Below are featured profiles of a few FSA Level I test takers. Learn more about each test taker by clicking their photo or name and title.

Christopher J. Ailman Chief Investment Officer, California State Teachers’ Retirement System

Years in profession: 30 years as a CIO, 34 years in investments

Why did you sign up for the FSA? Continuous learning. I want to model to my staff the idea that the investment world is constantly evolving and changing, so if you’re not learning, you’re falling behind. Plus I wanted to show that, as the CIO, I believed the SASB standards would be part of our future investment curriculum.

What have you liked best about what you’ve learned? Something you didn’t expect? I understood the push for more non-financial information and the legal background on corporate disclosure, but I did not know about the SASB SICS industry breakdown and the focus on standards for specific industry groups. It’s not just an information dump, it’s specific information relevant to that specific industry activity.

How have you benefited from the FSA exam?  Yes, it’s a rigorous exam process and in-depth study materials. This study has fine-tuned my view and understanding of non-financial risk and its factors. It will improve our investment analysis and helped me push us to be a lead investor, pushing the SEC and the industry to make SASB standards a required disclosure.

 

 

Stephanie Berger Senior Specialist, Corporate Responsibility and Environment, BCE Inc.

Years in profession: 11

Why did you sign up for the FSA? There are two main reasons. First, I work for a public company that files with the SEC and the OSC, therefore it is imperative that I stay abreast of developments in corporate reporting for ESG topics. Second, if I want to consider myself as an expert in ESG reporting, I need to be able to demonstrate this expertise. This certification is a clear way to demonstrate this.

What have you liked best about what you’ve learned? Something you didn’t expect? I was surprised to learn about the implications of using the term ‘materiality’ in our Corporate Responsibility report.

How have you benefited from the FSA exam?  I believe that I am better-informed about ESG reporting in general, but especially as relates to my industry. In particular, I believe that I am better-able to successfully identify and analyze truly material issues.

 

 

Hope Connolly Senior Supply Chain Analyst, Gap Inc.

Years in profession: 6

Why did you sign up for the FSA? To learn more about the theory of sustainability accounting and to add a respected credential to my resume.

What have you liked best about what you’ve learned? Something you didn’t expect? I loved how I learned how sustainability accounting has been derived from financial accounting.  Coming from a science background, it was tough to learn the financial terminology but I expect it to be very useful in the future!

How have you benefited from the FSA exam?  The FSA credential has solidified my understanding of the importance of sustainability to a company’s legal and financial standing.  I feel like I am more able to make the business case for sustainability and have a much deeper understanding of materiality.  Overall, it’s given me high-level perspective on how sustainability is really judged by the C-suite in terms of its impact to a company and the bottom line.

 

 

Bridgette Malone, CFA Investment Officer, Global Governance, CalPERS

Years in profession: 15

Why did you sign up for the FSA? I believe the FSA knowledge aligns with CalPERS’ mission and Investment Beliefs.  It’s my fiduciary responsibility to act for the benefit of different generations…making it critical for me to extend my understanding of the corporate risks involved as the world changes in demographics, technology and natural resources. Also, my interest is based on my commitment to the investment industry, stability of the capital markets, and my passion to analyze different dimensions of risk in company analysis.

What have you liked best about what you’ve learned? Something you didn’t expect?  The best aspect of the FSA teachings is the accounting metric standardization of the previously overwhelming topic of environmental and social topics to a manageable and meaningful conversation, one that relates directly to business strategy and financial value. The standardization creates a common language and improves boilerplate risk information. The data further enhances an understanding of the likelihood of past earnings being predictive of the future.

How have you benefited from the FSA exam?  This is the first groundbreaking credential on sustainable accounting standardized data and its integration into business strategy.  The credential helps others easily identify me with “sustainable” accounting skills, passion, and interest. The knowledge that I have gained will enhance my ability to add value to CalPERS’ Global Governance Principles. The goal is to make a difference in the world and lead the path to a more sustainable world of doing business while positively impacting CalPERS’ risk-adjusted investment returns.

 

 

Brigham McNaughton, CPA Director, Sustainable Business Solutions, PwC

Years in profession: 9

Why did you sign up for the FSA? SASB is contributing to the discussion about how sustainability and corporate reporting should evolve in the future. At PwC, we work with our clients to help navigate these future trends and it is important that we bring a point of view based on our experience.

What have you liked best about what you’ve learned? Something you didn’t expect?  The FSA education guide provided a history of corporate reporting, SASB’s approach to sustainability disclosure with an emphasis on SEC filings. The guide provides a view of SASB’s role in developing accounting guidance for issuers as they navigate the disclosure implications of megatrends that are increasingly recasting their operating context.

How have you benefited from the FSA exam?  SASB has grown rapidly and evolved as an organization, as a result there is some uncertainty in the marketplace about SASB’s role and relationship to other corporate reporting standards. The education guide provides an articulation of SASB’s role in providing guidance to management teams as they fulfill their corporate reporting obligations.

 

Christopher Meissner Graduate student, Columbia University

Years in profession: 2 (previously 12+ years in Telecom)

Why did you sign up for the FSA? I am currently completing a Masters program in Sustainability Management at Columbia University in order to allow me to transition from a 12+ year career in telecommunications into the sustainable finance field. I wanted to use the FSA test as a barometer for testing what I have learned through my studies against the focus and expectations that are being developed for industry professionals in this space.

What have you liked best about what you’ve learned? Something you didn’t expect? I really liked how the overall test was structured particularly in terms of the breadth of topics reviewed.  The initial test (Level 1) is not too intensive (compared to the Level 1 CFA exam for instance which I have also completed), which allows people to develop some exposure to these topics without too large of a time commitment to see if this is an area in which they would be interested in diving deeper.

How have you benefited from the FSA exam? Taking the FSA exam allowed me to develop a much stronger understanding of SASB’s goals and processes which will be valuable as this standard becomes more embedded into standard business reporting requirements.  It also provides me with a clear way of substantiating my knowledge of the sustainability field to future employers.

 

 

Alyssa C. Rieder, CFA, CIPM Chief Investment Officer, Dignity Health

Years in profession: 19 years

Why did you sign up for the FSA? Dignity Health cares a lot about sustainability issues both at an environmental level and in investments. I am interested in gaining a greater understanding of SASB’s approach to analyzing material sustainability factors and recognizing their impact on financial performance and investment valuations.

What have you liked best about what you’ve learned? Something you didn’t expect? I was pleased to learn more about current research quantifying the benefits of incorporating sustainability factors into the mosaic of investment analysis.

How have you benefited from the FSA exam? In addition to what I mentioned above, by taking the FSA Level I exam I have demonstrated my interest in and commitment to this important, developing area.

 

 

Testimonials