My academic background was in natural language. I was pursuing a PhD in Slavic Linguistics at Yale. At a tender age, I had thought my life's trajectory to be set. I was wrong. Having completed, applied for and received my M.A. while working on my MPhil, I recognized that it was time for me to move on to something else. That something else was a more rigorous exposure to finance and markets than a securities registration can provide. Not to knock FINRA registrations- I have five, three of which are supervisory - but they provided a basic foundation upon which I chose to build.
As I had no plans to pursue an MBA, the charter in my view was and remains something of more than sufficient rigor and that's an understatement. It has, for want of a less hackneyed expression, enlightened my thinking. My career trajectory has taken me from the consultative design and sale of ERISA qualified plans at SSgA (my first job), to offering what is now referred to as digital advice, in the 401(k) realm, to third party manager and fund research and due diligence with a fiduciary emphasis, to compliance, both in the field and, currently, as an auditor. It has been a rewarding journey.
Career Position & Responsibilities:
At present, I am a branch examiner with LPL. I meet (virtually, for now, of course) with advisors to evaluate their adherence to best practices of compliance. Consultative in nature, the process entails a review of books and records at the advisor's place of business as well as a discussion of their practice and the challenges that they face. When I actually traveled, the audit cadence would be week-on-week-off where I would prepare for the next week's audit while concluding outstanding items from the last. In the virtual realm, the process is a bit less linear as I like to be flexible with the branch's schedule. A good deal of the preparation occurs prior to the exam, during which there is a an interview and inquiry of items that need to be identified and rectified. The use of a conferencing application, while wonky to some, gets the job done nicely.
Favorite CFA Society Boston Memory:
Many are fond memories, but one stands out in particular and for good reason. It was the recognition reception for new charter holders that occurred in the autumn of the year that I received my charter, 1997. Then the parent organization was known as the Association for Investment Management and Research. I and the other attendees were elated as we were freed from the rigor of the study schedule that had held us hostage, self-imposed, but well worth the effort. The venue was the rooftop lounge at the Ritz Carlton, a sadly departed Boston institution. The ceremony was an intronization of sorts. We became the made men and women of finance. Okay, so that's a bit hyperbolic, but the feeling, the elation were undeniable.
Comments, Words of Wisdom or Favorite Quote:
To those reading this who are in the midst of pursuing their CFA charter, please do NOT give up. The charter is not a mere destination, but, rather, more of a journey. Only sixteen percent of matriculants to the program complete it. Be part of a select few and swell their ranks. The grounding that it provides is something upon which you can build during your career. Finally, never stop learning. To quote that classic film of college life, "Knowledge is good." That's no joke. And as you continue to acquire and build upon that knowledge, do avail yourself of the many resources at CFA Society Boston and The CFA Institute. Having volunteered in numerous capacities since 2006, I can attest to their value. Along the way, you will meet a rich and diverse group of professionals part of a global organization that will broaden your perspective. Bon voyage!
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