GGU Students Reach Finals of Regional CFA Institute Research Challenge

A student team representing Golden Gate University reached the finals of the regional CFA Institute Research Challenge, which attracted undergraduate and graduate schools from across Northern California.  The competition required teams to create a written report and deliver a group presentation to a panel of financial services professionals. Using fundamental analysis of Salesforce, the team offered a recommendation of sell.

GGU’s team was comprised of (pictured above): Quyen Le (MBA, Finance, ’19)  [far left], I-Chang (Tony) Lai (MS Finance, ’18) [second from left], Junjie (Stan) Liu (MS Finance, ’18) [second from right], and Gurpreet Singh (MS Finance, ’18) [far right]. The team was sponsored and led by David Kaczorowski [center], Professor of Finance & Program Manager at GGU, who has experience in the finance industry that spans both academic and industry practice–in both equity research and portfolio management.

Request information about Master of Science in Finance program >>

Envisioning the Digital Ethics Officer at Banks and Financial Institutions


As Regulatory Innovation Officer at Wells Fargo’s Innovation Group, Yvette Hollingsworth Clark responds to the impact of adopting emerging technology on banking and financial institutions. Working with other financial experts, strategists, coders, data analysts, risk managers, and lawyers at the bank’s San Francisco headquarters, she leads the integration of risk management requirements during the design stage of transformative digital solutions.

In a recent blog post, Hollingsworth Clark wrote:

“..the traditional role of a compliance officer or risk manager may evolve to a role such as digital ethics officer, or DEO. I envision a DEO being responsible for creating and maintaining a ‘responsible digital network policy…'”

You can read the full post on the American Bankers Association’s Journal.

Hollingsworth Clark is an adjunct professor in GGU’s Master of Finance degree program and was named to American Banker’s Most Powerful Women in Banking: Women to Watch in 2017.


Which Financial Industry Designation is Right for Me?

Thursday, March 1st (12:00 P.M. – 1:30 P.M.)
Golden Gate University, San Francisco [Map]
Room 6208 (6th Fl.)

Whether you’re searching for a new career path or just curious about the different finance credentials, this panel will help guide you through some of the best known professional designations in the financial industry: Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA),  Financial Risk Manager (FRM), Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Finance (MFin). Each of these has a core career focus, and although their abbreviations often sound interchangeable, each designation gives you something unique. Join us for lunch* on  March 1st to discover what careers each designation typically leads to.

Register Now >>

Registration is free for Golden Gate Unversity Students. For the special registration code, contact David Kaczorowski Professor of Finance and Program Manager at GGU.


Lu Cheng, CFA, CPA
Associate Portfolio Manager, BlackRock

Lu Cheng, CFA, CPA, is an Associate Portfolio Manager within BlackRock’s ETF and Index Investments (“EII”) group, currently responsible for the US iShares ETFs. Prior to joining BlackRock, Ms. Cheng was an Assistant Vice President at State Street managing the Equity Index Client Operations team providing fund accounting, custodial services and financial reporting for index equity and asset allocation portfolios. Ms. Cheng earned her B.A. in Economics and International Relations in 2009 from University of California, Davis.

Bryan Hasling, CFP, EASenior Financial Planner, JW Harrison

Bryan Hasling, CFP, is a certified financial planner and enjoys using his expertise to guide clients through their various financial topics, such as tax planning, investments, stock options, retirement, and more. Previously, he worked with firms in the Dallas-Ft Worth and Lubbock, TX areas, serving high net worth families and business owners. Mr. Hasling is Co-Director of his local chapter’s NexGen group within the Financial Planning Association – a group dedicated to helping young professionals with their personal growth and continuing education. Mr. Hasling attended Texas Tech University, receiving a degree in Personal Financial Planning and a minor in economics. In addition to his CFP® designation, Mr. Hasling also earned the IRS Enrolled Agent certification, which marks one of the highest degrees in tax education.

Jonathan Short, CMA, MBADirector of Revenue Management – Wine & Spirits, Constellation Brands

Jonathan Short joined Constellation Brands in 2008 to build out the company’s Grape Strategy capabilities. He was responsible for optimizing the $0.5 Billion spend on Constellation’s annual grape and bulk wine purchases and 12,000 acres of internally farmed fruit. Since 2014 Jon has worked in his current role where he manages pricing and promotional effectiveness for Constellation’s Wine & Spirits business. Mr. Short holds a B.A. in Economics from UCLA and an M.B.A. from UC Davis. He earned the Certified Management Accountant credential in 2016 and is the Director of Outreach for the San Francisco chapter of the Institute of Management Accountants.

Valerie Wong, MFinVice President, BlackRock

Valerie Wong, Vice President, is an Equity Index Strategist within BlackRock’s ETF and Index Investments group. Ms. Wong joined BlackRock from MSCI where she spent almost 8 years, most recently as a Senior Associate and part of the Index Client Coverage team supporting West Coast Asset Managers. Before MSCI, she served as a Financial Analyst at HSBC. She began her career as an Auditor at KPMG. Ms. Wong graduated Summa Cum Laude from the EGADE Business School (Tec de Monterey) with an MFin. She earned a B.Sc. in Accounting with a minor in Public Accounting and a B.A. in International Business with a minor in Economics from John Brown University. Ms. Wong passed Level II of the CFA Program.

