Volunteer of the Month: February 2018

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Rida Iqbal

This month’s Volunteer of the Month is recognized for her efforts on both the Communications and Education Seminars Advisory Groups. Rida Iqbal is a Level III Candidate in the CFA Program. She holds a bachelor’s degree in applied accounting from Oxford Brooks University and is an analyst, consultant, and auditor for firms including Big 4 member Ernst & Young.

Rida is a longtime volunteer and contributor to the Education Advisory Group (EAG). She has served the advisory group by taking meeting minutes and offering assistance with several of the group’s programs. Most notably, she served as research assistant and helped with the Practitioner Demand Driven Academic Research Initiative (PDDARI). Rida also has a commitment to keeping CFA Society Chicago members informed by serving as an event reporter. She has written several articles for the CFA Society Chicago Blog.

Thank you Rida for everything that you do!

Volunteer of the Month: December 2017

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Amir Moaiery, CFA

CFA Society Chicago would like to recognize Amir Moaiery, CFA, for his contributions with the Society’s Industry Roundtables event and the Job Seekers Forum. Today, Amir Moaiery is the Professional Development Advisory Group’s Volunteer of the Month.

Amir has been a CFA Society Chicago member for more than two years and joined the advisory group in July 2017. He worked with a small group of volunteers that planned the Society’s Industry Roundtablesa member-only event where table hosts discuss their respective sectors in the investment industry. Amir has also been involved in ensuring facilitators of the Job Seekers Forum are prepared to lead discussions by updating the Job Seekers Facilitator Guide with current tips and best practices.

Thank you Amir! We’re lucky to have you as a part of our society!

 

Volunteer of the Month: November 2017

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       Erik Baaske, CFA

Erik Baaske, CFA, is 2nd Vice President, Team Lead HFS Poseidon FX at Northern Trust. Erik joined the Membership Engagement Advisory Group in 2016. Shortly after joining the group, Erik presented an idea of expanding its outreach initiatives by conducting information sessions for summer interns at local financial institutions. He then planned and coordinated a session at Northern Trust this past summer where current CFA Society Chicago Chairman, Marie Winters, CFA, and CEO, Shannon Curley, CFA, spoke to 30 interns.

Erik is also a part of a small group that make calls to new members that join the Society. He places calls to welcome new members, shares information about CFA Society Chicago events, the use of function tickets and shares the benefits of serving on an advisory group. Additionally, Erik served as a panelist for the July 13, 2017 CFA Exam and Candidate Information Session.

CFA Society Chicago is grateful to volunteers like Erik Baaske for promoting the charter and making it possible to serve our members with the highest quality programming.

Why do Ethics and Standards Matter?

Adding “CFA” next to your name is more than a sign that you passed three rigorous exams. It’s also a sign of an ongoing commitment to high standards and ethics – a benchmark for investment professionals around the globe, regardless of job title, cultural differences, or local laws.

But when we speak of the importance of “ethics and standards” as a whole, we sometimes gloss over what each half of that equation really encompasses – and, more importantly, why each is important for our profession.

Ethics

Ethics are the basic principles that guide how we choose to act. They are how we can talk about “right” vs. “wrong” so that we can choose “right” and point out “wrong” when we see it.

If a doctor fails to “Do No Harm,” he loses his medical license; in a sense, an unethical doctor isn’t a doctor at all.

In the same way, CFA charterholders found to be in violation of our ethical code are sanctioned and revoke their right to use the CFA designation. It’s hard to argue with the ethical guidelines that CFA Institute has laid out for our profession:

  • Place the integrity of the profession and the interests of clients above your own interests
  • Act with integrity, competence, and respect
  • Maintain and develop your professional competence

We all know the shadow that bad actors can cast on our industry, so having a hard line differentiating them from real professionals is important for maintaining trust in our profession.

Standards

If ethics are the values behind right vs. wrong, standards are how we define specifically what ethical professional conduct looks like. They’re a more concrete guide for our industry and the current moment in time.

While not universal for everyone in the investment industry, CFA Institute believes standards should center on transparency and putting the investor first. After all, that’s what finance is for: the benefit of clients, and the businesses and communities they invest in.

In the Code and Standards, CFA Institute defines duties that professionals have to the investment profession, capital markets, clients, and employers. There are also specific standards about diligent investment analysis, disclosing conflicts of interest, adhering to duties of loyalty, prudence and care, and addressing the suitability of investments and confidentiality.

It is important to lead by example. But our own actions won’t change the public’s perception. Guided by our strong ethical foundation, we can call for higher standards across our industry. It’s why we at CFA Society Chicago will offer free ethics training to Chicago-area pension plans, and it’s why CFA Institute calls for all who call themselves “advisers” to be held to a true fiduciary standard.

