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WSO Podcast | E182: Truck Driver + Community College to Valuation Associate Making Close to $200k in Under 5 Years

WSO Podcast


In this episode, Dave, aka CertifiedFinanceAce, shares his winding path and how he has found a great career as a senior valuation associate making over 10 times what he did just 5 short years ago. Listen to hear how the Great Financial Crisis in 2009 rocked his family life and his outlook, why he decided to start attending community college, how he transitioned to a 4 years school and managed not to take on any debt, how internships and the CFA helped open doors and the one strategy he has used to make almost every transition possible, including the latest to a senior valuation associate role where he is given a lot of autonomy and loves his job.


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WSO Podcast (Episode 182) Transcript:


Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:00:06] Hello and welcome. I'm Patrick Curtis, your host and chief monkey, and this is the Wall Street Oasis podcast. Join me! As I talked to some of the community's most successful and inspirational members to gain valuable insight into

Dave: [00:00:19] Different career paths and life in general. Let's get to it.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:00:25] In this episode, Dave, AKA Certified Finance Ace on W.H.O., shares his winding path and how he has found a great career as a senior valuation associate, making over 10 times what he did just five short years ago as an intern. Listen to hear how the great financial crisis in two thousand nine rocked his family life and his outlook, why he decided to start attending community college, how he transitioned to a four year school and managed not to take on any debt. How internships in the CFA helped open doors. And the one strategy he has used to make almost every transition possible, including the latest to a senior valuation associate role where he's given a lot of autonomy and loves his job. Enjoy. Ok, David, thanks for joining the Wall Street Voices podcast.

Dave: [00:01:16] Yeah, of course, thanks for having me, Patrick.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:01:18] It would be awesome if you could just give the listeners a short summary bio.

Dave: [00:01:21] Yeah, of course.

Dave: [00:01:22] So in Boston, Massachusetts, born and raised. Go pats, go. Celltex, go Red Sox, right?

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:01:32] You're getting a lot of eye rolls right now, I'm sure, like

Dave: [00:01:36] When already clicked off, like this guy. No. Yes, it just been in Boston. I went to school system in Boston Community College. I didn't go to college right after high school, so there was a little break there. But yeah, just kind of found my way navigated through the educational system while kind of hopping around at internships to try to figure out what career path made sense for me. I ended up landing in valuation, which is where I am currently doing business valuations for private companies, mostly. And yeah, I've been doing that for a little over a year, two different companies. Currently, I'm at Tecno's Associates, which is based out of San Francisco.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:02:21] Very cool. So let's go all the way back to just high school. Did you think valuation and finance was in your in your path or what?

Dave: [00:02:30] What kind of

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:02:31] What were you thinking back then? I know you were a wrestler and I'm looking at your LinkedIn. So what was the what was the thought process that back then and there much of one? And how about your family and you're like the background of like what they thought you were going to do?

Dave: [00:02:45] Yeah, no, for sure. I think back in high school, I had no idea what I was going to do, right? I grew up in a fam-. My dad's a truck driver. My mom's a waitress. So the jobs that I've seen around me were kind of that blue collar work with your hands jobs. I know I kind of didn't want to do that just because I saw it didn't seem sustainable to me, right? And my dad specifically was in food produce. There's a big Purdue center in Chelsea, Massachusetts, where it's just warehouse after warehouse, after warehouse of fruits, lettuce salads produce. So I kind of grew up around that and you know, my first job was peeling plum tomatoes. The the leaps off of them to get them into the salads themselves. So, yeah, that's the type of jobs I grew up seeing. And, you know, I graduated high school in two thousand nine. Obviously, I wasn't the best time for anyone.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:03:49] Yeah, really tough time to graduate high school. Were you thinking college was in your like, maybe kind of your thought process? Did your parents want you to go or like, Hey, just start working?

Dave: [00:03:58] No, for sure. Everyone wanted me to go to college, and I think just my

Family got hit kind of hard between 08 and 09. I was lucky enough to go to a private high school Boston College High School. Mm hmm. And you know, that comes with a price tag, right?

So senior year, actually mid senior year, I started driving a truck similar to what my dad was doing in produce. It was for Tedeschi Fresh Foods. So I would deliver the prepackaged sandwiches that you see at like gas stations. You know, I would deliver those across to Tedeschi, which was bought by 7-Eleven. I would deliver those across New England during your…

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:04:41] Senior year of high school.

Dave: [00:04:43] Right? So there's like this little break between when classes end and when you actually graduate. Yeah. And in there there's a rehearsal for graduation. Yeah. So graduation rehearsal, I had to actually plan my route for that day. And luckily, I was going to be in the Boston area, which is where I went to school. So mid route,I drove my truck into the parking lot and this is refrigerated good. So I had the truck running the entire dress rehearsal. Oh my God, then went back out and finished my route after that. So that's awesome.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:05:20] Yeah, you did get to go to graduation.

Dave: [00:05:22] Yes.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:05:23] And then so like, what was the thought process? I mean, 09, this is, you know, the depths of the the depths of the recession, really bad time. Really hard to get. Any sort of job was like colleges thought, OK, back burner. Right now, we can't have any extra expenses. Did your mom lose your job? Like was what was going on with your dad? And we're like, they're less routes and stuff like that.

