Chief financial officer, chief operating officer and executive vice president
[caption id="attachment_59607" align="alignleft" width="220" caption="Teresa Nilsen"][/caption]
Hennessy Advisors7250 Redwood Blvd., Ste. 200, Novato 94945, hennessyadvisors.com
Professional background: 1989-present: Hennessy Advisors (Operations Manager to CFO); 1987-1989: McCullough, Andrews, & Cappiello (Financial Research Assistant)
Education: B.A. in Economics, University of California, Davis
Comment about Teresa Nilsen: "First, Terry is much more than a "CFO" -- She's a trustworthy, honest and ethical 'leader' of people (kids and adults), along with being loads of fun to work with -- and second, she's not for hire!" ---Neil Hennessy, president and CEO, Hennessy Advisors
Questions for Ms. Nilsen:
What do you see as the essential role of a financial leader in the current environment?
A financial leader needs to deliver current operating results concisely and clearly, and to be a strategic partner to the CEO and other executives ... all while building shareholder value.
What are the biggest changes you've seen in your industry?
As you can imagine, the securities industry has change dramatically in the last four years. We have seen steep declines in the stock market, scandals, and financial reform. We believe the biggest changes may be still to come, but at our firm we truly put our shareholders first, and watching investors try to navigate the stock market the past few years has been difficult.
Tell us about the particular challenges and opportunities your organization has met in the recent past?
The decline in the domestic equity market in 2008 was a significant challenge for our company. Consumer confidence hit all-time lows and we saw significant outflows from our mutual funds. It was very difficult to convince investors to continue to believe in the fundamentals of the stock market in the midst of all the negative headlines and volatility. We know there is long-term value in investing and we used the economic downturn as an opportunity for us to deliver a posotive viewpoint to our customers and to the media.
What advice would you give to young emerging financial leaders?
I would advise young financial leaders to work hard, and work effectively. Be adaptable and creative, and always be willing to rise to new challenges. Continue to learn and develop your craft. I also think that nothing is more valuable than your reputation; be honest and ethical in all that you do.
What's the best advice for weathering today's economic environment?
Managing cash in every economic environment is really important. As we have seen credit tighten and margins dropping in every industry, there is no doubt in my mind that building cash should be a priority for every firm. And – always keep your sense of humor.
How do you think your business will change in the next five years?
I think regulatory oversight will continue to increase, and hopefully this does more to benefit investors than merely to burden investment managers.
What is a decision you wish you hadn't made? What did you learn from it?
I have learned from every decision, the good ones and the bad ones. The biggest lesson I have learned from the decisions I have made is the only true avenue to success is to take some risks, and I tend to be a bit risk averse.