As charterholders, it’s our duty – each and every day, in every interaction – to take the high road. In today’s world of mistrust in our industry and salesmen masquerading as fiduciary advisors, adding the letters CFA after your name are more valuable than ever.

CFA Society Chicago Chairman’s Letter to Membership

Marie C. Winters, CFA

I am proud to report that thanks to the efforts of our volunteers, sponsors, and staff, CFA Society Chicago had a very successful FY2017. During the year, we hosted over 150 events to advance educational knowledge, professional excellence, and high ethical standards, and also to enhance the greater good of our community. We also finished FY2017 in a solid financial position with reserves of approximately $2.1 million, up 11% from the prior fiscal year end.

Highlights of our key accomplishments in FY2017 include the following:

Excellence in Education & Ethics

Our education programming spanned a variety of large and small events. Our popular monthly Distinguished Speakers Series drew top leaders, including Liz Ann Sonders, Charles Evans, Richard Driehaus, and Gary Brinson, CFA. Taking advantage of our new office location, we launched the Vault Series where we invited experts to speak on niche topics, including market signals for capital flows. At our 2016 Annual Dinner featuring keynote speaker Cliff Asness, we celebrated over 1,000 registrants for the second time. Investing in Innovation and Investing for the Long-Term consisted of panel presentations that also drew a large number of attendees.

We culminated our year with our largest Society event outside of the Annual Dinner: Active vs. Passive, featuring a discussion between Nobel Laureate, Dr. Eugene F. Fama and Dr. Robert Litterman. Over 400 people attended the event in Chicago and more than 200 additional attendees registered for the live webcast. Subsequently, over 2,000 individuals have watched the archived webcast, showcasing the value your Society brings to CFA charterholders globally.

Career Advancement for Members

Two years ago we committed to invest in our members’ careers. Our member-only program offerings have expanded greatly, focusing on development of soft skills and opportunities to explore alternate career paths at our Annual Career Fair and the Industry Roundtables event. During FY2017, we launched a new entrepreneurial series, Starting an RIA Firm. This has proved to be a big success with our members and we will continue to build on this series in the current fiscal year. Finally, we provided our members frequent occasions to expand their professional networks across our educational, professional development, and social events.

Giving Back to Our Community

The Society launched a financial literacy initiative that reached over 900 high school students in under-privileged neighborhoods by partnering with the Economic Awareness Council (EAC). The program experienced a strong start, attracting more than twice as many volunteers as we had targeted. Interest among our members in this program continues to grow and has already nearly doubled from last year’s volunteers.

Upcoming CFA Society Chicago Events
The Society is proud to announce these upcoming events:
  • September 26 : Education Seminars is hosting Water’s Impact On Investing;
  • September 27: Networking with Leadership;
  • October 3: Our next Distinguished Speaker is Ronan Ryan , President of IEX Group;
  • October 4: Starting Your Own RIA (Part 2): Tips for Marketing and Business Development; and
  • November 1: Our 31st Annual Dinner featuring Keynote David Rubenstein, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Carlyle Group is at the Hyatt Regency.

Please visit our website at www.cfachicago.org to register for these events.

Looking Ahead to Fiscal Year 2018

Recently, I and the rest of the Executive Committee had the pleasure of meeting with several leaders of CFA Institute to further plans for the current fiscal year. CFA Institute is pleased with the Society’s efforts and will continue to provide solid support for us to pursue a variety of initiatives for education, branding, and technology enhancements, including a new website in the near future. We came away feeling that clearly, CFA Society Chicago is considered a leader among societies globally – we are well-recognized for our leadership and innovative thinking in education and ethics initiatives.

Over the coming year, you can expect to see efforts focused on preparing our members for the future. Many dynamic shifts are impacting our industry, including evolving investor preferences, technological change, and financial regulations, to name a few. These secular trends make it imperative that we have greater professional dexterity in meeting our clients’ expectations as well as in managing our careers. Our volunteers will continue to play a key role in helping all of us prepare for the future and thrive.

I am truly honored and excited to serve as chairman of the oldest and sixth largest CFA Society in the world. With over 4,700 members, CFA Society Chicago is well-positioned given our abundant resources – talented volunteers, dedicated staff, and financial position.

Very best,
Marie C. Winters, CFA
Chairman, CFA Society Chicago

Four Tips to Launch a Successful Finance Career

If you’re just beginning your career in finance, you might feel your career path is defined; head down, work hard, and eventually the real career choices will present themselves down the road. This is of course true to an extent – the finance industry certainly demands earning your stripes – but that doesn’t mean you can’t begin opening up doors during those early years.