Dave: [00:05:44] Yeah. So my dad actually ended up losing his job. And actually, it's funny. I actually ended up losing that truck driving job as well a little further down the line. But yeah, so yeah I kind of kept going with the truck driving just to save up some cash. At that point, too, I was also working at an Italian restaurant in Saugus. You know, I started doing deliveries and then moved to dishwashing and then a little prep work as well. Whatever I can get my hands on. Yeah, and quickly realized, OK, I need to figure out a better plan here. And that started with applying to community college.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:06:22] And how many how many hours are you working? Kind of. This is 09 after you graduated two thousand like that summer and kind of the following year, how long were you working in the restaurant industry? And before you kind of said, OK, I need to get to community college here?

Dave: [00:06:36] It was more than a year, more than a year, two or three years, actually.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:06:40] Oh, wow, OK, so you were doing this for a while? Tell me a little bit about like how many hours you're working. You said restaurants, all that stuff. How much were you bringing in? You think after all that altogether?

Dave: [00:06:51] Yeah. Originally, it would be the truck driving, which I would start at three a.m. and I would usually finish around one p.m. And then I would go and do nights at the restaurants, which would usually be like six to 10.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:07:05] So would you sleep from one to five?

Dave: [00:07:07] There are some nights where I wouldn't sleep at all, which is not not advisable, especially while driving. Yeah, but yeah, got used to kind of limited sleep, I guess you could say. For sure.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:07:19] Yeah. And so you were working. It sounds like 70 hours, 80 hours.

Dave: [00:07:24] That sounds about right. And again, I don't want to sound like a hero here. I definitely wasn't in the best mindset myself, either. You know, I could have definitely avoided some of these hours and avoided some of these jobs if I had a plan set in stone. So I don't want it to sound like this was. Like, woe is me, I had to do this to grind out, I mean, at the end of the day, this is kind of the choices I've  made as well. I mean, obviously some consequences led me there, but…

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:07:57] Do you feel like do you feel like? Yeah, I mean. A lot of people still went to college right in 2009 2010. Is there a reason you hadn't applied? Did you feel like your grades weren't there? What was going on?

Dave: [00:08:09] I mean, I think a lot of it, a lot happened in my personal life. You know, my grandfather passed away. My parents ended up getting divorced. So I kind of felt like I had this excuse to, yeah, of trying to use the right words like mess around, mess around.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:08:27] Yeah, yeah. It's OK for you. Some profanity. We'll just market as profane. So, yeah, so you had an excuse to mess around.

Dave: [00:08:37] Right? Nobody was going to blame me for not going like, Oh, he's got all this. And, you know, I embodied that, and that's definitely a regret in my life. But, you know, being able to acknowledge that I guess before it was too late was huge for me.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:08:52] Yeah. So tell me a little bit about that. Like some depression was, it seemed like pretty, pretty down during that time.

Dave: [00:08:58] Divorce is probably brutal,

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:08:59] Even though you're a little you're at least you're kind of a little bit older, but still. Tell me a little bit of how that like, did you feel like? You feel sorry for yourself back then, but it didn't sound like

Dave: [00:09:11] You were like at least you were working right because you had to.

Yeah, I was working. I have no money saved to show for it. But yeah, I mean, I think definitely it was tough.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:09:22] And like all together, you're probably bringing like thirty thousand a year or something like that.

Dave: [00:09:26] Right, right. Yeah. If that and you know,

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:09:30] Who are you living with at this point, like during these couple of years before community college? Yeah.

Dave: [00:09:35] So it was actually living with my aunt at the time in Revere, and she is my idol, right? Yeah. One day I'll be able to buy her a Jaguar and just be like, Here's your here's your gift, right?

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:09:47] That's awesome. That's awesome.

Dave: [00:09:48] Yeah, hopefully I can get to that point for sure.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:09:50] So tell me a little bit about kind of what led you to finally think, OK, now is the right time for college you just like you were in the grind? Was that was that enough to kind of wake you up?

Dave: [00:10:01] Yeah, I think so. I was able to kind of start saving. I think, you know, eventually got over myself and it's like, OK, I need to think a little more long term here. How long can I live with my aunt? How long can I keep these jobs going? Like, what's the next steps? And did she give you advice?

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:10:21] Did anybody give you advice outside of your immediate family?

Dave: [00:10:24] Yeah, definitely a high school friend. His mom, just like, sat me down and was like, Do you need help applying to school? Like, why haven't you applied to school? Do this? Do this, do this? And it was definitely nagging me along and I'm like, Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm going to start this summer. I'll start this fall, I'll start this spring. And then just one day you actually commit and sign up and.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:10:52] So there was some there were some hesitation, so you did have some people in your corner kind of cheering you on. But there were some hesitation there about flying just because you thought, I still don't know what I want to do, even if I go to school. Was that the process or what were you thinking? Kind of. Yeah. I mean, a big thing for me was the cost I didn't want to pay. I didn't want to take on student loans for sure, just because I could see what happens when you have that much debt, get taken away from you. So oh yeah,

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:11:17] It's akin to create a spiral, right? Downward spiral. So tell me a little bit about like, OK, finally, you're like, OK, I have some money saved when you say I have some money saved was like ten thousand twenty thousand dollars. What do you

Dave: [00:11:28] Not even know now? Yeah, I'm talking under five thousand.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:11:32] Ok, it's from this, from this amount. What do you think? And you're like, I can at least pay for a semester or a couple of semesters or whatever.

Dave: [00:11:39] Yeah. So I ended up going on a payment plan for Bunker Hill Community College. Yeah, which is a two year program. I selected Accounting Right Accounting Finance, secure positions where I can work for a big company. And, yeah, I get that retirement fund and everything. That was my next goal to be as safe as possible.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:11:59] Yeah, yeah, for sure. Because you saw 09, you were like, OK, so you'd

Dave: [00:12:04] Be risk-averse.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:12:05] Nothing, you select accounting. You kind of go through it kind of and then tell me about that those couple of years at the community college, how would you do? And then eventually you went to UMass, right? Correct. Yeah, I'm a little bit about that transition. And for listeners who are in a similar boat, what was it like? Was it

Dave: [00:12:20] Hard? You know, I assume you're

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:12:22] Still working part time stuff like that.

