Joe “JJ” Kinahan, Chief Market Strategist and Managing Director at Ameritrade Client Services; Latha Ramchand, Dean of the C. T. Bauer College of Business; and John Lopez, Bauer College Clinical Assistant Professor of Finance gather for a photo before the college’s 2017 Financial Symposium. See more photos on WhereAwesomeHappens.com.
On Saturday, April 8, Bauer College hosted our annual Financial Symposium open to students, faculty, staff and the community. The symposium is meant to provide UH students and the Houston community information on topics that will help them make better financial decisions. Students also listen to experts talk about careers in financial services, including commercial banking, financial analysis and personal financial planning. The goal of the symposium is to take learning to the community in ways that make a difference.
Consider the facts:
Today, only 13% of all private-sector workers have a traditional pension, compared with 38% in 1979, and close to 45% of Americans have nothing saved for retirement. More than 30 million people don’t have access to any retirement plan because the small businesses that they work for don’t provide one.
Clearly, we can and must do better.
At Bauer College, we take the message of financial literacy seriously. We need to share the message and share it often. In many ways, the actionable part of financial literacy has to do as much with discipline as it does with finance. As with any behavior, those that enforce discipline in our expenditure and savings plans are best taught early in life. It is for this reason that Bauer College makes every effort to share this message with students and with the community.
This year the keynote speaker at the Financial Symposium was Joe “JJ” Kinahan (@TDAJJKinahan), Chief Market Strategist and Managing Director at Ameritrade Client Services. He took this message one step further by connecting the message of financial literacy to a strong work ethic and character.
Work hard, for there is no substitute. Every job has parts that are frustrating. A typical job might have 25% that we absolutely enjoy and are engaged in, another 25% that we abhor, leaving the middle 50% in a neutral zone that we are neither excited about nor disgusted with. Success results when we move this middle 50% into the more exciting zone, leading us to love 75% of what we do. Plan the 25% that is frustrating and everything else will seem exciting. In everything you do, character matters. Not doing the right thing has financial implications. Your behavior builds reputation, and reputation is your biggest asset.
As you build your reputation, consider building your financial asset base as well — when you start working, make sure you maximize the contribution to your 401(K) or retirement plan. Starting early, and leveraging your employer’s contribution, can boost your total returns more than starting late and investing more for a shorter length of time. As they often say, when it comes to investment and maximizing returns, it is time, not timing. Time is your biggest ally when it comes to investment and returns. Timing assumes perfect foresight which is a fiction of the imagination.
At the same time, have fun. It is important that you love and enjoy what you do.
JJ Kinahan is a 30-year trading veteran who began his career as a Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) market maker trading in the S&P 100 (OEX) and S&P 500 (SPX) pits. He also worked for ING Bank, Blue Capital and was Managing Director of Option Trading for Van Der Moolen, USA. Later in his career he joined the thinkorswim Group, which was eventually acquired by TD Ameritrade.
Thank you, JJ — thank you for inspiring us.
We gathered in Hermann Park in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. We were dressed in Cougar Red, and some of us had sweatshirts with the Bauer logo. We were honoring Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK).
When MLK led the great march to Washington, no one had a GPS, nor was there social media to publicize events. Yet people gathered in the thousands to listen to him. When he spoke, his message was simple and appealing — racial injustice goes against everything that is natural; it defies the law of nature. It was a simple truth, and people listened.
When we met at Hermann Park, our students had a simple goal — to serve. And they did.
The people at the park explained to us that we would help replant some of the trees that had been placed in the wrong spots. We separated into two groups, one to dig holes so we could lower the trees into the ground, and another to dig the tree out of its current location. I was part of the first group. I had about six students with me — they were all Bauer students as were several in the groups next to us. As always, I am struck by how smart and courteous students are. Importantly today, they focused on service. We talked about Bauer College and our challenges; we talked about recruitment and placements; we discussed the perception of Bauer College outside Houston.
