728 x 90

From Bellsite to the Big Apple’s Wall Street

img

When a kid graduates from a small rural Manitoba town, the possibilities are infinite. Some choose to stay closer to home and some dare to spread their wings and fly. Curt Peters, originally from Bellsite, did just that. After graduating from the Valley, he ventured off into the great unknown and wound up living in the
Big Apple and working on Wall Street.
“My life went straight from high school into a BSc program at University of Manitoba and I majored in Math, as it was the only thing I was good at,” explained Peters. “I dabbled in some Philosophy classes as
electives, and decided when I finished the BSc, to enroll in a MA program, so I could learn how to think and write. I was able to travel to the Middle East one summer while in university with some money I earned from working on an oil rig in Alberta. Both experiences were pretty shocking for a farm kid from Bellsite. 
“I was offered jobs in New York City (NYC), Boston, and Toronto after MBA School, and I thought NYC would be the most challenging. It certainly surpassed that expectation, as I had no idea what I was signing up for. I chose working in Wall Street for the same reason. I wanted a challenge, to learn how
the world worked, and to have a near infinite amount of learning in front of me for my entire life.”
Peters has been living in the U.S. for over 20 years now and found it’s a completely different pace and life altogether. “I’ve been in the U.S. since 2000, and in NYC from 2002, after completion of an MBA at
UPenn (Wharton) in Philadelphia,” said Peters.
“Many of my classmates from Wharton are now CEOs of the world’s biggest companies. That whole experience of Wharton and the subsequent move to NYC, to work at what at the time was one of the largest hedge funds, felt like my life was on hyperdrive with no time for anything else but work.
“I’ve had a variety of positions at various hedge funds over the years, essentially all the work is about predicting the future. Sometimes you rely on the past to inform you, sometimes you find reasons to think
this time it will be different, and sometimes you take risks, because even if you lose, you don’t lose much. I have been involved with all sorts of different kinds of investment types from stocks, bonds, carbon credits, mortgage securities, water rights, trade finance, etc. We try to be right more times than
wrong, and hopefully our clients benefit from that.
“I don’t really love it at all, but finance was one of the few economic sectors that was booming during the de-industrialization phase, and it offered an ability to live in any city one wanted without issues about
professional licensing restrictions,” explained Peters. “The biggest challenge of working in finance is avoiding psychological corruption by becoming completely wrapped up in the work and lifestyle. Many people I know are mid-life and single, or divorced, because they were too focused on work. There’s
an old saying on Wall Street, ‘If you want a friend, get a dog’.” Despite the pressures of Wall Street, Peters fell in love with being able to grow, evolve and learn new things at a different level. He has experienced more than he could’ve ever imagined.
“Life in NYC differs from life in Swan Valley for many reasons,” noted Peters. “There’s obviously the population size and density difference, but it’s unlike any other city I have ever been to, because of the
extreme level of competition. There are many highly skilled young people who are interns in NYC that are working 100 hours a week and not even being paid. They do this just to get the privilege of saying they
worked at a certain company. 
“NYC offers a near infinite selection of things to do, no matter your interest, and do it at the highest level. My interests have evolved a lot living here, perhaps to better appreciate the best things the city offers.
I spent a lot of time involved with art museums, book clubs, sailing, etc. NYC is also an easy gateway for travel to other parts of the world, which my wife and I have done a lot, particularly to Europe and South America. 
“The best thing I ever did was embark on reading serious books about history, literature, art, music, philosophy, religion, etc. I had always thought that whatever you learned in school must be everything one needed to know. Well, either through bad luck or bad choices, I missed out on a whole lot of things, which I would have been better off learning both personally and professionally. It’s relativity easy with
proper discipline to achieve technical training in some field like medicine, law, or engineering, but that’s not what ‘educated’ means. Rather it’s the life-long pursuit of knowledge, which is the path to being educated and life will open up for you like a flower.”
Although NYC is one of the ten largest cities in the world and Peters seems to have conquered the fear of unknown, he still misses some of the most important elements that his life in a small rural town offered.
“I do miss the easy way life moves, the way things are easier to do, and the general friendliness of the people and community,” concluded Peters. “Every Christmas Eve, a neighbouring farm family in Bellsite
would walk into town, which was about four miles, carolling at every farmhouse along the way and picking up carollers.
Bellsite was a very tight knit community with few problems in the 1970s. Swan River seemed like a gigantic city to me at the time, I was deathly afraid to be there.”