Dave: [00:12:24] Yeah, I was definitely working nights, going to school mornings and community college is just that big, diverse bucket of people. And I just wanted to make sure I was the ones that took it serious. So I definitely did take it seriously. I think my high school education definitely helped prepare me to kind of succeed there. So I was getting perfect grades right because I was trying and really digging in because this is my

money. This is my time. I definitely felt invested. So I was I didn't spend much time on campus, but there was this sign at Bunker Hill. It was called Learn and earn. And basically you get credit for a course and you get an internship program. So I was all over that. Let me get some experience in the industry. Yeah, so just set my resume across and actually ended up working with State Street Corp. in cash processing like super back office,

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:13:27] Back office operations. Hey, but it's good you get a little finance something on your resume. Great.

Dave: [00:13:32] Right. Ok, so that was back in twenty seventeen.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:13:36] Yeah, and so you're starting in twenty

Dave: [00:13:37] Fifteen… Sorry.... Yeah, twenty

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:13:39] Four. So you start kind of working there. You do a couple of years at Bunker Hill Community College, but then what's the what's the process after two years? Are you expected to kind of apply to a four-year program?

Dave: [00:13:49] What's the what's what a lot of people do?

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:13:51] And what would you suggest?

Dave: [00:13:53] Yeah, I think after the two years, definitely try to transfer all credits over to a four year school in Massachusetts. There is this program where all your credits will transfer if you go to a public school and if you had a certain GPA, you automatically got a discount off the tuition. Oh, I think the GPA was like a three or four and I actually had a zero coming out of Bunker Hill, so I took advantage of that discount. How much? How much is the discount? I couldn't tell you at this point. Yeah, but it definitely was a good

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:14:27] Chunk, like 10, 20 percent, something like that.

Dave: [00:14:30] I think it was 15. So right in the middle, but it's definitely worth it to

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:14:34] How much was it costing for like a full year at like UMass?

Dave: [00:14:38] I think I was paying after FAFSA around seven thousand five hundred a year, so it's super affordable for while working. I mean, not super affordable, but affordable enough.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:14:51] Yeah, you could do it. You could put it together. Ok, so tell me about was it then just two years at UMass? Because you'd already done the two years at Bunker Hill and Tim about your your thought process there? And kind of when was valuation on the roadmap then? Or like, what were you thinking in terms of like summer internships where you still it looks like you were State Street for a while? So do you do a couple of summers there? Did you have the summers off at UMass? What would happen?

Dave: [00:15:16] Yeah. So I was actually an intern at State Street part time as well. And there was this huge snowstorm in February of maybe it was twenty sixteen. I might be off on the year, but of course, a New England snowstorm, right? Yeah. And this was before work from home was easily accessible. Mm hmm. So nobody's able to get into work. And I was an intern. I was like, I have to go right. There's no, I don't get the option of not going. Yeah. So I ended up taking just driving in and getting there safely, of course and I was one of maybe seven people in today at State Street, like hundreds of people work in one building, right? Yeah. So everything kind of went through that day, and I think that led to them extending like a full time offer while I was at Bunker Hill, getting my Associates. And yeah, it was in back office operations that was my foot in the door, right?

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:16:20] I was still a big deal because, like, what was the salary for that, like 40, 50, something like that?

Dave: [00:16:24] Yeah, it was thirty three.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:16:26] But yeah, three. Ok, so pretty low. Yeah, OK. But it's something it's stable, right?

Dave: [00:16:31] Right, exactly. And I was able to build on that once I was in, you know, I didn't stay in. These cash processing, I was still in operations, but I was able to kind of move into a different group, more of a Treasury group. Yeah, and the way I did that was by, you know, State Street had a soccer team. I was all over that state street did volunteer opportunities. I was all over that and just beating people across completely different departments. And we were painting a school in Roxbury for a volunteer event and my girlfriend, now wife at the time or wife, girlfriend at the time. Yeah, was with me, and we're just having fun talking painting. And I ended up hitting it off with an MD at State Street who was in Treasury. And, you know, we just had a great time. And he just mentions like, Hey, our group's hiring, you want to get out of cash and come to Treasury. It's like, Yep. Of course.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:17:28] Yeah, yeah. And so what was that like? Why? Why would you make that jump? It's just better opportunities.

Dave: [00:17:35] Yeah, you definitely talk or you work with Investment management clients instead of kind of cash processing was like a sweep at the end of the day or whatever cash was left in people's portfolios. We would just put it in a repo or so. That was. Huge because actually one of the clients that I had in Treasury was Eaton Vance, which was my next next move in the process.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:18:00] So let's talk about that. So let's talk about so you're you're doing how many hours a week with with State Street while you're at the UMass.

Dave: [00:18:06] At this time, I'm 40, 40 hours a week and a week.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:18:10] And then what are the hours for that?

Dave: [00:18:13] It's pretty standard eight to five or so.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:18:15] What are you going to school at night?

Dave: [00:18:16] Yep. Yeah. I'm going six to eight. Three days a week at this point with going online.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:18:22] Got it. And so then you end up graduating to that at 17. And so like, tell me what happened here? And like, were you looking for a jump?

