New Frontiers in Finance

What's ahead for Vanderbilt's high-profile finance meeting of the minds.

From the Fall 2014 edition of Vanderbilt Business

FMRC meeting
Robert Whaley, the Valere Blair Potter Professor of Management (standing), looks to expand the conference’s role as a forum for the world’s top financial experts to explore and discuss significant financial topics.

When Hans R. Stoll, the Anne Marie and Thomas B. Walker Jr. Professor of Finance, launched the Financial Markets Research Center’s first annual conference in the spring of 1988, he did so in the spirit of wanting to more fully understand the previous year’s sudden stock market crash. Bringing leading academic figures, top government regulators and industry executives to Vanderbilt University for that first conference, Stoll began a rich tradition of assembling thought leaders to explore some of the most pressing topics in finance.

It’s a tradition that Robert Whaley, the Valere Blair Potter Professor of Management, hopes to strengthen and grow as sole director of the FMRC.

“We have the opportunity to play an even larger role in the world of finance,” says Whaley, a renowned scholar and creator of the closely watched Market Volatility Index (VIX) who previously served as co-director of the FMRC alongside Stoll.

“In addition to the top-tier research and expertise from our own faculty, we are able to attract leading thinkers from around the world—from industry, from major regulatory agencies, and from top academic institutions—to discuss the most important topics facing today’s financial markets.”

Internationally known speakers

Over the years, Vanderbilt’s annual FMRC conference has hosted speakers such as former Fed Chairmen Paul Volcker and Alan Greenspan; Nobel Memorial Prize winners Eugene Fama, Robert Merton, Merton Miller, Robert Shiller and Myron Scholes; and industry leaders like Leo Melamed, chairman emeritus of CME Group; William Brodsky, longtime chairman and CEO of the Chicago Board Options Exchange; and Thomas Peterffy, founder of Interactive Brokers.

The conference attracts leading thinkers from around the world to discuss the most important topics regarding financial markets.

Participants have been drawn to the event by the school’s distinguished finance faculty. In addition to Stoll and Whaley, Owen Graduate School of Management professors include Bill Christie, whose paper on NASDAQ broker collusion led to a significant regulatory overhaul; Craig Lewis, who most recently served as chief economist of the SEC; and Nicolas Bollen, one of the world’s foremost experts on hedge funds.

Additionally, Dewey Daane, the Frank K. Houston Professor of Finance, Emeritus, who served as a Federal Reserve Board governor from 1963 to 1974, continues to attract many distinguished guest speakers to campus. Most recently, he helped bring Edward J. DeMarco, who ran the federal agency overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to Vanderbilt. In addition to serving as a visiting professor, DeMarco was a 2012 FMRC keynote speaker.

Compelling topics ahead

Whaley says he is already mapping out topics for future FMRC conferences. In October, finance professor Nicholas Crain hosted a conference on private equity which included a keynote by Bruce Evans, a member of Vanderbilt’s Board of Trust and managing director of Summit Partners in Boston. And for the 2015 FMRC spring conference, Whaley is starting to assemble a group to discuss the role that options and other derivatives have played in reshaping markets. “We’re intent on bringing the very best people we can find to the conferences we host,” Whaley says.

Modern finance legends attend the spring 2014 FMRC
Three of modern finance’s legends—colleagues with Hans Stoll at the University of Chicago during the 1960s—joined him at the May conference. From left, Eugene Fama, Myron Scholes, Stoll and Richard Roll. Fama and Scholes both received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Studies.