You may already be studying for the CFA exams, which is an important milestone in the career of most investment professional’s careers. As you navigate the roughly four years that it takes to complete the three levels of the CFA Program, it’s important to do whatever you can to make these as meaningful as possible.

These tips should help you do just that:

Read, and read ravenously.

Read everything in our field that you can get your hands on (including and beyond the CFA curriculum). Try to read broadly across topics and disciplines; for example, if you’re in equities, take time to learn about credit or commodities to make yourself more well-rounded. Ask people you meet what they read and what they enjoyed learning.

An incredible array of opportunities exist in finance, and the more areas and disciplines you know the more opportunities you’ll have. The most successful people spend a good portion of their day devouring information, asking questions and listening.

Avoid networking at your own peril. (And put the phone away).

Not everyone is an extrovert, and that’s okay. Everyone, though, can benefit from the opportunities made through networking, whether for friendship, commerce or career.

You’ve been reading (you have been reading, right?), so you have strong points of view and pointed questions to ask. Put the phone away, be confident and ask smart questions. Most folks love the opportunity to explain what they do, and they will see you as someone willing to take initiative if you initiate a good conversation.

Don’t procrastinate getting an advanced credential.

I think you need at least one advanced credential (if not two) to compete in today’s job market. Both a CFA charter and MBA are highly useful for financial professionals, so avoid a long, protracted process on deciding which one to get. The earlier you begin the process, the higher the lifetime dividend.

In my case, I immediately plunged into the CFA curriculum just a year into my career, and that gave me a big boost. It helped me interview for jobs that I would never have the opportunity to land otherwise. I strongly believe having a CFA charter in your 20s or early 30s will offer more career optionality down the line.

Listen to yourself.

In those first few years, keep a keen eye out for moments where you feel in the flow, or when you are the happiest during your job. Ask yourself what were you doing during those moments and what about that project or job aspect you really liked. How can you structure your future career to include more of those types of situations?

I’d also suggest taking time to reflect on what you want out of a career. While having money and a challenging, important job is great, many folks find that they are happier with more of a work-life balance, and understanding how much of each aspect you need to make yourself happy is key.

So, hit those books! And remember to keep these tips in mind – when that door does open for you, you’ll be poised to take full advantage of the opportunity.

Big Ideas: Evolving Trends and Skills on the Minds of Investment Professionals

What is happening to the investment industry? Where are we heading? How can I keep up? And, more often, how can I stay ahead of the curve? I attended more than 100 events for CFA Society Chicago in the last year, and nearly every time I find that small talk between CFA charterholders quickly turns to big ideas such as these.

We’re an analytical group, so it comes as no surprise to me that most of our members already understand that the investment industry is rife with change. Many already feel it in their daily work. And as I move between conversations and events, I know that no professional is more prepared for the future than a charterholder.

Take technology, for example. Blockchain, robo-advisors, high-speed trading, you name it; it’s impossible to deny their growing presence in our industry. These forces, along with the emergence of passive investments and ETFs, have put downward pressure on fees. This is great for investors as they will be able to gain more from their investments. However, these forces also put downward pressure on investment companies’ revenues. This leads to an arms race to collect assets, increase use of collective investments (as individual stock analysis is expensive), and ramp up technological investments.

Technical competence is essential to help investors navigate this rapidly changing environment. Starting in 2019, the CFA program curriculum will contain questions on data mining in order to keep this technical edge sharp. For future years, CFA Institute is even considering artificial intelligence questions. At CFA Society Chicago, we have and continue to explore these topics for professional development sessions that keep our members up to speed.

However, technical competence is not enough. As the needs of investors and the nature of investment practice change, ‘soft skills’ are becoming just as essential. Skillful client communication and presentation, brand building, networking, leadership, and improvisation are often needed to provide maximum value to clients. CFA Society Chicago members have already begun taking advantage of the new soft skill workshop developed by our Professional Development Advisory Group.

Ethics, though, will be the skill that will keep us on the right track. Confidence in our profession can only be built through a commitment to a high standard of ethics and embracing rules that protect the rights of investors. Charterholders already lead this charge. Charterholders are already rigorously trained in ethics and embrace the Statement of Investor Rights as drafted by CFA Institute. Furthermore, CFA Institute is a staunch advocate of a universal fiduciary standard.

Whether technical, “soft,” or ethical, every challenge our members see presents an opportunity to demonstrate their skills to meet them – some new, and some old. It’s just another chance for charterholders to prove their value.

