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Three Questions with Matthew Serfling. ’15 
Matthew Serfling, Ph.D. Finance ’15 
Assistant Professor of Finance, University of Tennessee 

By Eller College

matthewserflingHow did you decide to pursue your Ph.D.?
I grew up in a small town in Minnesota and went to North Dakota State. My original plan was law school, but I was in an accident my freshman year that left me in a wheelchair. It was a difficult situation. I ended up studying finance and math and then began thinking research would be a good path.

What brought you to Eller and the UA? 
Eller was one of the schools that accepted me! I wasn’t sure what I was interested in at first, but ended up focusing on corporate finance. Sandy Klasa contacted me and asked me to be his research assistant, so my research branched out from there.  

Can you talk about your research?
What I like about research is that I have the flexibility and freedom to study what I want to study. The downside is that there’s no guidance. In general, my research focuses on how corporate financial policy decisions are related to labor market frictions, product market competition, nonfinancial stakeholders, laws and regulations, and a firm’s governance environment. I have a paper out in the Journal of Accounting and Economics that looks at customer concentration risk and the cost of equity capital. We hypothesize that a more concentrated customer base increases a supplier’s risk, which results in a higher cost of equity. Our results show a positive association between customer concentration and a supplier’s cost of equity, and this relation is more pronounced for suppliers that are more likely to lose major customers or that are more prone to larger losses if they lose such customers.

Top photo source. Interior photo courtesy Matthew Serfling.