Preparing for the CFA Exam and a Career in Finance: MSF Student Taylor Tsao


Taylor Tsao recently completed a year in the Financial Reporting & Accounting Services division at CalPERS — the largest public pension fund in the United States — and is taking online classes from Golden Gate University. A student in the Master of Science in Finance program with a concentration in Investment Management, he is preparing to take the first of three CFA exams this December.

Tsao says that the Master of Science in Finance program’s recent admission to the CFA Institute University Affiliation Program is important to him. “It shows that what we study aligns with the CFA exam curriculum,” he says. “For example, the Corporate Finance course that I took with Dr. Andrea Anthony covered most of the Corporate Finance topic material from the CFA exam and also went into greater detail.”

Students in Dr. Anthony’s class were challenged to fully analyze a fictitious company by using its financial statements to forecast future cash flows and give a recommendation based on the data. “Not all of the assignment skills are covered on the CFA exams, but they will be very important to succeed in finance, such as determining a company’s intrinsic value.”

At a modest-sized University like GGU, Tsao says he gets more personal attention and that faculty members are always very responsive online. For example, Finance Professor David Kaczorowski helped Tsao get a scholarship for a discount on the price of the CFA Exam as well as a discount on the CFA Society of San Francisco’s review that comes with the CFA Institute University Affiliation Program.

I started to explore GGU for a master’s degree in finance because of their great reputation in the fields of tax and accounting. Networking-wise, there are a lot of opportunities with fellow students and employers because of GGU’s location within San Francisco’s Financial District.

This is not Tsao’s first career transition. After graduating college with a degree in accounting, Tsao went to work for his family business for several years—handling their accounting records and running day-to-day operations.  Studying at GGU, Tsao is hoping to streamline his entrance into a new field and aspires to work on the investment side of CalPERS as an analyst and hopefully one day as a fund manager.


Related post: Career and Educational Paths in Finance: An interview with Professor David Kaczorowski

GGU Finance Chair Co-Authors Study on Investment Decisions of University Employees

Dr. Andrea Anthony, Assistant Professor and Chair of the Finance and Economics Department at GGU, has co-authored a paper that was recently covered by Reuters. The study, Does the Source of Money Determine Retirement Investment Choices?, examines whether public university employees treat their “free money” differently from their “earned money.” In other words, it analyzes how the investment choices in the optional pension plan funded by the employer differ from the investment choices funded by employees themselves in voluntary salary reduction 403(b) accounts.

Dr. Anthony says: “One of the reasons why my co-authors and I wrote this paper is because 403(b) plans, on which the nonprofit and public sectors rely, have not been studied as thoroughly as 401(k) plans.” Based on data from Oregon State University, the paper found that the level of risk associated with voluntary, salary-reduction investments in 403(b) accounts is lower than the risk those same employees are currently taking in their employer funded 401(a) accounts.

Praising Dr. Anthony’s work in Reuter’s, James Saft wrote: “The study isn’t useful just because it demonstrates that we become more risk-averse if we feel it is ‘our’ money at stake, but also that it points out some fundamental flaws in the system in the U.S., which is dominated by self-directed retirement savings accounts in which the beneficiary makes the decision about how to invest…Retirement savers should be investing in equities and other high-risk, high-reward assets if they meet their own risk profile well, not avoiding them because it would be painful to lose what feels like your own hard-earned money.”

Dr. Anthony adds: “Mr. Saft’s analogy about picking your pocket at the race track and comparing how you spend what you think is your earned money compared to your free reward money is very perceptive. Investors should not base their risk preferences for investments with money entirely funded by their employer differently than those investments with money funded by forgone take-home pay. There are a number of reasons that could contribute to suboptimal retirement allocation and this study helps in identifying another potential behavioral bias.”

Does the Source of Money Determine Retirement Investment Choices? is available is available on SSRN.

About Dr. Andrea Anthony

Dr. Andrea Anthony is an Assistant Professor and Chair of the Finance and Economics Department. Before joining Golden Gate University, she spent two years at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon as a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Finance. Anthony completed her Ph.D. in June 2014 at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon. She earned her BBA from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D., Dr. Anthony worked in several corporate finance roles with The Boeing Company at the company’s Seattle and Chicago locations. These positions included New Aircraft Finance and Contract Negotiation, Financial Planning and Analysis, Cost Estimating, Revenue Management, International Accounting, and Procurement Cost Analysis.


