Broyhill Executive Lecture Series – Leading out Loud with John Lynch:
“Focus 2015: Market Transformation and Trends”
So, how did this PR/Communications enthusiast, who happens to be an MA student, wander her way into a lecture about Finance? Well, let’s just say, I see the link that binds my passion and my arch-nemesis together. Finance is the common language and John Lynch, Senior Vice President and Regional Chief Investment Officer for Wells Fargo Bank, confirmed that. On Tuesday, January 27, 2015, the chatter of investors, bankers, and business students rang throughout the lobby of Broyhill Auditorium. Everyone was excited to hear the lecture.
“In the summer of ’84, I was at Morgan Stanley for the Financial Analyst Training program, and an old grizzled veteran told me: you never want to say it’s different this time. You’ll shoot yourself in the foot,” said Lynch. The veteran was alluding to the inconsistency of the financial market over the years. Nothing is ever new under the sun when it comes to finance. However, Lynch countered that argument because he believed that the preceding sentence perfectly explained why it was best to say “it’s different this time.” He led with an example of the rise and fall of interest rates and inflation. “If I told you 5 years ago that the Fed was going to quintuple its balance sheet, you wouldn’t have believed me. Then when the Fed does quintuple its balance sheet, it alters the game.” Lynch said. “I can’t look my investors in the eyes and tell them to lend to the government at 2% or less over the course of the next decade, and I’m fairly confident that because the Fed quintupled the size of its balance sheet, we’re going to have inflation someday…So for that reason, I have to say it is different this time because as an analyst, you have to be flexible to try to figure out what’s happening but also embrace the difficulty of forecasting change.”
This led to Lynch’s second point: finding the right fit. The financial market is constantly changing, but the rudimentary elements of a great bank all remain the same. Lynch offered insight about choosing firms with analysts who understand the constant change of the economy, yet still hold true to the values and mission statement of that firm. That is why he is proud to work for Wells Fargo. He boasted that the bank is both the #1 taxpayer and the #1 philanthropic bank in the country. They weave themselves into the community as leaders and it’s not just about profits. This was the portion of the lecture that I appreciated the most. Often times, we are so consumed with our financial needs that we overlook the good or bad practices of a firm. Apart of being a great citizen is choosing institutions that are in line with who we are. Yes, from our educational institutions all the way to our banks.
Lynch continued to talk about steady economic growth, consumer spending and fluctuating retail sales, all of which directly affect all careers—even PR/Communications. He painted the picture clearly for me. Using his wit mixed with his 30 year knowledge of the financial industry, he told me and the entire auditorium why we should appreciate learning the foundation of finance. It is relevant and constantly changing. No two years in the world economy ever look the same on the balance sheet. And each year, businesses must adjust accordingly.
Now it all makes sense. There would be no PR/Communications if the budget in the given company does not allow for it because of an economic downturn. That’s the connection! I understand it now. So, the next time someone sees me closely studying the stock market for fun and asks, “What are you doing? I thought you hated finance.” I’ll happily respond, “Well….it’s different this time!”