Annual Business Meeting and Networking Reception

Members gathered for the annual business meeting of the CFA Society Chicago on June 15th at the Wyndham Grand Riverfront Chicago. Held in the hotel’s 39th floor penthouse lounge, the event offered grand views of the intersection of the Chicago River and Michigan Avenue as well as the buildings—both old and new—in the area.

Shannon Curley, CFA, CEO of the Society, kicked off the business part of the event by recognizing the society’s staff and board, as well as Advisory Group co-chairs for their contributions during the past year.  He noted that their efforts make our chapter the vibrant society that it is. He turned the mic over to Doug Jackman, CFA, out-going chairman, who summarized the highlights of the past year. Membership has increased to over 4,600 making the Chicago society the sixth largest in the world, and–as the oldest in the world–we rank as a leader within CFA Institute.

156CFA Society Chicago sponsored 150 events in the fiscal year with one of the most successful ones being the just completed Active vs. Passive Debate featuring Nobel Laureate, Eugene Fama. Jackman emphasized that the focus of programming has been (and will continue to be) education and advocacy of financial literacy. A few of the prominent names who presented at chapter events in the past year include Charles Evans (President, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago), David Kelly, CFA (JP Morgan), T. Bondurant French, CFA (Adams Street Partners), Liz Ann Sonders (Charles Schwab), and Dan Clifton (Strategas). The new Vault Series brought in industry experts to address special topics. The first speakers included Melissa Brown (Axioma), David Ranson (HCWE & Co.), and Doug Ramsey (Leuthold). Jackman also recognized the work of the Professional Development Advisory Group in producing numerous events to help our membership enhance “soft-skills”.

123Secretary/Treasurer Tom Digenan, CFA (now vice chair of the Society) presented the financial update highlighted by a $100,000 operating surplus (thanks to strong attendance at the Distinguished Speaker Series lunches and the Annual Dinner) and a $200,000 capital gain in reserves leaving them at 16 months of coverage (vs. a target of 13 months).

Jackman next presented the slate of officers for fiscal 2018 including Marie Winters, CFA, as chairman, Tom Digenan, CFA, as vice chair, and Tanya Williams, CFA, as secretary/treasurer. In addition three new Class C Directors were nominated for three year terms and four new Class E Directors were nominated for one year terms. All candidates were approved by a “show-of-hands” vote.

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Jackman then recognized out-going board members Kerry Jordan, CFA, Chris Mier, CFA, Maura Murrihy, CFA, Mark Schmid, and Lyndon Taylor as well as nine departing co-chairs of advisory groups. Curley similarly recognized Doug Jackman, CFA, for his service as board chairman including reinvigorating the relationship between our society and the University of Chicago and for obtaining funding from the CFA Institute that allowed us to bring in notable speakers like Eugene Fama and Tom Ricketts, CFA.

Finally, incoming chairman Marie Winters, CFA, looked to the future, describing her hopes to build on our past successes in the areas of employer engagement, volunteerism, and the challenges presented by technology and new regulations. Winters also pointed to improving gender diversity as a focus of attention, noting that it is surprisingly poor (just 13% of our members are women) for an industry built on a foundation of diversification.

With the business part of the meeting completed, attendees moved to the outdoor patio to enjoy the views and libations.

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Volunteer of the Month: June 2017

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Andrew Bushey, CFA

Andrew Bushey, CFA

The Social Events Advisory Group is tasked with organizing relaxing, entertaining, and networking-oriented events that will appeal to the Society’s diverse membership. Andrew has been actively involved on the advisory group since 2016 and is part of a core group of members thinking outside the box when planning social events.

Today Andrew is being recognized for his efforts with the Society’s kickball team. Since the inception in summer 2014, Andrew has played every year on the team and will be serving as team captain when the summer league starts later this month.

Help us in thanking Andrew for taking his advisory group duties to the next level and making the Society champions on the field!

We appreciate all you do for the Society Andrew!

Volunteer of the Month: May 2017

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Brad Adams, CFA

Longtime member (22 years to be exact!), Brad Adams, CFA, has served on five advisory groups since 2012. In 2014 he also chaired what was previously the Finance Advisory Group. Currently, he is a member of both the Communications and Professional Development Advisory Groups.

Today Brad is being recognized for his efforts on the Communications Advisory Group. Regularly attending meetings and volunteering to be a reporter at the Society’s events, Brad has made a strong contribution to the Communications Committee.

Brad has published seven CFA Society Chicago Blog articles since the launch of the online publication and is scheduled for more. Help us in thanking Brad for attending Society events and keeping members informed!

Job well done! We appreciate all you do for the Society.