BBHers Come Together to Create Accessible Training Materials for Industry Licensing Exams

SK Shin, a Vice President in Investment Management, who is blind, shares his story of how BBH and his colleagues have supported him.

In a recent interview, a candidate marveled at my near 23-year career at BBH. She asked me what was so special about BBH that I would stay so long. What is so special? That’s easy. It is the people.

When I decided to go for the CFA designation, BBH volunteer readers read hundreds of practice exam questions into a tape recorder. One of them even volunteered to teach me to use an HP 12C calculator with my eyes closed!

I joined BBH in June 1998. Back then, I traveled with a Seeing Eye dog named Vic, a gorgeous yellow Labrador Retriever to whom most people, including BBHers, were inevitably drawn. I knew right away that BBH was a firm where an employee with a disability did not have to fight for reasonable accommodations needed to do his or her work. The firm provided all the gear I needed, including a screen reader software, a braille display, a portable braille notetaker, etc. But it was when I had to take a couple of licensing tests, the Series 7 and Series 66, that I learned how special BBH really is.

To my shock, I found out that, while I could take the tests with a reader who would read me the questions and write down my answers for me, there were no study materials available in an accessible format, no audio or braille version, nor electronic files. I had no idea what to do, but my fellow BBH colleagues who heard about the situation knew the answer. They organized a volunteer pool of readers and, taking turns day in and day out, began to make an audio version of the study materials themselves. So, thanks to the colleagues who had all of a sudden become my dearest friends, I was able to study for the licensing tests and pass them. They did not stop there. When I decided to go for the CFA designation, my BBH volunteer readers returned and read hundreds of practice exam questions into a tape recorder. One of them even volunteered to teach me to use an HP 12C calculator with my eyes closed, as the AIMR, now CFA Institute, insisted that I had to use one of the approved calculators, neither of which was accessible.

The extraordinary support BBHers provided me often went far beyond helping me with test materials. When Vic passed away suddenly from an acute liver disease, for example, BBHers grieved with me. Partners stopped by to express their condolences. The firm as well as many BBHers made donations to the Seeing Eye in Vic’s memory. It was as if one of the key members of the firm had died. On 9/11/2001 as well as on an August day in 2003 when the power went out, my colleagues walked with me from Wall Street to midtown; one of them came as far as Summit, NJ to make sure that I got home safely. And when we had to work from a backup location in New Jersey, my colleagues who lived near me volunteered to drive me to and from work.

Finally, analysts, traders, and PMs who work with me have become so used to my needs that they provide accommodations for me, seemingly without even being asked. For example, if the emails they are sending to everyone includes info that is better presented in a picture format, they would create a separate message in which the same info is presented in a text format, so that I can read it. When a template comes out in a PowerPoint format, someone volunteers to convert it into a Word format, so that it is easier for me to use.

Given all these experiences, I have no doubt that all employees, present and future, will feel right at home at BBH, including those with disabilities. As long as you are open and honest with your needs, BBHers will go the extra mile to ensure you’re supported.

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