PAULA NIELSEN, CFA
Portfolio Manager, Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company
Board of Directors Member, CFA Society Mississippi
Paula Nielsen is our CFA Society Mississippi Member Spotlight for June 2021. In her work as a portfolio manager for Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Life Insurance Company, Paula manages the company’s equity portfolios, provides input to the Investment Committee regarding investment strategy and current market environment, and helps evaluate external managers for the company’s pension fund among other responsibilities. Prior to her current position, Paula was the Chief Investment Officer at the Office of the State Treasurer, where she managed the state’s General Fund. She also formerly worked as a portfolio manager at the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi (PERS), overseeing the pension fund’s public equity investments. She also currently serves as a member on the Board of Directors for CFA Society Mississippi, both as the Ethics Chair and Forecast Dinner chair.
Paula holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance and a Master in Business Administration with a focus in finance, both from Mississippi College. Paula is a Guatemala native, relocated to the US more than 10 years ago, and currently resides in Clinton, Mississippi, with her husband, Charles, and son, Michael.
Read on for more information about Paula in her answers to our Member Spotlight questions.
Who had the most influence on you growing up, and why?
My parents – they instilled in me my faith in God which is one of my biggest drivers. My mom, especially, would never consider anything impossible. She always taught me that we have to do everything as unto the Lord, seeking for perfection, and that there were no doors that He couldn't open for me.
What made you decide to pursue the CFA charter?
My favorite classes in college were my investments classes. When I found out that the CFA Charter designation had tremendous value in the investments industry, I decided to go for it.
What do you enjoy most about your current professional role?
I am enjoying managing a portfolio. This is the first time that I am directly managing an all-equities portfolio. I mostly enjoy being aware of our economic environment and using available research on equities markets to develop a strategy that adapts itself to this environment.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
I was applying for a job that I was really nervous about because I felt like it would be a challenge. I also didn't necessarily meet all the requirements. So I asked Dr. Nancy Anderson, one of my dear Mississippi College professors, if she thought I should apply. I know this is practical advice that we have heard before, but Dr. Anderson told me, "The worst they can say is no." And it stuck with me that I always needed to at least try! And I got the job!
What motivated you to join CFA Society Mississippi?
I met the members of the board after the Level III exam, and I found them to be a group of very accomplished, professional and welcoming people. I thought joining the society would allow me to network with them and other individuals like them, which could benefit my career.
What advice would you give to a current or potential candidate?
Don't let the pass rate or even failing one exam or two discourage you. Not everyone passes on their first try but it's so worth it to keep trying. Attaining the CFA designation will help open doors for you and you will learn so much in the process.