Dave: [00:18:29] What was the what was the thought process? So I actually made the jump before even graduating to be an advance. Like I said, Eaton Vance was a client and they were looking for someone to come do like internal portfolio evaluation. Mm hmm. And while it wasn't a one for one jump, they were mostly looking for someone who is eager, willing to learn. And you know, I had a good network at State Street that would back me and back my resume and actually send it over to the client, which definitely helped. So, yeah, I actually made the jump to Eaton Vance before graduation at UMass Boston, which I thought was unheard of.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:19:10] But yeah, that's amazing. And so did you feel like what was the what was the role like? Did you at this point and what was your pay? Because I know, did you go get a bump when you jump to Treasury? At least?

Dave: [00:19:19] Yeah. Yeah, I got some bumps along the way. I was still under that 50 K mark, though even at Eaton

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:19:25] Vance, even 18. Vance OK, so you're still kind of like doing more like processing stuff. You're doing settlements, you're doing all that stuff. At what point do you start kind of thinking to yourself, OK, what's my path like long term path? How do you set it at that point? I knew you would just you hadn't even graduated, right? But had you, did you have a vision or were you're like,

Dave: [00:19:46] Hey, I'm just going to try to learn. I was going with the flow, but I think when I got to Eaton Vance, everything kind of changed, right?

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:19:55] Yeah, tell me why.

Dave: [00:19:56] So first, Eaton Vance to international. I'm right in the financial district. As you walk through the halls, the whole stairwell has CFA certificates just plastered across, and it's really cool how much they they hold that value. Yeah. So, you know, I was like, What is what is this? What is this do? So I just did some research there and ended up signing up for level one December. Twenty seventeen. Very cool. So I kind of did more research on the CFA. Like what jobs do people normally get? Of course, I was like… How much pay do people normally get? Of course. And I set my sights on equity research as being kind of where I wanted to go.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:20:45] Got it. And so, yeah, so tell me about your kind of two years at Eaton Vance. How it progressed. Did you feel like you were learning or like, did it the learning curve flatten out? And what were you doing day to day there?

Dave: [00:20:55] Yeah. So I ended up making a switch at Eaton Vance to the valuation team and what they were doing was there.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:21:03] How did you make that switch? Did you want to make it? Yeah, I did. Yeah, you knew. You knew at this point, you're like, Wait, valuation is a better place to be and get better skills. Ok, cool.

Dave: [00:21:12] Sure. So what they did there was a nightly pricing to help strike NAbs on the mutual funds. Mm hmm. There were illiquid. Bonds are fixed income products that wouldn't trade, so we had to come up with a price with them nightly. And that process was a pain because, you know, if you were on vacation, well, you do the nightly pricing. It gets tough, right? Yeah. So there are some. Not a lot of people want to do that job, and they asked the floor, like, does anyone want to help learn pricing so that basically our managers can take a vacation finally? Yeah. And of course, I was like… yeah, I want to learn. And you know, I learned one process and then I learned how to do all the pricing processes. And then I ended up kind of playing around with with coding, just basically what I could learn on Google. And I ended up streamlining and automating processes. And what were you

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:22:09] Using like VBA?

Dave: [00:22:10] Mostly, yeah. Yeah, I was using DBA basically just to make like a summary page where instead of going into each folder direction, you just click that button and it opens up the file for you. Yeah, yeah. And it hits a timestamp. So you know that you did it like it was basic stuff, but it helped it help the pricing, especially when you have that tight window to strike an app. So they were they impressed? I mean, they were impressed enough to bring me over, right? Yeah.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:22:36] Ok, cool. So you're you're doing all that stuff. And then you said, Oh, so that's what actually got you over to the valuation team running that whole, doing that whole VBA stuff. They said, Hey, why don't you come over? And did they force you to run that every night? Like basically for for a long time?

Dave: [00:22:51] Oh yeah. But I liked it. I was able to tweak and kind of learn as I'm going. I didn't know coding that, yeah, I just learned from YouTube and Google, right?

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:23:02] It's amazing. Ok, so you're you're doing that whole thing. And then at what point you sit for the CFA? I assume you pass level one.

Dave: [00:23:10] Yep. So I pass level one in December the same month that I graduated. Yeah. And then I signed up for. I think it was June at that point. June 20, 18, I was going to do December to June. Yeah, for level two. I ended up passing level two in twenty eighteen. And then I got married in July 2018. That two year period was just crazy, a whole lifetime packed into two years.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:23:37] That is nuts. So when did you kind of what was your what was your thought process of like, OK, my, here's my jump to equity research where you kind of starting to talk or network with people while you already eaten Vance knowing that like, that's what you wanted to do. And why don't you? Actually, we didn't even say, like, what is Eaton Vance? What are they? What's their main thing? We didn't even say that for the listeners.

Dave: [00:23:56] Yeah, it's an investment management firm. They're known for their bond funds, for sure. Yeah. But they have probably about 50 mutual funds. Actually a lot more by 50 that I worked on. Yeah, specifically. Ok. And mostly institutional clients, right?

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:24:15] Yeah. And so would you like a year in? Were you saying, OK, I got the CFA. I'm married now. Now's the time equity research. And like, what did you do to kind of prep for that, for that jump?

