From the desk of Helena Sopwith

For many years during the 80’s and 90’s Lynn and Irena Sopwith (founding members of Camel Financial)  attended the Annual CFA conference. It was their one getaway a year from raising me and running Camel Financial. It was their thing. So as I became the managing director for Camel, I forged my own road and affiliated myself with other organizations. However, this year I couldn’t resist a trip to Austin. I love to travel and I have visited numerous places but Austin is truly my favorite. I am not “country” by any means, but I do consider myself a bit “weird”.

Austin has a strong history of being the Berkeley of Texas. But in many ways it is so much more.  It has some of the best restaurants in the world….. (and I have lived in New York City) But better than that, it has a rich music history.  The big draw to the conference for me was the opening night party featuring Lyle Lovett. I am not a huge fan but I was curious to see him in his hometown at the Austin City Limits and I can tell you it didn’t disappoint. He is an amazing performer, with true talent.

I was intrigued to see John Mackey, the Keynote Speaker. He didn’t disappoint. I found his message of Conscious Capitalism to be refreshing. Politics aside, I feel this country needs more corporate CEO’s that are concerned with more than the bottom line but also are champions for large business.

I found Shelia Baer, former FDIC chair, to be insightful of her recollection of the economic crisis. I thought her take on the topic regarding merging of banks and federal bail out to be on point and was happy to hear the federal governments thoughts at the time and in retrospect.

And finally the most memorable talk was from Tito Beveridge, founder of Tito’s Vodka. On my first visit to Austin numerous years ago, I had dinner in a charming little hole in the wall that fashioned itself as a speakeasy. Because vodka wasn’t offered in Speakeasy’s during this time, this place didn’t carry vodka except for Tito’s which was distilled right there in Austin. So the only way to get my Appletini (this was a long time ago) was with this mysterious brand.  Fine, I thought, I’ll give it a try and have been hooked ever since.  I was very excited to hear what this speaker had to say. I must say, he is a character. His story is classic and funny and a trip to listen to.

I am so glad I decided to follow in my parent’s footsteps and attend the annual CFA Conference. It was a great learning experience, as well as an entertaining trip.



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