Expert advice: Get rich (but not quick)
ON THE GREEN | Liz Ann Sonders, AS86, who earned her bachelor’s degree from UD in international relations and has gone on to a notable career on Wall Street, returned to campus in January to deliver the 2014 Winter Commencement address and to take part in a panel discussion focused on investing.
The panel discussion, “Preparing Yourself Today for the Investment World of Tomorrow,” was held the Friday before the Winter Commencement ceremony. Sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences and the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, it also featured Donald Puglisi, professor emeritus of finance, and Paul Brewer, professor of communication and associate director for research at UD’s Center for Political Communication.
Before the panel discussion began, Sonders met and spoke with several students and faculty members.
In her Winter Commencement address, she shared some of the Wall Street savvy that has earned her respect and honors as senior vice president and chief investment strategist for Charles Schwab and Co. She cautioned future investors from the Class of 2013 not to be lured by the “greed is good,” approach of Gordon Gekko in the Wall Street movies but to instead follow the advice of Warren Buffett, who recommends a “long-term greed” investment philosophy.
“Your career path is likely to take many turns throughout your life, and investing is indeed a marathon, not a sprint,” Sonders said. “Be long-term greedy, because there are very, very few credible, if any, get-rich-quick schemes.”
To complement the brain-over-emotion approach to investing and planning a financial future, Sonders also emphasized the need to develop an instinct-based alarm system.
“Be attuned to that inner feeling in your gut, or the sound in your head—call it the twang or the clang,” she said. “It’s when you know something is not quite right, or way off kilter, or out of tune. Hone and trust those instincts.”
Sonders also warned the graduates against falling for the lure of short-term greed at the early stages of their careers.
“When you’re young, you should take chances and choose a job that can become a cherished career,” she said. “Choose a place to live that excites you and allows for as stimulating an after-work life as it does a during-work life, and choose a career that unleashes your creativity and your passions, but one that is also fun.”
Graduation should mark the beginning of a lifelong education fueled by intellectual curiosity about things that interest, challenge and possibly contradict personal beliefs, Sonders said.
“I take considerable comfort seeing young men and women like yourselves—and even my children, who are here, too—perhaps for the first time, learn valuable lessons that only accompany the skinned knees of experience,” she said.
Sonders is senior vice president and chief investment strategist for Schwab, where she chairs the Investment Strategy Council and she has a range of investment strategy responsibilities. At Winter Commencement, she was awarded an honorary doctor of business degree.
She is a regular contributor to all of Schwab’s client newsletters, is a frequent keynote speaker at both company events and outside conferences, is a regular guest on many television news programs and is widely quoted in major financial publications. She has been named one of the most influential people on Wall Street by SmartMoney and the best strategist of 2009 by Kiplinger’s. Last year, she was inducted into UD’s Alumni Wall of Fame.