Vita Dadoo Lomeli

Staff Writer 

This spring, the College introduced an Introductory Finance course to its curriculum for the first time. Taught by Barrett Kollme, an investment banker, the course provides a foundation in the principles and tools of finance, which include financial analysis, the time of value of money, capital budgeting, and capital structure.

Kollme grew up in Atlanta, GA and received a Bachelor’s degree at the University of Virginia and an MBA at Duke. After residing in Baltimore for 11 years, Kollme moved to Davidson in 2005, working for what was at the time Wachovia Bank, now Wells Fargo. He specializes in equity capital markets, or raising equity for real estate companies.

Kollme has always held a personal relationship with Davidson. Married to the daughter of long-time professor Gill Holland, Kollme has been consistently involved in campus and community life. Through his in-laws, Kollme became acquainted with Ben Baker, Professor of Accounting, with whom Kollme collaborated in the creation and approval of the Introductory Finance course.

“My real mentor here has been Ben Baker,” Kollme recalled. “I came in close contact through my father in law and told him that if there was ever a need for a finance class then I would be interested in talking to him about forming that or teaching that in whatever form it took on.” The College approved the course last spring, and, after a conversation with Baker, Kollme embraced the teaching opportunity wholeheartedly.

Although this is his first time leading and crafting a course in a college setting, Kollme has always been driven to teach young individuals who are motivated to work in the banking industry.

“My favorite part of my job, frankly, is when I sit down and teach them financial strategies, accounting, [and] decision making, “ Kollme explained. “Any type of financial situation I can help them analyze. It’s always very exciting to me to relay what I’ve learned and what I’ve experienced to them. So I’ve always wanted to take that to the next level to teaching students, and particularly at a college the caliber of Davidson. It’s been a very logical transition from my existing job to what I do here in that I’m just teaching another set of people who are in theory interested in finance.”

As the student demand for careers in banking increases, Kollme believes he can integrate his professional experience in the classroom setting to teach a unique course that exploits the student body’s sharp problem-solving skills.

“Davidson can find anyone who can teach basic finance. What I think I bring into the table is real world experience, a lot of different situations that I’ve been in, good and bad,” Kollme said. “Layering on kind of the academic side of finance with the real world side of investment banking, I hope, gives the students a little bit of a different slant on how this material is used in the real world and how you really can apply the different analysis or valuation techniques that we’ll learn in the class to a real world situation. It’s a good balance between the academics and real world professionalism.”

Although the College does not offer a wide variety of pre-professional courses, Kollme attests that the liberal arts curriculum and its emphasis on the development of critical thinking abilities enhance the classroom experience.

“Davidson is filled with smart people that analyze complex problems and come up with solutions,” he said. “Finance can be an extension of that. To me there seems to be a demand for not stepping too far out of the liberal arts focus but taking another step towards more of the real world side. I think there will be and should be demand for that type of extension for the existing liberal arts focus.”

Kollme’s course, with its emphasis on real world applications, also provides insight into what banking as a career entails, shedding light on the overall value of pre-professional courses.

“There are a lot of people at this school that have expressed interest in investment banking as a career,” Kollme explained. “So one of the other things I want to do is to tell people what it’s like to be an investment banker. What do you learn? What do you do on a day-to-day basis? It is a not a career for everybody. What I tell them is that you know what you’re getting into and really examine what investment banking means, what it demands of you.”