Gene Yoshida, CFA, Senior Director of Enterprise Risk Management, Prosper Marketplace

Gene Yoshida is the Senior Director of Enterprise Risk Management at Prosper Marketplace and became a CFA charterholder in 2014.  Gene is a practitioner of operational, credit, and new product risk at the line and in an oversight capacity. Diverse background in asset management, insurance, real estate, and consumer finance.


Dave Kaczorowski, CFA, MBAProfessor of Finance & Program Manager, Golden Gate University

David Kaczorowski has experience in the finance industry that spans both academic and industry practice.  He is a Professor of Finance and Program Manager at Golden Gate University.  He has also worked in both equity research and portfolio management.  His most recent industry position was as lead manager of a startup family office. Prior to that position, he spent five years as an equity research associate, covering technology companies.  Dave has both a CFA charter and an MBA in Investment Management from Yale University.


$15 Member/$25 Non-Member

This event qualifies for 1.5 hours of continuing education credit for CFA Charterholders.

*Lunch Provided.

Register Now >>

A Behavioral Finance View of Cryptocurrencies

By Rick Lehman, Adjunct Professor of Behavioral Finance, Golden Gate University


We are in the grip of a social phenomenon like no other we’ve ever experienced. People are paying thousands of dollars for something that is essentially a reward for playing a computer game. It has no physical properties, questionable use, no regulation, and only exists when a sufficient number of other people’s computers say it does. It may already qualify as the greatest asset bubble in recorded history, yet may only just be getting started. National governments have been compelled to denounce it or restrict their citizens from purchasing it out of concerns for mass hysteria and the corruption of their youth. It exists on a software system that is maintained through a consensus of volunteer software engineers, and no one seems to know the true identity of the creator. If it were a futuristic novel, it would certainly be on the best seller list, but it’s a striking reality – a live theater performance unfolding before us in real time, and a financial, political, and social phenomenon of historic proportion. It may yet end up as having been a total farce or the beginning of a radically new global payment system.

Opinions on the cryptocurrencies are buzzing all over the Internet. Most, however, rely upon conventional financial analysis and historic comparisons, mixed with a stew of personal emotions and biases. Representative bias is rampant in these assessments, as people try to evaluate the concept of a cryptocurrency in the context of a stock, which is as grossly inadequate as comparing an iPhone to a dial telephone. While elements of conventional finance and economics do exist, they must be viewed as only partially applicable here and elements totally unique to cryptocurrencies must be considered. In sum, I contend that…

the cryptocurrency phenomenon is better understood from a behavioral perspective – one that understands the key behavioral groups involved and the motivations of each.

The intent of this writing is to add a behavioral dimension to the current discourse on cryptocurrencies and to raise awareness of the behavioral impact on financial markets. It should be viewed in the context that behavioral science is still a relatively new approach to financial markets and that there is extremely little empirical data to draw from regarding cryptocurrencies.

Nonetheless, I expect to provide insights I believe will be valuable to those involved, or looking to get involved, and I expect to build upon this foundation with future writings on the topic. References to other articles and contributions from others on the subject are welcome.


As a behavioral science academic, it is almost impossible not to be captivated by the cryptocurrency phenomenon, which is easily the most significant behavioral event to occur since the emergence of behavioral science and its application to financial markets (which the world is only now beginning to comprehend). For a behaviorist, this could be as momentous as a physicist witnessing the discovery of a new atomic particle. Bitcoin may be as pure a behaviorally driven market as we will ever see. Among other things, we are witnessing herding, fear of regret, speculation, envy, and anti-establishment sentiment on a grand scale. In addition, adopters are placing faith and trust in a radically new concept. Wherever it eventually goes, it will undoubtedly provide some of the most enlightening information to date on the psychological and emotional mechanisms that drive human financial actions.

A common view is that the bitcoin market is totally irrational and therefore simply a house of cards waiting to collapse. By historic standards, this would be true, but such an approach fails to see irrationality as a human reality, and forces one to treat events such as the market crashes of 1987, 2000, and 2008 as either never having happened or simply unexplainable, neither of which represent a constructive conclusion. Behavior has been proven to violate the principles of Rational Utility in many instances, and efforts to deny or ignore irrational behavior are therefore counterproductive. How humans should act is often different from how humans do act, and those who only look at the should part are simply altering reality to suit their own judgments. Evaluated on the basis of conventional financial fundamentals, the intrinsic value of bitcoin would most certainly be zero and the market value considered to be 100% anomalous. Where does that leave you? Evaluated on a behavioral basis, you can at least make judgments about the speculative value of a potential new world currency, the speculative value of a possible a gold substitute, the merits of cryptography for securing value, the effectiveness of blockchain as a secure and sustainable technology, and the value of supporting bitcoin’s anti-establishment mission. I find this to represent a far more insightful and productive approach.


