FINANCIAL ADVISER | From foodie to finance - How to make the career jump
QUESTION: I am a chef and caterer who has a deep interest in securities and portfolio management as a career. I'm seeking advice as to where to start with the possible career change.
FINANCIAL ADVISER: To work in the securities industry, you must first meet all the requirements for registering as an investment dealer's representative or an investments adviser's representative by the Financial Services Commission (FSC). If you are confident that you can meet them, you can apply for a position with a licensed securities dealer or adviser.
To be registered by the FSC, you should meet certain minimum educational requirements: a Bachelor's degree or higher in economics, accounting or a business-related subject or a professional qualification in law or accounting and a course in securities approved by the FSC.
There are five such approved courses - four local and one Canadian - which can be pursued by distance learning.
There are no financial requirements for a person applying to be registered as a representative but all applicants must pass the 'fit and proper' test. Among the reports required for this evaluation are a police report and confidential reports from two former employers in the five-year period preceding the date of application. The names of three referees not related to you or connected to your current employer other than as a customer must also be submitted.
If you fall short of the educational requirements, I suggest you take steps to correct the situation. It is possible that you could land a job with a degree, but not necessarily one in the areas specified. It is critical, though, to successfully complete one of the approved securities courses.
You are not necessarily required to be registered by the FSC to apply for a position in the industry, but it is important that you are able to meet the requirements for registration. Your application can be submitted to the FSC after you have secured a job. Once registered, you would be able to give advice and engage in portfolio management and other related activities.
The investment dealers locally include stock brokerages, credit unions, life insurance companies, building societies and fund management/asset management companies, so you have several options.
This is a wide field in which there are several career paths, but it is not unusual for individuals to move from area to another. In fact, that is expected in the normal course of career development.
As you have specifically mentioned portfolio management, I will say briefly what it entails. The portfolio manager must be able to identify the client's objectives and constraints and should be able to develop strategies to meet these objectives, giving consideration to existing and projected economic conditions. This professional should also be able to measure and evaluate portfolio performance and be able to make presentations to existing and prospective clients.
An area that could be of interest to you is investment analysis. An investment analyst must have strong analytical and communication skills and be in tune with and be able to interpret developments in the securities markets and the local economy, but it is becoming increasingly important to be able to relate in a similar way to the global economy.
Other important functions include preparing and analysing portfolio statistics, preparing research and recommendations for clients, and analysing various sectors of the economy.
If you are a people person, you could find the position of investment adviser interesting and rewarding. It would require many of the skills and competencies I just described.
Go where your heart leads. I believe that you now spend much of your time relating to the needs of your customers. The securities business will require much of that from you.
I wish you success. Please see the following website for more information: fscjamaica.org/ registration/content-1185.html.
Oran A. Hall, a member of the Caribbean Financial Planning Association and principal author of 'The Handbook of Personal Financial Planning', offers personal financial planning advice and counsel.