This fall Doug Cliggott ’78 (economics), who has had a luminous career in financial services, most recently as U.S. Equity Strategist for Credit Suisse in Boston, has joined the Economics Department as a lecturer. In addition to teaching, Cliggott will host an alumni webinar series and serve as an advisor/mentor for economics students interested in careers in finance.
At Credit Suisse Cliggott discussed the economy and financial markets with clients to help them successfully invest in the U.S. equity market. He examined economic and market data, made frequent appearances on radio and television to address the global economy’s outlook and Federal Reserve policy, and each week, with a couple of colleagues, he would write a related essay for clients.
“What I learned in the 1970s at UMass gave me a tremendous competitive advantage in my career,” says Cliggott, who came to campus from Medford where his father was a fireman. “I was guided to read economists like Keynes and Minsky who understood how capitalist economies and markets actually function. My ‘competitors’ in the marketplace of ideas on Wall Street didn’t have similar training.”
Cliggott’s career, he says, has been a sequence of choices that “seemed like the right thing to do at the time.” In 1980 he attended the New School not only to continue to read the economists he’d been introduced to in UMass Economics Department but also to live in New York City. He took a job at the Conference Board, an independent business-membership and research association working in the public trust, in 1982, “to earn some money, continue studying the economy, and learn about US monetary and fiscal policy.”
When the opportunity to join Merrill Lynch as an economist arose in 1986, Cliggott jumped. “I could continue to study and learn, and the job paid a lot more than the Conference Board!” Two years later Cliggott fell in love with a girl who lived in Copenhagen. “I quit Merrill Lynch to move to Denmark, but my boss Chuck Clough said that if I ever wanted return to the US, I’d have a job,” he says. “The chance to learn a new language and a new culture was an extra bonus.”
In the subsequent five years Cliggott had stints at Dansk Bank and Alfred Berg, an investment bank. Then in 1993, he and his wife decided to come back to the states, and Cliggott took Clough up on his offer. “The important lesson I learned is work for a great company or have a great boss who will mentor you and look out for you. Sometimes you get really lucky and have both. And by lucky, I also mean that throughout my career people have been very kind and generous—and I have tried to treat the people I work with well.”
By 1996 JP Morgan beckoned Cliggott to serve as chief equity strategist. It was during his six years there that he became a “notable Wall Street bear…in a time of bulls.” When he resigned in 2002 to head up the first U.S. office of the Swedish asset management firm Brummer & Partners, CNN Money noted that “Cliggott’s calls have become all too prescient in recent months of stock declines.”
At the time Cliggott had three children under the age of 12. “My wife had essentially been a single parent since we returned from Denmark because I had to travel so much and work so many hours,” he says. “We decided it was important for me to be more involved with our kids before they moved into their teenage years. It was the right choice. I actually know my kids now. Many men and women who work on Wall Street don’t know theirs.”
After five years with Brummer, Cliggott joined Dover Management LLC in Greenwich, Connecticut, where he created and managed a long/short mutual fund, before being whisked away by Credit Suisse in 2009. But when the company offered attractive severance packages in an effort to cut the number of managing directors, Cliggott put up his hand and retreated to his home on Cape Cod. When the teaching opportunity arose, Cliggott agreed. “It seemed like the right thing to do. It still does!”
Cliggott has made it a point to stay engaged in UMass activities. Besides serving on the Economics Alumni Advisory Board and the UMass Amherst Foundation Board, he has been the keynote speaker at many UMass Amherst alumni events. Now, bringing his knowledge into the classroom is a win/win for both him and the department.
“I love to share what I have learned with others,” says Cliggott, “and I love to learn from other people, both by reading and by listening. That is what I have done at work for most of the past thirty years, and it is what I plan to do in my classes at UMass, though my ‘clients’ will be considerably younger. My three kids are now 16, 20, and 22, so I think I have a pretty good idea of what teaching at UMass will be like. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share some of my experiences, both in Europe and the U.S.”
The first session of the aforementioned Alumni Webinar Series, entitled “Economic Update with Doug Cliggott,” will take place on November 14, 2012 from 7:00-8:00 p.m. This session’s topic is “The Election and the Economy.” To register, please visit the website. The second in the series will be held in the spring.