Dave: [00:24:26] Yeah, I think everything I did at State Street, I also did at Eaton Vance.I was playing soccer with the team. I was volunteering. I even chartered a Toastmasters group or on public speaking, so I was able to get everyone in that building. Common at least interact with them. Yeah, so because there's equity research with any advance, OK? Yeah, yeah. So now I'm interacting with these colleagues of mine that are in the position that I want, and I'm trying to say, like, how do I get in? How do I get in? And they're giving me this advice and I'm following it and I'm trying to do the job before I'm in the role, which is kind of how it worked in valuation, right? It ended up not working at Eaton Vance, but, you know, I thought I was prepared enough to make the jump. And I think having level two under my belt was huge. Having valuation was huge. Even though it wasn't direct like equity valuation, it was more on the bond side. And then just networking was when tell about you said you said something interesting, you said. I felt like the way I got the valuation job was doing the job before I had it. And you said for equity research, you kind of did the same thing. Were you writing up like reports and sending them over to like the team at? Tell me a little bit about that.

Dave: [00:25:45] Yeah, I was. I kind of latched on to. So our soccer team was just stacked with equity, equity analysts equity. I was like, I don't belong in the soccer team, but you know, I was willing to play goalie and they needed a goalie, right?

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:25:58] So that's awesome. And so like, you just started networking with them. And what did you say? Hey, I can help you out or, you know? How did you kind of make it? So it wasn't super awkward?

Dave: [00:26:09] No, I think they were so willing to help me that it wasn't super awkward. It was kind of the opposite. They were kind of giving me homework to do, and they expected me to do it. And I think that was huge to latch on to that. And while it wasn't directly related to what they're doing, like I wasn't helping them, it was more like case study work.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:26:29] What kind of homework? Yeah, tell me a little bit more about that. Like, what were they doing and what would you suggest to listeners if people want to break into equity research? Like what are the steps?

Dave: [00:26:36] Yeah. So they would say pick a company and write a pitch basically on the company. Give me a model that you can come up and explain a price target. Give me a full SWOT analysis on what could make the price target go up. What can make the price target go down. And basically, they were just asking for a PowerPoint

slide, which I think is good for the buy side. But I was looking sell side, which was completely different. But tell me why and tell the listeners why. So the interview process was was similar to by side. I assume at least, you know, they want to know that you understand how valuation works. Understand how. You know, excel works and models work itself. But when I got to equity research, it was at least south side. It was heavy, heavy on business writing, and that definitely was a weak point for me.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:27:35] So how did you get better? Or like, so you ended up making the jump right for me? Advance. Tell me about let's. Let's go to the part where you started networking and interviewing. So tell me about that.

Dave: [00:27:45] Yeah, so heavily relied on LinkedIn. I would just search equity research associate and anyone that popped up that maybe had a connection, maybe didn't have a connection with that. A company that I was looking at. Personalized invite Hey, do you have 15 minutes to talk? I'm trying to get into equity research. Just want to learn a little bit more.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:28:04] And and what was your hit rate? What was your hit rate? So out of one hundred messages like that? How many people connected with you and got back and how many phone calls did you do?

Dave: [00:28:13] I mean, the funny thing is I would like I still get people getting back to me today and even though I sent it years ago. So the hit rate is definitely skewed, but I probably had good conversations with like seven people in the industry.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:28:27] Yeah, and so like, but you had a message how many people for those seven calls, like one hundred?

Dave: [00:28:32] I think a little under one hundred, I was definitely getting my OK.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:28:37] Yeah, so not bad. So you'd say probably 20 percent people actually responding to you and then you were actually able to get on the phone call with the seminar, which is not bad. And so did any of those conversations lead to anything?

Dave: [00:28:49] Yeah, yeah. One of them. Well, two of them, obviously, but one of them specifically early was like, Hey, we're looking for. And this is also a targeted message. I saw they had an open rack. Ok? And I looked at who the associate was, and I was like, OK, he might get bumped up and he might be hiring for him. So I met when I messaged him. I kind of had the hunch that they had an opening.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:29:13] Yeah. So you weren't just applying blindly, you were actually doing the networking on top of it.

Dave: [00:29:18] I didn't apply to a single position.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:29:20] Yeah. So I mean, that's a really important lesson for listeners out there that sometimes it's actually more effective to just if you see an opening, actually, just talk to people who are around that opening rather than just dropping your resume and hoping you get a response. So, OK, so you talk to this person, what did they say? How did it? How did it all evolve over? What was the interview like and how did you survive?

Dave: [00:29:41] Yeah, a lot of it. I was just asking questions and trying to take the focus off what I don't know and talk more on what I do now. Yeah, they the positions that I was applying for were recovering financials. I thought that made sense. My best shot, given that I worked at State Street, I worked at Eaton Vance. So I would be covering State Street, which would be totally surreal.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:30:04] But it's big. It's totally different financials, right? Like a typical company. So did you have any experience with that?

Dave: [00:30:10] Nope. And that was definitely eye opening to see.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:30:15] And so how did those interviews go here? They started asking all about like financial institutions and those financials. Did you vomit?

Dave: [00:30:22] I'd say I bombed it, but I think I have a good way of talking where where I can tread water long enough for them to at least give me the answer themselves. And that could be like, Yep, that's where I was going, right? Ok. But again, I think I was eager. I was willing to learn, you know, I was trying hard to get these roles, and I think that was more important than my technicals at that time.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:30:46] Right. And so you ended up jumping over in January of 2019 to Wolfe Research.

Dave: [00:30:53] Yeah, it's a teak shop south side in New York. Mm hmm. So, you know, I'm four months married at this point, and hey, we have to leave our family go to New York.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:31:03] Yeah, tell me how that one was that tough.

Dave: [00:31:05] It was definitely tough. Yeah.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:31:07] Where did you live?

