Placing students in good jobs following graduation is a top priority for Brandon Morris, Ph.D., the new chair of the Department of Finance and Financial Services in Wright State University’s Raj Soin College of Business.
“My goal is to be out in the community and meet the stakeholders, the people who are hiring our students, and get to know them, be a conduit for the finance community to find really good applicants,” said Morris. “We have some phenomenal students who come through finance. It’s not the easiest major.”
Morris, an associate professor of finance who joined the faculty in 2014, teaches finance courses to both undergraduates and in the Master of Business Administration Program.
Morris says he would like to tweak the finance curriculum by adding more tech skills.
“Finance is changing by leaps and bounds. It’s becoming far more complex,” he said. “Everybody needs to know how to run data, analyze data, parse out the interesting things about it and then present it. I have a vision going forward with this, bringing more data and more analytics into our program as much as we can.”
Morris said he also wants to add the study of cryptocurrencies to the curriculum.
“I think they’re here to stay,” he said. “I can’t see someone with a major in finance walking out and not knowing anything about them.”
Morris grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, one of six children. He got interested in accounting, inspired by the financial success of an accountant acquaintance and because he was strong in math.
In 2000, Morris began studying accounting at Utah Valley University, where he also played on the club volleyball team. But he fell in love with finance after taking a course late in his undergraduate career.
“It was everything that I really liked,” he said. “Stocks and bonds and valuation, which is a more exciting use of money.”
Morris had always thought he would take over his father’s insurance brokerage in Kansas City and in 2004 began working there, helping manage employee benefits for a large hospital system in southeast Missouri. But after working there for five years, Morris turned down a senior management position to pursue a Ph.D. in finance at the University of Mississippi.
During his tenure at Ole Miss, Morris learned to love collegiate-level teaching and empirical financial research. As a graduate student, he taught courses in risk management and finance.
Morris said he was drawn to Wright State by the high quality of the Raj Soin College of Business, its students and the faculty.
“It really felt like Wright State was the perfect balance. It’s an accredited school. We have the same accreditation that Harvard has for our business school,” he said. “And the finance faculty here is just a really special group. Everybody gets along. We all want the best for each other.”
Morris said his favorite course to teach is basic finance to undergraduate students.
“It’s most of their first time really looking at things like the time value of money, stocks, valuation,” he said. “There are a lot of fun things to talk about, like how to calculate a car payment or your house payment, some real life advice and some skills they can take with them.”
Besides also teaching finance in the MBA Program, Morris teaches an insurance class in the Financial Services Program. That comes naturally since he is part owner of the family insurance business in Kansas.
Morris said the most challenging and gratifying part of teaching is staying engaged with the students.
“As an educator, I believe my primary responsibility is to foster critical thinking and analytical reasoning in students and that this cannot simply be achieved by simple memorization, but by discovery,” he said.
Morris’ research focuses on financial anomalies, such as why a tire manufacturer would buy a chocolate factory. It turns out diversification has financial benefits over the long term. Just recently, he has become interested in exploring the success of online stock advice platforms such as the Motley Fool.
When he’s not working, Morris has picked up volleyball again and also plays squash. He also enjoys reading books on history and anthropology. Morris and his wife, who have five children, reside in Bellbrook.