Karl Diether on Bulking Up the Finance Dept
It took ten years and three invitations, but last summer finance professor Karl Diether made the move from Dartmouth College to BYU’s Department of Finance.
What factors lured him from his Ivy League gig? The Marriott School’s up-and-coming research in empirical asset pricing had a lot to do with it, and, of course, BYU football did too.
“It is true to say that one of the reasons I came back to BYU is football,” he says with a laugh. “I suppose that’s a bit embarrassing. I should be above those kinds of things, but I’ve been a fan for a long time.”
Since arriving in Utah, the father of four has enjoyed going to all the home games with his family, although he draws the line at camping out in front of the stadium to get into a game.
“I am philosophically opposed to camping out for games,” he says. “If that’s the test of true devotion, then I’m not devoted.”
His other hobbies include bodybuilding, a sport he loves but that has taken its toll. Most notably a pectoral muscle was nearly ripped off while he was bench-pressing.
After growing up in Las Vegas with nine brothers and sisters, Diether received his undergraduate degree in economics from BYU in 1998. He says that time at BYU was defining for him, not only professionally but also in the way his personal life panned out. While setting his course for an academic future, he also met his wife.
Diether received a PhD in finance from the University of Chicago in 2004, then taught finance at Ohio State University, followed by four years at Dartmouth College. If you ask him to compare the Ivy League with BYU, he’ll tell you that the two have more in common than you would think.
“There’s this notion that you’re part of something special at Dartmouth College,” he says. “I think BYU and Dartmouth are similar in that sense—the students and the faculty feel that they are part of a unique environment, a really defined identity that makes you want to be your best.”
For Diether, he’s putting his best into research about the stock market—and he’s coming up with some interesting findings. His latest research concerns the way senators’ votes affect the stock market, and he feels there are some solid trading strategies that could come out of it.
Though he’s now nearly a continent away from the trading floor, he says it was worth it to come back to his alma mater. And it’s not just because of the football.
“It’s nice to be in an environment where such vibrant research in my field of study is going on,” he says. “I have wonderful colleagues, and I feel like my contributions are really making a difference.”