In finance, much like administration, there’s always something new to learn

Financial accounting researcher John Campbell to lead Department of Finance
John Campbell
John Campbell

When working in finance, you have to know about numbers. But also technology. And diesel motors, makeup trends, farming, 5-star resorts — any topic on whatever business idea your company is working on.

A prize “deal toy” on John Campbell’s bookshelf is a Lucite ball with a tiny motor part encased inside, an object he never knew existed before spending more than a month learning everything about power takeoffs.

“In finance, you are figuring out how to use money to execute business ideas. And those ideas can be in areas you’ve never heard of,” he said. “I got this when I worked on a deal with a power takeoff company. They’re used in hydraulics for big trucks. In six weeks, we had to become experts on power takeoffs, how they are used, who buys them, for what price. That’s what working in finance is like. There’s always something new to learn.”  

The Herbert E. Miller Chair in Financial Accounting at the Terry College of Business, Campbell is a longtime financial accounting instructor in the J.M. Tull School of Accounting. But his work experience in investment banking, as an auditor of BB&T Corp. (now Truist Bank), and as the SEC reporting manager for a public debt/private equity-owned manufacturing firm — paired with recent administrative duties as Tull’s PhD program director — opened the door to new opportunities. On July 1, he was appointed head of Terry’s Department of Finance.

Campbell, who came to the University of Georgia as an assistant professor in 2010, succeeds Jeffry Netter. Netter, a Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor and Georgia Bankers Association Chair, served as head of the Finance Department since 2011.

Campbell is one of three new department heads at the college. Josh Kinsler, professor of economics, succeeds Chris Cornwell in the Department of Economics. James Carson, the Daniel P. Amos Distinguished Professor of Insurance, succeeds Rob Hoyt in the Department of Insurance, Legal Studies and Real Estate.

“We are deeply grateful to Jeff Netter, Chris Cornwell and Rob Hoyt for their many years of dedicated service and leadership as department heads,” said Dean Ben Ayers. “I want to thank John, Jim and Josh for their willingness to take on their new responsibilities, and with the support of their departmental colleagues, I am confident each of them will provide effective leadership and direction for their departments.”

With just over 1,200 students, finance perennially is the largest major at Terry and also one of the five largest majors at UGA due to its ubiquitous nature and focus on analytics and new technologies. Terry finance undergraduates are some of the best-prepared students in the country. Campbell sees his role as supporting top-notch faculty to ensure they continue to help their students succeed after graduation.  

“I think the natural focus on data and analysis is part of the reason students continue to major in finance in large numbers,” Campbell said. “We’re offering cutting-edge valuation and analytic techniques, but we also work hard to stay on top of what markets are actually doing.”  

To that end, Campbell is working to support top faculty and PhD students in their teaching and research and connect them with Terry graduates leading the way in the workforce.

“We have some of the best minds in financial technology on our faculty across all types of markets,” Campbell said. “Equity and fixed income, derivatives, household finance, corporate finance, public finance, nonprofit finance, sustainable finance, lending, international — you name it. Our faculty use the latest technology in their research and routinely interact with professionals in the marketplace, so they see trends and give our students an edge.”

The department is planning a fall symposium to connect with other leading researchers across the world and showcase the department’s work and the city of Athens, which Campbell cites as a great place to work and live.  

In addition to his administrative role, Campbell will continue his research examining the capital market consequences of financial and tax information, which generally has implications for financial market regulation. According to the 2021 Brigham Young University (BYU) research rankings, Campbell was the world’s No. 1 financial accounting researcher in terms of articles published in top journals over the last six years. His research has been published in top-ranked finance journals such as The Review of Financial Studies and the Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis

He has served as an editor at Contemporary Accounting Research since 2020 and on the editorial boards of several other top research journals since 2016.