Progressive Networking Luncheon Spring 2018

On May 22nd, thirty-six members of the CFA Society Chicago gathered at Petterino’s to enjoy a progressive networking luncheon. Participants mingled casually prior to taking their seats for the salad course and first round of networking. The sound level rose as individuals each introduced themselves and conversations flowed easily around a myriad of industry related topics. Attendees held a wide range of job titles. Beyond traditional investment management roles, there was a transactional actuary and another whose advisory firm assists small businesses with financial planning and analysis.

Moving tables to the entrée course, I was greeted with another diverse group, this time in terms of nationality (Uruguayan and Israeli) and firm focus (Japanese value stocks). The other individuals were from local firms William Blair and Northern Trust but the discussion was globally-oriented and provided interesting insights around international investing.

The third round of networking took place over a slice of key lime pie and a shared interest in making new connections while exchanging thought provoking ideas and advice. At this point I was feeling pretty good about the new connections I had made and what I had gained from the discussions over the last hour and a half. Suddenly that seemed inconsequential when I met tablemate Haoen, who had graduated from University of Illinois on Saturday with four majors (Mathematics, Statistics, Finance and Accounting) and started an internship on Monday (this was Tuesday).  I was in complete awe, but that wasn’t all, he had already passed all three levels of the CFA exam and was halfway through the 10 CPA exams!! Wow.

The key benefit of the luncheon was having the opportunity to meet and interact with over a dozen fellow financial professionals with experience ranging from entry level to senior executives. The goal of any successful networking event is walking away with new connections and mingling throughout the group. That objective was certainly achieved in a comfortable environment for all, including those who are a bit more apprehensive about working their way through a room to meet and build rapport with others.

A Taste of Latin America

CFA Society Chicago held its latest social event on Marth 13th at the Mexican restaurant Pueblo. Pueblo specializes in traditional Mexican fare with a “contemporary twist”, and is located inside of Latinicity on the third floor of Block 37 (northwest corner of State and Washington). Latinicity features eight innovative kitchens, the sit down restaurant Pueblo, a coffee café, full bar, and lounge.

The program for the evening was simple; participants were to watch and learn how to make a three course Latin dinner with hands on instruction from Pueblo’s kitchen staff. The dinner menu included a side dish that each participant would make, while Pueblo’s chef, Marcos Flores would show the group how to make a soup and entrée.

Chef Marcos began the program explaining to the group how to make the first course, Aquachile Ceviche. Aquachile Ceviche is a Mexican seafood dish that includes shrimp, pineapple, cucumber, avocado, celery, tomatillo, serrano, and cilantro. Chef Marcos provided some basic guidance on how to properly use a cutting knife, and then provided specific instructions on how to assemble the dish. Each person made their Aquachile at their station, which were close enough together so that acquaintances could be made and tips could be shared. I found out from sampling my station mates Ceviche that the smaller diced the ingredients, the better the dish.  It is suggested the dish be served with avocado and tostadas, and if you like, beer and tequila.

Once everyone had finished creating their Aquachile, Chef Marcos explained the steps required to make a large batch of Aquachile Sauce to accompany the dish. In a large blender he combined; garlic, white onion, chopped celery, fresh grated ginger, 2 limes, cilantro with stems, 1 whole serrano, 2 ice cubes, 3 small whole tomatillos, and kosher salt. Once those ingredients were blended olive oil was slowly added to complete the sauce. Chef Marcos advised that the sauce should sit for several minutes before serving, chilled.

We relocated to the kitchen where preparations began for Ajiaco Soup – a creamy chicken and potato soup, and Lomo Saltado – a traditional Peruvian dish. The group gathered around Chef Marcos as he prepared the soup. He diced potatoes, and brought them to a boil. Next, he cut raw chicken into strips and browned them in a skillet. Potatoes, chicken, corn, cilantro, green onions, and other spices were then combined into a large pot and let simmer. Chef Marcos explained that Lom Saltado is a stir-fry dish that includes strips of sirloin, sliced onions, and whole tomatoes. Over a medium skillet with hot oil, sirloin was browned, onions and tomatoes were added and sautéed until they were soft. Chef Marcos advised that the dish is traditionally served over fries or rice.

Once those dishes were complete, the group headed to the bar where Pueblo’s head bartender had been making a batch of Pisco Sours, which is made of Pisco brandy, egg whites, fresh lime, simple syrup, and bitters. The Pisco Sour originated from Peru or Chile, and is considered a South American classic. The drink’s name comes from pisco, which is its base liquor, and the term sour is in reference to sour citrus juice and sweetener. One of our group asked the reason for using egg whites. The bartender explained it adds a soft, element to the texture of the drink, and egg whites produce a layer that floats on top of the drink, which is ideal for decorating with drops of bitters or highlighting a garnish.

With drinks in hand we moved to the dining area to enjoy the fruits of our and Chef Marcos’ labor.  Pueblo staff had assembled a large table with the dishes of the evening; the Lomo Saltado, Ajiaco Soup, each participant’s Aquachile Ceviche, the chilled Aquachile sauce, and tortilla chips.

Over dinner we discussed a number of topics from, the reasons that brought us to the event, to economic growth expectations given the passage of the tax bill coupled the general uncertainty that is endemic to the current administration. Several of the participants noted they wanted to take a cooking class but not invest in a full cooking course. A couple of those people remarked that their experience at Latinicity would motivate them to enroll in a cooking class and another couple advised that they had been to Pueblo before and enjoyed the food so much that they wanted to replicate some of the dishes. Our group agreed that the soup was the hands down winner of the best dish of the night. Regarding economic growth expectations? We decided it was more fun to discuss the events of the evening over another Pisco Sour with new found friends.

