Monday, October 17, 2016

Show Us Your Life: What I Do for a Living

Hey there and happy Monday, friends!  I'm back from vacation and will share photos/stories from our trip soon. But today, I'm kicking off a new post series today called "Show Us Your Life."  My goal is to share tidbits of my life that I might gloss over otherwise. Through this post series, I'll talk about things like how Phil and I handle the division of household chores, how I meal plan, progress we are making on house projects and how I manage my finances.

I'm kicking off this post series with a post about what I do for a living. I briefly reference work, but I have never really delved into what it is that I actually do - mostly because I think it will bore others. But here's a summary of how I fill my work hours each week.

Job Title:  Taxable Fixed Income Client Portfolio Manager

What this actually means:  I am a product specialist that focuses on fixed income investments, or in laymen terms, bonds. There are 2 broad categories of bonds: taxable and tax-exempt (i.e. bonds issues by municipalities); I focus on taxable bonds. I work for an asset management company that manages a wide array of mutual funds as well as some accounts that are managed according to a client's investment policy. I am the liaison between the people who are managing our funds and the sales people/end users. It's my job to understand how our funds are invested, why they are invested in that way, and I have to succinctly explain what is going on with the economy in general as well as every area of the taxable bond market.

So, what exactly are bonds?  Everyone and their mom seems to know what stocks are because it's a bit more of a 'sexy' and interesting investment class. But bonds are sort of the boring sidekick that people don't talk about as much. Which is interesting because the global bond market is nearly twice the size of the global stock market. Plus bonds are an important asset class for our retirement accounts because, in general, the older we get, the more we should invest in bonds v. stocks.  But back to the question at hand. Bonds are basically large loans, but instead of borrowing from a bank, the company or entity (which could be a corporation like Target or a municipality like the State of Minnesota) borrows from a diverse group of investors. For example, in August Google issued $2 billion of bonds, which means they borrowed $2 billion dollars that they will pay back in 10 years from a diverse pool of investors that includes corporations, asset managers, etc. The investors who bought Google's bonds will receive semi-annual interest payments and they will receive their investment back when the bonds mature in 10 years.

But what do you actually do?  There are many facets to my job, but here are the three main ones:

1. I write content. Each week I write a weekly fixed income market date and I also write topical pieces about things going on in the bond market.

2. I answer product- and market-related questions. Our sales people sell funds with exposure to every financial asset class.  There's so much for them to learn and explain that they need subject-matter experts to defer to when they get difficult and detailed questions about bonds or the market in general. Questions I might answer are:  When will interest rates rise?  What's our forecast for interest rates?  What is our projection for the likelihood of a recession?  If interest rates rise, how will various sectors of the bond market perform?  What is our exposure to emerging market debt?  What is our outlook on emerging market debt. And so on and so forth. Luckily I have a portfolio management team that provides their outlook/views on these topics. It would be really hard to answer them on my own.

3. I travel. This is an aspect of my job that will be ramping up in 2017 as my goal is to travel about twice a month. When I travel, I usually travel with a sales person who is trying to get clients, such as financial advisers, to use our funds when investing their client's money. They bring me along so I can provide more detailed information about how our funds are invested, how they've been performing, and what has been driving their performance.

So there you have it - that's what I do, in a nutshell. Did I completely bore you? I don't expect anyone to be interested in what I do for a living, which is why I very rarely talk in specifics about my job!

Ok, it's your turn!  Tell me what you do for a living and give me an explanation of what your job entails - or write your own post and share the link with me!


Charbelle4 said...

I think what you do is fascinating! I have a hard time understanding financial stuff (clearly if I use the word stuff that's an indicator of my handle on it...) I love that you get to write for your job and it makes so much sense to me that this job is an excellent fit for you! I know the traveling gets old but I also know that you do an amazing job working with people and helping them to understand the information!

Marlys Dotzenrod said...

Well, that was interesting to me, as I am your Mom and truly didn't know what you all did even though I knew in a broad sense of the word. Now I need your brothers to do the same! I always have a hard time explaining what my children do when asked, so this really helps!
As for me, my job entails running the financial matters of a small business, in addition to many other job titles including cleaning and managing a world of male technicians!

Jeanie said...

Well you didn't bore me! I still don't totally "get it" but I do much better than I did before. To me, all that financial stuff is very complicated but I also know it's very important. I'll probably read this one over and over again till it completely sinks in!

Well, as you know, now I only do what I want in life and pretty much none of it is for pay. But when I was working I was a Communications Manager for a public radio and television station and in that role did public events, speaking, tons of writing and editing -- everything from a magazine to press releases, features, ads and radio copy, social media management, community outreach/screenings and fundraising. Still connected, doing occasional contract work.

Leigh said...

It was interesting to hear more about what you do as I never fully knew. How much did you travel this year?

