Miami Herbert student rings opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange

Miami Herbert student rings opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange

Zach Ng, center right, rings the bell at the New York Stock Exchange surrounded by fellow Acadia Realty Trust interns and executives.
By Cibeles Duran

Zach Ng, center right, rings the bell at the New York Stock Exchange surrounded by fellow Acadia Realty Trust interns and executives.

Miami Herbert student rings opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange

By Cibeles Duran
Rising senior Zach Ng received an opportunity of a lifetime as part of his summer internship.

Since 1903, the customary ringing of the bell ceremony at the New York Stock Exchange takes place twice a day – when trading begins at 9:30 in the morning and at the day’s closing at 4:00 in the afternoon. The tradition at the largest stock exchange in the world endures as a symbol of American financial prowess and global economic progress. Throughout the decades, business figures, celebrities, star athletes, and political leaders have become part of the tradition and formed an elite group of NYSE bell ringers. Miami Herbert undergraduate student Zach Ng joined the select company when he, too, rang the bell on the morning of July 6.

The journey to the moment began in the fall of 2020 at the height of remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Philadelphia native chose to use accumulated credits to take a gap semester and help his dad, Manny Ng, also a ’Cane (B.S. ’92), renovate the family’s duplex property at the Jersey Shore.

“I worked on floors, painting, building a new kitchen, pouring concrete, and everything that a renovation involves,” he recalls. “It was the first time that I saw myself create value, and that was through real estate.”

Discovering commercial real estate as a viable career path in his sophomore year, he quickly immersed himself in the major. This year, he participated in the Launch Academy, a young leaders development program by the International Council of Shopping Centers. The program helped match him with an internship opportunity at Acadia Realty Trust, a listed company under the NYSE. After interviews and the hiring process, he was on his way to New York City for a summer internship in development and asset management.

He did not expect to be walking the halls of the New York Stock Exchange as an honoree bell ringer soon after arriving in the city.

“It was surreal,” says the rising senior, who had previously considered a career in finance and only virtually visited New York City in the summer of 2021 to meet with finance professionals as a scholar of Miami Herbert’s Bermont Carlin program, which prepares top students for roles within Wall Street.

“I first was interested in finance at the age of 15 and I tried to teach myself to invest. I remember watching movies or shows on TV about Wall Street and hedge funds. In the news, I saw stories of entrepreneurs taking their companies public. I had the privilege of becoming a Bermont Carlin scholar at Miami Herbert. All these memories, in some way or another, relate to the NYSE. To push the button to open the world's largest equity market was just incredible to experience after all the excitement built through the years,” he says.

Acadia Chief Financial Officer John Gottfried had much to do with the occasion. On a Tuesday a few weeks into Ng’s internship, Gottfried established a competition. He invited all interns to submit their best guess of the company’s closing stock price by the next day’s closing for a chance to join him in ringing the distinct bell. On Wednesday afternoon, Ng was the lucky winner.

On the morning of July 6, he found himself in the NYSE’s Broad Street lobby receiving the customary welcome given to all bell ringers. Stock Exchange events team members greeted Ng, Gottfried, and guest interns and escorted them to a reserved board room for a continental breakfast. Here, several executives and staff members joined the group to speak about the organization’s history, dating back to 1792 when initial trading started under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street.

Capturing the historic significance and its connection to today’s modern financial system, an engraved medallion presented to Ng as a keepsake depicts the modern-day Broad Street building on one side and the buttonwood tree on the other. Ng now calls the souvenir “the best thing that I own on my desk.”

After giving a short speech, as traditionally allotted to the bell ringer, Ng, along with his group, moved onto the trading floor. Here, he got the opportunity to sign the ledger carrying the names of all bell ringers.

“That's when it hit me that history happens here,” he says.

He recalls his surprise at the sheer number of screens around the vast area and at the CNBC studio set in the middle of the floor. But he also observed a calmer version of the stock exchange in the digital age.

“When you think of the NYSE, you think of a million people in blue blazers running around, screaming, holding slips of paper up, and pinching a landline between their cheek and shoulder,” he notes. “Today, it is the same setting with all the bright screens and the classical revival architecture but so calm. Technology has changed how the traders operate so much.”

Adding to his impressions of the day, he also signed his name on the wall next to the stairwell leading up to the bell podium, which also carries the signatures of all bell ringers. Once on the podium, with the trading floor and the CNBC studio below, Ng and Gottfried jointly rang the traditional bell exactly 10 seconds before 9:30 a.m., effectively opening the market and the financial activity that would have global impacts on that day.

“Simply to stand there and soak it all in was really impactful,” he says.

During his upcoming senior year, Ng will continue to lead the Asian American Student Association as the program director, having served as president of the club last year, and the Hyperion Council under the title of titan and as co-recruiting chair. As he absorbs the memorable moments of his last undergraduate year, and beyond graduation, he will have the exclusive opportunity to relay his experience as part of a key American financial tradition.