If you’re looking for financial advice—Deirdre Bolton is the name to know. For the past 15 years, Bolton has kept her finger on the pulse of the industry as an anchor for Bloomberg News, making smart analyses of market movements and interviewing some of the top names in business. And while terms like “institutional equity” may leave many people scratching their heads, it’s just one of the many facets of the industry Bolton breaks down for viewers on a regular basis.
Now, the journalist is taking her talents to the Fox Business Network, where she will look at alternative investments as host of Risk and Reward With Deirdre Bolton.
But before she moves forward, Bolton took a look back with us at her surprising career path—and shared her best advice on the steps you can take today to make a strong investment in your future.
You’ve had quite an interesting career path! You majored in English and French literature—how did that translate into a career in institutional equity?
It was a twisted path, but there were elements in common, like reading and processing a large amount of material, and selecting the salient points and communicating them in context. Even in finance, my editorial skills were honed on the institutional equity sales desk: The more efficiently I expressed my point of view, the better our desk did. It was good training.
Many people trying to enter a new field are concerned that they may not have the “right” major—did that create obstacles for you?
In my case, it did not, but as frustrating as it is, luck plays a big role in life. When I was interviewing at the first French bank I worked for, the person who hired me really wanted someone who spoke and wrote French fluently. In that hiring manager’s mind, that language ability was more important for the (junior-level) job I was hired for because he deemed it ultra-important for being able to work with those around me and with those in the head office in Paris. I enrolled in nighttime finance classes right away and went from there, but someone took a chance on my willingness and ability to learn about a new field.
I was motivated, but it required a leap of faith on that hiring manager’s part. I would like to think that motivated people can successfully signal they are willing to work hard even if their background is not a one-for-one match. Sometimes, it is also helpful to have a slightly different background than the “normal candidate,” especially if the business has already tried “normal” a few times with mixed results.
And now, you have made a name for yourself in television. What sparked your interest in TV news, and how did you go about pursuing it as a career?
I have always loved language, which explains the literature studies. After a few years on Wall Street, I knew I wanted to try something else. I was familiar with the Bloomberg brand because I used the terminal every day on the desk. Essentially, I went right from the trading floor to Bloomberg TV. At the time that I was interviewing at Bloomberg, they asked if they put me on the floor of the NYSE, if I could explain what was going on. The answer was “Yes!” They tried me out, it worked, and my TV career started.
Finance and TV are notoriously cutthroat industries. What advice do you have for people in competitive fields to stand out above the crowd?
Develop a beat, find your passion or area of specialty (in my case, that’s alternative assets). The best reporters I know are beat reporters—they eat and sleep the field they cover. They make it their business to know everyone in the field they are covering—the deals they have done, the terms, their track records, anything and everything that fills out the picture of how those sector leaders think.
You’re entering an exciting chapter in your career as host of Fox Business' Risk and Reward with Deirdre Bolton. What would you tell others looking to do something new?
Timing is important. It is cliché but true. After you are established in your field, you will always have other offers. The decision of when to change jobs and all that goes into that decision is uniquely personal. I am a “follow your gut” person, and I do think people know when change is right for them.
One less emotional and more quantifiable metric: Consider where you may choose to go. Is the company investing in the area of your expertise? Is it building its brand? Is it expanding? Will it support your projects and plans? For all of those questions, Fox Business Network was a resounding “yes” for me with my show. You will work hard no matter where you are, especially if you are passionate about what you do. Make sure the company you are considering is ready to match your commitment—and then hold up your end of the bargain and deliver.
Covering the ever-changing world of business must be exciting—but also stressful! What is the most rewarding part of your job? The scariest?
I love my job. Absolutely love it. I get to speak with some of the best business minds of our time, I love the ideas, I love hearing the strategies that make money, the ones that lose money, and the lessons learned from the experience. Great conversations are the most rewarding part of my job.
As for the scariest part of my job, well, there are numerous options! Every now and then, technical failures will happen for random reasons, prompters get unplugged, PCs go down with live data during market hours, guests’ cars don’t show up, planes with you in them to do big events or interviews don’t always land on time, but those gremlins pop up in every field and are just part of life. I’m relieved when someone has a worse travel or ”I’m late” story than I do!