Shamim Ibrahim, Avery Walker, '21, study technological disruption, women in finance in alum-led Sapere Aude Consortium

November 16, 2020
They started on Spider Connect, and quickly met Robert Job, B'88.

When internship options became slim in the summer of 2020, many Richmond students like Shamim Ibrahim and Avery Walker, ’21, began looking for other options.

They started on Spider Connect, and quickly met Robert Job, B’88.

He, along with two other financial services executives (Joseph P. Craven and Joseph P. Gennaco), recently founded the Sapere Aude Consortium, an entity created for the specific purpose of helping college students adversely effected by COVID-19 attain an internship. 

“I believe it is important for seasoned executives to try to give back and share their practitioner-based experiences with students,” Job said. “Academic excellence is paramount but students are craving the insights and tools that have led executives throughout their careers.”

Sapere Aude, from the Latin phrase, “Dare to Know,” was formed in June 2020 with the mission to help prepare diverse groups of students begin their journey by researching critical issues that are facing the investment and wealth management industry. Ibrahim and Walker secured spots in the research organization.

Ibrahim, an economics and global studies major, spent the summer researching the technological disruptions occurring in financial services both in the U.S. and globally.

“We focused on recommendations that asset management firms can implement to adapt to the technology future and capture the next generations of investors,” Ibrahim said. “Tech disruptions are already happening in every facet of life. How firms react and adapt to these disruptions is what will separate those who succeed from those who fail. The effect of tech disruptions is even greater when one looks at millennials and Gen-Z who have grown up relying on the efficiency and customization that modern technology has provided. Since these generations are the future, firms need to be well prepared to fulfill their needs and that entails providing the technology they demand.”   

Walker studied the disconnect between the increasing amount of money privately controlled by women and the lacking number of women working in the financial services.

“We looked at the reasons for this disconnect and ways that companies can change this issue,” Walker said.

Along with students across the country, she wrote a paper describing how while women are wealthy, their respective companies don’t help them achieve their financial goals.

“There is a large disconnect between the increasing amount of private wealth women control and the resources allocated by the financial services industry to help them achieve their financial goals,” Walker wrote. “By 2020, American women are expected to control much of the $30 trillion in financial assets that baby boomers will possess – a potential wealth transfer of such magnitude that it approaches the annual GDP of the United States.”

Through her research, she has become passionate about helping other women study finance and eventually join the industry.

“Women are going to hold a majority of private wealth in the coming decades, and they are not equally represented in the industry that helps them invest this money and advises their financial decisions” Walker said. “Additionally, the lack of women represented in the field is a huge missed opportunity for corporations, as women have characteristics that are crucial to the growth of the industry. Companies and schools need to encourage women to study finance and consider pursuing it as a career, because it is important for their own futures.” 

Job added that students in the program published two other papers, including research regarding ESG investing and the Wealth Gap - wealth inequality and student loan debt. Lauren Goldfarb, '21, participated in the wealth inequality research.

“We were extremely impressed with the students - and their work product,” Job said. “When we created the program, a research initiative, our thinking was that we would have seven or eight students to mentor. To our surprise we received more than 70 resumes from seven schools. We selected 18 students and created four teams focused on issues that impact the financial services industry as well as society more broadly.”

Ibrahim agreed she is grateful for the opportunity to connect with another Spider, and research the future of the financial services industry.

“I felt very fortunate to have gotten this opportunity not only because of how much I learned but also the kindness and mentorship I received,” Ibrahim said.

You can find out more about the Sapere Aude Consortium here.