This has rarely been done effectively for current, let alone historic markets, even by professional analysts. Market analysis, whether fundamental, economic, or technical tends to be far too limited in context and all too frequently tainted by the author’s employment, training, self-interests, or inherent biases to be objective or complete. In addition, most market assessments have paid too little attention to behavioral science to appreciate the full nature and scope of emotional and psychological influences.


Viewed through a behavioral lens, cryptocurrencies come into focus not only as an entirely new concept with unique characteristics, but as an item that has a different identity and appeal to different people. We know that people use cognitive shortcuts to simplify their purchase or investment decisions, often reducing the decision to perhaps only one or two key criteria or rationales. We can take these key purchase rationales and define arbitrary market segments around them. While this represents an oversimplification of the market, it can be very useful for establishing a high-level view of the key psychographic variables at work here.

People are purchasing bitcoin, for example, not just because it has multiple characteristics as a currency (costless transferability, cryptographic security, etc.), but different groups are buying it for entirely different reasons altogether. Using the cell-phone analogy again, a certain group of people purchase iPhones because they represent the next generation of telephones. Another group purchased because iPhones represented the next generation of music-playing devices. A third group purchased because iPhones represented a new type of personal data assistant, and a fourth may have purchased primarily to have hand-held access to the Internet. Of course, there is overlap in these purchase rationales, but the incredible popularity and acceptance of iPhones was at least in part due to its ability to appeal to different audiences for different reasons, and bitcoin has these same properties.


In the absence of empirical data, we can hypothesize that we would probably see segments such as these:

Bitcoin founders, insiders, and whales

Description: This is the inner circle of bitcoin developers, originators, miners and major backers. It includes Satoshi, the Winklevoss Brothers; miners; etc.

Insights: This group holds most of the largest positions in bitcoin and stands to gain the most from its success or lose the most from its failure. They are the insiders who are dealing most closely with the evolution and sustainability of the concept.

Behavior profile: These are the most ardent promoters and supporters. They are most likely to hold their assets for some time and see it through. They are also the strongest advocates of the bitcoin mission and they would likely act to preserve the mission before they would be tempted to sell out.

Bitcoin believers

Description: Large numbers of small players who support the mission and who view bitcoin as a political statement

Insights: These would be small players from around the world who bought into the mission during the initial years. They were likely making a statement of support rather than investing. Some might be tempted to take a profit, but most are probably going to support the cause for as long as they can.

Behavior: This group is likely to represent net buyers and holders rather than sellers for some time.

Techies, millennials & disruption hopefuls

Description: Young investors with a tech orientation who embrace digital technology as the driving force of the future and who buy into every new technology. This includes programmers, technophiles, gamers, etc.)

Insights: These are the early adopters who view this as a valid alternative investment and a worthy cause. Many thrive on the idea that they can use clever software to disrupt the global financial system and governments.

Behavior: This group is likely to hang on as well, and is likely still adding to its overall stake as more enter the market.

Currency players

Description: Those who see bitcoin as replacing fiat currencies as a medium of exchange.

Insights: These are people (or institutions) that trade the currencies or who make markets I the currencies and who will simply add new ones that come online.

Behavior: The traders will do pairs and spreads using bitcoin, mostly in the futures markets. Exchange players (banks & forex firms) will need to own bitcoin for inventory, but will likely hedge it to remain neutral.

Gamblers, speculators, day traders, etc. 

Description: Those who see bitcoin as a get rich quick or trading vehicle (these are people who day trade, buy small-cap stocks, etc.) Gold-rushers and gold-bugs.

Insights: This is arguably the largest and fastest growing group of participants now. These are small to medium-sized individual traders who are the ones propelling price into the stratosphere and creating all the volatility.

Behavior: These are primarily traders and they will hedge and short as necessary. They will create liquidity and will attempt to trade bitcoin in the short term along with the other cryptos. They will likely be net long as they accumulate trading positions.

Traditional Investors

Description: Broad section of mom and pop investors, many of which may already hold gold or other alt investments

Insights: This group is ripe for diversifying into any reasonable new asset class, just to augment their stock and bond holdings. Also included are those who (mistakenly) believe that they are essentially investing in blockchain technology. Little of this group is probably in yet, but they could represent a huge upswing when they do get in. When an ETF is available, this is the group that will be the prime market for it.

Behavior: This group will also be looking to execute long holdings, which will force the ETFs to buy. These people may hedge a little with derivatives, but will not short.

Professional traders & Arbitrageurs

Description: Hedge funds, big banks, exchanges, ETF issuers, Goldman Sachs, etc.

Insights: These are the professionals who are purchasing to establish market-making inventories, hedge derivatives, build ETFs, etc. They would love to get a shot at an inefficient market like this with lots of volume from non-professionals to exploit and they will jump in to the maximum extent liquidity allows. For arbs and market-makers, it will be like shooting fish in a barrel. However, there will have to be improvements in electronic connections and clearing before they can jump in whole hog. The derivatives will also be rich with arb opportunity, but few players are likely to short without hedging.

Behavior: Professional traders will primarily be scalpers, market makers, and arbitrageurs. They will improve the market tremendously once they can easily trade, clear, and cross trade. They may end up net long or short at different times, but they can make plenty of money just being neutral and making markets for others.

