John Horrell, CFA
Consultant and Co-founder
Makao Investments

John volunteers for CFA Society New Zealand as Vice Chair for Membership.

Below is some Q&A John contributed for the new society Career Portal.  This website will assist career development and those considering a finance career.  It launches in August 2020.

Why did you pursue a career in finance?
When I began high school, a friend introduced me to the share market, which sparked my interest in investments. At age 15, I bought my first two stocks with a small amount of money I had borrowed from my parents. A year later, one stock had doubled in price and the other had gone into liquidation. My portfolio was flat, but there was value in my first lesson of risk and return. From then on, I have always wanted to learn more.

How has your CFA Society membership helped you in your career?
While in London, I was a member of CFA UK. My initial engagement with the society was through the launch of their mentorship program, where my mentor helped shape my understanding of the finance industry beyond the walls of my employer. I went on to join their Ambassador program, acting as a representative for the society. On returning to New Zealand, I joined the local society and now volunteer to support the local membership. This journey with CFA societies is what I refer to as “CFA level 4”, where I continue to learn and expand my professional network with like-minded people in the finance industry.

With regards to Professional Development, what other qualifications have you obtained and how does the CFA charter differ? 
I recently passed the CAIA level 2 exam and became a member of CAIA Association. The exam is similar to CFA exams with a focus on alternative assets. In my opinion it was slightly less challenging than CFA Program exams, albeit there was some overlap in content. CFA Program covers asset classes such as hedge funds, private equity, real estate, commodities, and infrastructure, but CAIA is much more focused on these topics. It complements the content of CFA Program, especially when alternative investments are increasingly making their way into institutional investment portfolios. If you are choosing between them, I recommend CFA Program, even though it’s more difficult.

What advice can you offer future CFA candidates or people early in their finance career
Do not be over confident in your own abilities, instead be confident to talk to over-confident people and then do the opposite.
This applies to the studying towards your CFA charter as well as in the workplace. I’ve heard CFA candidates say, “I did a master’s degree so don’t really need to study for the CFA level 1 exam.” When I cautiously asked them how they did after the exam, the answer was often a fail.
In the workplace, over-confidence is well documented as a behavioural bias in investing; it is best avoided, as the outcome is often the same. You can learn a lot from these individuals, just be sure to do the opposite instead

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