Students in Hamilton’s fall 2017 New York City Program had another opportunity to spend time away from their desks and delve deeper into the city they live and work in when they visited the financial superpower Citigroup on Oct. 25.
They were welcomed by two very successful alumni at the bank, Clayton Hale ’94 and Jeffrey Schackner ’89. Both have had storied financial careers but instead of focusing on their prior accomplishments, they led a discussion about the current state of capital markets, financial technology, and consumer trends.
Jeffrey Shackner, who co-heads the Consumer Products Group, explained how the modern consumer is really not much different than before. This challenged the students’ prior notion that consumers have recently undergone a revolution in their preferences.
He gave insight into how consumers are currently and have previously been sensitive to the price of goods. The marked increase in online shopping and subsequent decline of brick and mortar retail can partly be attributed to online distributors offering lower prices.
Schackner said that consumers are not changing, but rather accepting the lower price that is available. Questions were then raised about the profitability of these online retailers that have forced prices so low that they are now earning zero profit on the transaction.
Current global capital markets were also discussed and Clayton Hale, co-head of Citi’s Equity Capital Markets Division, described some recent trends that he has been noticing within the economy and flow of capital.
He detailed how many foreign companies are looking to raise capital to fund their businesses within the stable American market. Also, with current U.S. equity valuations reaching historic highs, American investors are looking to gain emerging market growth exposure. This combination has resulted in many foreign companies raising capital across international borders in the U.S.
Hale also spoke about four traits he thinks are most important in the professional world: strong work ethic, integrity, judgement, and accountability of one’s track record.
Schackner agreed and added that throughout one’s career these traits will vacillate in importance. Drawing on his own experiences, he elaborated on how instead of relying on his work ethic as he did earlier in his career, he utilizes his judgment more now as his role has evolved.
The students also enjoyed a luncheon on the top floor of Citi’s building overlooking the Hudson River. The students expressed their gratitude for the experience and generosity Hamilton alumni perpetuate.