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Students Recap Winning Entry to Regional CFA Institute Research Challenge

A team of students from the Master of Science in Finance and Bachelor of Science in Business programs will recap their winning entry to the regional CFA Institute Research Challenge on September 5th at Golden Gate University. The competition required teams to create a written report and a group presentation to a panel of financial services professionals.

Come see a video of their presentation and find out why their analysis of Hewlett Packard made them prevail over graduate schools across Northern California. The event will be of interest to anyone studying finance at GGU or who wants to start a career as a financial analyst.


Special Event:
Hewlett-Packard Financial Analysis Recap & Video Presentation

Date: September 5th, 2017
Time: 6:30pm
Where: Golden Gate University, Room 6211 [directions]

Questions? Write Investment Club president Gannon Kim.


San Francisco CFA Investment Competition
Winning Team (left to right): David Kaczorowski, CFA (mentor and GGU professor of Finance) along with team members Zhe-Yuan Zhang, William Xu, Gannon Kim and Hemal Patel.

Request information about the Master of Science in Finance program >>

Golden Gate University Ranked #1 in US for Adult Learners for Second Consecutive Year

For the second consecutive year, Washington Monthly ranks Golden Gate University America’s #1 School for Adult Learners in its annual College Guide and Rankings.

How GGU Was Chosen

To compile the rankings, Washington Monthly reviewed data from the Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) survey, the department’s new College Scorecard database and the College Board’s Annual Survey of Colleges.

The metrics that determined GGU’s rating include:

  • ease of transfer/enrollment
  • flexibility of programs
  • services available for adult learners
  • percent of adult students (age 25+)
  • mean earnings of adult students ten years after entering college
  • loan repayment of adult students five years after entering repayment
  • tuition and fees for in-district students

Read the article in Washington Monthly >>

GGU’s Master of Science in Finance Program Admitted to CFA Institute University Affiliation Program

We are pleased to announce that the Master of Science in Finance (MSF) Program at Golden Gate University has been admitted to the CFA Institute’s University Affiliation Program. The CFA Institute is a worldwide organization that promotes ethics and education in the financial services industry. It awards the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Certificate in Investment Performance Management (CIPM) designations, and provides continuing education to the industry. Its membership includes over 100,000 Chartered Financial Analysts around the world.

Each year, the CFA Institute conducts a survey on the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the field of finance, and the results are used to develop the topics covered in the CFA program curriculum. To be accepted into the University Affiliation Program, GGU had to provide documentation that our MS Finance curriculum covers a large majority (at least 70%) of such topics. Membership in the University Affiliation Program signals to employers that the MSF curriculum is closely tied to the practice of financial management, and prepares students for the CFA exams. It also reflects GGU’s ongoing commitment to keep pace with the financial services industry. This affiliation will give GGU funding to award five scholarships per year for students sitting for the CFA exams.

Finance and Economics Department Chairwoman Dr. Andrea Anthony commented: “We plan to leverage this new affiliation to strengthen our current investment course offerings to stay focused on the most relevant tools and topics needed in the investment industry.”

Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) is a registered trademark of the CFA Institute.


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Career and Educational Paths in Finance


An interview with David Kaczorowski, MBA, Adjunct Professor of Finance in the Ageno School of Business


Would you please tell us your professional experience and what you teach?

David Kaczorowski

After getting my undergraduate degree in finance at Boston College, I worked in actuarial analysis at Liberty Mutual Insurance. It was a great job, just not for me. So I went back to school for an MBA at Yale University and transitioned into the investments industry. After school, I spent five years in the investment banking industry working as a capital markets equity analyst. Those are the people who publish reports on stocks and rate them buy/sell/hold. After that, I spent two years managing a private portfolio for an individual investor, called a family office. Around that time I started teaching in the Master of Science in Finance at GGU, and now I do it full time. I teach Portfolio Management, Investments, and Derivatives at GGU.

Why do you like teaching?

What I like most about teaching is bringing practicality to the classroom. When I was in school some of the material I learned was very useful, some not so much. Now, after seven years in the industry, I have a decent idea of which concepts are used in investing and which ones rarely leave the textbook. The most satisfying part of teaching for me is to say to a class: “Now listen up, this is how it’s really done.” That’s something I think GGU does better than most. We’re located right next to the financial district and most of our teachers are working professionals. When students come here they expect a close connection to the real world. It’s something I wish I had when I was in school, and I’m really excited to bring it here.

