Foreign accent & career in Finance in the US

I am foeigner with an accent. I 'm worried about the job market out there. People said in Finance you have to have gray hair to be respect and that being said, American white male. Asian Female with an accent. No No NO… Is that true ? Well, I have been in the US for 3 yrs. I’m an undergrad student in a not so top notch school. with a 3.5 GPA working full-time ( 40-45 hrs a week ) I’m trying to pass CFA in June’08 Do you think I will have a chance to get a decent job in SF , NY ? Or What should I do to overcome the problems that I have ?

It all boils down to how good of a candidate you are compared to other people competing against you for the same job. Accent, sexuality, race and religion probably only counts towards 5% of the decision making. If the other 95% of your professional package beats the applying “American white males” I’m pretty sure you have a decent shot. If you don’t get a job you want, its not your accent or sex or race, it’s because of your 3.5 gpa in a not so top notch school (assuming your full time position is not related to finance)

If the rest of your skills and qualifications are pretty mediocre, I’d say that your presentation and delivery will need to be top-notch. This includes appearance, presentation skills, and language fluency. This is all part of the “professional package” even if it doesn’t appear on your resume, as you have to remember that an impression of who you are is generally formed within the first five minutes of someone meeting you. Best thing is to continue working on your conversational skills by perhaps taking a class that focuses on English finance, while also work on your writing skills if you have aspirations to get into equity research. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but language barrier could be an obstacle - just trying to be honest with you. I mean, if I were looking to work in China covering companies in the Asian emerging markets, would you seriously think about hiring me if I weren’t completely fluent in Mandarin? I think it goes both ways - language skills are always important.

Maybe you can try to speak perfect American English, which may be harder than CFA exams. How about Canadian accent? Any Canadian guru in the Street besides Hull?

Accent, appearance etc definitely plays a role…how big a role is debatable. u can try accent reduction classes or get some videos that help with the same. dress professionally, learn american dining ettiquette, follow popular american sports (fooltball, golf etc), learn small talk. these things will take time though, but be open to assimilation instead of insisting on being different.

p.s. it was tough for me to break in, but once I got hired, i found these factors to be non-issues.

What type of work are you currently in? What kind of career are you looking for in Finance? Concerning being respected, all i can say is that you have to be respectful to command respect.

I don’t think an accent matters too much as long as you are a good communicator. I joined Toastmasters International almost two years ago and it’s really helping me at work.

There is a TON of difference between an accent and a lack of fluency. Make sure that your vocabulary and grammar are strong, and you will have no trouble because of an accent. Many of the top strategists out there (particularly in fixed income and interest rate strategy) have notable accents. In my firm in particular (fixed income buyside shop, ~100bn AUM) there are many people with very thick accents who have good front office jobs. It all depends on your skill set. Bottom line, speak well enough that a prospective employer will not worry that your productivity would be diminished at all by a lack of language skills.

agree with newsmaker. an accent is not a problem. if people can’t understand what you are saying that is a major problem.

Wow, Thank you everyone. I will work hard. I will join the toastmaster as soon as possible. and I will practice my broken English skill. To answer TeepeMan question " Unfortunately, I worked as a waitress in a restaurant during the first 3 yrs in school. I have to pay my bills as well as my tuition fees and yes, my extreme mortgage payment " Nothing related to finance. I usually spent 40-45 or 50 hrs a week at work while taking 5-6 classes every semesters. Starting this semester , I am a day-trader by using my little budget that I have been collecting for the past 2 yrs. I hate it ! It’s a gamble. Stock move like a drunk person during the day. I can not wait until I have enough money to become the value investor instead of the day dreaming one. Hopefully, I will do well in this game until I graduate this summer. Thanks again.

“Stock move like a drunk person during the day” Great line Jeannie

iamjeannie, 1. From your post your grammar/syntax is fiine, so probably it’s only an accent issue - which is not a big deal. It’s a global market and there are thousands of accents out there. At the end of the day, employers want people who know their stuff, can get on with people, and who will make them more money that it costs them. Not much else matters. 2. Always helps to narrow down your search - what type of role are you aiming for? Turn what you see as your “problems” (asian background, accent, female) into strengths. Eg. - one of the biggest growth sectors in the finance industry is financial planning/wealth management for female execs/business owners. That market is crying out for educated, finance savvy females in all sorts of roles. - you mention your asian background and accent - but you didn’t mention a huge asset you probably have - foreign language. Use your asian background/language to focus on niche markets. Eg Many big firms have divisions set up to attack these niche markets - target asian foreign banks (from your country or region) operating in US. - use google to find people with surnames from your country in senior roles in firms - then approach directly Above all - Stay positive! 3. think about how to best use your time - is it better to spend say 30 hours per week getting your GPA up, versus getting L1 CPA? Maybe better to get higher GPA and concentrate on CFA later. If you’re doing the CFA because the degree you’re doing might not get you a job, can you switch to better course? Don’t forget your GPA stays on your record forever - you can never change it. Until you get some real work experience, everyone will look at your GPA as the key number. On the other hand you can put off your CFA and do it later. 4. stop day-trading!! Chances are you’ll waste the money you have. The other suggestions are good - eg toastmasters - great for confidence & networking. Just some quick thoughts… cheers

She writes better English than most Americans.

newsmaker Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > There is a TON of difference between an accent and > a lack of fluency. Agreed here. I remember watching a MBA Corporate Finance Case competition when I was an undergrad. Wharton’s presenter was a Indian (South Asian) guy with a very noticeable accent, but spoke absolutely perfectly otherwise (pace, grammar, volume, etc,). I recall some of the other competitors mentioning that Wharton’s entire team was considered “McKinsey material”. They ended up winning the competition quite handily.

iamjeannie, there are only two things which are truly universal - love and money (not necessarily in that order!) As long as you can convince your prospective employer that you can contribute towards making more money for them (which hopefully would also translate into more money for yourself), all other considerations are secondary. Meanwhile hats off to your grit and fighting spirit. Cheers

iamjeannie Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > I am foeigner with an accent. I 'm worried about > the job market out there. > People said in Finance you have to have gray hair > to be respect > and that being said, American white male. > Asian Female with an accent. No No NO… > > Is that true ? > just don’t be meek. be strong and forceful. it’s the american way.