Goal-oriented Anderson’s latest achievement? Ph.D. before 50

by Lynn Lofton

Published: May 19,2008

Financial advisor and Mississippi Business Journal contributing columnist Nancy Anderson, CFA, is no stranger to setting and meeting goals. The president of her own investment firm, Ridgeland-based New Perspectives Inc., wanted to complete her doctoral degree by age 50. Now at 49, she has done just that with a Ph.D. in business administration with concentration in finance from Mississippi State University (MSU).

This latest accomplishment follows a string of other achievements for this woman who was reared in Gulfport and made a round-about discovery of her affinity for finance after earning a degree in biology from Mississippi College.

“I worked in a lab and then had a part-time job in an investment business. That’s when I realized I loved business and finance,” she said. “I found out that when you do investments, you’re involved with all business. That’s what hooked me.”

As a widow raising a young daughter, Anderson needed flexibility, so she opened her own shop at home in 1993. She also saw the financial field as one that was and still is ripe for women practitioners.

“I encourage young women to consider a career in finance,” she says. “It’s the type of field where a feminine touch works well. You need to listen carefully. Many times those who come to you have been through a crisis such as a divorce or the death of a spouse. You must be compassionate. It also is a good way to balance family life and earn a living.”

As one who’s worked diligently to put a lot of professional credentials behind her name, Anderson says the world of finance can still be a hard row for women. She encountered a bit of incredulity in the beginning and recalls a male client asking what he would do if she went off and got married. In the early days, her clients were mostly female. Now, they’re a 50/50 mix of male and female.

“You have to hang in there, get an education and build a reputation,” she affirms. “The long-term relationships with the clients really appeal to me. I know them and they know me. We know each other’s stories.”

She finds it’s the connection with clients, instead of figures and numbers, that makes her enjoy the profession. Recognition has also come her way. For two consecutive years, she was selected by Worth Magazine as one of its “Top 250 Financial Advisors” in the country. In 2006, she was awarded the Outstanding Faculty-Doctoral Student Collaboration Research Award. She served as president of the Mississippi Society of Financial Analysts in 1996.

Anderson is also a college professor, another profession she loves. After completing a master’s degree in business at Mississippi College (MC) in 1993, she began teaching in the school’s night and accelerated degree programs.

“It works well for me,” she said. “I have empathy for older students working and trying to earn degrees. I believe I have my dad’s idealism. I’ve wondered what it would be like to travel across the globe to remote areas that need teachers.”

Anderson will continue teaching at MC where she most recently taught finance and marketing. In the fall, she will teach investments and financial statements analysis.

“I loved the classroom from my adjunct work with MC, and felt I needed an advanced degree to do more the way I want to do it — with more credibility,” she said. “My retirement will be as a college professor. I don’t see me sitting on the porch.”

It took Anderson five years to complete the doctorate degree, with the folks at MSU allowing her to work at her own pace. She recently defended her three-essay-style dissertation, which was, in essence, separate papers, all related to the mutual fund industry.

“I deal with mutual funds a lot. It’s how most people get into the stock market,” she said. “That’s why it’s critical and people should look closely at fees and costs of mutual funds.”

Anderson is positive about the economy this year. “We’re starting to pull out of the slow economy,” she said. “We’re getting good company earnings reports out of the first quarter, and areas other than real estate are doing well. Even the dollar is easing up a little. I’m an optimist and see this as part of the economic cycle.”

Her dad, Glenn Anderson, a Baptist minister, and her mother, Afton, have been huge influences on her life as was the experience of becoming a widow at age 32.

“The death of my first husband changed my life dramatically,” she said. “I had a nine-year-old daughter and had to get up and figure things out.”

Today, her daughter, Heather Bryant, is 26 and living in Brooklyn, N.Y., where she works for a foundation and her husband works for ING. Anderson’s husband, Ken, is in the TV and video production business and owns a small furniture store in Jackson’s Fondren area.

The shop is the perfect spot to showcase Anderson’s hobby of painting old furniture wild, funky colors. Some of it sells too with shoppers asking, “Who’s the artist?”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.

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