Natalie WinterFrost’s speech to the annual chairman’s dinner 2016

Wednesday 12 October 2016

Chairman of CFA UK, Natalie WinterFrost, CFA, FIA, last night addressed 120 investment leaders and volunteer members at the Chairman’s Annual Dinner 2016.

We are delighted to share here her speech about the achievements of the Society over the last year and why there is still much to learn:

"Ladies and gentlemen, thank you again for joining us this evening. I am delighted to see each and every one of you here, and also delighted to be here myself having missed my own dinner last year; I will come back to that later, but for now I wanted to say I am ever grateful to Gerry who stood in for me at short notice.

It remains a great honour and pleasure to chair the society. One of the nicest aspects of the job is the opportunity that it provides to meet people and make new friends as well as to catch up with old ones.

All of you are here this evening because of your professional standing in our industry, whether we know you as fellow stakeholders in the investment profession or through your engagement with CFA UK – a valued ambassadors for the work that we do, as graduates of our recent ethical leadership program, as committee or Board members or as part of the CFA Institute team.

At the Society, we are fortunate to be part of this community and we value the role that we play within it.

When you arrived this evening and looked around the room, I expect you recognized quite a number of the people here. Most of us are fortunate to know each other quite well, understand what we all do and how we fit into our world.

But I fear that while we know our own community well, others don’t know us at all. For the most part, what we do – and certainly how we do it – is very little known or understood.

This matters and it matters particularly now.

The investment profession, and I like to believe we are a profession, is under scrutiny. That is appropriate. We perform an important role and it is right that the way that we perform that role should be examined, tested and changed where it’s found to be wanting.

But alongside that scrutiny runs a sense of distrust.

That our profession is trusted so little is disappointing. We are a profession that does a lot of good and important work.

I’m going to leave Paul to pick up on this in his remarks, but thank you to all of you that contributed to the report on the value of the investment profession that we published in April and thank you, in advance, to all of you that may be involved in the work that we are now starting and will continue over the next three years, picking up on the initial report’s findings.

Through this work we intend to help more people to understand and value what we do. But I am hopeful that it will also help us find ways to enhance the value of the work that we do for our clients and for society more broadly.

As well as the Value of the Investment Profession project, another notable achievement in the past year was the launch of the Ethical Leadership Program.

Working with Duke University, we developed a 4 day program of experiential learning that gives future leaders of our profession the opportunity to enhance their ethical competencies.

We were delighted with the strongly positive feedback that we received from the inaugural alumni group – a number of whom are here this evening – and we look forward to building on that success next year and in years to come.

While the society has always promoted ethics and engaged in advocacy work, our primary focus remains education.

We supported more than 15,000 CFA Program candidates last year.Our IMC exam continues to play a key role in the sector and we are pleased to see the increasing demand for the CIPM qualification on performance measurement and CFA Institute’s Investment Foundations certificate (formally known as Claritas).

But as Benjamin Franklin said “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning”

The society is acutely aware that the profession that we serve is changing and we must ensure that our educational products and services evolve to meet new regulatory requirements, to reflect the growing interest in governance and stewardship and to meet the challenges and opportunities thrown up by product innovation and technological development.

We must not forget that our work depends on our members. They lend their time, thoughts and commitment to help us develop our qualifications, deliver our CPD and events, manage our advocacy work, contribute to our publications and help us in all of the other things that we do. We are committed to enhancing the way we work with you so that both you and the society gain more from that the engagement.

The support that I have received from my fellow volunteers and particularly my fellow Board members through this year, which has been so difficult for me, has reinforced to me the importance of our volunteer network.

As I mentioned earlier, I missed last year’s dinner. I did so because I had just received a cancer diagnosis. That pulled me into a world of doctors and hospitals. I like to believe we are a profession, but we are perhaps a fledgling one that should seek to learn from the more established professions. They say if life throws you a lemon, make lemonade, so in thinking about this evening’s speech and the CFA UK’s role as a professional body, I wondered what I had learnt from my engagement with the medical profession over the past year or so that I could share with you.

Actually it is clear to me that areas of the medical profession face many of the same challenges that we do.

We may both struggle to find an answer to how our clients should assess our performance, given we are measured in the short term but what should often matter most is the long term.

For me it could be 20 years or more before I learn whether my treatment was successful, so I found myself assessing my oncology team based on the extent to which I felt I was being listened to and my own objectives were being taken into account rather, than being part of a sausage factory.

To be fair my oncology team and I didn’t always agree on my treatment plan and that is because I’m not sure that our objectives were always the same. My objective was an absolute one – life. Theirs was more relative – balancing the probability of my survival against post-treatment quality of life. I did judge certain members on my oncology team on the extent to which they understood my objectives and that is how our clients should judge us.

There were times, however where my doctors stood by their own belief in what was right for me and refused to bow to my demands, and likewise we should not always sell clients the investment products they believe they want if, in our professional judgment, those products are not right for them.

I also found that everyone had a tendency to believe that their area of specialism was the most important and the one that was likely to lead to the best results. The surgeon, for example, was over eager to start with the knife, a point made by the consultant who wanted to get me onto chemotherapy as soon as he could. I think we can all recognize something of ourselves and our firms in this sort of behavior.

But perhaps unlike us, they have a good answer to this. In trying to work out my treatment plan, the oncology team worked together across disciplines to arrive at a balanced, shared view of the best way to treat me. I believe we need to challenge and listen to each other across disciplines more and the CFA UK wants to be a leader in orchestrating this.

We have a lot to work on and are excited by the opportunities that we face. We are very grateful to all of you for the help that you give us and look forward to working with you in the year ahead."