Category Archives: Finance

Hog Ride Offering Students Alternative Travel Plan

Byron Alley

A speeding ticket after freshman orientation – one that raised the cost of his car trip from about $70 to nearly $300 — planted the idea with Byron Alley that there had to be a better way to and from the Fayetteville campus of the University of Arkansas for students who live in Texas. Continue reading Hog Ride Offering Students Alternative Travel Plan

EPIC Spotlight: Ross Lawrence

Many fresh college graduates look for exciting careers in big cities like Chicago or New York.

Ross Lawrence was one of them. With a bachelor’s degree in finance, he applied to more than 70 jobs in the Windy City and Big Apple. Then he decided he’d give Nevada, Missouri, a try.

It changed everything.

Less than five years after earning his degree, he became CEO and owner of Hoffman Financial Resources LLC, a dually registered affiliate with LPL Financial, the largest organization of independent financial advisers in the United States. He manages four full-time employees and about $120 million in investment assets from clients in 34 states.

He has a huge responsibility to his clients. “They literally entrust me with their life savings,” he says.

When Lawrence began applying for finance jobs with big banks, he became keenly interested in owning a firm. Walton College’s Career Center posted an ad for an associate wealth adviser with a firm in a Missouri town of about 8,000 people. Lawrence applied for the job with a mission in mind: he wanted to buy it.

He wasn’t shy about it, either. At age 22, during the interview process, he announced his intentions to the firm’s founder and owner, Greg Hoffman, who was entertaining the idea of retiring within the next ten to fifteen years. He took Lawrence seriously. The two worked out a purchase plan and, as of January 2016, Lawrence assumed ownership.

Now he tells students and new graduates to not be shy. Many firms are owned by baby boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964 – who are retiring and need someone skilled to take over and make sure their clients are taken care of. They’re often in cities and towns where there’s little competition for financial planning, which makes for good opportunities, Lawrence says.

A Fayetteville native, Lawrence initially majored in biology with the idea he would be an oral surgeon. He soon switched gears, however, when he received a tip for a promising stock. Though he ended up not making the investment, it got the wheels spinning. He Googled “finance,” grabbed his best suit and began asking for internships at area firms. He found one at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management in Rogers, where he worked for two years while finishing his degree.

The decision to change majors also delayed his graduation. To catch up, he went to summer school while working two business-related internships and at the Olive Garden restaurant.

During this time, the Great Recession took hold. Lawrence saw bad financial advising at this time, as well as good. The bad, in fact, was so awful he vowed to be an adviser who always puts his clients’ needs first.

With motivation in place, Lawrence took advantage of his Walton education. Mark Zweig’s entrepreneurship class proved to be very important and was where he learned the differences between the types of business ownership and the tax advantages of each. He says he still uses the Excel spreadsheets from his financial modeling class. And, of course, without the Career Center, he might have never known about Hoffman Financial Resources.

Since taking over, Lawrence is expanding his firm to Fayetteville and spends at least a couple of days a week there. His goal is simple: to keep growing the firm by providing the best client experience possible.

“When it comes to financial planning and investing most people just hope that they are doing things the right way, we make sure that it’s not just ‘hope’ that’s guiding them” he says.

EPIC Spotlight: Tim Riley

A method used by a University of Arkansas finance professor got Tim Riley to thinking.

Riley, a financial economist at the time with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, wondered what would happen if he borrowed an idea from Alexey Malakhov, whose research includes hedge funds, and modified it to see how actively managed mutual funds perform against passively managed investments? Continue reading EPIC Spotlight: Tim Riley

Faculty: Best of the Best

Congratulations to the following faculty selected by the Sam M. Walton College of Business Awards and Elections Committee for the following college awards:

Award Winning Faculty

Gary Peters

Gary Peters
Outstanding All-Around Faculty Award


Robin Soster
Excellence in Teaching Award


Tomas Jandik
MBA Teacher of the Year


Simone Peinkofer
Outstanding Graduate Student Teacher Award


Jeff Mullins
Outstanding Adjunct Teacher Award


Viswanath Venkatesh
Excellence in Research Award


David Douglas
Excellence in Service Award


Amy Farmer
Excellence in Diversity Award


EPIC Spotlight: Collin Grimes

Houston is a city where oil is big and buildings fill the skyline. But securing office space in one of those buildings, or any real estate, in the nation’s fourth largest city can be daunting.

For Collin Grimes, it’s another day on the job. Grimes is a First Vice President of Global Corporate Services for the CBRE Group Inc., a Fortune 500 company that serves companies, investors and occupiers worldwide. Based in the Houston office, Grimes finds commercial real estate space that fits his client’s needs and negotiates contracts to everyone’s satisfaction. Self-motivation is required to keep his roster filled with clients. “When you’re a real estate broker, you’re an entrepreneur,” he says.

Grimes, who earned a finance degree in 2006 from the Sam M. Walton College of Business, has spent his entire post-college career with CBRE. He began as an associate and worked his way up, receiving a promotion each year for the past four years.

Real estate, in many ways, is a way of life for Grimes. His father worked in real estate for ExxonMobil, which prompted his family to move frequently. Although Grimes didn’t pursue a corporate real estate career like his father, he instead focuses on commercial real estate.
Grimes graduated from high school in The Woodlands, Texas, and attended the University of Arkansas so he could be near his grandparents, who lived in Rogers. Through them, he became an Arkansas Razorback fan. Through Walton College’s national rankings, he knew he would get a solid business education.

At first, Grimes thought he wanted to be a stockbroker. But he changed his focus after a class assignment required him to give a presentation to Electrolux managers on the pros and cons of a particular product. “It all had to do with sales,” he says.

“That’s really what commercial real estate is,” he says. “It’s creating an opportunity to help clients.”

During summers and spring breaks as a business student, Grimes interned with Staubach Co. Inc., a real estate advisory service based in Dallas that was operated by former NFL quarterback Roger Staubach before it was sold. His internship experience has since led him to encourage undergraduates to pursue summer internships because of the opportunities they provide for the future.

Grimes, now a nine-year veteran with CBRE, looks forward to a successful future. He says he enjoys leveraging his client’s position, negotiating with landlords and owners and showing his clients created value. “To see their reaction and wanting to continue work with you, I think, truly, is the value,” he says.