Since our founding, Wharton has been celebrated the world over as “The Finance School.” But the pace of change in financial services today is breathtaking, and the consequences are profound not only for investment professionals, but also for society as a whole. Wharton must continue to define and redefine the cutting edge of financial innovation, leveraging our incredible history and heritage to transform the future.Alternative asset classes like private equity, hedge funds, and venture capital are transforming investment opportunities, often out-performing portfolios based on publicly traded stocks and bonds. At the same time, financial technology—fintech—is revolutionizing the business models of financial services, from mobile payments to microcredit, from lending to insurance, from cryptocurrencies to financial planning. As Nobel laureate Bengt Holmström put it to me recently, data is the new collateral, decentralizing and democratizing finance.
That is why the Future of Finance is one of the top priorities for our More Than Ever campaign, Wharton’s commitment to remaining in the global vanguard of finance research and education. In this letter, I want to highlight two major new initiatives made possible by alumni who share our vision, passion, and commitment.
Wharton Overseer Josh Harris W86 and his wife, Marjorie, have extended their long history of generosity to the School with a new gift to name the Joshua J. Harris Alternative Investments Program. Earlier, Josh co-founded the Wharton Private Equity Professorship, currently held by Bilge Yilmaz, a professor of finance who will serve as faculty director of the Harris Program. A global hub for world-leading research and teaching in alternative investments, the Harris Program will build on our foundation of hugely popular courses and co-curricular offerings, growing this critical work that brings together students, alumni, academics, and practitioners.
Working at the center of technological disruption and new thinking in finance, the Stevens Center for Innovation in Finance, with the support of Ross Stevens W91, will enable faculty and students to study and catalyze the fintech revolution, working in real time with the companies that are transforming the delivery of financial services. Led by faculty director and Ronald O. Perelman Professor in Finance David Musto, the Stevens Center will work to ensure that innovation in finance is a force for good among businesses and communities around the globe.
With the partnership of alumni and friends like Josh and Ross, Wharton will always be “The Finance School.” Their support adds to Wharton’s core research advancing the understanding of finance through the Jacobs Levy Equity Management Center for Quantitative Financial Research as well as the Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research. But Wharton is also about much more than finance. That is why our campaign is highlighting other major initiatives, including data and analytics and innovation and entrepreneurship. With your support, Wharton will shape not only the future of finance, but also the future of business and, with it, the future of society.
Geoffrey Garrett is Dean, Reliance Professor of Management and Private Enterprise, Professor of Management at the Wharton School, and Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania.
Published as “The Future of Finance” in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Wharton Magazine.