From racing to writing
by Kurt Kleiner
Alumnus Preet Banerjee (HBSC, UTSC, 2001) writes a money column for the Globe and Mail, blogs for the W Network TV channel and also has a popular blog at WhereDoesAllMyMoneyGo.com.
But the journey to financial guru began at UTSC with a degree in neuroscience. And it took a detour right after graduation as Banerjee trained to be professional racecar driver. Banerjee says that the twists and turns have landed him in a career he loves.
Halfway through his degree, Banerjee realized that he didn’t want a neuroscience career, he says. He had begun amateur auto racing at the age of 19 and after he graduated, decided to train as a professional at Bridgestone Racing Academy in Pontypool, ON. Unfortunately, he realized that he had started too late to have a successful professional career. As in other sports, the pros usually started off as children.
So Banerjee took a job as operations manager at Bridgestone. A lot of the business was hosting corporate events such as team-building exercises. One of the regular clients saw potential in Banerjee. “He took me aside and said, ‘When you’re done wasting your time, come work for me,’” Banerjee says.
Banerjee studied for his financial advisor certifications and worked for a number of companies over the next several years. In 2007 he started his blog and in 2008 he published his first book, RRSPs: The Definitive Guide to Registered Retirement Savings Plans.
While his writing career was taking off, he heard about a reality show that the W Network was holding auditions for. It was called The Ultimate W Expert Challenge and it pitted Banerjee against hairdressers, chefs, interior designers and others, setting them challenges such as making a presentation to a boardroom full of children or hosting a divorce party for a divorcing couple (the couple was actually portrayed by actors).
Although other contestants often ended up in tears, Banerjee kept his cool and won.
“I had a blast with it. I don’t know why, but I didn’t have as much emotional involvement as the others,” he says.
In 2010 Banerjee landed a spot as a financial advice columnist for the Globe and Mail. Now he has shot at a pilot for the W network in which he stages financial interventions for people having money troubles. He’s waiting to see if the show will be picked up.
It’s all a long way from neuroscience and from automobile racing. But Banerjee says he’s glad he made the move to financial writing. “It was the best decision of my life. Absolutely,” he says.
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