Alumnus Mallach reflects on 50 years on Wall Street

David Mallach, a 1971 graduate, recently celebrataed 50 years as a financial advisor with one of the world’s largest investment banks.

David Mallach, a 1971 graduate, recently celebrataed 50 years as a financial advisor with one of the world’s largest investment banks.

Growing up, David Mallach was always on the move.

The self-proclaimed “military brat” moved frequently with his family, attending four high schools in four different states. Perhaps that is why when it came to his career, he was eager to find a place to settle down. Mallach, a Troy University alumnus and member of TROY’s Foundation Board, celebrated a milestone earlier this year—50 years as a financial advisor with one of the world’s largest investment banks.

In a world where the average tenure at a job is 5 years, Mallach said he is proud to call himself a “freak” of the business world.

“Most people change jobs every few years because they can’t find something they like,” Mallach said. “For me, I find it fascinating to watch how the world is changing and try to make money with those changes.”

Mallach came to TROY in 1967 with one thing in mind—to study under legendary Director of Bands John M. Long. One of Mallach’s high school stints was at Robert E. Lee in Montgomery, where Long served as band director at that time. By the time Mallach was ready for college, Long was serving as band director at TROY, and Mallach was determined to learn under the man he considered a mentor.

“My first degree was really just paying attention to [Dr. Long],” Mallach said.

By the time of his junior year, Mallach said he had lived in Troy longer than anywhere in his life at that point, and the small town and campus had quickly become a home.

“Being at Troy was like another world,” Mallach said. “A whole new world opened up to me and I had a really tough time leaving.”

A business major and music minor, Mallach was the band captain of the Sound of the South by his senior year. Although he never had plans to make a living in music, Mallach said he did enjoy playing in a traveling group that played parties and events. The weekend money paid for Mallach’s education.

He graduated in 1971 and set his sights on a career in business. After a brief stint in military sales, Mallach joined Merrill Lynch in 1973 and never looked back. He describes his first decade in the business as challenging.

“I came to the conclusion after making all these mistakes the first eight years or so that it really wasn’t buying stocks that was the difficult part of investing money, it’s knowing when to sell them,” Mallach said. “When I figured that out, I knew I was on to something.”

That shift in focus led Mallach to three simple questions that he still uses today to advise clients—what should I buy, when should I sell, and what to do with the money? The key is to remain focused on the future earnings of a company, not the past.

“Stocks are pulled up and down by events in the future, not pushed up by historical events,” Mallach said. “The risk and reward is based on the future.”

In his decades in trading, Mallach has seen a financial industry transformed by growth and innovation. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 925 in 1973 and today sits at over 33,000. But even with all the change, much about the business remains the same.

“Many of today’s top companies didn’t even exist 30 to 50 years ago, but the basic principles of capitalism haven’t changed one bit,” Mallach said.    

Mallach continues to credit TROY and his mentorship under Dr. Long with much of his professional success. In addition to his career in finance, Mallach is a novelist who has written ten “financial thrillers” set amidst the backdrop of finance, politics and geopolitical intrigue. He named the protagonist of his novels “Johnny Long” in honor of his mentor and dedicated one of his most recent novels in honor of Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr. Mallach was named by Barron’s Magazine as one of the top 1,000 financial advisors in America. He has also been an active supporter of TROY, serving as the keynote speaker during the Fall 2014 commencement. He has also established scholarships for both music and non-music majors who are members of the marching and concert bands.