Dave: [00:31:09] We lived in Queens and Woodside. Yeah. So I was on the Seven Wolf was right in Grand Central, so I would just take the seven right in.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:31:16] I see I lived in a story for a summer when I was in college, so that's awesome.

Dave: [00:31:20] Yeah, yeah. Yeah. My wife worked in Astoria, actually, and she was she was able to walk to work, at least in the summer.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:31:27] But so you so you move there, you're taking taking the train straight into Grand Central. What was the role like? Was it harder than you expected? Was it easier? What was the learning curve like and then why the move eventually, after about a year?

Dave: [00:31:43] Yeah, the learning curve was steep.Yeah, especially for me.

Dave: [00:31:47] I think I didn't realize how weak my writing was until I was in the role, and I definitely was getting better, but not at the rate that I wanted or not at the rate that anyone else wanted as well. Hmm.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:32:00] So that caused a lot of stress for you.

Dave: [00:32:02] Yeah, yeah, for sure. Ours were were typical hours, right? I was working Monday through Saturday. You know, all day long, all night long, like 12 18

hours days. Yeah. 12 being the minimum.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:32:19] This is a pretty rigorous job. Yeah. And I think it's it's sell side as well, which which is people need to differentiate between. I mean, in south side, you need to be ahead of the news, right? Because what's the impact you have by side call and you're like, Hey, I just saw earnings came out. What does this mean? And you have to have that formulated already? Yeah. So it's it's kind of a twenty four hour job.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:32:43] Yeah. And so you were you were getting grinded. They're not happy with your writing because you're writing isn't up to speed because you don't have a lot of experience. And plus, I don't know, maybe you just didn't have the, you know, the writing shot, the writing chops, the business writing chops. It's hard. It's a different. It's a totally different language. And so you were you were still developing that for sure. So tell me, like, is that why you were there for only a year? Did they let you go? What happened?

Dave: [00:33:07] Yeah, that's definitely why I was kind of planning my exit in June, July. So to try to get out of there. And you know, I kind of made this deal with my wife like, you know, we came out to New York for this job. Maybe it's time to go back to Boston around family, because if I'm going to work 12 to 18 hours, I at least want her to be around family while I'm off working. Yeah. And you know, again, I probably let the emotions get the best of me here because. I was like, I'm done with Wall Street, done with finance, like, what did I like? I think I like talking, I like talking to clients. I like being an authority in the space was like, Let me try. Kind of like a sales role in bet on myself here. So it was able to again tap into my network. And this is actually funny because a recruiter set me up for. An interview at Priority Capital, which is where I ended up and I walk into the interview and they're telling me, OK. A VP of sales is going to come down and interview you. And it just so happens to be a customer that used to come into this restaurant that I worked at years before and I was always bubbly. And, you know, I embraced the restaurant life for sure. I was pretty good at selling the front of the store, you know? Yeah. So we just hit it off immediately. It wasn't an interview. It was a conversation. Yeah. And he was like, If you want this job. I mean, you didn't say that, but that's all I.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:34:40] Is basically like, if you want the job, it's yours. And this was back in Boston. Correct? And so this was like an account executive, like basically a sales role. So tell me about for what?

Dave: [00:34:50] Yeah. So what we were doing is kind of brokering equipment, finance deals. So we had a syndicate of partners that we worked with and they would provide the funding, but we had to find the clients that needed the funding. So this was a tough, tough role for sure.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:35:08] Well, how did you get comfortable leaving? I mean, well, it sounds like the writing was on the wall at Wolf anyways, but what was the pay there? Was it over 50 at that point in New York? It was seventy five. I forfeited my bonus. I mean, it was time to go and definitely going to be a regret. But I'm so much happier now that you made the jump. So like you, you were like, I'm done with Wall Street, I'm going to go try sales, right? And so you came and came back to Boston. You're at this priority capital, some sort of brokerage shop. How did you get comfortable moving there? Yeah, because like, it sounds like, who knows? It sounds like a pretty. Is it pretty small company?

Dave: [00:35:48] Yeah, definitely a small company. Again, it was knowing the VP was huge. I trusted him. He trusted me. And I like the idea of, OK, now I'm moving to a position where I'm kind of betting on myself, like where commissions are heavily relied on my my work that I put in.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:36:08] What was the base there? Zero.

Dave: [00:36:11] No, it was actually a really great comp structure. I think I came in at sixty K. Yeah, and then plus commission and the commission was. Uncapped, so,

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:36:23] Yeah, that's great, and so how did how did it turn out?

Dave: [00:36:26] It went well, I mean, the first month, I didn't think, I don't think I got a single sale, right? Definitely. Another steep learning curve. Ok, but I was on the fault on the phone, calling 300 clients a day like cold call like as cold as it gets. Looking up Googling phone numbers of small businesses, they're like, Hey, this is Dave. Do you need to buy. Any equipment because we can help you find financing? And it was brutal the responses you would get.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:36:55] Yes. So basically, people buying equipment, it's a small business that needed equipment. Potentially you would help, you know, basically match the finance financing and you guys would take a cut of, if any, any capital raised and you get a commission off of that right? Ok. So it's a pretty tough job. You're getting rejected all day.

Dave: [00:37:15] Yeah.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:37:16] So how did that feel? I mean, did you feel like, yeah, this is fine. This is this is good. I can deal with it or how is it?

