Doug Rachlin takes questions at the 9th annual Finance Career Forum.
On a snowy Tuesday night in January 2013, Doug Rachlin, A85, A20P, A22P, a managing director at Neuberger Berman, walked across Tufts’ campus feeling galvanized. He had just come from a Tufts Financial Group (TFG) meeting, where he had given a presentation on investing in MLPs. The questions thrown at him by the student audience were top-notch, and the energy and enthusiasm in the room were palpable. Doug was hooked; he wanted more.
That fall, Doug decided to return to campus for his first Finance Career Forum, an annual event he hasn’t missed since. While he loves getting to know other alumni in the industry, it is his interactions with undergraduates—whom he describes as “highly impressive”—that keep him coming back again and again. In fact, the talent and dynamism of Tufts students were enough for Doug to seriously consider traveling back and forth between Medford and New York on a weekly basis. “I realized I was missing that feeling of electricity in my day job,” Doug mused, “from that first lecture to TFG, I had this idea I would come back to teach a class.”
Doug is a natural teacher and mentor, and a strong believer in lifelong learning. At Neuberger Berman, he assigns his summer interns case studies on everything from ethics to investment strategy and brings his entire team of seven together to review them. After one session, Tufts intern Xiling Chen, A18, reminded Doug about the teaching opportunity available through Tufts’ Experimental College. She thought he would make a great professor, and with that, Investing, Psychology, and Human Behavior was born.
A self-described “contrarian investor,” Doug is fascinated by the strong psychological component he sees as necessary for success in the stock market. Through the guidance and support of Howard Woolf, director of the ExCollege and associate dean of undergraduate education, Doug realized this was the lynchpin he was looking for. “The first thing Doug said to me was that he wanted the course to be about dealing with risk,” remembers Woolf, “I knew right then it had potential.”
The ExCollege receives between 80 and 100 course proposals per semester on average. Of these, only 15 make it through the demanding faculty review process to be offered as for-credit electives during the following term. That Investing, Psychology, and Human Behavior has been one of these, not once but twice, speaks directly to what Doug has accomplished in designing and teaching his class. “The courses that are repeated offer more than just a how-to,” Woolf explains, “they take an ambiguous concept, like risk, and create a contextual understanding within our sociocultural setting.”
Professional practitioners, like Doug, are also important and valuable educators, and not just because of the expertise they offer, says Woolf. “These individuals bring passion to areas students are otherwise studying in an analytical and objective way,” he shares. “It’s actually a key criterion that we are looking for—our visiting lecturers bring a real sense of joy about what they do, and they pass that on to their students.”
For Doug, the best part about teaching is indeed the relationships he’s developed with undergraduates. It is a point of pride for him that he has never turned down a single request for a meeting. “It’s not just the right thing to do,” he insists, “I really love it. Back when I was their age, I was searching for direction, and I truly appreciated anyone who would help me in my career. It’s a joy to be able to support them in this way.”
Asked what he hopes his students will take away at the end of the semester, Doug stops to consider. “Financial advisors, investment bank sell-side analysts, hedge fund managers and the financial news media all are inflicted with inherent conflicts of interest that may not best serve the individual investor,” he says, thoughtfully. “Our psychology is such a major influence on how we make decisions. I hope my students will gain the self-awareness that will help them navigate these challenges.”
Doug Rachlin is a graduate of the Class of 1985, as well as a Tufts parent. He is the senior portfolio manager and founder of the Rachlin Group within Neuberger Berman’s Private Asset Management group. The Rachlin Group manages more than $4 billion in assets and has been investing in MLPs and energy infrastructure since the mid-1990s. Doug is also a member of the Tufts University Board of Trustees, President’s Council, A&S Campaign Committee, and the TFN Advisory Committee. He has been teaching in the Experimental College since the fall of 2017.