World’s Best B-School Professors: Utpal Bhattacharya

A financial whiz who is an expert on insider trading and fraud, Kelley’s Utpal Bhattacharya is one of the world’s best business school profs

Utpal Bhattacharya
Kelley School of Business

Claim to Fame: Financial Fraud

Age: 52


Columbia University, PhD, Finance
Indian Institute of Management, MBA
Indian Institute of Management, Bachelor of Technology

At Kelley Since: 1997

Before Kelley: University of Iowa

Fun Fact: Teaches in a new country every summer (since 1993)

If I wasn’t teaching, my dream job would be: Directing independent movies

Best part of the job: To see the light shine up in students’ eyes when they understand a very difficult concept

Worst part of the job: Grading. I am a very tough grader. I give Cs and Ds because society wants us to be honest and not pander to students, but I do not like evaluating people.

As the saying goes, what’s done in the dark will eventually come to light. Utpal Bhattacharya at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business goes deep into the dark underworld of financial markets to understand the reasons behind financial fraud. Before the influx of media reports about insider trading, Professor Bhattacharya had been studying the dark side of financial markets for over a decade, giving him a ready-made platform to discuss modern day fraudsters such as Raj Rajaratnam and Bernie Madoff.

In 2002, Bhattacharya published a study that he says contained, “the biggest research finding of my life.” In “The World Price of Insider Trading,” the professor and his co-author show that passing a law against insider trading has no impact on a country’s stock market value. Not until the law is enforced and someone is prosecuted does the law have an impact. Or, as Bhattacharya states in an interview published by Indiana University magazine, “It’s not the law stupid. It’s the enforcement that counts.”

His research has been cited more than 150 times by business media around the world. In 2006, he was a member of the Task Force to Modernize Securities Regulation in Canada, a task force for which he wrote a report that was aired on Canadian television and discussed by Canadian legislators. At the end of the day, Bhattacharya says his goal is simply “to spread the gospel of honest finance to every corner of the globe.”

Students Say:

“He believes you should ask interesting, important questions that are relevant beyond academia—issues that we care about in our everyday lives. His test for an interesting research question is ‘Tell your mom the idea, and if she doesn’t understand it or she doesn’t find it interesting then it’s a bad idea. Do the same with your grand mom and so on.’ And because of that his research is cited often and it’s always exciting.”