The Financial Markets Institute scholars with Department of Finance Chairperson Andrei Simonov seated and standing around a conference room table.

Financial Markets Institute scholars, pictured with Broad faculty and alumni

After more than a month of social distancing and sheltering in place, everyone has settled into a new normal — and the Financial Markets Institute is no different. On April 9, FMI continued its fireside chat series in a virtual format, welcoming Alec McAree (B.A. Finance ’91) to speak with more than 50 scholars.

“Our goal is to provide students with enhanced education on specific topics in the fields of investment banking, private equity, mergers and acquisitions, equity research and more,” Dave Hawthorne, director of FMI, said. Hawthorne explained that these chats are conducted by industry experts and offer students a more casual setting for interesting and relevant learning.

A veteran of the finance industry, McAree has served in a variety of leadership roles for firms including Soros Fund Management, Citadel Investment Group and Highbridge Capital Management. Today, he serves as the founder and managing partner of Red Cedar Management LP, a long/short hedge fund based in Utah.

McAree has maintained a connection with his alma mater, serving as a board member for the FMI as well as the MSU Foundation Board on its investment committee. Given current events, McAree centered his chat around the challenges that COVID-19 presents and how to adapt.

“Alec was extremely honest and open with the group,” FMI scholar and accounting senior Jessica McClearly said. “He spoke about his experience in prior crises and how to react if a job falls through, as well as preparing yourself for the next opportunity.”

This was the first fireside chat adapted to a virtual platform, and it will be followed by many more, according to Hawthorne. “While in-person discussions may be more impactful, virtual fireside chats are very productive and provide us with the opportunity to meet with industry experts from all over the U.S. and abroad,” he said.

The FMI fireside chat is an ongoing effort to connect industry experts and alumni with current scholars. Past events have featured Broad alumni Ted Neely of Goldman Sachs, Eric Van Dam of Cowen, Tim Sharky of Shore Capital and Vince Foster of Main Street Capital.

Hawthorne commented on the need to continue events with alumni and students under the current circumstances. “Connecting with alumni will always be critically important for educational purposes and building your personal network,” he said.

FMI scholar and finance senior Jack Vaglia expressed gratitude to McAree and FMI for offering the experience. “McAree is someone that fellow FMI scholars and myself strive to emulate,” he said. “The event was unique due to being held online, but the information discussed and engagement were at the same level as an in-person fireside chat.”

Another scholar of FMI, accounting senior Lucas Iskra, also commented with his appreciation of this event. “In these uncertain times, it’s important to attempt to keep everything as normal as possible,” Iskra said. “Events like Alec’s fireside chat allow students to further their education, stay engaged with FMI and the Broad College and keep a hopeful viewpoint on the future.”

Amid the pandemic and job uncertainty, McAree offered encouraging words to the scholars: “Hard times come and go, but Spartans will always persevere.”