US financial institutions

Exchanges, banks, ETF issuers, broker/dealers, currency dealers.

Insights:  They want in, lest they be caught on the outside. Bank America received a patent for Cryptocurrency exchange already and several others have announced others are definitely working on participating.

Behavior: Banks are extremely defensive here as they have a lot to lose. They will likely look to provide exchange services and maybe even offer wallets. But they are unlikely to take net positions unless required for their operations.


Importantly, there are new behavioral factors inherent to this phenomenon that transcend formal finance and economics, and which bear serious consideration.

The founders of bitcoin did not conceive it in a vacuum, nor was it put into effect frivolously. There are clearly stated goals that seek to remedy global problems such as inflated fiat currencies, mistrust of financial institutions, high payment transaction fees, and the impracticalities of using gold as an international store of value. These are unique rationales that can appeal to different audiences. This adds a non-trivial social component – a statement being uttered by (and on behalf of) a large and agitated segment of earth’s population. We have witnessed these statements through populist events around the planet and in elections in numerous countries, including our own. They convey highly charged emotions of mistrust and frustration regarding the actions and policies of governments and large financial institutions.


By design (and as a direct snub to central banks), bitcoin has also been positioned as a possible replacement for gold as a long-term store of value. As the argument has both inherent merit from a practical viewpoint (easy storage and transferability, limited supply, etc.) and a healthy techno-appeal to the younger generations, bitcoin is experiencing a speculative rush, not unlike the dotcom rush of the late 1990s and the California gold rush of 1848. This introduces a behavioral group interested almost solely in making fast money. A few years ago, bitcoin was an interesting experiment that few took seriously, except for the usefulness of the underlying blockchain technology. But it appears to have hit a tipping point, arguably around June of 2017 when the price broke out of a long slow multi-year trend to go parabolic. This was likely caused, or at least aided by the addition of this speculation group.


It is also this group who is likely adding the most to price volatility, though that will abate as the bitcoin exchanges become more efficient and the professional market makers enter the fray.

This article was previously published on Lehman’s Bitcoin Blog, where you can read part II of this series: Millions Of Blind People And A Very Large Elephant. You can also subscribe to his blog.

About Richard Lehman

Richard Lehman teaches behavioral finance at GGU. His financial career spans more than thirty years beginning with an eleven-year stint on Wall Street with EF Hutton, Thomson McKinnon, and the New York Stock Exchange. An authority on options, Rick was named Top Broker in the US Trading Championships – Option Division in the 1980s and assisted in the launch of two closed-end mutual funds specializing in covered call writing. Rick’s first book with co-author Lawrence McMillan, New Insights on Covered Call Writing – the powerful technique that lowers risk and enhances returns in stock investing, was published by Bloomberg Press in 2003. Concentrating now on technical analysis and behavioral finance, Rick’s latest book, Far From Random, draws a link between these two disciplines, creating an entirely new avenue of opportunities to employ behavioral factors in trading and long-term investment management. Rick holds a BS in Management Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy New York and an MBA from the State University of New York at Albany.  He is also the founder of the San Francisco Behavioral Finance Symposium.

Looking at Risk Tolerance after the February 2018 Market Plunge–7 Tips to Lower Blood Pressure

After last week’s stock market drop, it’s fair to say that a few panicked emails landed in the in-boxes of financial planners and finance professionals. The writers of these emails may not have realized that their tolerance for risk was not what they thought it was, lulled by a multiyear bull market or an inadequate planning session with their advisors. For professional advisors, a more realistic determination of how much risk an investor can tolerate before a downturn can lighten their inboxes if the market dives and perhaps even prevent a few client defections.

“During stable moments in the market, you might say: I can tolerate X amount of risk,” says GGU Adjunct Professor of Behavioral Finance Richard H. Lehman. “They think they knew their tolerance for risk and then all of a sudden they are confronted with a 5 or 10 percent decline, and it is not always easy for them. They don’t know if there is another 10 percent drop coming or what’s next. Recency bias – a tendency for people to assume things will continue as they are – makes the drops even more shocking.”

A process for determining risk-tolerance that works a lot better than simplistic client surveys is needed. Says Lehman: “The advisor needs to be able to assess their clients psychologically in a way that clients cannot effectively do themselves. You cannot just ask people directly about their risk tolerance because it is a concept most people cannot articulate well.”

The Problem & Challenge

Advisory practices have by and large failed to take advantage of what academia now knows about financial behavior and the psychology of financial decision-making. The basic role of the advisor is to help tailor a financial plan and strategy for each client. The implicit assumption is that to do that, they need to fully understand the client’s risk tolerance, goals, and objectives — which is essentially their legal requirement as fiduciaries.

“The advisor needs to be able to assess their clients psychologically in a way that clients cannot effectively do themselves. You cannot just ask people directly about their risk tolerance, as it is a concept most people cannot articulate well.”

