Risks and Rewards: Dr. Daniel Perez on Why Finance Is Cool (and Motorcycles)
By Laura Wagner
Dr. Daniel Perez isn’t shy in front of a camera. He’s appeared hundreds of times on television and radio since the start of COVID, educating local audiences on the economy, inflation, market performance, and his favorite topic, behavioral finance. It came as a surprise, then, to find out that in real life, he’s quiet, modest, and yes, a little shy. But like many quiet folks, Perez’s passions run deep: teaching, research, service—and motorcycles.
Born in Illinois, Perez grew up in the South Texas town of Edinburg, the son of an Anglo mother and Mexican father. His father and grandfather owned textile factories in nearby Mexico. “Seeing them run those factories gave me an interest in business early on,” Perez said.
As an undergraduate at UT-Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), he tried several business classes but gravitated toward finance. After earning his MBA with a concentration in Management, he stayed at UTRGV to pursue a doctorate in Finance. Instead of following in his father’s footsteps, he chose higher education. “I’ve always wanted to serve and help people,” he said. “Academia allows me to do that.”
While in graduate school, Perez discovered a passion for teaching. “My mentors and professors at UTRGV inspired me and made a big difference in my life, so I want to pass that on,” he said. “I find teaching students very rewarding.”
Perez offers a pragmatic approach in the classroom, one that bridges theory and application. “My job is to be a coach, to motivate and inspire students to want to learn the subject, to love the discipline, to want to know things like what is investing? What is the time value of money? What is a risk/reward tradeoff?” he explained.
He achieves this through a hands-on approach in which students use an investment portfolio simulator to learn how to actually purchase and track stocks and bonds. “I’m an academic, but I’m very practical—I want my students to get real-world experience,” said Perez.
Research is also a passion. “Finance is cool,” he said, smiling as though he expected an argument. “I want to expand the body of knowledge in the finance arena, specifically in behavioral finance and investments.” He mentioned an article he co-authored on the impact of political variables on U.S. investor sentiment and stock market returns. “It’s fascinating—what do political views have to do with sentiment about the stock market? That’s the kind of question I like to research.”
Like all UHD faculty, Perez also has a focus on service. Among other efforts, his regular activities include those appearances on local television and radio programs to offer perspective and education on financial topics. Perez is routinely interviewed on Univision, which averages more than 1.5 million daily viewers. He’s also a regular on Fox News, Telemundo, and Houston Public Media. “I hope I’m helping the community make sense of headlines and things going on around them so they can make decisions and form opinions based on facts and information,” he noted.
Before coming to UHD, Perez was in a leadership role at another local university. Why the switch? “First, I wanted to serve at a minority institution and give back to this community. UHD’s population is a reflection of Houston. Being able to represent such a diverse group and give back to our diverse community is very attractive to me.” He added, “I was a nontraditional student in the sense that I got married and had a child very young. I had to work full-time while going to school, so I understand some of the challenges facing our nontraditional student population. I want to help them cross the finish line and get their degree.”
He noted the quality of faculty at UHD was another significant draw. “There is an amazing group of faculty here from all over the world who bring a fantastic skill set to help support students. That was also an attraction.”
The spirit of UHD clinched the deal, Perez said. “The administration and the University as a whole are doing things right, growing the University into a vibrant community that attracts not just quality students but quality faculty. It creates this virtuous circle, attracting more great people, continuously improving. That makes a dynamic campus but also benefits society—it’s very important.”
In his spare time, Perez seeks adventure. A self-described motorcycle fanatic, he’s spending his summers crossing the European continent on his Yamaha Super Tenere 1200. “I ride my motorcycle all over the world. I’ve ridden across North America, including Alaska, and last summer, I went through eight or nine European countries, including Bulgaria and Croatia,” he said. Next up: Africa. These journeys are a family affair—his wife and daughter take turns riding behind him for weeks at a time (no sidecar). “My wife has a Finance degree and works for an accounting firm in McAllen—she's my high school sweetheart,” Perez said. “And my daughter has a master's in Finance—she’s working as a substitute teacher in Conroe while she earns her Texas teaching certificate.”
His quiet demeanor begs the question of where the daring explorer side to his personality comes from? “My mom was an adventurer—she knew how to ride a motorcycle and fly a plane, and my dad is also a pilot,” Perez said. “So I come by it naturally.”
Most important: What do cool motorcycle professors listen to while on the open road? Perez doesn’t hesitate. “Tina Turner. ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It?’ And Taylor Swift. ‘You Belong With Me.’”
Dr. Daniel Perez is an Assistant Professor of Finance in the Marilyn Davies College of Business. You can watch some of his rides (and learn how to calculate standard deviation!) on his YouTube channel. For a list of his research journal articles, visit Google Scholar.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.