Oak Brook Progressive Networking Dinner

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On May 23rd, CFA Society Chicago held a progressive networking dinner at Maggiano’s Little Italy in Oak Brook.

A progressive networking dinner allows participants to meet people in a casual environment over good food and drinks. Dinner is split into three rounds; salad/appetizer, main course, and desert. Each participant is assigned a specific table for each round / course. Then over that course, each person has the opportunity to provide an introduction and background to their table mates. After each course the participants reassemble at different tables and sit with a new group. The setup allowed me to meet 15 people during the event.

Conversation at the various tables went quickly from introductions to a wide variety of topics. I shared my first course with a quant from a prop trading firm, a member of an independent financial advisory firm, and a credit underwriter. Conversation ranged from the potential effects of the Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule, while another table mate explained how and where to attract funds for a hedge fund that he was starting.

My second and third courses allowed me to meet a new set of individuals including an ETF portfolio manager, wealth manager, institutional asset allocation manager, and financial consultant. These conversations also went in a variety of directions; the nature and constraints that must be followed to build and run a completion fund, the rationale behind currency hedging global trading in the current market, and the Bears trade for the second pick in the recent draft. Consensus on the trade was that it was rich.

My straw poll as to the effectiveness of the event was overwhelmingly positive. The participants I spoke with appreciated the setting, which allowed for more in depth conversation, as well as discussions that involved all of their tablemates.

This event was one of several CFA Society Chicago events that are held in the suburbs each year. The central Oak Brook location allowed 25 people to attend from a variety of suburban locations.

CFA Society Chicago Progressive Networking Luncheon

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CFA Society Chicago’s Progressive Networking Luncheon held on February 22nd at Petterino’s was an opportunity with a different flavor than other networking events.  Featuring a three-course meal, each course provided an intimate opportunity to chat and really get to know fellow table guests.  As the course changed throughout the lunch, so did your table guests! The format transformed the networking from one with challenges to begin conversations to one in which fellow diners were a part of the flow of topics. It made it remarkably easy to ask questions, gain insights from others and provide your own food for thought.

The attendees were delightfully varied as well. In addition to attendees from industry mainstays such as Northern Trust and William Blair, others from further afield industries, yet still very much in finance roles, provided interesting insights. Students also had the opportunity to learn from potential future colleagues.

Join us next time to enjoy a great meal while networking with interesting people!

CFA Society Chicago Euchre Tournament

20160303_180851_resizedOn March 3, more than 40 investment professionals joined CFA Society Chicago at Exchequer Restaurant and Pub for its first card tournament.

The evening brought out a diverse group including:

  • Over confident card players (after all, over confidence is a trademark of our profession isn’t it?).
  • Novices wanting to learn a new game while networking with peers.
  • Deal stealers? Yes, that’s part of the game.
  • Deck stackers? Probably were, but none were caught.

DSC_2623Throw in an open bar along with pizza and chicken wings (included in the price of admission) and what do you get? The CFA Chicago’s first Euchre tournament.

What exactly is Euchre? Euchre is a trick-taking card game most commonly played with four people in two partnerships with a deck of 24 standard playing cards. Euchre appears to have been introduced into the United States by the early German settlers in the Midwest. DSC_2621It has been more recently theorized that the game and its name derives from an eighteenth-century Alsatian card game named Juckerspiel. (From Wikipedia).

Euchre retains a strong following in some parts of the Midwest; especially in  Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin. A survey of several players confirmed where they learned the game – typically from parents or relatives, or in college.

There were 19 teams that took part in a single elimination style tournament. The winners of the tournament were Hans Stege and Ankit Bhutada!DSC_2630

Looking to play? You can find bar sponsored leagues especially in the northern suburbs. Several players mentioned that they would partake in a periodic (semi-annual) Euchre tournament, so stay tuned for future tournaments.

CFA Chicago’s Winter Whiskey Warm Up

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The CFA Chicago Social Advisory Group recently hosted a whiskey tasting to break from the cold and market doldrums. On January 20th, 2016, members of CFA Chicago along with  members from other CFA societies including San Francisco, Boston, and New York, joined current candidates and other investment professionals to enjoy the Winter Whiskey Warm Up at Sidebar Grille.

Always looking to expand their knowledge base, investment professionals dedicated themselves to fully fleshing out the differences between Bourbon, Rye, and Scotch. Attendees were welcomed with a Knob Creek Old Fashioned and were given tickets to redeem for signature cocktails including: Knob Creek Old Fashioned, Cutty Cooler, Rye Sazerac-Absinthe Spritz, and Caskmate’s Coffee.

Between enjoying a few whiskey based drinks,DSC_2332_Whiskey participants were able to learn more about each of the whiskeys. Four tables were arranged to allow a representative to share a couple offerings. Eli Johnson of Beam Suntory outlined the differences between the Japanese whiskey, Hibiki Harmony, and Knob Creek, traditional Kentucky bourbon. Cathy Gassner of Brown-Forman highlighted the dissimilarities between Woodford Reserve’s bourbon and rye offerings. Caroline Duff of Irish DSC_2334_WhiskeyDistillers shared two offerings from Jameson that diverged from the common perception of “Jamo.”  Jameson Caskmates and Black Barrel Reserve offered a smoothness and subtlety that is not always available in Irish whiskeys.  Jillian Farrell of the Edington Group shared two scotches, the Cutty Sark Prohibition and Highlands Park Dark Origins, and offered insight on their finish and where they are distilled. Many guests agreed that the research was DSC_2337_Whiskeynot complete without sampling each offering.

Movement between the whiskey tables, appetizer array, and bar afforded numerous opportunities to interact with others. Topics of conversation ranged from investments and careers, to sports, current events and everything in between. For reasons that aren’t immediately clear, conversations at the end of the event flowed much more freely than those at the start.