Lehman knows first-hand how challenging it has been to get the financial industry to embrace behavioral concepts. When he was at the NYSE more than 30 years ago, he managed a major study of investors that showed how psychographics are integral to the investing process. Like proper capitalists, however, Wall Street denizens couldn’t see much further than how much money their clients had to invest. The NYSE study told another story, though the results were way ahead of the industry’s thinking.

The challenge to make change happen brought him to roles as an author, teacher, blogger, and conference organizer. In 2013, he teamed up with a technical analysis and behavioral finance legend, GGU’s Hank Pruden, to create the Behavioral Finance Symposium. At the time, it was a new discipline with few courses available and almost no industry-targeted events. The Symposium, a first-of-its-kind, has been successfully held at GGU every year since.

How do you determine the real risk tolerance of an investing client?

How can Behavior Finance help clients (and their advisors) better understand their own risk comfort so that blood pressures don’t spike when the market goes down? Here are some of Lehman’s insights on risk tolerance that are part of his Behavioral Finance course at GGU’s San Francisco campus.

Differentiate risk, volatility, ambiguity, and loss.

Richard Lehman

People have misconceptions about the concepts of risk, volatility, loss, and ambiguity, frequently assuming they are all the same. They don’t fully understand risk (the potential for negative returns) versus volatility (the dynamics of up-and-down movement) and loss (the actualization of a negative return). Ambiguity is the sense of how much uncertainty one can deal with in terms of future returns.

Prospect Theory teaches us that when we evaluate the probability something is going to happen, we do it in biased ways. For example, consider the probability of a major earthquake in the Bay Area. It is so small on a daily basis that most people think it is essentially zero–but it is a finite number. On the other extreme, people overestimate the probabilities of winning the lottery, where the chances are infinitesimal–but people are willing to bet that it’s greater. Prospect theory also tells us that losing X amount of money feels roughly twice as bad as the pleasure of gaining the same amount of money. Understanding such ideas leads to much more realistic assessments of risk and reward.

Don’t sugar coat risk.

Even bonds can blow up, and people need to understand that. They also need to understand that occasionally companies do go bankrupt. It is better to understand and plan for risk than to be blindsided by it later.

Consider scenarios.

Investors need to appreciate all possible scenarios and plan ahead for how they might deal with them. For example, before the recent decline, people should have already had an idea what they might do in the event of a 10% decline.

Lehman knows first-hand how challenging it has been to get the financial industry to embrace behavioral concepts. When he was at the NYSE more than 30 years ago, he managed a major study of investors that showed even then how psychographics are integral to the investing process.

Examine trade-offs.

Investment choices produce numerous trade-offs between risk and return. Examining alternatives works well as a way of developing a portfolio that one is comfortable with. For example, you can construct model portfolios with various different asset classes and easily backtest them to see how they performed in historical periods.

Recognize downsides as well as upsides.

Clients will tend to focus on upside potential more than downside risk. It is important to change the focus to risk-reward or risk-adjusted return so that both are given proper emphasis.

Understand reference points.

A fundamental tenet of Prospect Theory, which informs much of Behavioral Finance, is that when we evaluate possible outcomes, we do it differently because we each have different reference points. When you are young, a $10K loss has much more impact than to a 50 or 60-year-old. Also, people who experienced a big negative impact from the financial events of 2008 are more sensitive to current risk than people who are older and who have seen several downturns. There are studies that indicate differing risk attitudes in different countries as well. Some Asian cultures, for example, will characteristically tolerate more or less financial risk than US investors. Investors in China, for example, exhibit a greater tendency to speculate; while Japanese investors are more risk-averse.

Consider Interactive games for assessing risk

A standout from the 2017 Behavioral Finance Symposium was Dr. Shachar Kariv, a well-known UC Berkeley Economics Professor and experimental researcher. He argues that interactive methods of assessing one’s risk tolerance represent a substantial improvement over classic risk surveys. Dr. Kariv shows that a simple computer game can reveal clients’ attitudes about risk much more scientifically than simply asking what they think they are. A company called TrueProfile is already using Dr. Kariv’s ideas in its profiling service.

More to be done

Lehman has made progress as an educator and continues to work at connecting industry with academia on the subject of Behavioral Finance. In recent years, more Nobel Prize winners in Economics (such as Yale’s Robert Shiller and University of Chicago’s Richard Thaler) are providing more visibility and acceptance of Behavioral Economics. However, Lehman says: “Human nature is very hard to change, and that will continue to challenge both investors and the financial industry for a very long time.”

About Richard Lehman

Richard Lehman has more than 30 years of experience in the financial industry, including eleven years on Wall Street with EF Hutton and the New York Stock Exchange. He later worked for financial data giant Thomson Reuters, startup Avenue Technologies, and the Wealth Management group at Mechanics Bank. Lehman has authored three financial books published through Bloomberg/Wiley and has been teaching Behavioral Finance and Options courses for three years at Golden Gate University. He is also the founder of the website and the San Francisco Behavioral Finance Symposium.

MBA Student from Vietnam Wins Scholarship from Financial Women of SF Organization


While working as a finance intern at Hong Kong’s HSBC bank, Quyen Le (pictured above, center) decided that she wanted to go to business school in San Francisco to get access to the open-minded culture and business opportunities only it can provide. It just so happened that her participation in the Financial Women of San Francisco (FWSF) organization gave her access to a valuable professional network that otherwise would have taken years to build. What’s more, Le won FWSF’s annual scholarship in 2017.

