Seeking Your Alpha

By the time you graduate from business school with a degree in finance, you can value assets, optimize investment portfolios, structure complex transactions and more. The problem is, when you step out into the real world, those skills are a dime a dozen. To be a top-tier employee, you will need to find your niche and contribute additional skills that bring value to your firm.

Some of you may already be master orators or skilled graphic designers, ready to create and deliver a pitch at the drop of a hat. Others may be fluent in two or more languages, and are prepared to communicate with international deal teams. Whatever skill set you already bring to the table, there is always an opportunity to grow and learn. Today, one of the easiest ways to demonstrate lasting value to your managers is to understand the digital landscape on Wall Street.

By “understand the digital landscape,” I do not mean to state the obvious and imply that you should be familiar with Excel and PowerPoint before stepping out onto the Street. Instead, you should get to know the ins and outs of the technologies that your team and others use on a day-to-day basis to conduct business. From printers to projectors and even video conferencing software like GoToMeeting, Skype, or Zoom, if you can master it, someone will appreciate it.

Armed with even a light technological background, you might surprise yourself with how easy it is to impress your coworkers with a few minutes of basic troubleshooting. One analyst I spoke to remembered a time when he saved a video conference with a client by quickly diagnosing and resolving the issue on his end. Without his quick response, the client with whom his team was video conferencing may have moved on with their day and delayed the project by several days. If you are looking for ways to save your firm thousands of dollars and leave a lasting impact on your team, look no further.

Even if you are not an engineer, your contributions to financial technology do not need to end at troubleshooting. As you become more experienced with the day-to-day challenges of your job and become more familiar with technology on the market, you may find yourself imagining ways that new technology could speed up your workflow. With a bit of initiative on your part, you could create a pitch  (or prototype)  for your idea, deliver it to your manager and see what comes of it. Skilled labor on Wall Street is not cheap, so if you can make a convincing enough argument that your idea will save the firm money over time, your idea could be firm-wide in no time.

Yes, the concepts and skills that individuals gain from a finance degree are essential to securing their first job in finance. However, from the moment someone steps out into the real world, they are expected to learn and contribute skills that go beyond the scope of their degree. With a mindset geared toward problem-solving and innovation, you can embrace the wave of technology that is taking Wall Street by storm, cutting costs and widening margins.

There is a reason why physical data rooms have become a thing of the past. Box, Google Drive, Intralinks and more have become host to virtual data rooms that can be easily accessed, searched, and copied without having to leave your desk. Virtual data rooms have saved firms millions, if not billions, of dollars on travel, property, and administrative expenses since their adoption. In hindsight, virtual data rooms seem like a common-sense application of technology, but for this innovation to occur, someone had to have the experience, vision and initiative to see the transition through. You can be the next.

 

A10_ColumnistKevinMurphyKevin Murphy is a junior in the McDonough School of Business. BYTE OF WALL ST. appears every other Friday.

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