October 18, 2017 • By UCI Paul Merage School of Business
Associate Professor of Finance Christopher Schwarz was appointed faculty director of the Merage School Center for Investment and Wealth Management (CIWM), effective July 1.
In this new role, Schwarz is responsible for leading the CIWM in efforts to disseminate financial literacy education to the community-at-large. In addition, he will continue to teach finance in the Merage School’s MBA programs and conduct research related to management, disclosure, operational risk of the investment fund industry, and the impact of manager incentives and structure on investment fund performance.
“I’ve been extremely interested in finance since I was young,” Schwarz said. “When I was in 4th grade, I wrote a business proposal with financials to try to convince my parents to buy a new computer. Today, I see a growing need for financial literacy. I see smart students who don’t pursue college because they feel they can’t afford it. I see people get in financial trouble because they don’t know how to budget. I see coworkers who struggle with retirement planning because they don’t understand basic investment information. So, today, I’m a professor of finance and I love teaching people about finance.”
This summer, Schwarz directed two programs – the LIFEvest Financial Literacy program for underserved teens, and Investments, Financial Planning and You – aimed at high school students – and led an MBA orientation for incoming graduate students. He and the Center also planned the September 12 Women Investing in Security and Education event, “Tearing Down the Pink Wall: What's Life Like in the She-Suite in Corporate America?” featuring Kristi Mitchem, CEO of Wells Fargo Asset Management.
“I’ve had to hit the ground running with these new responsibilities,” said Schwarz, “But I’m passionate about finance. If you asked me my long-term goal it is very simple: I want to share financial literacy with as many people as possible. Since its inception 11 years ago, the CIWM has provided financial literacy education and programs to more than 30,000 people. Eleven years from now it would be great if that number was 300,000 people. There is such a need for financial literacy at all levels of society and I’d like to find a way for us to reach a broader audience.”
Schwarz joined the Merage School in July 2008. He received his PhD from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. During his postgraduate studies, he was a Visiting Doctoral Fellow at Yale University’s International Center of Finance in 2007 and the Advisory Editor at the Review of Financial Studies. Prior to earning his doctorate, he worked in the IT industry writing custom applications for medium-sized businesses. His Bachelor of Science degree is from Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
Schwarz assumed his new role following Andy Policano, who led the CIWM since 2008. Policano is a Dean’s Leadership Circle Endowed Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Merage School, where he served as dean from August 2004 to June 2013. Policano is set to retire November 1. “Andy has been a tremendous asset to our center and I expect he will remain involved with the CIWM as a volunteer for some of our programs, especially LIFEVest,” said Schwarz.