Doing the right thing

Am I ready for this?

Everyone has experienced that jittery feeling when they take on a new challenge—but Adam Storch, BS ’02, CPA, thrives on it.

From his days in the School of Management accounting program to his leadership role at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) today, Storch has spent his career chasing opportunities to stretch himself and make a lasting impact.

“Especially when pursuing a new job, always try to make sure you’re a little bit uncomfortable,” he advises current students. “When you know you’re learning, it probably means you’ve made the right career decision.”

A lifelong New Yorker, Storch is a first-generation college graduate and the grandson of Holocaust survivors, a tragic but foundational piece of his background that gives him perspective during challenging times like those we face today.

Despite not knowing any businesspeople as a child, Storch dreamed of a career in business—even if, growing up, that simply meant donning a suit and tie and carrying around a briefcase. Eventually, that dream pushed him to enroll in the UB School of Management, where he excelled in accounting courses, completed the internal auditing track and added a concentration in finance.

“Within four years, the School of Management gave me a broad accounting education, as well as expertise in internal auditing, which was—and still is—pretty unique,” Storch says. “I learned a lot and made a lot of friends at UB. It was really the first experience in my life that validated my potential.”

Central to Storch’s School of Management experience was his mentor Alex Ampadu, clinical associate professor of accounting and law, who he still sees regularly.

“I’ve had a lot of teachers in my life, but there was only one at my wedding, and that’s Professor Ampadu,” Storch says.

Nowadays, in an effort to pay back for the strong foundation he gained at UB, Storch shares his perspective as a member of the school’s Accounting Advisory Council.

Storch began his career in the private sector, first as a senior analyst at Deloitte and later as a vice president at Goldman Sachs. While at Goldman, he completed his MBA at NYU Stern in the evenings and on weekends.

In 2009, he decided to move into public service, applying for a “long-shot opportunity” at the SEC—and becoming the first-ever chief operating officer and managing executive for its Enforcement Division. Storch oversaw strategic planning and operations for the highly visible unit with 1,200 employees and a $500 million budget, along with other key functions like information technology and knowledge management. He also played a lead role in establishing and supervising the Office of Market Intelligence and the Office of the Whistleblower.

“I joined at a significant inflection point after the financial crisis, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of a radical overhaul of an important government agency,” Storch says. “It’s incredibly rewarding to know I had a hand in creating functions that will exist for years and have become part of the language of the SEC.”

In 2014, Storch briefly left the SEC to serve as the chief of staff and COO for the Legal, Compliance and Public Affairs organization at Marsh & McLennan Cos., but two years later, public service called him again and he returned to the SEC.

Now, Storch is leading the creation of another new office: The Event and Emerging Risks Examination Team (EERT), part of the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations. He likens the group to a SWAT team, deployed first on scene to assess and recommend actions after significant market events that could have a systemic impact or place investor assets at risk, including exchange outages, liquidity events, and cybersecurity or operational resiliency concerns. The team will also lead proactive initiatives to prepare firms and exam staff to address exigent threats, incidents and emerging risks.

“I’m really proud of the work I do, protecting investors and improving compliance in the capital markets of the United States,” Storch says. “When I talk to my 6-year-old son, Lucas, about my job, he understands that my work helps people invest and save for important things in life. That validates that I’m doing the right thing.”

Written by Matthew Biddle