Photo at left by Fred Goode Photography
Above all else, Clifford Virgin III (B.S. ’81) is a problem solver. “I work the phones all day, helping people find financial solutions,” he says about his job as senior vice president at RBC Wealth Management. “I have a wide range of clients, and I enjoy advising people on how to invest and spend their money, helping them reach their financial goals.”
With his boisterous personality, Virgin did not limit himself to meeting people in his own major as a student at New York Tech, or in his own corner of the Long Island campus. “I really loved the campus, so I wandered everywhere exploring,” he says. “I loved the architectural building that was once a stable.”
Virgin went through several professional training programs at different financial institutions after graduation, first with Chemical Bank, a predecessor of JP Morgan Chase, and then with Shearson/American Express. “At first, they told me the management program was for people right out of college, and I had already been out a few years, so I had to take a clerical position,” he remembers. But it wasn’t long before he began to make an impression. “I kept seeing a member of senior management in the bathroom, and he liked my attitude because I wore a suit every day. So eventually, I was the first person who was put in the management program who was brought in internally.”
As a behavioral sciences major, Virgin may have strayed from his original career goals, but he says his education still serves him on a daily basis. “Those psychology classes I took really help me when I speak to clients,” he says. “Because there are only two emotions in this industry, fear and greed. Knowing which you are reacting from will help you make decisions.”
Originally from Mount Vernon, N.Y., Virgin now lives in Montclair N.J., with his wife of 30 years. He has a daughter, Baldwin, and a son, Clifford A. Virgin IV. He has coached little league baseball since his son was five, and he even arranges his own mini contests in the local schools to teach kids financial literacy. “I go into schools in Newark, Orange, and Montclair, and I work with students, teaching them how to read stocks and build their own portfolio. Whoever has the most successful portfolio at the end gets a prize,” he says. “As an African American, I want to help others learn how to plan for the long term, not just paying the bills on the kitchen table,” he says.