Updated: Mar 5, 2019
My career path has been anything but traditional. Unlike many in my industry, I never really worked in sales, or the "sell-side" for that matter (firms that sell their research, trading and brokerage services). No cut-throat intern programs at major firms like Goldman, Merrill, or Morgan. Amount of time spent in Manhattan in the last 20 years: 4 days. OK, I did make cold calls for a couple of brokers at Merrill Lynch one summer when I was 20, a humbling experience that did not strengthen my desire to get into the business of stocks and bonds. Little did I know that there was a whole world of money management and investment research outside of what I'd been briefly exposed to.
On the eve of my 23rd birthday, just 9 months into my first job in the retail banking world, I responded to a call about an opportunity to join a local investment firm that specialized in risk management and used a "long/short" strategy to manage some of their investment products. Long/Short means that the fund used both long positions and short positions for portfolio construction. Longs make money when the shares go up (buy low, sell high), shorts make money when the stocks go down (sell high, buy back lower). The timing was great because just 2 weeks after I joined the firm in March of 2000, the dot.com bubble saw its peak and markets began a steep descent that would persist for the next 3 years. Over the years, I saw another bubble develop, then another spectacular crash and finally the current, massive bull market we experienced from the lows of 2009 through much of 2018.
During my years in fund management I saw first-hand the benefits of maintaining a disciplined, yet flexible process for both portfolio and risk management. I learned the importance of rigorous security selection and investment discipline. And closely watching and studying markets for all of those years gave me an appreciation for how difficult it can be to separate signal from noise when there are so many short-term investment strategies and competing interests at play (and more so when computers and their algorithmic instructions dominate trading action). Markets are fast-moving, complex and full of distractions. However having studied them and managed money (and risk) through many different investment climates over the years provided a valuable foundation up which to manage money going forward.
Fast forward to today...Those years were exciting and rewarding and I learned an immense amount about capital markets, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, the economy and so much more. I am well versed in investment research/analysis, as well as the daunting world of mutual funds and how to find managers who aren't afraid to stray from consensus. And while the world of funds is exciting, for me, I have found much more personal fulfillment from helping individual clients with their financial needs and building deep, lasting relationships over time. The years I spent in fund management helped me build the foundation I needed to build my own Registered Investment Advisory firm, Old Ivy Asset Management.