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Personnel File - April 2008: Financial Services

Tony Plath, Associate Professor of Finance
UNC, Charlotte

How did an associate professor at UNC Charlotte get to be the go-to guy for commentary on North Carolina-based banks, showing up not only in the Tar Heel press but in such national publications as BusinessWeek and The Wall Street Journal? Well, as they say in the news game, Tony Plath gives good quote. Plus, as the son of a sportswriter, “I return reporters’ phone calls.” The Ohio native also knows firsthand of what he speaks. While earning his MBA at Kent State University, he worked for Columbus-based Huntington National Bank and Cleveland Trust. Here he explains how he got where he is and why he thinks bankers should let it all hang out.

“I graduated from Kent in ’78 with a bachelor’s in econ and, like every other kid with a bachelor’s in econ, had trouble finding a job. I went to work for a bank because I figured banking was something I wanted to know about and, you know, they were hiring. If it’s a job in a bank, I’ve probably done it: bill collector, assistant branch manager, head teller. I started my MBA about six months after I graduated, and it took me five years — four part time and one full time. When I finished, the university asked me to stay on and do a Ph.D. At the time the market was good for finance teachers, so I did. When I finished, I was offered jobs all over the country but chose Charlotte because it was where the bankers were.”

“A lot of banks are so controlling of what people say. What always amazes me is banks will tell you, ‘I got misquoted in the paper,’ or ‘This story didn’t accurately represent what we’re doing.’ And what they really mean is, ‘This story didn’t make me look good.’ I think if they were honest, they’d probably win more points in the market and do better with their customers.”