The award includes a tuition grant of $10,000 for graduate students, a one-year membership in FWSF, and the assignment of a high-level mentor from the organization. Le was paired with Leslie Tabor who is Managing Director of Business Consulting and Education at Charles Schwab Advisor Services. “FWSF inspires women to achieve what they want in their finance careers,” she says. “We have had the opportunity to hear women from Gilead and Salesforce talk about work/life balance and where their career opportunities came from.” Le is now focused on outreach to her peers so they can get a chance to win the scholarship next year.

New Job

Quyen works at GGU where she helps students from overseas apply for a business degree. “I act as tour guide among other things. Many international students come here alone and so GGU understands that they need help applying and adjusting in the U.S.” she says.

New Challenge

Golden Gate University also offers the Investment Research Club sponsored by club mentor and adjunct professor David Kaczorowski, CFA. Quyen has joined and will participate in this year’s CFA Institute Research Challenge. The competition requires teams to create a written report and deliver a group presentation to a panel of financial services professionals.  Last year, the GGU team won the regional CFA Institute Research Challenge, prevailing over graduate schools across Northern California.

Upon graduation, Quyen (MBA, Finance ‘19) will be seeking an entry-level position as a financial analyst. Contact Quyen Le to learn more about the FWSF scholarship experience. You must apply by March 25th.

About Financial Women of San Francisco

For over 60 years, FWSF has pursued a mission of empowering professional women in the finance industry in the Bay Area. It supports over 300 members including some of the most successful women in the local business community. FWSF puts on social, educational and charitable events throughout the year, most of which are open to the public. To learn more about the scholarship and the organization, visit For information about the application process, contact Lisa Slater, GGU adjunct professor of accounting.

Request information about GGU’s master’s degree in Finance >>

“More than Just Theory”: MBA Graduate and Board Member Scot Ferrell

Scot Ferrell, FBCI, CBCP is a graduate of GGU (MBA ’88, Finance) and also serves on its Board of Directors. Based in San Francisco, he has held management positions at EY and Gap, Inc. and is currently Managing Director at Marsh Risk Consulting’s (MRC) within its Risk Consulting Practice. Over 600 organizations have benefited from Ferrell’s assistance in development of their risk management programs.

In this short video, Ferrell discusses his experience in the MBA program and what makes GGU different. “One of the things that I love about GGU is that the classes are taught by business professionals,” he says. “It’s more than just the theory. Theory is great but they teach you what you need to know–for example, how to close a deal or communicate effectively.”

Request information about GGU’s MBA degree >>

Wells Fargo Expert Puts GGU Finance Students around the Corner from Must-Have Knowledge

Yvette Hollingsworth Clark’s office at Wells Fargo is virtually around the corner from GGU, which puts GGU students close – literally and figuratively – to the latest in the financial industry practices. As Regulatory Innovation Officer at the bank’s Innovation Group, she responds to the impact of adopting emerging technology on banking and financial institutions. Working with other financial experts, strategists, coders, data analysts, risk managers, and lawyers, Clark leads the integration of infusing risk management requirements during the design stage of transformative digital solutions to enhance the customer and team member experience at Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo designed her position on the strength of a paper she wrote advocating that compliance and risk management requirements be part of the initial transformative design process, ensuring that Wells Fargo is positioned to meet customer needs and help customers make informed decisions. For example, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an aid to human intelligence, she says, that can help explore more data and assess linkages more quickly than a human mind can do on its own.

We asked Clark what skills she wants to bring to the GGU classroom.
• Real-life examples of how the classroom experience translates to the office or boardroom
• Working domestically and globally
• Suggestions to navigate your career
• Influencing and managing challenging situations
• Interacting across all levels of the organization
• How to champion and challenge work content
• How to ask others to help you be successful

The Fundamentals Matter

While AI and virtual-reality applications (How can someone buy a ticket safely during a “virtual tour” of a basketball arena with their debit or credit card) are her direct concerns, the business fundamentals matter. “We meet with many Fintech companies who pitch cutting-edge technology solutions to help solve business challenges. These solutions can include tools to help with financial reporting and analysis, a systematic approach to comply with a complex regulatory requirement, or an algorithm/financial model that helps an analyst assess financial scenarios more effectively” she says.

Clark will bring her critical eye to GGU students in the Financial Reporting and Analysis course this spring and focus on, “real-life examples of how the classroom experience translates to the office or boardroom.”

Clark started building the foundation of banking and risk-management knowledge early on, joining the Federal Reserve System as a grad student. Citigroup was her next stop, where she contributed on the corporate side (focusing on anti-money laundering compliance testing) and on the business side (focusing on financial crimes risk management in the Corporate & Investment Bank). After serving as regional head for North America at Citigroup, the UK-based Barclays offered her the role of the global head of financial crimes and operations compliance –adding international experience to her resume.

American Banker has ranked Clark as one of its “Top 25 Women to Watch” three years running.

