2016 Leaders’ Summit


The Student Leaders’ Summit is the premier conference for the heads of student finance and investing groups. It is held to facilitate discussion of and advance practice in the development of outstanding young talent.

Last year, industry reps spoke about about technology as both a threat and an incredible opportunity. Seeing technological change continue to pick up pace, we decided to make “fintech” the core focus of this year’s Summit. The tone was set with a keynote talk by John Frankel, founding partner of ff Venture Capital; attendees then broke into two discussion groups:

  • The Trading & Investing group discussed opportunities for students to engage in cutting-edge work at the intersection of data science and traditional investing.
  • Jon Zanoff of Empire Startups was joined by several Upgrade Capital alumni in leading a discussion of Technology & Start-ups with a focus on helping students get involved in fintech.

General strategies for running student groups were intentionally not made a core focus of the event as they had consisently been given center stage for the past four years. For a recap of what constitutes best practices, we would encourage you to review these clips from last year’s Summit.


  • Traditional careers are pyramids: as you progress, your skillset becomes more and more specialised. Try to invert it; as you consider the next step in your career, try to expand your opportunity set.
  • Nearly everything can be considered a fad, but some tend to be short-lived – think of check-in apps or ringtones – and others last longer. When you are considering joining a business, try to look past recent growth and understand likely long-term prospects.
  • Global economic growth has stalled in part because disruptors tend to be less profitable than the businesses they disrupt – but their leaner economics allow for explosive growth. Position yourself to benefit from it.
  • Technology will continue to eliminate jobs, but roles requiring judgement based on experience tend to be insulated from disruption. This is a big part of why John chose to become a venture capitalist; try to find something similar.
Trading & Investing Roundtable
  • Jobs you usually hear about from recruiters tend to be in very mature lines of business as those are the ones with the most seats to fill. Don’t fall into the availability trap; look for opportunities to drive the emergence of new business lines.
  • It is a mistake to assume that the world will offer you perspective without you going and looking for it. When you do go out and look, be careful – the world today is very different than the one people you may be getting advice from grew up in.
  • Very few student groups allow their members to engage in risk analysis and risk management. There is much more to it than Value-at-Risk; try to understand how financial institutions think about and ultimately take risk.
Tech & Startups Roundtable
  • It is common to perceive the corporate path and involvement in start-ups as mutually exclusive – they are not. If you choose to go corporate after graduating, try to still take time to come up with and work on your own ideas.
  • Being part of a community of innovators allows you to assess and refine your ideas far more quickly than you can on your own. If there isn’t one at your university, try to join one of the many existing tech communities out there.

Thank you

We would like to thank the 76 students and alumni representing 52 groups from across 27 universities for making this year’s Summit a success. We hope you gained some insights you can use in planning out and preparing for your career – and that you’ll share these with your peers this Fall!