I am an administrative assistant for union that represents all of the registered nurses in our province. If there is a nurse that wants a grievance filed, the Labour Relations Officer would provide that information to me, and I would create/maintain timelines/organize everything related to the grievance

Carolina John said...

if you want to see boring, try your hand at software development. Sitting in a cubicle writing code all day will really strengthen your ability to type punctuation marks. I just had to use four closing parentheses to finish a routine ))))

The travel/sales aspect also makes your job infinitely more interesting than mine. Very cool explanation.

Amber said...

We've talked about your work quite a bit so I had a pretty good idea of what you do but you had only just shared the stocks vs. bond thing with me briefly on our recent video chat and I didn't know the details of it, so that was interesting learning!

I am a Communications Manager for a construction company working on a large infrastructure project. I've only been at this job for about 6 months now but I manage our website, our community investments, and all communications with external stakeholders. I was also a Manager of Communications at my job previous to this one but it was at a small non-profit and so I wore many many more hats than just the communications one. Funny how I can have two such similar job titles but have VERY different jobs!!

Stephany said...

This was a really good explanation of what you do and it wasn't boring at all! You have a very conversational tone to your writing, which helps to bring "boring" topics like bonds seem interesting. :)

I work as a SEO content creator for an online marketing agency. Basically, I spend my days writing original content for my base of clients. My job is to get these clients to the top of Google organically (i.e., not using any paid methods), so when their potential customers search for their services, they see them as one of the top results. It's hard to explain sometimes, but there's a specific Google algorithm we use to do that! I also do a lot of editing and some project management.

I love learning about what people do all day! It's fascinating to me. :)

Abby said...

This is so cool to read! You're worked so hard - and I'm so happy that you're at a place in your career where you can take your talents and apply them to something you enjoy. And I will be honest and say before you took this job and I asked you what you do - I didn't really know that bonds were such a huge part of our market!

I am a case manager for an insurance company - and have a roster of about 200 members with chronic conditions of diabetes, COPD, heart failure, or they are medicaid/medicare and have scored high in their health needs. I do either monthly or biweekly follow up calls, coordinate post-hospital care, and my goal is to keep them compliant with their medications/lifestyle. So I do a TON of teaching about their diseases.

Shoshanah said...

I work for an insurance company in the underwriting department. We primarily do dental and vision, but also work on life and disability groups as well. I also oversee getting our dental plans aca certified. It's been a small family-owned company for the years I've been working there which means we're all basically doing groups of all sizes throughout the country, but we were recently purchased by a much larger company so a lot is going to be changing. I'm sure if you were curious it would probably be pretty easy to figure out the company I work for as well as who just bought us.

Gracie said...

I think this will make an interesting series, and I enjoy learning about others' jobs. You do something so very different from what I do, or even think about on a regular basis (honestly, I probably think about the bond market once a year when I have the option to adjust my employer retirement portfolio mix!). I like to see how people apply their talents to various jobs, especially when it's interesting combinations of talents: for example, you are good at math and writing, but you use both for your job.

Linda said...

I can tell I'm going to love this series!!

Currently I work part time as an admin and then I hustle for the rest which so far includes teaching bachelorette parties with nude models (doesn't happen as often as I like), photography, and some writing. It feels a bit wild and everywhere and I haven't been able to match what I used to make working full time, but it's thrilling to do the photography for "work."

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

Love this series!! I might have to do something similar one day ... I've been thinking for a while of doing a "How we ..." series or something along the same lines as this, but I didn't know where to start. I love learning about how other people live their lives day to day, grocery shopping, finances, cooking, chores, etc..

I teach, which is a job that people know quite well. I plan lessons, teach lessons, mark work ...

Anonymous said...

Hm. Interesting.

I work with schools across the state. Most of my job is related to advising them on board policy matters and answering questions. We basically distill federal and state laws and other requirements into a user friendly format and produce board policy manuals.

I also do training for school board members, write for our newspaper, and help manage the back end of our webinars. (Which is not related to my actual job, just something they've found I'm really good at.)

Sandra Bond said...

That was so interesting. I knew that you worked for a bank, but not specifically what your job entails.

As you might recall, I work as a geographer. I think I might have to post a similar post sometime.

katielookingforward said...

That is fascinating! Here's the silly question...what if you are wrong or disagree with someone on the outlook? I didn't realize that someone would be able to write all that and provide copy for the sales people. Do you enjoy the travel aspect? Or does it throw off your routine?

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

I love this post, naturally. I think that probably 2% of the population really know what a bond is, or much about the markets as a whole even! I also love your title; it sounds so fancy! In our office, we call equities "sex and violence" while bonds are, like you said, the boring sidekick. However, we have found the predictability of FI (in most cases) to be favorable to the volatility of equities. I would love to see what your PA has in it; it would be a fun glimpse into your mindset!

As you know, I do a lot of the same research as you do (what is the market doing, how will it affect our portfolios, what can we invest in to hedge against interest rate rises or falls, if and when there will be raises etc) and once we decide what to buy/sell, I complete the execution with our desks in NY. I enjoy it a lot and actually find it far from boring!!