National Financial Partners
Grad Year: 1958
Using my English skills to navigate the waters
After graduating with a BA degree from U of M in 1958 having majored in English, I received law degree from Columbia University in 1961. After serving in the U.S. Army as an enlistee, I joined the New York Office of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission as a staff attorney. Admittedly, I would not have qualified for an entry level position without the law degree but even with that credential my knowledge of the workings of that governmental body and the securities industry and markets it regulates were a mystery to me.
Using the academic discipline and analytical skills first honed as a student at Michigan, I proceeded to closely READ and INTERPRET and QUESTION every bit of written material I could get my hands on in order to master the subject matter in just about the same way I proceeded when confronting poetry, prose, plays and criticism as a sophomore, junior and senior. As my responsibilities increased over time I was able to use my ability as a WRITER and as an advocate to ORALLY EXPRESS my views on the laws, rules and regulations that were all just WRITTEN WORDS ON PAPER and subject to interpretation. Many times I was called upon to convince others that my opinion was a valid interpretation of those WORDS and I had to rely on my POWER OF PERSUASION which is another way of describing the ability to perform a logical analysis of a situation and construct either a written or oral argument using the ENGLISH LANGUAGE as the primary tool.
After three years of government service and a three year stint in private law practice, I decided to enter the investment business and between 1967 and 2004 I served in a variety of senior positions as an executive at seven financial services firms on Wall Street. It is significant to note that neither at Michigan nor elsewhere did I ever take a formal course in economics, accounting, business administration or investing. Perhaps, had I done so, I might have reached greater heights however my background as an English major was sufficient to enable me to successfully navigate the treacherous and complex waters that engulf the world of finance and investing.
Many times during my career I encountered situations that were merely the manifestation of the human condition…hubris, deception, greed, folly, anger, passion, madness…and I was prepared for all of them having read the novels, poems and plays that so artfully express what human beings are all about. I have often said that I do not think I ever encountered a situation on Wall Street in government or in private practice that was not foreshadowed in Shakespeare’s plays. I suspect that many of the titans of industry who fell from grace after they reached the pinnacle of success might have avoided disaster if they were familiar with the fate of Icarus and his wings of wax but few of them had the good fortune to major in English at the University of Michigan.
Charles Aldrich, Jacquelyn Dekker, Amy Glezen Simpson, Neal P. Goldman, Chris Hall, Robert Kleinberg, Neil Rao, Silvia Chung, Scott Kashkin, Aric Knuth, Stephen Brown, Elizabeth Bender, Joseph Ferrentino, Ethan Goodman, Margaret Vincent
Related Career FieldsBusiness/Administration, Financial Services, Government, Law