What are the most important career certifications and/or designations that you & other centimillionaires or billion dollar money managers that you do and don't know personally have? What were your key career moves that made you successful in finance?
It doesn’t work that way.In an ideal world (or, in fact, the world envisioned by hard core conservatives), everyone would be created equal, everyone would have the same opportunities, and the extent of one’s wealth would be directly correlated to the personal choices one made—including what certifications to get, and how hard to work for how long.But in reality, people are not created equal, nor do they have the same opportunities. As an example, it is well within the range of “normal” to have an IQ of 85.But a person with such an IQ, regardless of how hard they study, how hard they work, or how much effort they put into trying to pass a CFA certification exam, will simply never be able to get or fill a job as a $500k a year financial analyst on Wall Street. Similarly, even someone with an IQ 30 points higher who is born in a favela, receives no schooling past sixth grade, and has no role models or support system, will not realistically be graduating from an Ivy League school and starting in a $100k a year entry level job at Goldman Sachs.But IQ and upbringing are only two out of many, many factors that affect the abilities and opportunities of every person (genetics, environment, training, opportunities, luck, career choices, and of course, hard work, are a few others). Just as only a minuscule percentage of the population would ever be able to swim like Michael Phelps, sing like Luciano Pavarotti or perform magic tricks like Eric Chien, so too is only an equivalently minuscule percentage of the population able to become a “centimillionaire or billion dollar money manager”.Taking a look at the distribution graph below of Household income in the United States one could roughly generalize and say that an “average” American (neither deprived nor privileged) is probably able to control his or her destiny within a range of +/-10% from the median baseline. That is, a lazy couple who choose to not work or try to achieve anything could likely still manage to make $20k each some way, some how. And at the other end, an extraordinarily dedicated, hardworking, self-improving, single person—even one without any particular talents or natural gifts—could very likely work themselves with enough time, enough effort and enough certifications into a $100k job.But realistically, to make it into even the top 10% (over $150K income), let alone the top 5% ($200k) or the top 1% ($422k), requires additional factors outside of one’s personal control. And even being in the top 1% in the US puts you nowhere remotely close to being a centimillionaire or billionaire (the latter would mean you’re in the top 0.00003%),All of this is to say that by the time you’re looking at the top 10% of income or wealth, certifications and/or designations are irrelevant, and I would be surprised if any centimillionaire or billionaire had any such qualifications. Instead, while they almost certainly worked long and hard to amass their wealth, there were unquestionably other factors at play: entrepreneurial ability, intelligence, education, upbringing, inheritance, vision, environment…and perhaps most important at that level, basic luck.The bottom line is that education, certifications, designations and other qualifications are excellent things to have, and will certainly help one move up the career path…but it is also important to have appropriate goals and self-awareness. No billionaire set out to be a billionaire—in all cases that fluke came about as the byproduct of doing something about which they were passionate…that just happened to be something that society values in an economic sense.