I have a decent idea of which concepts are used in investing and which ones rarely leave the textbook. The most satisfying part of teaching for me is to say to a class: “Now listen up, this is how it’s really done.” That’s something I think GGU does better than most.

What do prospective students most want to know when they are considering a Finance career?

Many of them just want to understand what careers are available. In my field, in particular, students often come to me for help because they’ve done stock picking for a personal account, find it intellectually rewarding, and want to do it as a career. Most don’t really know what careers are out there, how they differ, and how to get them. Personally, I think that’s the whole point of grad school. Students have a few years in the working world and know enough to understand the areas that excite them, and so they go back to school to refine the road map.

What skills are needed for a finance career?

I might not have thought this when I was a student, but the business school core classes go a long way in a financial career. That goes especially for statistics and accounting, both hard-to-learn subjects but very useful in the real world. Just the other night I was having dinner with a friend who works in the financial industry, and we dug into how the interest rate environment will impact the Sharpe ratio of the fund he manages. It was right out of a textbook.

Communication is also extremely important, both in front of a crowd and one-on-one. Investment banks and hedge funds are famous for having a lot of strong personalities. It makes life a whole lot easier if you have the skill to, as they say, “tell someone to go to hell in such a way as to make them think they’ll enjoy the trip.”

We’re located right next to the financial district and most of our teachers are working professionals. When students come here they expect a close connection to the real world. It’s something I wish I had when I was in school, and I’m really excited to bring it here.

What are the upsides and downsides of the career?

As with most careers, the people you work with are a major part of the job. In my time in the business, I’ve known a few truly impressive minds: people I like to call “stock whisperers.” Getting to know them and watching them work has been a great part of the job. Hopefully a little of that skill rubs off. As for the downside, I’ll go back to what I said about strong personalities. Finance can be really fascinating stuff, but some jobs have a whole lot of grunt work, stuff that isn’t why you got into the business. The stereotype about working oppressive hours is true, and it’s no fun.

How should people decide where to apply for jobs in Finance?

I always tell students to keep an open mind about the next step in your career and don’t get too focused on one particular job. Who knows, you might take a detour that you end up liking more. At the moment, wealth management and real estate finance jobs are in demand, and equity analysis is less in favor. That doesn’t mean you should tailor your career to what gets you a job at this exact moment, but we have to skate to the puck. If you find yourself going down the wrong road on a career you don’t love, switch. Don’t waste your time.

What are misconceptions are there about the Finance field?

I personally have some political frustration about how our industry is viewed by the rest of the world. We in finance are too often seen as the evil empire. The fact is, finance and investing serve a vital need in the economy. Also, the reputation for being a cutthroat industry isn’t always accurate either. Out here in the Bay Area, there is a general attitude of cooperation, and that permeates into the industry. The finance industry here has a strong connection to Silicon Valley, and it adopts some of the same habits of collaboration and innovation.

Sadly, the stereotype is true that there are few women in the industry. In the local CFA Society there are 3,500 charter holders and only about a quarter of them are women. I never really knew why that is, but I hope it changes sooner than later. “Doctor Who” is a woman now, so anything is possible.

I always tell students to keep an open mind about the next step in your career, and don’t get too focused on one particular job. Who knows, you might take a detour that you end up liking more.

How do you start networking for a finance career?

Networking is definitely helpful. The industry runs on relationships and having the right ones can make a big difference. Many local professional organizations, like the CFA Society, hold events that are open to the public. I’ve met all sorts of interesting people at those events who become good friends. Another element to launching a career is doing it for yourself. A public speaker I once heard said about being a writer: “If you want to write, then write.” When I started in equity analysis I opened a personal investment account and bought stocks for myself. I kept clear notes and models that supported my positions and stood ready to talk with anyone about them. If you want to do any career you don’t have to wait for the job, you can do it today. If you want to invest, then invest.

What should prospective MBAs consider when selecting a specific graduate program?

This is a tough one. When I chose my program the biggest criterion was the personality of the school. Schools like Harvard and Wharton are great, but they weren’t for me. My class at Yale was full of misfits. There was a merchant marine, a rape counselor, a stealth bomber pilot, lots of really interesting people. I learned more from them over bad Chinese food than I did in the classroom. That’s why the campus visit is crucial. You have to go there and see the place for yourself, talk to the students and professors, and ask yourself whether you feel at home on an emotional level. It can be really hard to determine that, and a person can only visit so many schools, so it takes some luck to find one that really resonates.


