If you ever meet Jim Christy, you can talk to him about almost anything. Just don't call him a "former lobbyist." This former head of government relations at defense contractor TRW, who also spent a year as head of corporate/government relations for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology trade association PhRMA, is quick to object to the term, which many Washington lobbyists consider a pejorative.

But one-time industry liaison or not, this advisor at Northwest Financial Federal Credit Union in Herndon, Va., is quick to say his work in the nation's capital trying to articulate the wishes of his corporate employers has proven to be of great help in his work today with his investment clients. "There are lots of ways having worked in corporate/government relations in Washington helps with my work as an investment advisor," he says. "For one thing, when you're doing that kind of work in Washington, you have to learn how to assess what are real threats to your company's or industry's interests, and what are just salvos from the back benches."

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