We recently sat down with Andrew Marshall, who is an equity portfolio manager and macroeconomic research analyst at Chevy Chase Trust, to learn more about his background and who and what inspired his career in finance.
Tell us about your background.
When I was 14 years old, my family moved to South America. I spent my freshman and sophomore years at an English speaking high school in La Paz, Bolivia. The school wasn’t great and my parents wanted a higher quality education for me so I transferred to a boarding school in Pennsylvania, the Mercersburg Academy. While I was there, I earned a scholarship to attend Dulwich College, in London, for a year where I was the only American student.
I went on to Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where I double-majored in English and Spanish. After graduating, I started my investment career at Wachovia.
How did you go from studying English and Spanish to a job in investments? And what did you do next?
I was in the process of interviewing at the State Department – following the family business, so to speak and decided to interview with Wachovia too. I had always been interested in the investment industry, but I didn’t have much experience. Once I started, I found that I really enjoyed it. On the advice of a senior colleague, I decided to sign up for the Chartered Financial Analyst program. I started out working as an investment associate within Wachovia’s trust department and was later promoted to associate portfolio manager within the wealth management group.
How did you become interested in investment management?
I initially fell in love with the fact that every single day is different. Even when the market doesn’t move substantially, there are always new developments and you need to be aware of what’s going on in the world around you. My role at Chevy Chase Trust allows me to be involved in many aspects of the investment management process: I get to work with interesting people both colleagues and clients, research fascinating changes and opportunities taking place in the world around me, and assess the shifting global macroeconomic landscape.
What is the one thing you enjoy most about this career?
I’m constantly learning and absorbing what’s going on around the globe. From developments within personalized medicine to the personal stories of all of my clients, there is always a new perspective and something that colors my understanding of the world around me. Trying to be the best forces me to learn and know a lot about a wide variety of things, so it never becomes stale. It’s an exciting and challenging career.
What advice would you give to someone considering following a path like yours?
There is no silver bullet or magic solution that will guarantee success. There are certainly ingredients to success but these are often as mundane as working hard, showing up and learning from mistakes. It’s an iterative process where there are no short cuts. No one likes to fail but understanding and learning from it is very valuable.
What career path would you pursue if not this?
I’m very excited about and interested in machine learning. It’s closely related to our automation investment theme but has an almost ubiquitous application. Over the past two years, I taught myself how to program and built my own deep learning computer from scratch. I have also competed in a few online deep learning competitions. I wrote an algorithm that identified pictures of plant seedlings that scored very highly. So, if I wasn’t at Chevy Chase Trust, I’d probably move to San Francisco and try to start a career in that field.
Alternatively, I would open my crossfit gym. Health and wellness is very important to me and crossfit is a way for me to challenge my limits to stay in shape.
What do you like to do outside of the office?
Outside of working with my computer and crossfit, I mostly spend my time reading. I try to read as much and as widely as I can. I also love to travel, eat good food, and take care of my dog, Ronald (named for Ronald Reagan).
What is your favorite book?
Very tough question! A favorite general economics-related book would be The Rise and Fall of American Growth by Robert Gordon. My favorite investment theme related books are A Crack in Creation by Jennifer Doudna, about the advent of CRISPR gene editing, or the Master Algorithm by Pedro Domingos about machine learning and automation. Otherwise, anything by Cormac McCarthy, Bill Bryson, or Yuval Noah Harari would get a recommendation from me.
What is one of your favorite destinations?
One of my favorite vacation spots is the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. My wife and I went and lived on a boat for two weeks and went scuba diving, one of our favorite activities. We have also been scuba diving in Jamaica, Malta and Iceland. Scuba diving in Iceland was very, very cold. We were able to dive between the tectonic plates and touch North America and Eurasia at the same time. In high school I went mountain climbing in the Andes, which was another cold experience.