The Defensive CFA ®?

Over the past few weeks, I have continued to read, to look around, to think, to search, to find people to emulate, to connect, to reach out, and to attempt to redefine the evolution of my current (final) career transition. My feelings have ranged from total confusion one minute, to complete exhiliration the next.

In this age of mass communication and information availability, it is so easy to see what others are doing and to try to find others who seem to be doing the kinds of things we want to do. Sometimes I feel like it took too long for some things to click in my life, but then I slow down and try to be thankful that it finally feels like a fog is lifting. “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone…”

Much of this introspection came about in March when I attended the CFA Wealth Management conference in Boston. Attending that 2-day meeting with a whole bunch of other CFA charterholders reminded me why I had signed up for the CFA program in the first place.

It was late 1999 that I decided to do it, and at the time I thought my reasons were sound. I was working in the family holding company. I had been doing quite well with my stock picks in the late 90’s (like every other “bull market genius”, no doubt) and since I was managing family assets I thought that becoming a Chartered Finacial Analyst would help me career-wise.

A former MBA classmate had just published a book, and on the back cover I noticed that he displayed his CFA status. Funny, he knew NOTHING about finance 10 years ago. If he could do it, so could I.

Now I am very glad I completed the program, and it was not easy by any stretch. But in retrospect, I realize that I had done it more for defensive purposes. Yes, the defensive CFA, that’s a new one, isn’t it.

It is when a person completes the CFA program because he knows that in the future, other CFA-types will be pitching ideas at him, because they know he has money, and they will smugly hand over their business cards with those magic three letters. If you can give them your card with the same three letters, the reasoning goes, you can just give each other the secret handshake and avoid all of the BS.

Back to the Boston conference. I spent 2 days with other CFA’s, listening to many interesting presentations on all sorts of topics. I was not bored. I had no trouble following along. The stuff was actually very interesting. But I flashed back to my defensive preferences when it comes to how to manage wealth.

I concluded that there are so many smart qualified people in the wealth management space, and in the end, it is sometimes difficult to differentiate them. And I most certainly do not want to even try to play that game. I never did want to. And I certainly don’t want to go “all in” now.

The Family Enterprise Advisor Program in which I am currently enrolled has been eye-opening and enlightening. Most of the others in my classes are accountants, insurance experts, trust specialists, etc. I come at it from the family office side. But even that feels forced.

The course leaders are all family business advisors and seem more like generalists, and I identify so much more with them than my fellow classmates, almost all of whom are in the program to learn how the different specialist disciplines need to learn to work together.

I am already a family business generalist. I get it. And I love it. And I think I finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. These are exciting times. I hope you will stick with me as all this continues to evolve. In the meantime, I would love to hear your family business stories.

Allow me to close this with a dictionary definition:

Catharsis: Purging of emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, especially through certain kinds of art, as tragedy or music

I could modify that to: Relieving of emotiuonal tensions and getting something off one’s chest through blogging.

Steve Legler “gets” business families.
 
He understands the issues that families face, as well as how each family member sees things from their own viewpoint.
 
He specializes in helping business families navigate the difficult areas where the family and the business overlap, by listening to each person’s concerns and ideas.  He then helps the family work together to bridge gaps by building common goals, based on their shared values and vision.
 
His background in family business, his experience running his own family office, along with his education and training in coaching, facilitation, and mediation, make him uniquely suited to the role of advising business families and families of wealth.
 
He is the author of Shift your Family Business (2014), he received his MBA from the Richard  Ivey School of Business (UWO, 1991), is a CFA Charterholder (CFA Institute, 2002), a Family Enterprise Advisor (IFEA 2014), and has received the ACFBA and CFWA accreditations (Family Firm Institute 2014-2015).
 
He prides himself on his ability to help families create the harmony they need to support the legacy they want. To learn how, start by signing up for his monthly newsletter and weekly blogs here.