On the Money

From Wall Street to the NCAA: Moglia's journey

Living the dream
Living the dream

In his 30s, Joe Moglia gave up on his dream to coach college football. In his 60s, he went back to get the job.

In those intervening years, he rose to the top of the financial field, eventually ascending to become TD Ameritrade's CEO.

Moglia successfully guided the discount brokerage through the "Armegeddon" of the financial crisis. But in 2008, after seven years as CEO, he stepped down and considered going after that dream job he left behind.

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"Before I decided I wanted to go back to football, I really spent a lot of time soul-searching," Moglia told CNBC's "On The Money" in an interview.

As "part of the process," Moglia worked as a volunteer, unpaid coach at the University of Nebraska. "After a half season, I knew it was what I wanted to do, and I truly believe I had the skill sets."

Chauncey the Chanticleer, the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers mascot.
Getty Images

In 2011, he was hired as head football coach at Coastal Carolina University. After three seasons, Moglia has led the Division 1 Chanticleers to three consecutive Big South Championships, and an enviable combined record of 32 wins and 10 losses.

He's come full circle to a head coaching goal that he postponed for 25 years, when he quit as defensive coordinator at Dartmouth for a job on Wall Street with Merrill Lynch. Years later, he eventually took the helm of TD Ameritrade.

The 66-year-old Moglia explained why he enjoys the gridiron. "I love the strategy of the game. It's like advanced masters chess, but with 22 people functioning at once with a lot at stake."

Success at two careers

Joe Moglia, TD Ameritrade Chairman.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

CNBC asked Moglia which skills translate in both in the worlds of business and football.

"The most important decisions any leader makes is about people. Number two, you really have to be able to handle yourself under stress," the coach said.

But Moglia, who still serves as TD Ameritrade's chairman, said: "Nothing is more competitive than in-season football, four to five months, seven days a week, 75 to 80 hours a week, you don't get a day off that entire time."

In addition, "your entire career depends upon what you wind up doing on Saturday."

Coastal Carolina has an enrollment of 9,976 and began its football program in 2003. Moglia is just the second head coach the Conway, S.C., school has had.

"I get tremendous reward and stimulation and satisfaction from being a coach, representing Coastal Carolina," he said. It's a grind, it's hard work, but I love what we do."

Specifically, Moglia says he enjoys having an impact on his players.

"There's something special about helping an 18- to 22-year-old boy actually become a man," Moglia said. "I don't think the satisfaction you can derive from that, frankly, gets matched in any other field or endeavor."

Moglia begins his fourth season as Coastal Carolina head football coach at Furman in Greenville, S.C., on Sept. 5.

"On the Money" airs on CNBC Sundays at 7:30 p.m., or check listings for air times in local markets.