“Everyone asks me how to get started in the investment finance business and I tell them, it is different for each person. There is no formula or secret. If the timing is right, and you are ready for it, something can happen.” says George Haloulakos, MBA, CFA.
The real answer to that question is to follow his example.
Not everyone can graduate Summa Cum Laude from USC Marshall School of Business with a BS in Quantitative Business Analysis, as well as an MBA in Finance. But everyone can apply Haloulakos’ advice when it comes to “always expanding learning opportunities.” He says the key to success is to “know your craft, be well rounded in the fundamentals, and always be ready when opportunities arise.”
Haloulakos was a published author in his twenties, a corporate vice president by the age of thirty, and owned his own business at the age of thirty-seven. Now, he still works as a consultant for his company, Spartan Research and Consulting which specializes in finance, strategy and new business ventures. He also teaches classes on Business Valuation, Financial Accounting for Non-accountants, Directed Studies in Finance, Financial Decision Making and Financial Modeling at UC San Diego Extension.
He attributes all of his accomplishments to the Grace of God and what he calls his “classical training,” meaning his versatile knowledge of fundamentals ranging from applied mathematics to the study of languages. He likes to think of himself as a Renaissance man, and his ability to excel in a variety of fields is fueled by his constant desire to learn.
“I have always been fascinated with the way commerce worked,” says Haloulakos, when asked about why he chose a career path in business and finance. “It seemed to me that the path for learning, for growth and for ultimate success was limitless. If you have drive and ambition the sky was the limit.”
And Haloulakos is living proof of that. His decision to get a master’s in Finance rather than continuing in Quantitative Analysis gave him a broader understanding of his field and this versatility, he says, led to a multitude of opportunities upon graduation. Because of his foreign language skills, he took an international position. And sticking true to his own advice, he never stopped expanding his learning opportunities. He went on to work in asset management, investment banking, and he wrote many security analyst reports. “My goal was to learn about as many facets of business as I could,” says Haloulakos.
“I have also always had a vocation for teaching. When I was an undergrad student, I would often times make money by tutoring. I found the best way to learn was to teach,” explains Haloulakos. “However, as I was in grad school, I realized all of the teachers that I admired had been successful in the realm of business before they went into teaching. So, in order to be a really good teacher, if I was going to make an impact, I had to go into the real world and create real life success.”
Starting his financial consulting business, Haloulakos took on the role of teacher, now that he felt he had a breadth and depth of expertise. “It allowed me to apply all my skills in a wider array of venues,” says Haloulakos. “When I work with my clients I teach them to help themselves and become proficient. My goal is empowerment. I try not to create a relationship of dependency.”
With the flexibility of consulting, Haloulakos has been able to return to the classroom and has been an instructor at universities in Washington State and San Diego for the past 15 years. If you want to learn more from Haloulakos, he authored a book in 2002 called, "Dollar$ and Sense: A Workbook on the ABCs of Investments," with the intention of further sharing the knowledge he accumulated working through the various realms of business.