Financial boot camp brings the world of investment banking to campus

Oct. 05, 2018 — With 30 years of investment banking experience at some of the nation’s largest firms, Steve Moyer ’79 knows the industry inside and out.

So when Grinnell’s Center for Careers, Life, and Service (CLS) invited him to share his knowledge with students, Moyer happily obliged. A new member of the Grinnell College Board of Trustees, Moyer flew in from Los Angeles in early September to teach a four-day, 12-hour finance ‘boot camp’ for Grinnellians interested in the finance/investment banking industry.

Grinnell students learn more about an investment banking principal during the short course taught by Moyer.
Grinnell students learn more about an investment banking principle during the short course taught by Moyer.

“Finance is a foreign language that most students don’t speak, and you don’t learn a language by reading a book,” explains Moyer, who also focused the boot camp on interviewing and job-hunting skills. “Grinnellians are just as smart as other students coming out of business programs, but during an investment banking job interview they ask a lot of technical questions and you need to know the language.”

After retiring from his finance career, Moyer is now an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California. He teaches in the undergraduate, MBA, and executive MBA programs where he covers corporate finance, valuation, venture capital, and private equity, among many others. All those topics are incorporated into the Grinnell course.

“I created 45 videos for my online USC courses, to which I’ve arranged for Grinnellians to have access,” he says.

Like any boot camp, the four days are intense. Classes take place in early September before the semester gets too busy and to prepare students for the job recruiting season.

The course starts with a lecture on Thursday evening; then students work on a finance model using Excel. Friday’s lecture covers the basics of corporate valuation and students extend the model to complete a discounted cash flow analysis for the next day. Saturday provides an overview of credit analysis, bond valuation and then finishes by integrating that knowledge into corporate leveraged buyouts (a frequent topic of interview questions, explained Moyer). Moyer covers initial public offerings, how investment banks are structured, and the broad assortment of job opportunities in finance on Sunday.

“Most students only target IB analyst jobs, which are the most competitive positions,” he says. “I encourage students to use a broader strategy and pursue other, less well known areas of investment banks where they may have a better chance of getting in.”

The content Moyer offers is complementary to the curriculum offered at Grinnell, explains Mike Lawrence, CLS director of the Business & Finance Career Community. “As a liberal arts institution we don’t have the traditional business majors, so what he offers is a finance bridge course. He makes it much richer and deeper by sharing his experience – plus he’s a mentor to the students.”

Steve Moyer explains a financial spreadsheet on day three of the finance boot camp he taught in September.
Steve Moyer explains a financial spreadsheet on day three of the finance boot camp he taught in September.

Originally from Ankeny, Iowa, Moyer studied economics at Grinnell and went on to earn a law degree from Stanford University and an MBA from the University of Chicago. He initially practiced law before transitioning to finance and investing. Moyer has worked at both large and boutique investment banks as well as several investment managers, including PIMCO. He authored a well-known text on distressed securities, and is currently working on the second edition.

Moyer was elected to Grinnell’s Board of Trustees last year and currently serves on the finance and investment subcommittees, where he’s focused on the College’s budget and endowment, among other issues.

“We’re thrilled to have Steve here,” says Lawrence. “We’ve done the course two years in a row and we enjoy his level of expertise. There’s demand from the students to spend time with him and learn the material. His course is challenging and high level – and the students enjoy it.”

—by Anne Stein ’84

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