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Gabelli senior selected to present research in Poland

Areas of Study , Coursework , Finance Stories | Feb 15, 2012 |

Bringing further renown to Gabelli’s burgeoning student research programs, Bryan Matis (GSB ’12) has been selected to present his original work at the International Academy of Management and Business conference, slated for April in Warsaw, Poland.

Bryan’s research project, titled “Do Shareholders Penalize Bank Boards & Management for the Financial Crisis?” investigates whether large U.S. banks faced any repercussions in the wake of the 2008 collapse and whether the reactions of shareholders and the general public had any effect on the banks’ corporate governance policies.

The research project stemmed from conversations that Bryan had with Professor N.K. “Chiddi” Chidambaran, who eventually became his faculty thesis adviser, about the causes and implications of the financial crisis. “At the time,” Bryan recalled, “the Occupy Wall Street movement and the slow pace of economic recovery prompted public debate about what actually happened to those on Wall Street who had been accused of perpetuating the crisis.” He and Professor Chidambaran devised a plan to look into whether that public debate resulted in any concrete change.

Public ire, embodied in protests like this 2008 demonstration against the federal bank bailout, got Bryan Matis started thinking about his research topic.

Bryan selected a research sample of 35 U.S. banks, and he discovered that more than half of the CEOs who were in power in 2007 were fired or otherwise left their positions by 2012. He also found that the rate of turnover on banks’ boards of directors varied according to the boards’ structure: Directors who were subject to annual re-election by shareholders had lower turnover than those who had three-year terms and thus were subject to re-election one-third as often.

Though the research is ongoing, Bryan said that early findings show that shareholders currently disapprove of as many as three in four of a given bank’s directors, which suggests “that the current corporate governance system inherently protects or entrenches poorly performing directors.” He also is working toward the conclusion that directors with certain roles and responsibilities — such as those on committees dealing with auditing, accounting or risk management — may have been fired more frequently or received more strenuous disapproval from shareholders.

A finance major with a double minor in math and economics, Bryan has a passion for academic inquiry, making him a natural fit for the senior honors thesis program at Gabelli. “One of the goals of my life is to become a researcher and professor at a university,” Bryan said. “I really love learning, presenting and discovering new things.” He hopes to pursue a Ph.D. within the next few years.

“Undergraduate research has been both the most challenging yet rewarding academic experience I’ve had,” said Bryan, who, in addition to his conference acceptance in Poland, will join seven fellow Gabelli students at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in Utah this spring. “What an incredible capstone to my senior year and time at Fordham.”


Second photograph courtesy of Flickr’s Creative Commons.

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