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John Bailey, Gerry Baran, Bill Barnes, John Corman, John Daly, Alden Gardner, Vincent Haiko, Dick Hallowell, Bill Hawthorne, Lawrence James, Bob Miller, John Moeling, James Moore, Peter Orr, John Pagnoni, Kenneth Parsons, Robert Peck, Grancis Peckham, Jon Powell, Alan Wallace
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Classmate profile - Keith Watson
Trin, I went to law school (Harvard) and then spent three years in the Coast
Guard (New London, CT). Emerging unscathed, I married a Hartford townie. We
moved to Washington DC where I practiced with several law firms for 40
years. My specialties were environmental law (highlight: the Love Canal case)
and insurance coverage law (highlight: 9/11 damage to the World Trade Center).
My legal work is now entirely pro bono, much of it for the International Senior
Lawyers Project (highlights: organizing commercial law training programs
for the South Africa Black Lawyers Association; received “volunteer of the
decade” award from this group). Along the way, we produced two children,
both of whom are teachers (daughter, an economics professor at Williams
College; son, a jazz music teacher at a Brooklyn high school). We now
winter in Washington (Georgetown) and summer in Massachusetts (Westport).
Classmate profile - Arnie Wood
Trinity 1964: A Bizarre Twist of Fortune
By the end of my spring semester in 1964, I had finished my Economics and History requirements. I needed a “gut course” to enjoy spring “neath the elms”. A course in Government looked perfect. Surprise! Professor Leon Salomon unmercifully reprimanded me daily for reading The Wall Street Journal while hiding in the back row of his classroom. Going into the “blue book” final, makes me shiver even today, I had a whopping grade of 40. A 95 would just get me a diploma. I enlisted Jimmy Levine, a junior from Lynn, to tutor me. If you are still out there, Jimmy, you were a savior I will never forget.
At the graduation ceremonies Professor Salomon emerged from the back of the podium as I marched up to receive my diploma. I will neither forget that grin as he shook my hand nor asking if I had any investment advice for him. My intense devotion to understanding what drives the psychology of the investor beliefs and preferences, both institutional and individuals has not waned one iota over the past 50 years. The more I studied, chronicled, and applied to my research agenda and client portfolios, the more I was hooked.
When Danny Kahneman, a psychologist, who, never taken an economics course, won the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics, his work legitimized behavior and emotions as a driver investing choices. I had read all the works Kahneman and Amos Tversky from the 1970s, especially two brilliant pieces in Scientific American. Understanding and exploiting human fallibility in investment decisions became a singular focus for me as a businessman. Making predictions, dealing with risk preferences and client vicissitudes, and especially the fallibility of group decisions continue to be the focus of my research. This field is now known broadly as Behavioral Finance and now the fast maturing field of Neuroeconomics, which explored the brain and how it works its magic on financial decisions. I was, and am, so fortunate to have been caught up in its practical applicability so early.
What has been learned from studying investors was a basis for founding our business 25 years ago. Back then, Behavioral Finance was just a glimmer in academia; business found it “too unstructured, too fuzzy” for its curricula. At that time, I met a professor at Harvard Kennedy School, Richard Zeckhauser. We, mostly he, created a two day Executive Education course called Investment Decisions and Behavioral Finance: Identifying and Capitalizing on Irrational Practice. It is now into its 24th year and going strong. http://ksgexecprogram.harvard.edu/Programs/By_Name.aspx
Over the years I have written several papers, one for The Journal of Behavioral Finance, with the help of a psychologist and mentor, John Payne, at Duke’s Fuqua School. Writing articles/papers continues to be a valuable exercise and I am happy to e-mail a Book List on these subjects to anyone. firstname.lastname@example.org I have spoken at well over a hundred venues for non-profits and commercial enterprises. Of late investment committee decisions have been my focus since they incorporate and magnify the very biases and judgmental errors of individuals make.
Last, one thrill for me was doing an “actor’s workshop” format with Danny Kahneman for 1,500 investment professionals at the CFA Institute’s 2012 annual gathering in Chicago. Nothing like being on stage with this luminary whose recent book, Thinking: Fast and Slow is still on the paperback best seller list.
So thank you, Professor Salomon for putting up with my delinquincy and for unknowingly helping me spawn my career.