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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Accidental Investment Banker speaks at UB


Jonathan Knee, the senior managing director of the major advisory investment firm Evercore Partners, discussed his new bestselling book The Accidental Investment Banker: Inside the Decade that Transformed Wall Street (AIB) at the Center for the Arts as a part of UB's Gerald S. Lippes Speaker Series last Thursday.

In the lecture, Knee discussed the main character of AIB, Sidney Weinberg, a longtime manager of the German firm Goldman Sachs.

According to Knee, AIB breaks away from the prototypic view of investment bankers as the "M and A guy," referring to mergers and acquisitions. Instead, he said he wanted to write a history of investment that would appeal to a general audience.

Knee explains the details of the boom and bust economic cycle in his book, focusing on the question that many investment bankers begin to ask themselves. The question is not whether bankers could underwrite a company; it's whether they should.

"(I liked how Knee demonstrated) overall insight and perspective on investment banking communication and turmoil in the markets," said Kevin Brennan, an accounting major from Canisius College.

Knee also he focused on investment banking as a profession sold not only to investment bankers but also to individuals in the fields of law, accounting and medicine.

AIB also serves to erase the line between law and business. Knee feels that the purpose of the Gerald S. Lippes Speaker Series is to join these two subject areas together. Since banking and law are both jobs having to do with sales, there should not be such a separation between the two. Knee himself attended both Yale Law School and Stanford Business School.

In the past, Mr. Knee served as the Publishing Sector Head in the Communications Media and Entertainment Group at Goldman Sachs. Presently, he is an adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business, teaching media mergers and acquisitions and media strategy. He is also the Director of Columbia's Media Program.

"(Knee) brought a lot of good experiences because of his work in the industry of investment banking," said Jonathan Chan, who is currently studying for his masters of science in finance at UB.

Knee also provided the audience with practical advice about the future.

"The importance of self knowledge about what you are going to do after school cannot be overstated," he said.

In order to avoid being miserable in a professional position, students must strive to do what they love rather than what they're peers or parents want them to do, Knee explained. He believes that every industry has its own little niches, and it's up to students to discover which of those they fit into best.

Nevertheless, it is important for students to grasp the idea that they will not always achieve idealism in their own lives because things don't always happen the way people plan. Failures will occur, Knee explained, but they can actually be constructive.

"I've certainly had a lot of failures," he said. "The key is to learn from it."

Knee has certainly learned from his failures with his heavily publicized book, but he never thought it would be that way.

"The idea of writing this book - the first book I've written - came to me as sort of an epiphany at one moment," he said. "One hundred thousand words is a big deal, and I never thought I had a story worth telling that was 100,000 words."




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