recently graduated from UT and is working in New York. He showed me around the trading floor and some of the other places in the building. He also introduced me to one of his colleagues, and we all talked over almost a half an hour. I kept asking him about the grueling hours and whether it was worth it, because I was trying to determine whether I would be able to work in investment banking. As I left, though, I realized that the hours did not matter. This is what I wanted to do, and I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the work and especially New York City. Passing Madison Square Garden as I returned to the hotel confirmed my aspiration to find an internship in New York City.
The next morning we woke up early again, but this time we travelled to the southernmost point of Manhattan to visit the financial district. Our first site visit was at the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was much different than what I had anticipated. The men on the floor trading different commodities did not to seem as engaged as I thought they would have to be. We learned that technology has changed the trading floor of the NYMEX so much that the workers believe that there may not be a need for a physical trading floor in the future. As we walked around the floor, many of the conversations that we heard were not about commodities, and there were only two or three instances where we saw the traders break out in loud screams trying to trade quickly.
Our second visit of the day was to Telx. No one in the group had any idea what to expect upon arrival to 60 Hudson Street, because this was the first time FMA had scheduled a visit to the site. In short, we went to the internet, or at least, that is what we joked about the rest of the day. We saw where many companies keep their servers; so essentially, we saw all of the hardware that helps create “the cloud”. It was amazing to see such a different working environment, and the best part was our tour guide. I was envious of how happy this man was to do his job every day and how excited he was to explain to us how that the building we were standing in is important to so many people who do not even realize it exists. After our tour of the facility, the man walked us down the street to where we ate lunch. It was another delicious meal, and it was also the time when a few of us decided to buy tickets to see the Yankees play the Orioles that night. My ticket only cost forty dollars! All we could do is talk about how excited we were the rest of the day.
Our next stop was the Federal Reserve. This was a somewhat disappointing trip, because we waited in the lobby for was seemed like forever. Actually, it was maybe only a half an hour, but by the time the tour guide finally found us, we only had time for a quick tour of the vault. The most noteworthy aspect of the visit was seeing 182,000 bricks of gold locked up in the vault. We were not entirely disappointed, because one of our last visits of the day was to the coveted New York Stock Exchange. I expected this to be a depressing visit since the NYSE is nothing like it used to be. However, our host, Joseph Mastrolia, showed us that even though there are less people physically trading on the floor, the NYSE still plays an integral part in trading equities. Watching Joseph trade while he talked with us was mesmerizing. He described to us a few of the major stocks that he follows like Honeywell, and it was interesting how much he knew about each of the forty-five stocks that he followed. He not only knew the major news of each company and many of their corporate managers, but he also knew the more technical side of how the stock traded each day. He was able to describe to us the volatility, volume, and general trading behavior for many of his stocks. I found myself fascinated with his profession, mainly because there are so few people who have the opportunity to do what he does for a living.
Upon leaving the stock exchange, we hurried to take a picture of the bull. Then, instead of going with the rest of the group to the 911 Memorial, the few of us who had bought tickets earlier printed them off and rushed to the Bronx to catch the game. We arrived at the beginning of the fourth inning, and as soon as I sat down the game started to pick up. Raul Ibanez hit a line drive to the fence that drove in a run, and later we saw home run near close to where we were sitting. As the game came to a close, all the fans stood up and cheered for C.C. Sabathia, who had pitched a great game. The Yankees won the 2012 ALDS, and I was there to see it. After the game we were all starving, so we rode the subway back down to Little Italy where we ate some amazing Italian pizza. By the time I made it back to the hotel, I was so exhausted that I immediately packed my bags and fell asleep. It was by far one of the best ways I have ever spent my time on a fall break.
I would like to take this opportunity to share with you the wonderful experience I had while participating on the Financial Management Association’s Fall Break trip to New York City.
Over the course of October 11 and October 12, 2012, our group of thirty undergraduate and graduate students along with two professors was fortunate to visit numerous institutions of great significance to the global Financial Industry. This included visiting the New York Stock Exchange for the Closing Bell, the NY Federal Reserve Bank, as well as the Bloomberg office that, architecturally, is like no other building in the world. Incredibly, these are only a few of the highlights from a packed itinerary that allowed us to also take a tour of NBC’s studios and the TELX, which houses the hardware for the Internet!
My personal favorite was our meeting with Mr. John Rosenwald, the Vice Chairman Emeritus for J.P. Morgan Chase. Having worked his way up on Wall Street from his first day in 1954, listening to such a storied career-one that included making the first block trade- was a truly unique opportunity that would not have been possible if not for this trip. The graciousness with which he spoke as well as the passion for the industry in which he has worked his entire life were remarkable to observe and left a tremendous impression on me as I am just beginning what I hope will be a long and successful career in the Financial Industry.
This trip to New York will certainly remain a highlight of my undergraduate career while in the College of Business at UT. Not only did it provide an incredible opportunity to see so many various aspects of the Financial Industry in the Finance Capital of the World, but it also gave me the chance to meet so many incredible students that attend the University of Tennessee. Surrounded by almost thirty colleagues of different backgrounds and with many unique career pursuits, this trip provided a great learning opportunity from them as well.
In May 2013, I will graduate with my degree in Finance and the hopes of pursuing a career in Investment Banking. Visiting New York City with the Financial Management Association served as great reaffirmation of my career goals and provided tremendous learning opportunities from Financial Professionals and peers alike.