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​Stephen Gallo '04

​Gallo ’04 Ranks among World’s Top Currency Forecasters

Stephen Gallo ’04 of London, England, has a knack for currency forecasting, according to Bloomberg Markets magazine.

A finance major at PC, Gallo was the most accurate currency forecaster for the six quarters that ended June 30, 2011, with an average margin of error of 5.05 percent, according to Bloomberg’s analysis. He was also the most accurate forecaster for euro-dollar and euro-yen exchanges during that time.

In addition, he was ranked in the top 10 in the first quarter of 2012 and in first place for the euro-dollar. “This was even more rewarding personally, because if the first-place ranking in 2011 was an example of achievement, then making it back into the top 10 for [the first quarter of] 2012 was an example of consistency,” Gallo said.

Gallo was head of market analysis for Schneider Foreign Exchange Ltd., a currency broker in London, but started a new position in May as senior foreign exchange strategist for France-based Credit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank.

He offers “nuts and bolts insight into what’s happening in the foreign exchange markets,” advising clients who need to exchange money from one currency to another, using macroeconomic data and political perspectives to help plan the timing of transactions and possible risks. In this role, journalists at Bloomberg and other news outlets frequently interview Gallo for his expertise on currency markets. 

The Passaic, N.J., native said he followed a somewhat circuitous path into an investment bank. “I just kind of paved my own way,” he said.

He thanks PC’s Department of Finance, which he describes as “very well-rounded,” as well as his relationships with professors such as Dr. Harold B. Tamule, associate professor of finance, and David A. Zalewski, professor of finance. “They had a lot of influence on me outside the classroom,” he said.

His one caveat was that students should study what they love. Initially, Gallo had declared a history major but switched to finance before enrolling.

“I did it by chance. I thought it sounded interesting,” he said. “Up until that time, I had no background in economics.”

“You have to make sure your chosen course of study is right for you,” he said. “If you don’t love it, drop it and do something else you love. It’s the only way you’ll make good progress and make a contribution and become really good at what you’re doing.”

Active role in education

Gallo recommended that students take an active role in the course of their education. “It takes a lot of additional effort to really make something of it,” he said. For example, rather than sitting in classes all day and following a prescribed syllabus, in his senior year, he did an independent study on behavioral finance, researching theories of people’s behavior and decision-making.

“I had to do a lot of work on my own and ended up doing a lot of my own exploration,” he said, encouraging others to consider this route when plunging deeper into their chosen fields.

“I spend a lot of time exploring new theories and applying them to the real world,” he said. “I was doing it whilst I was an undergraduate. Now, that’s what I’m doing in my career, where theory meets practice.”

He also cautions against using money as the prime motivating factor for choosing a career.

“The money comes slowly,” Gallo said. “If you’re motivated by that one goal, I don’t think it’s necessarily the right approach to take.”

“What happens if you don’t make a lot of money?” he asked. “You shouldn’t be motivated by these goals — you should be motivated in really doing what you’re doing.

“Don’t be motivated by money, especially if you’re studying finance, because it can often cloud people’s judgment,” he said. “It’s a natural function of working in an area like finance. Don’t let that be your only motivation.

“Follow what you really believe in and follow what you love. Goodness will accrue naturally. That’s been my experience so far, based on what I’ve done so far.”

Gallo didn’t spend his summers between semesters at PC at high-profile internships. Instead, he worked as a caddie at a golf club and saved his money to pay for his master’s degree in investment management from City University London’s Cass Business School in 2005.

He believes his nontraditional approach helped him gain success.

“I think one of the things students need to be careful of is getting involved with grad programs, bordering on becoming a cookie-cutter mold.  It’s important, at least in the field I’ve chosen, to not forget to think on your own two feet.

“I probably had a more risky career path, but I never had someone looking over me and telling me this is wrong.”

— Liz F. Kay

 

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