What Skills Does She Need on Her Team?

As a team lead, Clark hires for positions that require technical expertise in banking regulatory requirements, risk management, technology, data analysis and project management skills. When it comes to hiring for risk management roles, many freshly minted MBAs don’t emerge with all the skills that she is looking for. A conversation at a professional organization about candidate skill-gaps led to a teaching invitation at GGU.

Clark says: “The needs of an MBA have changed since I graduated. MBAs need more quantitative and data analytic skills given the use of technology and the need to analyze big data. Irrespective of which industry an MBA seeks to pursue for employment, the need to understand business processes and how to interpret the data associated with the business or a specific product is needed. In conversations with a few universities, we discussed how to augment MBA curriculums to capture this need. I want to see a mix of technical skills and a successful ‘integrity check’ in the interview process. In my discipline, I am hiring people that know the anatomy of a law and regulatory requirements, the basic fundamentals of business and who demonstrate that they will make all decisions with integrity and in an ethical manner.”

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GGU, JP Morgan, Wells Capital, and Other Experts Participate in GGU Macroeconomic Seminar

A Perspective on Global Macroeconomic Trends: Catalysts and Implications [RSVP] is a free seminar that takes place at GGU on Thursday, December 14, from 4:00 pm to 6:40 pm (Room 5221) and is open to the GGU community and the public. GGU faculty members will co-moderate an accomplished panel that will discuss the complexities of the worldwide macroeconomic environment and their possible impact on the duration of the financial recovery in the U.S.

Moderators from GGU

Mohsin Hafeez, MBA was born in Pakistan and completed both his undergraduate (BBA) and graduate work at GGU (MBA, Finance and Marketing). He is currently a Financial Planning and Investment Management professional at a large international financial services firm. With over 25 years of experience in the diversified financial services arena, a part of which is internationally based, he has an in-depth understanding of the holistic dynamics of the overall global discipline. He is also a founder of a corporate executive education venture, Global Minerva Alliance. While working abroad for premier U.S. financial firms, his assignments brought him to both developed and emerging countries to study their business models for possible replication in Pakistan, an emerging economy.

Mohsin moved back to the U.S. in the late 90s, and has continued to be in finance. He was a guest speaker on the global macroeconomic trends at Ashridge Executive Education Center, UK, earlier this year, and at UC Berkeley with their International Diploma Program (IDP) students in attendance in Summer 2017, in addition to being the keynote speaker at the Fall 2017 Commencement Ceremony of IDP. Even though Mohsin, by way of training, is not an economist, Mohsin’s experience in the opening up of the traditionally closed economies of the developing world of South Asia in the 90s — and the vast exposure to pieces of global macroeconomic relevance — places him in a rare position to moderate this event. He is a Certified Financial Planner® (CFP).

Dave Kaczorowski, MBA, CFA® is Academic Program Manager at GGU and has worked in finance for more than 13 years. An experienced investment manager of private and family office portfolios, he has investment expertise in all the five major asset classes and experience in the holistic management of a family office. His most recent position was as the primary investment manager for a highly diversified family office portfolio. Prior to that position, he spent five years in the investment banking industry as an equity research associate, covering technology companies. His resume in the industry includes Signal Hill Capital, Wedbush Securities and Stifel Financial. He also spent seven years as a financial analyst in the actuarial department of Liberty Mutual Insurance Group. He is a CFA charter holder.

Global Macroeconomic Trends: Catalysts and Implications
Thursday, December 14, 2017, 4:00 pm to 6:40 pm
Location: GGU Campus, Room 5221
Free and open to GGU students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the public.
RSVP Now >>


Joachim Fels, Global Economic Advisor, Managing Director, PIMCO

Joachim Fels is a member of the PIMCO Investment Committee and leads the company’s quarterly Cyclical Forum process. Prior to joining PIMCO in 2015, he was global chief economist at Morgan Stanley in London. Previously, he was an international economist at Goldman Sachs and a research associate at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. Fels was also a founding member of the ECB shadow council, a member of the economic and monetary committee of the Association of German Banks, and served on the Asset Allocation Advisory Board of Volkswagen Foundation. He has 30 years of macroeconomic research experience.

Joshua Feuerman, CFA®, Managing Director, JP Morgan Asset Management

Joshua Feuerman joined the firm in 2012, after serving as Chief Risk Officer at Foundation Capital Partners. Previously, he ran his own investment firm, Btn Partners, where he managed a quantitative market neutral hedge fund. Prior to founding Btn Partners, he was Vice Chairman of the Investment Committee and Head of Global Quantitative Equities at Deutsche Asset Management. Josh was also Head of Active International Equities at State Street Global Advisors in Boston and an adjunct lecturer in the Finance Department at Pace University.

Gary Schlossberg, Vice President & Senior Economist, Wells Capital Management Inc.

Gary Schlossberg analyzes the economic, financial, and investment environment for Wells Capital Management — a fee-based, institutional money manager with over $340 billion in assets — and for other investment and banking groups within Wells Fargo & Co. He participates regularly in meetings with the organization’s customers and internal professionals, and is a member of Wells Capital’s Investment Policy and Liquidity Management strategy committees. Prior to joining Wells Fargo in 1974, Mr. Schlossberg worked as a researcher at the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve Board covering international economic conditions.

