Marc Paley ’83 had optimistic news for students about to enter an uncertain job market in the financial services industry.
While many juniors and seniors worry about how the economy will affect their job prospects, Paley counters that the seemingly negative situation may very well work to their favor.
“If the fundamentals are there, would you rather buy a stock high or low?” Paley asked students at the Wall Street Council’s Financial Services Forum recently. “The people who do well are the ones who buy at the bottom, and what does that mean for the people in this room?”
It means that students getting in on the ground floor of the bottomed-out economy may actually find themselves in an optimal position, an idea posited by numerous professionals throughout the course of the day’s events.
‘Be passionate about what you do’
Paley, president and CEO of Beacon Trust, was the keynote speaker at the fourth annual Financial Services Forum, sponsored by the Retirement Learning Center (John Carl ’89, president). The day-long event was aimed at giving students opportunities to network with professionals and gain an understanding of key roles within the financial services industry.
Paley chronicled his career trajectory for students, telling them about moving from a large corporate atmosphere at Lehman Brothers to the entrepreneurial path he had always envisioned for himself.
After working for Lehman as managing director for more than 18 years, Paley left to buy Beacon Trust, a “sleepy company” in New Jersey.
“I had enough courage to leave something I knew for the unknown,” Paley said. “I knew that looking back when I was 75, I’d regret not taking that chance. And it was an incredible experience.”
One consistent thread running through Paley’s career was passion.
“You don’t want a job, you want a career,” Paley said. “There are plenty of average people who have a job. Whatever you do, don’t do it for the money, because you have to be passionate about what you do.”
Paley, a member of Lehigh’s Board of Trustees and the executive committee advisory board for the College of Business and Economics, also spoke about the parallels between Lehigh and the real world.
“At Lehigh, there is no feeling of entitlement, no grade inflation,” Paley said. “And that’s what it’s like in the real world. And that means that you’re a lot more prepared for what you’re up against, because out there it’s a meritocracy. You come into the job interview with no sense of entitlement, and once you get the job, you have to work very hard to be successful.”
In wrapping up the day’s events, Paul Brown, dean of the College of Business and Economics, spoke about the importance of the Wall Street Council, comprised of Lehigh alumni working in the financial services industry.
“We are blessed to have the Wall Street Council,” Brown said. “One thing you students bought with the price of your Lehigh education was the alumni network, and it’s a lifelong network.”