Dave: [00:37:23] It was definitely mixed feelings. I felt as if I was working hard and I was getting some results and they were coming along. But. You know, it's one of those jobs where five p.m. comes off and you're able to turn turn off and not worry about the day. And there was something, I guess maybe that I'm wired, but like, I like being attached to my work. I like carrying it forward. And I don't know something was just missing and I definitely missed finance, right? That's what it was. I wanted to be a little more analytical. I miss the spreadsheets. I miss PowerPoint.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:38:02] Hey, you're doing VBA. Way back in the day, still, like, yeah, you had all this wasted.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:38:08] So so tell me. Like, So what was it like when that first kind of sale did happen? So the first month you did, the first sale did. So what do you get for that, like a couple of grand or something or a thousand bucks?

Dave: [00:38:18] Yeah, yeah, it was. It was a couple of grand. But the big thing was, you know, the recognition an email goes out to the whole sales team like deal in Dave Steele, right?

Dave: [00:38:32] Here's the the revenue that I made on it, so everyone's comp was clear. This is how much this person's making. There's a leaderboard for the month, you know, that's but that first deal. You get it. Everyone comes up to your desk. Good deal. Good deal. Good deal. So they're telling you, like, go ring the bell, there's a big bell. So it's very sad. It sounds very sales. Very much a sales organization. Ok, so how many of them, how many salespeople were there? Like 10 20? Yeah, less than 20.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:39:02] 20. Ok, so you're there? Did you ring the bell? Yeah, of course. Good. And then how many? Yeah. Over that year, you're there for about a year. How many of that year did you close?

Dave: [00:39:12] I'd say I was closing towards the end three or four a month. Oh, wow. Yeah. So, Carrie,

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:39:19] Then you start to make good money, though.

Dave: [00:39:21] Yeah, I definitely was. And I think COVID hit and it was starting to drop, right? Ok, so we're now we're all working from home and now my wheels are spinning again. I'm like,I passed two levels of the CFA. Like, I should probably go back and finish that.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:39:38] Yeah. And you're at this point, you know, you're just getting the 60K base because there's not a lot of deals coming in. Right? And so you're like, this is not I could probably get more. So what's what's your thought process? You're like, I kind of miss finance, so you just kind of pull up LinkedIn again and start networking again. What was the thought process here?

Dave: [00:39:57] That's exactly what it was. Yeah.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:40:00] So but like, what did you look? You obviously want to stay in Boston, right? But like, where did you start looking? Talk about like the process you went through, like, OK, I don't want to be in finance. You know, you had the valuation background, your equity research background. Tell me a little bit about like how you went about thinking through that.

Dave: [00:40:18] Yeah, I think it was definitely a big self-reflection. I in my past, I focused so much on the job description in the role and the power that came with that role instead of looking at the skills I have. What I like to do, what I like about the roles and trying to find a job that way so when I went researching on the CFA, it was like equity research is or an equity analyst portfolio manager. I didn't really look like, Oh, what? What skills do you need to be a portfolio manager? I was just like equity research. That's that's a cool title. That's what I want, and I didn't know better. And I mean, the more I researched, the more I want it to be an authority in the space. So I was like, OK, what do I like? I like talking to clients. I like kind of being an expert in something. I want to be an authority in my space. Yeah, I want to be analytical and I'm putting this together. And, you know, it seems like more of like a consultant or this valuation professional made the most sense for me. Yeah. So I just did searches, I actually went on the CFA website as well looked at and I did the same thing. I look for open positions and then message people that had that, those open positions.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:41:38] Yes, like I just want to chat. I don't. Oh, you have a job opening? Wow. What a surprise. No idea. Oh yeah. My resume is updated as well.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:41:46] So. Exactly. Oh, here it is. Ok, so you're basically interviewing and you end up at Grant Thornton, correct?

Dave: [00:41:55] Yep. Yeah. So I was looking to get. Bigger after being at a boutique and then Priority Capital is a boutique as well. I knew maybe something like a big four, big five, I guess Grant Thornton likes to stay there for five, right? There was a big five, so I did Grant Thornton, RSM. I applied to as well. Had good conversations and ended up in the valuation team, which is technically strategy and transactions. And I was specifically within complex financial instruments. So it's helping private companies value convertible debt and do like financial reporting type, valuation work.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:42:40] Got it. And so what was your pay now?

Dave: [00:42:43] Yeah, now I was in the nineties plus bonus and you know, I popped the champagne. We thought we were. We made it right. The high life. I love it.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:42:55] Yes, this is great. So I mean, your trajectory is good. And then so you're there for through recently till recently.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:43:03] So talk to me about the progression there. Was it a good learning curve for you? Did you feel like you're working with a lot of different clients? And then why? Why the move to this new company?

Dave: [00:43:14] Yeah, I think that was the best piece you kind of mentioned at Grant Thornton. I was working with so many different clients in so many different industries, and you're expected to be the valuation expert and you get to talk to these CFOs and CEOs of these amazing companies, and they're the expert of their companies. You kind of have that back and forth where you explain the company to me. I'll explain the valuation to you and we both end the call learning something new, which I was in love with. Yeah, I think Grant Thornton and of course, this is kind of a bigger company issue, right? Where there's this hierarchy and the lower level associates don't get that much independence in interacting with the project the whole way through. So that was my big thing is I really wanted to run projects from start to finish.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:44:06] One of them, you wanted that relationship with the clients. Correct. You wanted to own that relationship.

Dave: [00:44:12] Yeah. And their auditors came in and ask questions. I wanted to be able to defend my own work as well. Got it. And I think, you know, I expressed that to Grant Thornton, and they were definitely on board with making kind of adjustments to help me get there. But I want now, right?

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:44:31] Yeah. Impatience.

Dave: [00:44:33] No, no, no.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:44:34] So so you so you started talking to other valuation shops and stuff and tell me why Tecno's? And was it just a more senior role, that type of that type of thing, I assume.