Axel Merk, President and CIO, Merk Investments

Founder of the firm bearing his name, Axel Merk is an expert on macroeconomic trends. He is a sought-after speaker, contributor, and author. He holds a B.A. in Economics (magna cum laude) and a M.Sc. in Computer Science from Brown University. Merk has grown Merk Investments into an investment advisory firm offering investment funds and advisory services on liquid global markets including domestic and international equities, fixed income, commodities, and currencies.

Our Examination of HP’s 3D-Printing Business — Part of an Award-Winning Financial Analysis Presentation

By Gannon Kim (BS,  Accounting Concentration ’17)

Earlier this year, I was a part of a student team representing the GGU Investment Research Club (IRC) that won the regional CFA Institute Research Challenge  (prevailing over graduate schools across Northern California). The competition required teams to research a publically traded company, create a written report, and deliver a group presentation to a panel of financial services professionals. During this year’s competition, we were tasked with analyzing HP Inc. and presenting a buy, hold, or sell recommendation of its stock.

Part of our presentation included an analysis of HP’s 3D printing business, which we felt was a promising endeavor for the company and the key to its future revenue growth.

The portion of the 3D-printing market that prints in plastic material – rather than metal – is of interest to HP. The lucrative nature of these types of products (along with soon-to-be expiring patents of the technology) has attracted a huge upswing of new entrants to the market. This threatens the positioning of current market stakeholders: Stratasys (addressing high-end, commercial-grade needs) and 3D Systems.

HP’s First 3D Printer

HP released their first 3D printer in 2016, the HP Multi-Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution. The product is bridging the gap between high-end (Stratasys) and entry-level product offerings (those made by 3D Systems and start-ups) — by creating one of the world’s fastest, production-ready machines.

Our team determined that  HP’s ability to leverage their supply chain & production scalability, partnerships, and brand reputation will help them — in the words of HP’s 3-D Printing President — “disrupt the $12 trillion manufacturing industry and […] democratize manufacturing.”

In terms of the research process, one take-away from this experience was recognizing the power of conducting a ‘channel check’ — i.e. going into retail stores & interacting with sales staff or asking experts (such as Professor Jain) about their insight about a company.

Consulting with an Industry Expert

As most of the team members had limited familiarity with the 3D printer products & its market, we turned to the insight of Pravin Jain, a mechanical engineering professor at Santa Clara University. His in-the-field expertise provided us with a better understanding of HP’s strategy for 3D products. HP aims to build an ecosystem for its 3D printers and has become very involved in the product development process (which includes the development into the software, material inputs & supplies, and 3D-scanning process) and has since reached out to its academic partners to take part as well.

Drivers of HP’s promising future include the strategic and synergistic alliances that it makes with software companies (e.g. Autodesk, Siemens in order to create a more streamlined product), materials suppliers, and users (for direct input on how the device is being used, performance & improvement benchmarks, etc.). From our channel check, we found that HP is approaching manufacturing businesses (i.e. Nike, BMW, Johnson&Johnson) and research institutions to test its technology.

Overall Analysis of HP

There are three key points that are worth highlighting about HP overall.

1. It is financially “healthy,” having a high cash balance and is looking to return it to investors (making significant stock repurchases in the future).

2. It has a strong management team, with the leadership of CEO Dion Wiesler who adds a wealth of industry experience through his roles in Acer and Lenovo consumer electronics divisions.

3. It maintains dominant positioning in the core business (printers and PCs) – and has the potential for the 3D printer business unit to help the firm grow organically.

However, we are concerned about the state of its core business,  as the market has matured and HP faces increased global competition. Revenue has also been declining (since 2015). In addition, the company derives more than half its revenue abroad and has justifiably invested to create a global supply chain – sourcing materials, labor, and clients from other countries. By consequence, any significant changes to U.S. foreign policy can present some amount of geopolitical risk (but was not predictable at the time, particularly with a transition of a new U.S. executive administration).

Our presentation for the competition was more “cautionary” in nature, and we felt that prospective investors probably should not “buy-in” while current holders of HP stock should not head for the exits.

Research Process 

In terms of the “research process,” one takeaway from this experience was recognizing the power of conducting a channel check – i.e. going into retail stores & interacting with sales staff or asking experts (such as Professor Jain) about their insight about a company. Of course, reading online reports can give a good picture, but there is more to gain when it is supplemented by direct interactions.

Hold Recommendation

Our investment rating for HP was “Hold” (neither bull nor bear) because there was quite a lot of positive/negative trade-offs taking place. Our presentation for the competition was more “cautionary” in nature, and we felt that prospective investors probably should not “buy-in” while current holders of HP stock should not head for the exits.

San Francisco CFA Investment CompetitionInvestment Research Club members with Finance Professor Dave Kaczorowski, CFA (competition mentor) at far left. Continuing left to right: Zhe-Yuan Zhang, William Xu, Gannon Kim (author of this blog post), and Hemal Patel.

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