My First Week of Work in the Pacific Northwest

Seven strangers, three guys, four girls. One unfurnished apartment with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Chaos. Absolute chaos, but I am loving every second of it.

Back in January I accepted a summer internship with a financial firm called “Fisher Investments” which is located right north of Portland. I didn’t really know much about what I would be doing, how I would be living, or how my day to day work would look. All I knew is that the recruiters were incredibly smart and genuine people, and I really appreciated Fisher’s vision to change the financial world by truly putting their clients first. So as time drew near to me flying out to Portland for the summer, I was getting more and more anxious on what to expect. Luckily, if my first week of work says anything about my next seven weeks, then this is going to be one hell of a summer!

Before I get into the details of my internship and work, I want to say that due to client confidentially, I will not be able to get too in depth with any of my projects or different tasks. That said, I still plan to give a detailed overview of what a day in the life of a Fisher Investments intern looks like.

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I flew into the Portland airport on Friday afternoon, and got into a cab that took me about 30 minutes north into a town in Washington called “Vancouver.” The cab pulled into my apartment complex which at first glance any normal person would assume was a retirement community. My knack for knowing elderly communities proved pretty accurate when I got my bags out of the taxi only to be greeted by an 80 year old woman. After a nice conversation with her, I got my apartment keys and walked into my apartment. I was greeted by one of my roommates who seemed really nice and totally normal, both great qualities in a roommate. We talked for awhile as we waited for some of our other roommates to arrive then we went shopping to buy air mattresses, an inflatable couch and our other household necessities. When we got back we met our neighbors which happened to be four more Fisher Investments Interns, or “FInterns” as we so affectionately call ourselves. By the end of the night about 10 of the 18 FInterns had arrived in town and we spent the night talking and getting to know each other.

On Saturday two of my good friends from Ohio State who are working in Seattle for the summer came down to Portland to visit me. The three of us broke off from the other FInterns for the afternoon as we explored downtown Portland. What an experience… When people say the slogan for Portland is, “Keep Portland Weird,” they aren’t kidding. I’m convinced that the majority of people in Portland decide to go against every social norm possible just to make a statement. Maybe it was because there were so many festivals in Portland that weekend, but I can’t say for sure yet. The culture shock I experienced was almost as strong as when I first explored Hong Kong last summer for my internship. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed exploring downtown on Saturday and Sunday with my friends from OSU and the other FInterns.

After a great first weekend getting to know the other FInterns, Monday morning came and it was time to get to work. Luckily two of our roommates brought cars for the summer, so we split up and drove to the office. As we pulled through the gate to Fisher Investments, we laid our eyes on 170+ acres of tall pine trees and two huge buildings right in the middle. Wow, this office is wayyyy nicer than I was expecting. Two five story buildings made of almost entirely glass stood mirroring each other (literally). We walked into the building right before 7:00 am to see the golden letters spelling “Fisher Investments” placed on the wood paneled reception area. All the FInterns and new hires proceeded to a large classroom style room where we were greeted with breakfast and a handful of members on the HR team. We were given the itinerary for the first three days of training. Day one was about 5 or 6 hour-long classes on things like basic investing, how to keep our computers’ data safe, Fisher’s Culture, etc.

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There’s not much worth noting about these classes, except for the overwhelming sense of culture. Every single person I met and talked with was just as nice, intelligent, and genuine as the recruiters that brought me to Fisher. It was clear that Fisher truly meant it when they said they set out to change the messed up world of finance. Fisher is set up as a Fiduciary which means that it has a duty to act in the best interests of its clients. Fisher is unique in how they operate, and I think it really shows in how caring every single employee is about “doing the right thing.” I absolutely love that about Fisher’s culture.

Fast forwarding through two more days of training, Thursday rolled around and it was the first day of actual work for the FInterns. Another FIntern and I were placed in the “Annuity Conversions” team. At Fisher we believe that the vast majority of annuities are bad investments because they are overly complicated and often aren’t the best use of money for investors. They have a team to evaluate annuities, and where appropriate, will reimburse some or all of the cancellation fees. This is just one more example of how Fisher really tries to put their clients first, even if it means Fisher taking a small loss in paying off fees.

So during these two days at work, the other FIntern and I pretty much just read different materials on what annuities are, and the different policies for how Fisher handles annuities. We sat in on a phone call to a client about annuities, we had a classroom style presentation on different kinds of annuities, and we shadowed different people in our team of 10 to see what kinds of things they do throughout their typical days. Not much of this I am allowed to explain in the blog, but hopefully next week I’ll have more experiences that I can write about.

Outside of work, the FInterns and I all enjoyed a few beautiful hikes, I tried to learn how to drive a manual car with two of my roommates, and I called a few friends from back home to hear how their summers were going. All in all, I’ve loved getting to know everyone out here, and I can’t wait to see how the rest of this summer turns out! I’ll hopefully have another blog out next week that will touch more on my actual day to day work. Thanks for reading!

John

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