Personal profile

Short biography

Josef Zechner is Professor of Finance and Investments at WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business) and speaker of the PhD program Vienna Graduate School of Finance (VGSF). Before joining the WU, he was Professor of Finance at the University of Vienna and at the University of British Columbia, Canada.

His research covers a broad range of topics in the areas of corporate finance, banking and asset management and is published in leading finance and economics journals such as the Journal of Finance, the Journal of Financial Economics, the Journal of Political Economy and the Review of Financial Studies.

He is chair of the European Finance Association (EFA), past president of the European Finance Association (EFA), the German Finance Association (DGF), the Western Finance Association (WFA) and Vice President of the Society for Financial Studies (SFS). He was Managing Editor of the Review of Finance (joint with Marco Pagano) from 2003 to 2012. He is also fellow of the Finance Theory Group and was a member of the Advisory Scientific Committee (ASC) of the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB) of the European Central Bank (ECB) until 2009.

Prof. Zechner has consulted for various financial institutions. He is also a founding partner and a member of the scientific board of IQAM Invest, an Austrian Asset Management Company.

Research interests

Josef Zechners research has contributed to unify asset pricing theory with corporate finance. Several of his papers derive valuation models for corporate claims in the presence of default risk. He has developed (jointly with Robert Heinkel and Edwin Fischer) a corporate bond pricing model which explicitly allows firms to adjust their capital structure or to default on their debt at any point in time. This model has become one of the standard references in the capital structure and bond valuation literature. More recently he has extended corporate bond pricing to relate the valuation models to standard credit risk measures, such as expected default frequencies (EDFs) and Value-at-Risk, and to derive a theory of optimal debt maturity (jointly with Thomas Dangl).
In another series of papers, he has derived asset pricing models which account for the fact that firm's ownership structures influence their corporate governance and therefore their fundamental values. In particular shareholder activism will depend on ownership concentration. Thus, the portfolio decisions of investors generally affect securities prices. The implications for equilibrium pricing, portfolio holdings and the degree of shareholder activism have been derived in a paper joint with Anat Admati and Paul Pfleiderer. The implications of shareholder activism and ownership structure on IPO design and IPO pricing have been explored in a paper joint with Neal Stoughton.
A third major strand of research focuses on the effects of governance in the asset management industry. The traditional asset pricing literature does not consider the fact that individual securities are frequently not held directly by individual investors but via institutions such as mutual funds or closed-end funds. In many instances investment decisions are therefore delegated to a portfolio manager who is in turn chosen by a portfolio management company. In a paper (joint with Thomas Dangl and Youchang Wu), he explores the management companies' incentives to replace portfolio managers, to choose particular portfolio risk levels, to decide how actively a fund should be managed and what management fee should be charged. In an empirical study (joint with Russ Wermers and Youchang Wu) he analyses the effect of governance on closed end fund discounts.
The above papers have been published in leading finance and economics journals such as the Journal of Finance, the Journal of Financial Economics, the Journal of Political Economy, the Review of Financial Studies and the Journal of Business.

Curriculum Vitae

Professor of Finance, University of Vienna


Honorary doctoral degree, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich


Director of the Center of Banking & Finance (joint with Professor Engelbert Dockner), University for Continuing Education Krems


Associate Professor (with tenure), University of British Columbia


Research Scholar, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business


Assistant Professor, University of British Columbia


Habilitation, Taxes and optimal capital structure, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz


Universitaetsassistent, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz


Visiting Scholar, University of British Columbia


Dr. rer. soc. oec., Optimal capacity expansion and replacement of machines in growing firms, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz


Mag. rer. soc. oec., Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz


External positions

Chair, European Finance Association

2023 → …

Member of the Nominating Committee, American Finance Association (AFA)


Member of the Scientific Advisory Board, University College Dublin

2018 → …

Advisory Board Member , Danish Finance Institute

2017 → …

Vice President, Society for Financial Studies (SFS)


Member of the Advisory Scientific Committee , European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB)


Fellow, Finance Theory Group (FTG)

2015 → …

Council Member, Society for Financial Studies (SFS)


Speaker , Vienna Graduate School of Finance

2014 → …

President, Western Finance Association


Chair of the Audit Committee , Swiss Finance Institute


Director, WU Gutmann Center for Portfolio Management


Full Member, Austrian Academy of Sciences

2004 → …

President, German Finance Association


Research Fellow , Centre for Economic Policy Research, London


President , European Finance Association



  • Corporate Finance, Banking, Asset Management

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