About David Kaczorowski, MBA

Dave (David) Kaczorowski has worked in finance for more than 13 years. An experienced investment manager of private and family office portfolios, he has investment expertise in all the five major asset classes and experience in the holistic management of a family office. His most recent position was as the primary investment manager for a highly diversified family office portfolio. Prior to that position, he spent five years in the investment banking industry as an equity research associate, covering technology companies. His resume in the industry includes Signal Hill Capital, Wedbush Securities, and Stifel Financial. He also spent seven years as a financial analyst in the actuarial department of Liberty Mutual Insurance Group. He is a CFA charter holder.


REQUEST INFORMATION ABOUT THE MASTER OF FINANCE PROGRAM >>

Top-Tier Finanical Analysts & GGU Community Discuss Amazon Stock at Special Event


Golden Gate University’s Investment Research Club hosted a special group discussion at its downtown San Francisco campus: Amazon: blockbuster or bubble?  Organized by GGU’s Investment Research Club, the event was attended by graduate students in the GGU’s master’s degree in Finance program, as well as professional asset managers from around the finance industry.  GGU students were able to participate in a group analysis of a stock and the professional back-and-forth that characterizes the varying orientations and opinions of top analysts.

David Kaczorowski
David Kaczorowski

The event kicked off with a presentation by GGU’s Prof. David Kaczorowski, who spent five years in the investment banking industry as an equity research associate, covering technology companies such as Cisco. Kaczorowski gave a comprehensive review of Amazon’s business strategy, which includes its core third-party platform business, Cloud Services, Amazon Marketplace, and Amazon Prime. The company’s  “land-and-expand” strategy with its third-party selling platform has been effective, despite its low profitability. However, Amazon is building on its platform with high margin services like Amazon Marketplace and Amazon Prime.

Kaczorowski continued, saying that the company will find new ways to be profitable and its stock will push higher. Although many believe Amazon’s stock price is peaking, he concluded that it had room to grow despite barriers internationally—such as the dominance of Alibaba in China and a possible protective stance of European countries.

Howard Aschwald
Howard Aschwald

The next presenter was Howard Aschwald, Chief Investment Officer at Quantum Capital Management. A GGU graduate (MBA, Finance & Financial Planning, ’85), he offered the opinion that Amazon stock is overvalued, although the company is strong and its stock had a more stable price during the crash than its competitors.  GGU’s Hank Pruden, onetime instructor of Aschwald at GGU, commented on the technical analysis issues of Amazon stock. In response to various perspective offered by attendees, Aschwald replied in an industry maxim: “You can torture the numbers until you get them to say what you want.”



The Investment Research Club’s meetings are open to students and the public. 
For more information contact Gannon Kim (MA Finance, ’17).

About the Investment Research Club

The GGU Investment Research Club is intended to allow students to participate in an enjoyable intellectual exercise while learning the time-honored and effective methods of the business. We are a group of students who have a passion for finance and investing. We meet regularly to collectively research, analyze, and value companies from an investor’s perspective. Through research, networking, and guest speakers, we will gain practical skills, industry knowledge, and connections to help each other increase our aptitude with investments. The Golden Gate University Investment Research Club consolidates University and member resources to develop an educational platform which strengthens our understanding of investment research and provide practical experience in company analysis.

What Makes for Quality Online Education?

online-library
by Doug Geier, GGU’s Director of eLearning and Instructional Design

Online education is enormously popular, with the number of online students in the US growing to over 6 million in 2015. This is true at Golden Gate University, where many students get their degrees or certificates 100% or partially online. Online classes provide a way for many students to fit education into their daily lives, an opportunity that they may not have otherwise.

If you become a GGU student, you will soon realize that you are at a school that takes online education seriously – 94% of students who took 80% or more of their courses online favorably rated the overall quality of their education at GGU (2016-17 GGU Graduating Student Survey).

More than an Internet Connection

At GGU, we think online learning is more than a medium or a convenient way to learn. Quality online learning is built with many elements – not just an instructor and an Internet connection. Here are the features of GGU’s quality eLearning experience:

  • Faculty experience in an online environment
  • Opportunities for interaction among students and instructors
  • Stimulating and engaging eLearning
  • Integrated online learning platform for interaction, multimedia, and assignment submission
  • Dedicated eLearning department to ensure proper student and faculty proficiency
  • 24/7 support team for technical issues students may have
  • Curriculum that connects learning to the real world

Creating the GGU Online Experience: The eLearning Department

I have a passion for online learning because it provides an opportunity for all students to participate in course activities, contribute to the discussion, and engage with one another. (No one has a “back-row” seat in online learning.) It’s also a great supplement to classroom learning and provides a great deal of flexibility for the adult learner.

