Vincent Deluard, Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) is the Global Macro Strategist at INTL FCStone Financial Inc. and teaches several CFA® Program exam prep classes: Ethics & Professional Standards (Level I & Level III) and Private Wealth Management (Level III).
How would you sum up your career, in brief?
I write weekly reports discussing global macroeconomic topics, such as monetary policy, exchange rates, and capital market forecasts. I also do frequent roadshows and conferences to advise pension funds and other institutional investors on various investment strategies. Last, I present my research findings in the financial media and various industry publications.
You appear on TV and have contributed to Forbes, the Financial Times, and the Wall Street Journal. Your concept of “DUMB beta” seems to have gained a lot of traction lately. Can you explain what it means, and how it relates to the CFA® Program curriculum?
Sure. “Smart Beta” is currently a big buzz word in the ETF industry. The CFA® Program curriculum shows that it is an oxymoron: investors either pursue active returns with research (the “smart” part), or they simply try to capture the broad market premium (the “beta” part). As a joke, I illustrated the emptiness of the promise of “Smart Beta” providers by creating a “basket of deplorables,” buying only the stocks that are ignored by the “smart beta” indices. So far, my “DUMB” basket has outperformed an equal-weighted portfolio of the major “Smart Beta” ETFs.
I think the lesson for CFA® candidates is that the CFA® Program provides the analytical and quantitative tools to see through marketing claims. In our industry, many are more interested in generating commissions and fees than in generating long-term returns for investors. The rigor of CFA® Program curriculum helps in achieving the latter.
Why do you teach CFA® Program exam prep classes?
I was a student in this program ten years ago. I do not think I would have passed if it had not been for the outstanding quality of the classes, the energy of the professors, and the support of my study groups. I moved to work on Wall Street for a few years after I passed Level III, but I reached out to CFA Society San Francisco immediately after I moved back to San Francisco: I wanted to give back to a program that had given me so much. I have now taught CFA® Program exam prep classes [register here] for four years, and I have enjoyed every minute of it.
…the CFA® Program provides the analytical and quantitative tools to see through marketing claims.
It sounds like study groups helped you. What worked for you in passing all the exams?
Groups are very important. The CFA® Program exams are very difficult, with a lot of material to assimilate. It can be overwhelming at times, so it is important to have a good support network. Study groups help with motivation. As a bonus, many of my old study group peers are good friends today!
Also, I cannot stress enough the importance of doing as many practice tests, as early as possible. The format of the exams can be quite unsettling at first, especially for non-native speakers such as me. You need not only to know the material, but also to understand what the CFA Institute expects on exam day.
Will you be teaching in the fall after exam prep classes have started to be taught at Golden Gate University?
Yes, I will teach Ethics & Professional Standards (Level I and Level III) and Private Wealth Management (Level III). It is excellent that Golden Gate University is involved. The teaching candidates get from accomplished people from around the Bay Area, from various universities and companies, is more than just test-focused. Giving students a broader view will help them be better investors, and that is what the CFA® exam should be about.
How do you bring your international experience to the CFA® Program curriculum?
I travel in Latin America and Europe every other month to present my global macro outlook. Incorporating the global picture is a lot more important today than it was in the 70s and 80s. I try to incorporate this global perspective in the classes I teach: students need to understand the perspective of a Singapore-based investor, or the specific challenges of working in an emerging economy, because their careers may well take them there.
I believe the CFA Institute has gone a long way down this road. Its initial focus was how to value domestically-listed securities, in the spirit of Graham and Dodd. These tools are still crucial today: they are the building blocks of securities analysis. But you need to complement them with a global perspective, factoring macro forces such as exchange rates, monetary policy, and international capital flows.
The fact that there are now more CFA® candidates in Asia than in North America illustrates how the CFA® program has changed. Also, a Canadian client once told me that the city with the highest number of candidates per capita is Toronto, not New York.
“Incorporating the global picture is a lot more important today than it was in the 70s and 80s. I try to incorporate this global perspective in the classes I teach: students need to understand the perspective of a Singapore-based investor, or the specific challenges of working in an emerging economy, because their careers may well take them there.”
Please tell us about the ethics classes you teach.
Ethics and professional standards have become more and important across the entire financial industry. After the great financial crisis of 2008, the industry has become much more regulated, and that is a good thing.
Finance cannot thrive if everyone just thinks about short-term profits: when we consider an action, we must ask ourselves first whether it is right. The investment profession has a huge challenge ahead of itself: for right and wrong reasons, the industry suffers from a trust deficit – only politicians are less trusted in public surveys!
With its tireless promotion of ethical decision-making, codes & standards, and industry guidelines, the CFA Institute is on the front line of this battle. There could not be a better time to get the CFA® designation.
CFA® Program exam prep weeknight classes start on Tuesday, September 18th and Saturday classes begin on September 22nd at Golden Gate University [map] . You can register now on the CFA Society San Francisco website.
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