The CFA Society of Minnesota is pleased to present a new interview series: “Not Your Typical Charterholder.” The CFA® Charter has become the most respected and recognized investment credential in the world. Members of the CFA Institute are part of a global community and have access to a network of investment professionals with unique backgrounds and diverse perspectives. After chatting with a local CFA® Charterholders, you’ll likely find that this holds true right here in Minnesota. Therefore we introduce this new interview series showcasing local CFA® Charterholders, giving them the opportunity to share with you their background and why they chose to earn this designation.These interviews are here to help up-and-coming financial professionals gain insight into the industry from those who have already begun advancing their careers.
Interview #1: Jayson Alexander, CFA
Jayson Alexander is an investment professional and recently received his CFA Charter in November 2012 and currently works as an Investment Research Specialist at JRA Advisors. He previously held positions as an Equity Research Analyst at Disclosure Insight, Inc. and as a Customer Service Representative at R.R. Donnelley.
Thanks for doing this Jayson, I appreciate you taking the time to share your background and thoughts on the CFA Charter.
My pleasure. I think this is a fascinating new bit by the society and I’m excited to be the first.
Thanks again. First, let’s talk about your history. How’d you get involved in the investment industry?
My interest was first triggered when I participated in a stock market simulation in my high school economics class. I then began trading on my own and became particularly fascinated with trading options. Admittedly, it did not go as planned at first but I kept gaining experience. I graduated from the Carlson School of Business at the University of Minnesota, majoring in Insurance and Risk Management. Upon graduation, I decided to pursue a law degree at the William Mitchell College of Law and was particularly interested in securities law or estate planning law. After passing the Bar Exam and becoming a Licensed Attorney in Minnesota, my path took a bit of an unexpected turn.
My first job post law school came as an Equity Research Analyst at Disclosure Insight. In this position, I could blend my law background with analyzing publicly traded companies. Law school gave me the ability to quickly and effectively assess regulatory matters and lawsuits as reported by a company to determine their risk and potential impact on operations. I’ve been hooked on the investment industry ever since.
Fascinating. How’d you find out about the CFA program? Why did you decide to enroll in the program?
As I started learning more about the industry, I began hearing more and more chatter about the CFA charter, the growing number of people pursuing the designation, and the view that many employers may favor those with the charter. At the time, both of my superiors were charterholders and highly recommended that I enroll in the program because it is focused specifically on the investment industry and is relatively cost effective, which doesn’t hurt.
How has the curriculum helped you professionally? Has it given you the skills to perform your current job?
I owe a lot to the CFA program. The tests were rigorous to say the least. I’ll go on record as a Licensed Attorney and say that each exam level was much more difficult than the Bar Exam. But that’s just my opinion. Nevertheless, the program has definitely helped guide my career. My current role as an Investment Research Specialist requires me to apply my skills towards conducting portfolio analysis rather than examining corporate lawsuits, and the CFA program has helped prepare me and help develop a more well rounded thought process. While specific to the investment industry, the curriculum provides value to individuals working in or looking to work in many different areas of the industry. My superiors told me that my participation in the CFA program absolutely factored into me being offered my current position. The level
Is there anything else that you have enjoyed about the CFA Institute or the program?
I appreciate the local society as a resource that brings professionals together to the degree that it does. Compared to a lot of other professions, this is something truly unique in that events bring together such a diverse and highly regarded group of individuals. In my opinion, I can’t say for certain that all of the financial geniuses in the Twin Cities area investment industry attend local society events, however, I have found that many of them do. I’ve met a lot of people from a number of financial services firms as well as from bigger companies such as Target, Cargill, General Mills and more. Charterholders have many different professions and have vastly different stories. That is one reason I’m honored to share my story with you today. I’m just one of many.
Thanks for the kind words. I just have one more question for you. As a newly minted charterholder, studying for the tests may be a not too distant memory. With many preparing for the June 2013 exams, do you have any words of advice?
You may have heard my piece of advice more than once, I’m sure. When taking mock exams, or simply working on practice problems, its important to simulate what you would do on exam day as close as possible. This will help you develop a process and strategy to tackling problems, and with repetition of that process comes speed and avoiding mistakes. Much like muscle memory. When you’re working a problem set, take the time to write out calculations on scratch paper much like you would during the exam. I truly believe this is beneficial come exam day.
Well that’s a wrap. A big thank you goes out to Jayson Alexander.