5 Famous CFA Charterholders: How they Did It

The global diversity and success of CFA charter holders always surprises me. I’ve written a few times on the blog how the finance industry benefits from having a charter that does not favor the rich or the connected but promotes people for their hard work and skills.


Looking at the profiles and stories behind some of the most famous CFA charter holders has not only been a motivation exercise for me in the past but also a guide for my own career path. Check out these five success stories below of famous CFA charter holders and see if you can find any similarities.


5 Famous CFA Charter holders


Bill Miller, CFA is the former Chairman and Chief Investment Officer of Legg Mason Capital Management and possibly one of the few asset managers to consistently outperform the market. His Legg Mason Value Trust Fund beat the S&P 500 after-fees for 15 consecutive years to 2005.


He graduated with honors in economics from Washington and Lee University and served in the military before getting his doctorate from Johns Hopkins University. He worked in corporate finance as a treasurer for a manufacturing company before joining Legg Mason and has held the CFA charter since 1986.


Ranji H. Nagaswami, CFA was the Chief Investment Advisor to Mayor Bloomberg in New York City and directed the investment policy for New York’s $120 billion Pension and Investments office. She is a senior advisor to Corsair Capital, a private equity firm, and has worked in asset management for AllianceBernstein and UBS Asset Management.


She started as a quantitative analyst for UBS before heading up the U.S. Fixed Income division. In 2015, she was named as one of India’s top 20 successful women in business and arts.


She earned her Bachelor of Commerce from Bombay University in 1984 before completing an MBA from Yale and receiving the CFA designation. She is a member of the Yale University Investments Committee and the CFA Institute Asset Manager Code of Conduct Advisory Panel.


Bernardo Hernandez Gonzalez, CFA is a Spanish technology entrepreneur, founding several companies and has worked at Google and Yahoo. As founder and president of StepOne, he started the first Computer Science talent exchange program between Spain and Silicon Valley.


After working as an investment analyst and manager for Fidelity, BBVA and Putnam Investments, he started idealista.com and built it into one of the leading real estate portals in Spain. He founded and managed several other companies before joining Google in 2005 and worked as head of Flikr at Yahoo until 2015.


He graduated from ICADE, Pontifical University of Comillas in Madrid and earned his Masters in Finance from Boston College. He has held the CFA designation since 2002.


Tan Chin Hwee, CFA is the founding partner in Asia for hedge fund Apollo Global Management. He began his career in 1995 trading Asian equities and fixed-income for the Keppel Corporation before working on the credit portfolio at the Development Bank of Singapore and at various hedge funds.


He graduated with an accounting degree from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and received his MBA from the Yale School of Management. He is the President of the CFA Society of Singapore and is active on several non-profit boards.


Just 44 years old, Tan has been on several lists of young managers to watch and has a great story. He wasn’t always the best academic student but made up for it in hard work and guts. He provides insight into his success in this story of how he got started.


Abby Joseph Cohen, CFA is a partner and senior U.S. investment strategist at Goldman Sachs, helping to lead the firm’s Global Markets Institute. The daughter of polish immigrants, she graduated with degrees in economics and computer sciences from Cornell University and completed her M.S. in economics from George Washington University.


She started her career as an economist for the Federal Reserve Board and has worked for T. Rowe Price and Drexel Burnham Lambert in economics research and investing roles. She’s held the CFA designation since 1980. She’s most famous for predicting the bull market of the ‘90s and was named one of the 30 most powerful women in America 2001.


Looking through the profiles, it’s striking how dissimilar the paths have been for these famous CFA charterholders. Some have worked traditional career paths, starting as analysts and working up to portfolio manager and directors. Others have struck out on their own at an early age. The one bonding characteristic is their hard work and willingness to take risks to further their careers.


Look for more detail on these or other success stories and plan how their experience can be applied to your own goals.


‘til next time, make your own path,
Joseph Hogue, CFA


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