August 21, 2019
Yesterday was a big day for Elevate, and for me personally. We received word that I, and Jacob, both passed Level III of the CFA® Exam.
Long-time clients know that this is something that I have been working toward for the better part of 5 years and that the CFA Charter is one of the most challenging and prestigious credentials to earn, in any practice, anywhere in the world.
The CFA designation is internationally recognized as the highest distinction in the investment management profession and passing the series of three exams is only one (albeit the primary) part of earning the charter. Candidates must also complete 4 years of work experience in the investment decision-making process. Unfortunately, Jacob has 1 year to go to complete this step, so you won’t see those glorious 3 letters behind his name just yet.
With that said, it is worth noting that Jacob may very well end up being the youngest CFA Charterholder in history when he finally does receive the award. We don’t know for sure but given that he graduated from Louisiana State University in 3 years with a degree in finance (on a full-ride academic scholarship) and passed all 3 levels of the CFA exam on his first attempt in 3 consecutive years, he is going to be in the running for that title. Regardless, Jacob is one of the most intelligent human beings on the planet, and we are all extremely lucky to have him on the team at Elevate.
It all started when a seed was planted in my head about how to value a business. I watched this video produced by my favorite investment analyst, (Porter Stansberry) where he showed me how to read a company’s financial statements to determine what a reasonable value might be. I sort of always knew this information was publicly available, but this video put it all into plain English for anyone including me, to comprehend. It was a life-changing hour for me.
Shortly after, I found myself in a competitive situation for the investment business of a substantial prospect. His current adviser was leaving the firm and starting his own and the prospect was interviewing potential new advisers. This prospect made it clear that the existing adviser was a CFA Charterholder and asked what credentials I had that would be comparable. Thankfully, (my partner) Ken has earned several credentials during his career and the prospect ended up hiring us. But at that moment, my fate was sealed – I would earn the CFA Charter.
I sat for level I way back in June of 2015 and failed. I finished in the top 10 percent of those who failed that year – probably one question or so away from passing. It was tough but I regrouped and took the exam again in December of that year and passed. I didn’t learn I had passed until the results were published in February of 2016 which left me with a choice between taking the level II exam in 4 months or waiting 1 year and 4 months until the following June. I opted to go for it in 4 months and ultimately failed level II in June of 2016. I was in the top 40% of those who failed that year.
That was a hard pill to swallow. At that point there was no saving it – I was 1 year behind schedule, at best. I didn’t hesitate for a minute to re-register for the level II exam scheduled for June 2017. I figured after having a practice run at it, I would do fine and pass the next time around.
Turns out we decided to launch Elevate in July 2017 and I spent most of the first half of the year preparing for that transition and didn’t give the exam the respect it deserved. I ended up failing level II for a second time in 2017. This was the most difficult part of the entire process for me. I was extremely discouraged and thinking to myself:
“Why am I doing this? I don’t have a boss asking me to do it. I am not going to get a raise or a promotion when I finish. I don’t have any clients or prospects demanding that I have this credential. Is this really worth it to me?”
Of course, the answer was “yes”. And so, I continued. Ultimately, I passed level II in 2018, and then passed level III on my first attempt in 2019. And now it is done.
This is an achievement that will always mean more to me than it will to anyone else. But it does mean a great deal for the folks that I have the privilege of working for – my family and my clients – in some ways that are very direct and obvious, and in others that aren’t.
It feels so great to have finally achieved what I set out to do way back in late 2014. I could not be prouder of Jacob and myself, and I look forward to the next chapter at Elevate.
I couldn’t possibly name all those who deserve my thanks, but a few are easy.
· Chanelle, my wife and Chas, my daughter.
· Ken, my partner.
· Jacob & Olivia, my associates.
· Porter Stansberry and that one prospect/client (you know who you are), my initial inspirations.
· Our clients, who allow me to do what I love every single day.
Thank you so much!
Shane Fleury, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
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