As I listened to each student share their stories, I was awed. These youngsters had bold dreams and a passion to do what it takes. They have career goals, and they are focused. They were in school full-time, and they worked to make ends meet. At the same time, they want to serve and give back. They care about others and about improving lives for those around them. What shone through the sunlight that bright Saturday morning was that these students were not just smart — they were also happy. Interestingly, their happiness derived from how they help each other. The more I think about the values our students reflect, I realized that these students embody what Shawn Autor refers to – Happiness is a work ethic.
We live at a time when the news we see and hear every day, every hour on TV, in the papers, on social media, is negative and divisive. So-called leaders are unable to lead, much less inspire others to follow. Can they take a lesson from our students’ playbook? Can we teach them to be civil to each other? Can we share the message that happiness has to do with reaching out and helping others? Can we share the simple message of service that our students completely embrace? Martin Luther King Jr. showed us that we can dare to care and care about all humanity.
On that bright and sunny Saturday morning at Hermann Park, I realized that our students were not just digging dirt — they were happy to wake up early on a Saturday morning, to work with heavy shovels, to help replant trees. They were happy in the knowledge that they served others. Maybe if Shawn Autor had been with us that morning, he would have commented that to Bauer students, Service is a work ethic.
It’s the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life
So go the lyrics of the song by Elton John in the movie The Lion King. I was reminded of the song this past week as we held several events at Bauer College.
On Thursday, we hosted children from schools in the area who had created artwork around themes related to money and finance, surrounding the week-long financial literacy program which is part of Houston Money Week. We celebrated their creativity and talked to them about what it means to plan and budget, to come to college and to have a job, to buy a house, a car and to make sure they planned for retirement. The best part – they were 7-12 year olds, and they promised to come back as Bauer students when they graduated from high school. Their circle has just begun.
Catherine Waldmann, a 1946 BBA graduate, and her daughter Virginia “Ginger” Hawthorne were two of our guests at the annual Gold & Silver Cougar Luncheon.
On Friday, we hosted our annual Gold and Silver Cougar Luncheon attended by Bauer College alumni who graduated 25 and 50 years ago. At this event, we share our stories told through the experiences of our current students and listen to stories like that of Catherine Waldmann, who was part of the graduating BBA class of 1946. Catherine’s daughter Virginia “Ginger” Hawthorne attended as well. Willie Burns spoke of his experiences and let us know that we may have two more Burns boys at Bauer in our MBA and BBA programs. Ginger, Willie and Catherine have complete circles and come back to start a new circle of engagement.
Later that evening, we attended a dinner at the home of one of our scholarship donors – Rahul Mehta, who awards scholarships to our students every year. Rahul’s home is an amazing architectural delight and tastefully furnished. We met his sister Nisha, his brother Dharmesh and his wife, and Rahul’s mother. We all shared our stories. Rahul came to the U.S. as a student in computer science, took a course by happenstance with Dr. Scamell, and out of that arose a friendship that lasted beyond his class and degree and helped sow the seeds for a very successful career in business. The story has all the right ingredients – the genius and hard work of a student and the dedication and commitment of a caring faculty who wanted their student to succeed. And now with several businesses and a career that is successful beyond measure, the student as alum, gives back, reconnects, completes the circle and creates new circles of opportunity for other students.
In all cases – from the connections from the middle school children who talked about money and saving so they could perhaps attend Bauer College later, to the Gold and Silver Cougars who came back to reconnect, to Rahul Mehta who comes back to thank his mentor Dr. Richard Scamell – each has found their place in that unwinding circle of life.
On Saturday, we hosted newly admitted students who will start at Bauer College this fall. We talked about what makes Bauer College special. What is it? It is the Circle of Life – it is the commitment our faculty and staff have to developing and growing students to find their place in that unwinding circle. This is why when our students graduate, they never leave. They find their place; they stay inside the circle; they come back and engage; they reconnect and create new circles through their engagement and giving, their caring and commitment.
Wonder if Elton John was thinking of Bauer College when he sang:
It moves us all, the Circle of Life, the unwinding circle…