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Who’s hiring CFA charterholders…and other job search tips

Who’s hiring?

Evergreen Investments and Leerink Swann are among those hiring, according to their representatives on a panel called “Talent Search Professionals Uncensored” at “Investing in Your Career,” a CFA Institute program held in Boston on September 23.

Some firms will always hire in down- as well as up-markets, said Bob Gorog, a partner with CT Partners, an executive search firm. Certain areas are stronger than others, in his experience, including:

  • Senior risk professionals and international (especially frontier markets) portfolio management professionals
  • Client-facing professionals, especially those who can make clients feel better
  • Alternative investments professionals

Sascha Bernitsky, a senior recruiting consultant with Evergreen Investments, echoed Gorog’s comment about interest in international and alternative investments. Evergreen is also interested in fixed income professionals who have managed through market turmoil, he said.

Investment banking firm Leerink Swann especially likes job candidates who combine health care and financial expertise, said Alice Avanian, associate director of equity research. 

More job hunting tips for investment professionals

These three panelists offered additional job hunting tips. Here’s what I took away.

  • Make it easy for recruiters and hiring managers to see how you fit their opening. In addition to your resume, craft a cover letter that highlights how your expertise makes you the best candidate for the specific opening for which you’re applying
  • Prepare for your interview because your oral communication skills are more important than ever as investment professionals spend more time in front of clients.
  • You can turn your failures to your advantage. Bernitsky looks for candidates who can talk about how they learned from a failure.
  • Have plenty of references. Gorog said some of his clients are asking for seven to 10 references, although they may only call three to four of them.
  • Social networking can help–or hurt. Bernitsky has used LinkedIn to search for hard-to-fill positions. On the other hand, be cautious about posting personal information on sites like Facebook because your name will be Googled, said Gorog.

As for your written communications, consider the following.

  • Proofread and critique your letters and emails. Automated spell-check is not enough. Bad grammar can automatically disqualify you, said Avanian and Bernitsky. Also, a friend who reads your cover letter can objectively assess how well the letter makes your case.
  • Write a strong email subject line. For example: “small cap equity analyst–resume of Bob Johnson.” It’s important to include the title of the position you’re applying for.
  • Don’t bury the name of the person who referred you. Bernitsky said he’ll be sure to read your resume, if you mention the person who referred you at the top of your email. Presumably the referrer should be an employee of his company or someone he knows.
  • Resumes should run two pages or less, and be laid out in a reader-friendly style.
  • Send a thank you note within 24 hours. Either email or snail mail is fine, said Avanian.

Good luck with your job hunt!

_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA

Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.

Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Is a global infrastructure fund right for your clients’ portfolios?

With their high returns and low correlations to other major indices over the past five years, investments in global infrastructure-toll roads, airports, utilities and the like-are attracting attention from financial advisors and new products from fund providers. But will such impressive performance continue? And, if you buy the case for this kind of investing, how should you evaluate the funds vying for your attention?

Continue reading my article on infrastructure investing in Advisor Perspectives for insights from Jay Rosenberg, lead manager of First American’s Global Infrastructure Fund, and from Harold Evensky, president of wealth management firm Evensky & Katz.
_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA

Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.

Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Avoid these mistakes when you evaluate single-manager hedge funds

If you focus only on investment essentials such as philosophy, process, performance, and people when evaluating single-manager hedge funds, you could miss out on some key information.

Some of the other questions you should consider, according to “Selecting Single-Manager Hedge Funds for Private Client Advisers” by Richard Boutland, include:

  • For a non-U.S. fund, who is the fund administrator and how extensive is their role? Boutland prefers strong, involved administrators.
  •  Is the fund managed in a country with a strong regulator?
  • Does the fund manager have adequate operations expertise and adequate capital? Boutland notes that “on many occasions ‘star traders’ have set up their own firms only to fail through lack of adequate information technology, compliance, trade support, personnel, investor relations, and all of the other operational support.”
  • Are there special terms for other investors that discriminate against redemptions by new investors? 

Boutland’s article appeared in the CFA Institute’s Private Wealth Management e-newsletter.

_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA

Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.

Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Do financial blogs make a difference?

Financial blogs have multiplied like crazy. But are they worth reading?

When I researched “Investment Strategy Blogs Slow to Influence Advisors,” I found that financial advisors aren’t paying much attention to blogs. However, in some cases, investment strategy blogs affect advisors’ buy and sell decisions or help them refine their thinking or their client communications.

You’ll find a list of financial and economic blogs visited by my interviewees in the box on page two of my article.

Meanwhile, an upcoming BlogWorld panel will tackle “How Financial Blogs Influence the Markets,” according to a post on Content Matters. Panelists include Paul Kedrosky, whose Infectious Greed blog appeared in my article’s blog list.

As Content Matters blogger Barry Graubart sees it, “Financial blogging is one of the more interesting segments of the blogging space. Despite the huge financial news presence of companies like Bloomberg, Dow Jones, Reuters and various newspapers, blogs frequently are ahead of the mainstream media in grasping the significance of key trends.”

Thanks to Bob Leonard of Bolen Communications for pointing me to Graubart’s post. 

Optimism watch: S&P 500 Index and major global events

If you have a long time horizon, you can survive just about anything. At least, that’s the implication of a graph I looked at today.

Fidelity Investments is showing off a graph called “S&P 500 Index & Major Global Events” in “Putting Short-Term Market Turmoil in Perspective: U.S. stocks have proven resilient over the long term.”

