The 15th annual Lehigh Wall Street Council (LWSC) Financial Services Forum was held on March 26. Members of the Lehigh Alumni Association who are engaged in the global financial services industry organized the event in an effort to support current finance students.
LWSC was created in 2002 and this was the first time the forum has taken place on campus in two years.
The LWSC Financial Services Forum connects current students and alumni across different disciplines of the business world to strengthen the university’s network.
Morgan Nelson, Lehigh’s director of affinity engagement at the Alumni Relations Office, said over 150 students registered for the event and nearly 50 alumni returned to Lehigh from multiple states including Texas, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.
The six hour long program began at Lewis Lab with opening remarks from Paul Brockman, Lehigh’s associate dean for faculty and research, and Andrew Fife, ‘85, president of LWSC. This was followed by a presentation on the role of networking in investment banking, which was overseen by Michele Finder, ’91, and Ken Hoexter, ‘93.
“You have to use the alumni. Especially when you now have social media, you’re able to so quickly find alumni that are at a firm,” Hoexter said in his presentation. “Ask your professors, who have tons of graduates who have gone to so many firms. If you’re getting an interview, make sure you ask because they definitely know which alumni are more friendly and are willing to take that call and can speed up that process.”
Finder and Hoexter’s presentation also included a comparison of different financial departments such as investment banking, sales, trading and research. This provided a breakdown of each division’s clients, key roles and project durations.
The talk concluded with a discussion of how students can use their best attributes to ‘find their fit’ within a company, emphasizing how students with different skill sets each have their respective opportunities to flourish.
Following this presentation, the young alumni panel was introduced, which featured Jessica Fitter, ’20, Henry Nimey, ’21, and Billy Healey, ’20. The trio took questions from the audience, many of which asked how to prepare for interviews.
“You have to know the technical stuff like the back of your hand,” Healy said. “That’s the stuff you know you’re going to get asked and the interviewer is going to want to make sure you know what you’re talking about. There’s plenty of resources: you can reach out to alumni who are in the same sector and ask them what are some key technical questions you should be focusing on.”
All three speakers mentioned the value of their courses at Lehigh in preparing them for interviews and the work in their respective industries.
“My favorite class at Lehigh was a TRAC (Technology, Research and Communication) writing seminar, where I had to learn to really articulate and manage ideas,” Fitter said. “My main takeaway from that would be to hone in on your writing skills at Lehigh because you don’t get the ability to learn that in the working world. But those skills help you in every aspect of what you do in business.”
The forum then moved to the Rauch Business Center for breakout sessions led by alumni working in investment banking, real estate, sales and trading, research, wealth/asset management and FinTech.
The forum concluded at Zoellner Arts Center with a structured networking lunch.
This year’s forum was initially scheduled for September 2021, but due to an increase in COVID-19 cases on campus, the event was pushed to the spring.
“It went a lot better in person, I would think, (because of) the level of engagement, the opportunity for the students to actually have that conversation with the alumni and see their impact,” Nelson said. “And the alumni were happy to be back in person.”