Talking with AC Investment Management's founder, Ernest Scalamandre

Ernest Scalamandre has been in the finance industry for decades – so his tips, recently offered in an interview with OneWire CEO Skiddy von Stade, are priceless for future job applicants. In fact, the finance industry of his youth is now unrecognizable to him, illustrating how much has changed – and how much he has learned – about finance.

"Back then, Wall Street was dominated by these partnerships, many of which don't exist anymore," he explained to von Stade at the start of his interview. "So I wanted to go to work for one of those groups, and I got a job offer from Peter Peabody. I left college on a Friday, and started [working] that Monday."

However, Scalamandre wasn't cut out to be a contributor to someone else's firm. He went on to tell us that starting his own organization was an essential part of his development.

"I was a little bit disillusioned with the Wall Street partnership thing, [with being] the low man on the totem pole, to be frank with you," he admitted during his interview. "I thought I'd made some money for the company, and there was a disconnect between what [I] got paid [and what I felt I had earned for the company.] … So basically I walked down to the floor of the stock exchange and traded my own account. Essentially for the next 10 to 14 years."

The first bit of advice he offered to OneWire readers? Start a business plan. Scalamandre wrote up a business plan roughly seven years ago, and his company has followed it regularly ever since. He attributes his success, as founder of AC Investment Management and also in other fields, to that business plan.

"I wrote a small business plan at the start of 2006," he continued, while describing his career path. "[It described] my next three, five, 10 and 20 years – about what I would like to see happen. For the firm and the culture. Oddly, if you will, seven years into it, we're adhering to that business plan."

What tips does Scalamandre have to offer to job applicants?
We asked Scalamandre, as we ask all the CEOs and company founders that we interview, what he looks for in job applicants. The advice he offered us applies to everyone from workers applying to accounting jobs to people applying for high-ranking executive positions or hedge fund jobs. He told us that the most important thing he looks for in a candidate is a personality that perfectly fits the culture of his business. 

"Some personalities lend themselves really well to a big corporate culture, like Citigroup or something," he explained to us. "There's a certain sort of skill set that [employment would] entail and mandate. Frankly, at this company, which is very entrepreneurial, it's a completely separate skill set. It requires self-starters, there's a lot of transparency, you really can't hide behind anything."

As a result, Scalamandre suggests that job applicants consider the culture they're applying to work in just as much as they consider the job title they want to hold. If you apply to jobs where the culture fits your personality, you're sure to find employment sooner than later. 

"Personally, I think the biggest hurdle facing anyone looking for [a job] to do is to identify yourself, [in regards to] what kind of environment will make you successful," he said, while concluding his interview. "From there, if you can narrow and define that to what you have a passion about … if you don't have a passion for something, I can assure you [that's] a recipe for disaster. You'll be swimming upstream."