Finance Experts Say Investing in Preparation Pays Off
“Pass rate” means something entirely different to former NFL players Jedidiah Collins (’08 Acc.), Shawn McWashington (’97 Comm., ’02 Educ.), and Cougar football athlete Spencer Shelman (‘06 Fin., Econ.), now that they are off the playing field and scoring points as successful finance professionals. They and two other alumni on the Finance Professionals Night panel shared career advice with business students, including tips on passing the Chartered Finance Analyst (CFA) credential, the toughest program in the finance industry.
Shelman, a portfolio manager with Palouse Capital Management, described the rigorous preparation it took for him to master the three levels of the program, which typically has low pass rates. He advised students to start preparing early because of the study commitment. He credits his Cougar athletic experience for teaching him important time management skills that transferred to his preparation for the exam and to his career.
“The CFA designation is the one to obtain if you want to work in the investment management industry and focus on ethical and professional standards in your career,” he said. “Achieving this gains you instant credibility and opens doors.”
Perseverance pays off
McWashington, HomeStreet Bank senior vice president of business development, also expressed appreciation for the time management skills he learned as an athlete, as well as perseverance and how to be successful in a team environment.
“At no time was I ever the best person on an athletic team,” he said. “If you have a goal and persevere, you can get to where you want to be. Look to the horizon to see what you want to do and what lifestyle you want to have.” At one time, HomeStreet Bank was one of McWashington’s clients when he was vice president at Marsh, a global insurance brokerage and risk management firm. He chose to find a role at HomeStreet Bank because of the company’s culture and focus on business development. Today he oversees all of HomeStreet Bank’s corporate business development.
Preparing for career opportunities through self-discipline
Collins, a Brighton Jones financial advisor, advised students to focus on their dreams but to start practicing good financial habits now. “Examine what you want now versus what you want most,” he said. “Have the discipline to refrain from unnecessary spending.”
He also talked about the gift of opportunity he was given as an athlete and encouraged future finance professionals to be humble when they encounter career opportunities. “You need to understand the difference between being confident and being cocky. Confidence is an internal voice, and cocky is an external one,” he said. “Humble yourself and earn the trust to handle other people’s money.”
Finding a niche in a diverse business culture
Panelist Nick Albertini (’10 Fin.), financial advisor, AGP Wealth Advisors, spoke about changes in the finance industry: two of the fastest growing clientele in the finance industry are women and minorities. “You are all primed to enter the financial industry, but realize the business world is cutthroat,” he said. “Know going in that you will have to work your way up.”
Another panelist, Bob Ledford (’86 Fin.), AECOM-Americas chief operating officer, worked in global business for five years in Dubai. He was immersed in a culture of 240 languages and 40 different nationalities. He said being open minded about other cultures and practices is important when working in global business. “I highly encourage studying abroad, and once you have your job, take any opportunities to travel overseas.” He also advised students to examine the mix of career options in the finance industry and find a niche that fits with their personality and aptitudes.
Finance Professionals Night is hosted annually by the Carson College of Business Department of Finance and Management Science.