One of the building blocks of the GGU online experience is the eLearning Department, which I lead. The eLearning instructional designers have experience and training in both technology and education—and how the two come together for effective teaching and learning. Through GGU’s Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, the instructional design team supports faculty in the effective use of technology for education.


Golden Gate University has been recognized for excellence in online education for its MBA, Counseling Psychology, and graduate-level Accounting programs.
Learn more about GGU’s accolades >>


Even though we have been offering online education for over 20 years, we are always seeking to improve the student experience. We stay on top of the latest trends and effective practices by monitoring educational blogs, publications, and sites related to technology, online learning, and higher education. Educause Learning Initiative, EdSurge HigherEd, the Online Learning Consortium, and WCET are all wonderful sources of information and inspiration. We also exchange ideas with others in the online education community through attendance at conferences and meetups. Most importantly, we listen to feedback from students and faculty and strive to continually improve the quality of online education at GGU.

My Experience as an Online Student

I hear positive feedback from our online students, but I also share this perspective as a fellow online student at GGU. I’ll be completing my MBA degree this year, most of which I have taken online. If the courses had not been challenging and provided the opportunity to interact with fellow students and the instructor, I wouldn’t have remained engaged and interested. As a working professional, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this if not for effective online courses.


About Doug Geier

Doug Geier is the Director of eLearning and Instructional Design at Golden Gate University where he oversees LMS support, instructional design, help desk and proctored testing services. He was a 2012 participant in the Online Learning Consortium’s (OLC) Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning and continues to be an active member of the OLC community–serving as a volunteer, presenter, and conference track chair. Doug is also a member of the Substantive Change Committee with the WASC Senior College and University Commission and a part-time MBA student at GGU. In previous roles, Doug has held positions in educational software publishing and online learning as a producer, content developer, and instructional designer.


Special Event: Amazon–Blockbuster or Bubble?

Join Golden Gate University’s Investment Research Club for a special group discussion: Amazon: blockbuster or bubble? Participants in the meeting will include professional asset managers who hold Amazon in their institutional portfolios and will allow GGU students to participate in a real-world analysis of a stock—the way the pros do it. The event will include a presentation by Prof. David Kaczorowski, who spent five years in the investment banking industry as an equity research associate, covering technology companies.

Amazon is a member of what the investor community calls FANG: Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google. These four stocks have been red hot over the last one-to-two years, and the number one driver of the market upturn. The professional investor community is in a fierce debate right now as to whether this huge rise constitutes a bubble.

This event is free and is open to the public—no registration required.

Join Us!

When: Tuesday, June 6th, 2017 at 6pm

Location: Golden Gate University campus, Room 5208

For more information on the event and the Investment Research Club, contact Gannon Kim.

About the Investment Research Club

The GGU Investment Research Club is intended to allow students to participate in an enjoyable intellectual exercise while learning the time-honored and effective methods of the business. We are a group of students who have a passion for finance and investing. We meet regularly to collectively research, analyze, and value companies from an investor’s perspective. Through research, networking, and guest speakers, we will gain practical skills, industry knowledge, and connections to help each other increase our aptitude with investments. The Golden Gate University Investment Research Club consolidates University and member resources to develop an educational platform which strengthens our understanding of investment research and provide practical experience in company analysis.

Video: Why Go to Business School in San Francisco?

Golden Gate University is located in downtown San Francisco in the heart of the Financial District. In this video, Dr. Gordon Swartz, Dean of GGU’s Ageno School of Business, reflects on the city’s reputation and position in the business world.

Dr. Swartz’s holds a DBA from Harvard University and has extensive and varied experience that combines business school teaching, research, and administration — with strategy consulting and development of high-growth organizations. As vice president of MarketBridge, Inc., he led major marketing, sales strategy, and transformation efforts for Fortune Global 500 companies.

Getting an MBA degree at GGU in San Francisco, specifically in the “FiDi”, gives students access to a wealth of expert working faculty and networking opportunities in major business areas such as finance, accounting, taxation, marketing, project management, and IT management. Throughout its 115-year history, Golden Gate University has become an integral part of the San Francisco business world — with over 16,000 alumni residing in the San Francisco Bay Area alone.