It’s a graph of the S&P 500 index with major events from JFK’s assassination in 1963 to this year’s collapse of Bear Stearns.

The article concludes:  “U.S. stocks have proven to be resilient over the long term. A $10,000 hypothetical investment in a diversified mix of large-cap domestic stocks at the start of 1963 would have been worth more than $865,000 at the end of June 2008.”

$865,000 is a nice big number. But how many investors think in terms of a 45-year time horizon? 

On the other hand, maybe that’s the point. A 45-year time horizon isn’t just for college kids. Even middle-aged folks may live another 45 years.

Does this graph give you comfort? 

"The Top Seven B2B Communications Mistakes"

The Top Seven B2B Communications Mistakes” offers some useful advice for investment and wealth management marketers, whether you’re targeting businesses or individuals.


For example:

  1. Your content should reflect your prospects’ top concerns.
  2. “Don’t sell. Inform.”

When I review investment and wealth management firms’ content, I often find it focused on them, not on their clients. It takes a mighty motivated buyer to plow through content that takes that approach.

As for informing instead of selling, I don’t think you can follow this rule 100% of the time. But many firms could benefit from taking this advice more frequently.

"Thought Leadership: Are You Making It or Faking It?"

Plenty of investment and wealth management firms try to distinguish themselves as so-called “thought leaders.” Many will fail.

Thought Leadership: Are You Making It or Faking It?” by Fiona Czerniawska says that clients seek:

1. Something relevant to challenges they face
2. Something new and different
3. Something that is supported by hard evidence – a single case study or recycling second-hand ideas is not enough

When you write white papers, make sure you show how your ideas can impact the things your clients care about. If you fail at this, your reader may not progress beyond your first paragraph.

If you can also say something different about a topic that’s in the news, that’s even better.

Don’t use your white paper to pitch your product or service. As Czerniawska advises her consulting firm clients: 

In this context, a call-to-action – perhaps some benchmarking data for clients to compare themselves to or a tool for evaluating their performance – is more likely to result in consulting work in the long-term because it doesn’t try to sell too unsubtly in the short-term.

Warren Buffett on compliance officer

This is a great quote from Warren Buffett.

Everyone must be his own compliance officer. That means everything you do can be put on the front page of the newspaper, and there will be nothing that cannot stand up to scrutiny.

Jim Ware of Focus Consulting Group cited this quote in his talk on ethics to the Boston Security Analysts Society. I tracked down the wording in a New York Times article.

How I ghostwrite your financial article

Too busy to write an article? Hiring a ghostwriter is a great way to produce a compelling article in a short amount of time.

Ghostwriting is one of my specialties. Please read on for an explanation of how you and I can work together.

My ghostwriting process typically includes these steps:
1. Topic identification
2. Interview of expert(s)
3. Outline
4. First draft
5. Revision, if necessary
6. Completion

1. Topic identification

You and I will discuss your topic over the phone. It’s helpful if you can answer these questions:
•    Why do you want to write an article and what do you want it to accomplish?
•    What is your topic?
•    Who is your audience and what do you want them to do after they read your article?
•    Why will your readers care about your article topic?
•    What problem will your article solve for your readers?
•    What are the three main points you’d like to make?
•    Where will the article appear?
•    What word count are you targeting? For example, a ghostwritten newspaper article often runs 600-1,000 words and a double-spaced, typed page runs about 200-250 words.
•    By when do you need the article completed?
•    What is your review and approval process?

Following this interview, I typically send you a letter of agreement that describes the scope of the work we will do together.

2. Interview of expert(s)

Most of the articles that I ghostwrite are based on an interview with a single expert. Sometimes multiple experts and outside research are involved.

Prior to the interview, I will send you a list of questions to think about. If that makes you think of useful exhibits or other data, it’s helpful for you to send them to me prior to our interview.

The interview will be conducted by phone and tape recorded, so I can refer back to it.

3. Outline

Following our interview, I will typically send you a robust outline, so you can agree to the direction of the article before I send you a complete draft. The outline will incorporate my questions and requests for additional information needed to flesh out the article.

4. First draft

After you respond to my questions and approve the outline, I will send you an article following the outline.

5. Revisions

My clients are often satisfied with my initial draft. However, sometimes changes are needed. Our letter of agreement will specify the scope of revisions included in your project fee.

6. Completion

When the process is complete, you’ve got an article you can publish under your name. It’s ready to go!

 

Are buy-side analysts inferior?

Buy-side analysts aren’t as good as sell-side analysts. At least not in the opinion of some researchers.

“…buy-side analysts made more optimistic and less accurate forecasts than their counterparts on the sell side,” according to “Buy-Side vs. Sell-Side Analysts’ Earnings Forecasts,” an article by Boris Groysberg, Paul Healy, and Craig Chapman of Harvard Business School in the July/August issue of the Financial Analysts Journal.  

“The performance differences appear to be partially explained by the buy-side firm’s greater retention of poorly performing analysts and by differences in the performance benchmarks used to evaluate buy-side and sell-side analysts.”

Do you buy the authors’ conclusions?  

As of August 19, there’s a poll on the right-hand side of this blog that will let you vote on the accuracy of buy-side vs. sell-side analysts. It’s a temporary poll, so vote now! If you think the issues are too complex to be addressed by a poll, please add your comments below.