The eve of a New Year is a great time to spend with family and reflect. It is also that time of year when my wife asks about my 2020 resolutions. But, instead of making a list of future broken promises, I would rather reflect on the year gone by. When it comes to CFA Society Minnesota, I often reflect on the same question: what is the value of CFAMN to me?
If you don’t know me, you may picture the CFA Society President as a very buttoned-up, 100% professional Kool-Aid drinker who is completely sold on everything we do related to CFAMN. If you do know me, you probably laughed at that image, and instead know that I am a fellow, engaged Society member just like each of you, who has happened to get more and more involved with the organization over the years. So even as president, I need to be able to answer that CFAMN is and continues to be valuable to me (of course, if I find the answer is less-than-ideal, I am in a particularly good position to help do something about it).
There are three main things that I get out of my membership.
- Education – I had no accounting classes when I sat for the CFA exams. It was in large part CFAMN prep programs that got me through the exams. Since that time, I have attended many events and learned a ton. This year alone I improved my personal organizational habits (Managing Me event) and got a jump start on my goal to learn programming (Python event). However, education is not just the education from any single event, but also what I have learned from the people I have met since I attended my first CFAMN social at Lyon’s Pub more than ten years ago.
- Volunteering/Board Service – I have greatly enjoyed the time that I have spent as a volunteer for the Society and have found that the value I get from CFAMN has grown exponentially as I have become more involved. Whether it was helping set up at an Annual Dinner, developing the mentorship program, or helping to set the strategy for the organization, I love doing my small part to help advance our mission and get the opportunity to work with so many others who are doing the same thing.
- Flexibility to shape the organization as a member – Volunteers do a tremendous amount to shape the society into an organization to which we can be proud to belong; Society members have the ability to have significant influence well. Members often introduce us to interesting speakers and are active in providing thoughts about what is or is not beneficial to them. Without that valuable feedback, volunteers could not be nearly as responsive or effective in shaping the organization into a truly meaningful society.
However, the true value of CFAMN membership for me, and many others, is often less tangible – relationships. Not networking. Real relationship-building and CFAMN provides a forum for this to occur. The Society is comprised of a wide range of people, but we are connected in a way that many groups are not. Where else can you interact with a group of people that really get you in a way that most friends or neighbors cannot?
There is something that unites us, as a group of people that have faced the same challenges in preparing for and taking the exams and ultimately earning our CFA Charter designations. I imagine it is much the same way that a group of actuaries would feel, if actuaries had feelings. Kidding. I know an actuary and he is awesome. CFAMN acts as the clearinghouse, not for transactions, but for discussions – a place where relationships can begin.
In the future I’d like to share more about how others have benefited from the people they have met through CFAMN. For today, I’ll share a story from a friend.
“I met a person 4 years ago at a CFAMN event. Afterward, I sent them a short note and asked them a somewhat inconsequential question. They responded with a two-page email going into great detail to answer my question… Not only was I touched by the amount of care the person took to be helpful, I still have that e-mail, I still reference it. This person has had a material impact on my life because of one small thing they did.” Regarding the value of his membership he continued, “This may not do anything for most people, but I’m sure for most involved members, they have their own version of this story.”
If you have a story like this, or anything else that you would like to share about your experience as a society member, please let us know. Also, I will reiterate the call out from my last letter – please reach out if you are interested in meeting with me, or if you prefer, introduce yourself at an event. As an introvert, I am not always the best at going out of my way to meet new folks, but I would really like to meet you. Please feel free to say hello. Or maybe meeting new people should be my 2020 resolution?
All the best to you and Happy New Year!
Chris May, CFA
President, CFA Society Minnesota