Dave: [00:44:45] Yeah, I talked to Tecno's. It's a small, small firm. Again, there's ten of us total and. The way they pitched it to me and the way I pitched it to them, I wanted autonomy. I wanted to be an authority in the space and they wanted to offer me the opportunity to do that and they wanted to help me develop to be that guy in authority in the space.

Dave: [00:45:08] Mm hmm. And you know, we both we both thought it was just a great fit. I think most of the interview was around. Do I like you? Do you like me? And we just really hit it off.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:45:21] That's great. That's great. And so is the goal, at least for the for the near term, just be valuation for a while, just like build a career there.

Dave: [00:45:29] Yeah, I think I definitely found something that just matches my personality.

Dave: [00:45:34] Like I said, I can be an individual contributor, but also I have this solid managing director who is helping me in every aspect and knows like, there's nothing that can come across his desk that he hasn't seen before. So I'm able to bounce ideas off of him, but he wants me to figure it out on my own, and I have that personality that works.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:45:54] That's great. And then so when you say, like domain expert, is it just evaluations in general? Are you talking like specific industries like that? Like, are there certain things you want to specialize, like these types of valuations or these types of companies? Or are you looking to like build just overall valuation expertise?

Dave: [00:46:10] Yeah, I think it's a combination of both. I think being in Boston, we definitely see a lot more of the biotech companies just because of the area that I'm in. Yeah, but we also get a lot of gaming companies that I'm interested in. We get a lot in the crypto space. That's extremely interesting. Mm hmm. Yeah. So I probably got 11 companies that I'm working on an active engagement right now, and it's probably five different industries. That's cool. Yeah, it definitely keeps it exciting. And so you cycle and valuation is quick. Two to three weeks. New project.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:46:43] Oh wow. So you're just like, boom, boom, boom, boom. Kind of running through it. Tell me a little bit about like, So are you doing this remote? I assume, because there isn't S.F. right based in SF. So tell me about, are you just staying in Boston? They were cool with you doing remote, except that's kind of a trend now, right?

Dave: [00:46:59] Yeah. Yeah, we we've

Dave: [00:47:01] Gone fully remote. I've met them in person. We're trying to do like quarterly meetups, which is really cool. But yeah, I'm fully remote and I don't plan to ever not be. Yeah.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:47:13] Now you love it, right?

Dave: [00:47:14] Yeah. I mean, I've been doing it for a decade. It's another piece, too is when I did that self-reflection, I was thinking, OK, I'm married. I want to have children. What's important to me and what's important to me is being able to to know that ten years down the line, my son or daughter has baseball practice or dance recital. I'm able to get out, go to that and not miss anything. And I think valuation offers that flexibility, specifically Tecno's. I mean, any time they need me to step out, they're able as long

as everything's getting done. But yeah, yeah, you know, I think that's like a night, if you have to. It's not a big deal, like, yeah, it's going to get it done. That's awesome. And so looking back on your on your trajectory from truck driver community college all the way up to valuation, senior associate, tell me, like any words of wisdom you'd give to kids listening right now that are maybe finding

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:48:08] Themselves in a similar position to you. Maybe they're an equity research associate stressed out, working 80 hours a week in New York, maybe there earlier in the journey. Any thoughts?

Dave: [00:48:17] Yeah, I think the big piece is to talk to as many people as possible. Just I think it's completely underutilized people asking people to talk if I got a LinkedIn message from someone. Do you have ten minutes to talk about your career? I will say yes. One hundred percent of the time. And maybe it's it's two days later because I just can't get to it. But I will say yes, and I think there are so many people that are willing to do the same and just making that initial outreach just doesn't happen enough. So definitely do that. That's surprising because I've been preaching it for like 15 years now.

Dave: [00:48:55] I know your monkey to millions. That's where basically I would see it all day. I'm like, I think exactly the way Patrick is thinking. I love it. Keep teaching these kids, please.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:49:05] Yeah, it's tough because it's intimidating now, you know, it's intimidating. I think a lot of people here like, Oh, network. Yeah, OK, what does that mean? That's annoying.

Dave: [00:49:13] I have to pretend like I'm interested.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:49:15] Like? Well, no, actually, you should like if you want a career and you want to actually, like, earn any money and actually build something, you should be interested. You should be genuinely interested to learn. Many people feel like they have to fake it or ask like set questions like just be actually curious. And it tends to

Dave: [00:49:32] No.10s good

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:49:33] Questions when you're curious as long as you're not just like, Hey, what's the pay right away?

Dave: [00:49:38] Yeah, I think my best networking calls have been the ones where I don't talk at all.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:49:42] Yeah, and they just guide you for sure. Well, Dave, really appreciate your story. Really appreciate you sharing all the words of wisdom for for the listeners out there. It's incredible how far you've come and your story, I think, is really inspirational. So thanks for sharing it.

Dave: [00:49:59] Yeah, thanks for having me. And I do mean, if people want to look me up on LinkedIn and get a coffee chat like virtually, I'm happy to do that with anyone.

Patrick (CEO of WSO): [00:50:07] So that's awesome, man. Yeah, and I think you'll be part of our mentorship group to eventually we'll get you in there. So that's why I connect with you that way. They can they can ask us that way, too. Well, yeah, thanks so much. I appreciate it. Thank you. Bye. And thanks to you, my listeners at Wall Street Oasis. If you have any suggestions whatsoever, please don't hesitate to send them my way. Patrick at Wall Street Oasis dot com. And till next time.