It Starts with One
By Suzanne Buzek
Luke Wiley, BBA ’97 shares his story and why he gives in the name of the one who made a life-changing impact on him as a Lindner student.
One’s early twenties are full of rejections. Too young. Not experienced enough. Unknown. Luke Wiley, BBA ’97, had just about heard it all as a UC student trying to launch a career by cold-calling wealth management firms from his apartment Yellow Pages.
So how do you get from cold-calling for job interviews to becoming managing director at Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) Financial Services, revered as the trusted advisor within the Procter & Gamble community? Tenacity, persistence, drive for excellence and, sure, experience. Wiley’s twenty-plus-year career in wealth management boasting milestones like a two-time best-selling book and being named a best-in-Ohio wealth advisor by Forbes can speak to that.
But if you ask Wiley himself, it’s about cultivating relationships. And at age 22, all it took was one: Accounting Professor Jeri Ricketts, PhD.
“I was at a dead end trying to get interviewed to pursue my dream of personal wealth management,” said Wiley, who attended UC on a soccer scholarship and played outside halfback. “Professor Ricketts took the time to open a door that changed my and my family’s life forever.”
That door was an introduction to well-reputed financial advisor Phillip Finn at Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.
“Graciously, Phil agreed to meet with me,” recalls Wiley. “And thankfully, he liked what he heard. Merrill Lynch hired me right out of college.”
Professor Ricketts is now retired but continues to teach at Lindner as an adjunct faculty member. To her, teaching was always a two-way street, and would start every quarter or semester offering to help students with their job search.
“Most students don’t take you up on it, but the ones who do, you pay attention to,” she said. “Luke was very proactive.”
As for that well-reputed financial advisor, Finn saw a lot of admirable qualities in the aspiring wealth advisor his good friend Jeri introduced him to.
“We usually don’t hire people in their early twenties, but what stuck out to me about Luke is that he played a team sport,” said Finn, who himself attended college on scholarship. “In business, you have to be a team player. Luke had it all.”
Wiley credits that “having it all” finesse to a gritty, military upbringing. The oldest of three boys, Wiley is the first to say he took the brunt of tough love and state-provided breakfast and lunch. He once showed up at a BMX race with a Huffy bike, his father’s helmet and blue jeans, meeting kids with expensive bikes and professional gear at the starting line. He placed second.
“Growing up, I was very competitive, but I had to show people what I had through actions, not run my mouth about it,” he said.
Wiley and Ricketts’ relationship was rekindled when Wiley presented her with a signed copy of his book, The 52-Week Low Formula: A Contrarian Strategy That Lowers Risk, Beats the Market, and Overcomes Human Emotion, which has even been translated into Japanese.
“In the years since graduating from UC, I doubt Professor Ricketts would have given that connection to Phil a second thought,” mused Wiley. “There was no reason, really.”
Today, Wiley, his wife, Melissa, and four children — his oldest daughter, Madyson, is a second-year student at Lindner — provide a scholarship in Ricketts’ name for one student over their four-year college experience. The student is known as the “Dr. Jeri Ricketts scholar” within the Carl H. Lindner Honors-PLUS program. Wiley points to the many life transitions that have prompted him to shift his focus to creating opportunity for the next generation.
“I’m thankful to talk to UC about my journey and the priceless impact Jeri has had on my life, because I really believe it can be a call to action for all alumni,” he continued. “Why wait to celebrate someone’s impact posthumously? I’m all about doing that while that person is alive, and urge my fellow alumni to think about the one who made a difference for you. Who could be the one you make a difference for?”
At UC we’re driven by Next; thinking bolder and dreaming bigger to create the tomorrow we envision, today. Alumni support is a driving force for student success.
Luke Wiley’s story is the first of many about Lindner alumni who have gone above and beyond to provide meaningful financial assistance and support so that students can unleash their potential. The future won’t wait. Make your gift today.
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