Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Chartered Financial Analyst working to help local entrepreneurs

by BIZ Magazine

Brett Brown enjoys bringing entrepreneurs and investors together. He knows how to see an opportunity from both sides.

Take, for example, a medical researcher with an idea for a new product.

 “They know everything medical device-related,” Brown said. “They have no idea what investors think, or how to approach them. I can come at it from both sides. I am basically the bridge between.”

Brown is the first Chartered Financial Analyst with the Entrepreneurial Accelerator Program (EAP) at BRF. 

 “It’s a very complex, hard-to-get designation,” Brown said. “It takes over 1,000 hours of studying. Typically, it’s two to five years. It took me three and a half years. It covers a wide range of topics — about 10 key topics across financial management.”

Brown said his designation as a CFA charterholder gives him a strong foundation of knowledge to help his clients, but he does not replace a certified public accountant, a lawyer or any other expert an entrepreneur will need. He said it is an asset in working with budding entrepreneurs.

 “They’ll know everything about (their) product,” Brown said. “Everything else that’s involved in running a business they’re not sure about. They need somebody who has the broad scope of knowledge across all the different things — how to raise capital, how to manage your budget, how to project how much this thing can make — so that somebody would want to invest in the project. Those are all things that this designation helps me do.”

He is excited to put his expertise to use at EAP.

Brown said that one area where many clients need help early is in financial projections and budgeting. He can help a client build out an idea and present it in a way that will intrigue investors.

 “When you have an idea, it’s great to be able to show a widget and that it does some great thing,” Brown said. “But if you can’t tell a potential investor how much it costs to make it, how you are going to make it, how much you are going to sell it for, how many do you have to sell to break even and start cash-flowing — that’s where the knowledge of a CFA charterholder really comes into play. My training has allowed me to be able to take an idea and know what questions to ask to then build out a very complex financial model to show, with relative accuracy, that this can be a viable business.”

That expertise sometimes can demonstrate to a client that an idea might not work, Brown said, which can be equally valuable to the entrepreneur.

“Apps, for example,” Brown said. “People have app ideas all the time. But when it comes to turning that into money, that’s the challenge. It can be a great app idea, but before you pay a developer six figures to develop it out, let me show you some projections.”

Chartered Financial Analysts are members of the CFA Institute (CFAI), which reports a membership of approximately 190,000 charterholders worldwide. According to the CFAI membership database, Louisiana has 210 charterholders, with only 10 of those located in Northwest Louisiana.

According to the CFA Institute’s website, the program is a three-part exam that covers “the fundamentals of investment tools, valuing assets, portfolio management and wealth planning.” The CFA Institute also holds its members to the highest ethical standards.

Before joining the team at EAP, Brown had worked at a boutique investment firm in Dallas that expected its analysts to receive a charter. Brown wasn’t interested at that time, but he later saw it as a chance to broaden his opportunities.

 “I felt like I was pigeonholed,” he said. “I knew stocks and bonds stuff really well, but that was it. I wanted to get more into the private investment world – corporate finance and now startups. The more I looked at the CFA designation, the more I realized it covered such a wide range of topics that it allowed me to be in a position to either be a senior financial analyst to help people start and grow their own companies, or down the road if I get my own idea I can start my own company because I’ve got the knowledge. It opened up a lot of horizons for me, but also, I found it was a way for me to help other people.”

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