Born and raised in Hungary, Tunde Kovacs remembers the financial world being a popular topic of discussion around the family dinner table. When your mother is a commercial loan officer at a bank and your father is chief financial officer at a construction company, that can happen.
“It never occurred to me not to go into finance,” says Kovacs, who earned a bachelor’s degree and MBA, both in finance, from Corvinus University in Budapest before coming to the United States and earning a Ph.D. from Virginia Tech in 2006. After seven years on the faculty at Northeastern University, Kovacs joined UMass Lowell’s Manning School of Business in 2013.
“I liked the school’s energy,” says the associate professor of finance. “It felt very collegial.”
She also liked the fact that the Manning School was launching a new Ph.D. concentration in finance.
“I always wanted to mentor doctoral students,” says Kovacs, now the concentration coordinator. “It’s a very rewarding experience. It forces you to stay current with the literature and what’s going on in the finance world.”
Kovacs, who teaches courses at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels, says the most important thing for students to understand is the language of finance.
“One of things that makes finance so hard is the jargon. We use tons of acronyms, and sometimes very simple concepts get very tricky with long and serious-sounding names,” says Kovacs, who received a 2015 Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence. “My No. 1 goal with students is to make sure they are able to read the news and understand and critique it, because a lot of things in financial publications don’t actually make sense.”
Kovacs teaches several courses in the Pulichino Tong Business Center’s Trading Room, where students get hands-on experience with three powerful financial databases: Bloomberg, Morningstar and FactSet.
“These are very important tools. These skills are essential for students interested in some kind of analyst job with a brokerage company or within a corporation,” says Kovacs, who adds that students can become certified on the software tools, “which is a great résumé-builder.”
Kovacs’ research streams range from the effects of analyst recommendations, through the phenomenon of postearnings drift in stock prices, to how companies’ valuations are affected by their social media presence on Twitter.
“Companies that are considered socially responsible seem to increase in value when they start tweeting, but companies that are not socially respected – like those dealing with fossil fuels, tobacco and alcohol – don’t increase in valuation at all,” says Kovacs, who has co-authored a paper with Ph.D. student Yi (Shirley) Shen and Brandeis University’s Pegaret Pichler on the topic. “Social media communication is essentially free, but it’s not beneficial for everyone.”
Kovacs, who enjoys French baking, knitting and dancing (salsa and swing) in her spare time, recently began consulting for Cox Capital Management in Andover. One of her former MBA students, Ethan Brown ’14, is a research analyst and portfolio manager at the firm, where several more of her students have landed internships.
“Our students are very motivated and looking for more internship opportunities,” says Kovacs, who was also happy to see membership in the Finance Society swell to close to 60 students. “It’s exciting to see how much the Manning School is progressing.”