When Greg Dorriety, CFA®, enrolled in the Master in Investment Management and Financial Analysis program at Creighton University, he already owned a financial services firm, having earlier switched careers from chemical engineering to finance. He was looking for a masters program that would teach him how to help people manage their wealth and prepare him for the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA) exam.
Dorriety also didn’t want to just cram for the CFA exam and pass. He wanted to master the material.
“The real value to me was understanding the material beyond taking the test,” Dorriety says. “I have a lot of wealthy clients with different, complex needs and, because of this MIMFA program, I can go through something complex and help simplify it so the client can understand it.”
Rather than just preparing him for the CFA exam, Dorriety says the MIMFA program gave him a deep understanding of the information—something that he says was more valuable to his career than just passing the test. “You can get a lot more income by doing wealth management rather than straight money management,” he says. “Plus, you literally build your own business.”
Earning a masters and passing the CFA exam has given Dorriety’s firm a boost. Since he earned the CFA charter, four larger firms have made generous offers to either buy his firm or merge it with theirs. The MIMFA program also introduced him to a number of colleagues and professors whom he can rely on for advice and counsel throughout his career.
Dorriety completed the MIMFA program and took the CFA exam while he was working full time and running his own company. He estimates that he spent 10 to 12 hours a week on each course. “They did a great job making it concise and well thought out,” he says.
The Creighton program is a much better option than just taking a CFA cram course, Dorriety says. “If you’re doing a cram course, you may switch from bonds to equity to alternative investments, and you’re going through this like you’re drinking out of a fire hose. But by taking the masters program, you spend time on each, so it gives you time to actually learn the material,” he says.
Creighton also uses materials published by the CFA Institute to teach the course and to test students. Dorriety says this helped him feel relaxed and prepared on exam day. “You can read the questions easier,” he says, “and you can discern the data and key information faster.”
Dorriety found the most valuable aspect of the MIMFA program to be the coursework that dealt with ethics and behavioral finance. Ethics is one of the most difficult parts of the CFA exam, he says. “The course shows you the fine lines and gray areas in our industry and helps you recognize when you’re in a gray area.” Both MIM 717 and MIM 718 cover ethics as outlined in the CFA® Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct.
Behavioral finance, which is discussed in MIM 739 and MIM 740, has helped Dorriety to better counsel his high-net-worth clients. Studies show, for example, that an investor behavior such as moving investments too often causes investors to earn less money over time. Dorriety says this course taught him how to present this information to his clients and get them to understand how emotion or cognitive bias can lower their income. “When you can talk about these concepts with confidence and simplify it for them, that builds a huge amount of trust,” he says.
Whether you are managing money for endowments or wealthy clients, Dorriety says you will still likely deal with people, and the MIMFA program taught him how to relate to clients. If you want to get a deeper understanding of the CFA body of knowledge, Dorriety says, it’s worth it to get Creighton University’s masters degree.
William Gregory (Greg) Dorriety, CFA®, CFP® is President of Optimum Asset Management, Inc., in Daphne, Alabama. He completed the Master of Investment Management & Financial Analysis program at Creighton University in May 2016.