I grew up in Arlington Heights, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, and attended the same high school as my mom and dad. As a kid, I was small for my age, so the goal I scored in a junior high hockey game still stands out.
After starting college at the University of Minnesota, I transferred to the University of Illinois and graduated in 1979. Minnesota had an excellent economics and math program, but I wanted to broaden my studies. I was offered a tuition fellowship and a teaching assistantship at the University of Miami to pursue an MBA. I learned about the securities industry and knew it was the field for me. I love current events and have an affinity for math, and I'm sociable. This business changes every day, there are a lot of analytics, and it's all about relationships. It was a perfect match.
Goldman Sachs had an office in Miami and hosted a reception on campus one semester. I attended and an executive suggested I interview on Wall Street. I flew to New York on my own dime, stayed with a family friend and knocked on doors trying to get interviews. Salomon Brothers made me an offer, and I ended up on its institutional taxable fixed income sales desk. Around this time, I became intrigued with wealth management and began looking at the equities side of the business. Equities had been out of favor for a time but started to rally. I learned a lesson at Salomon that has stuck with me: you're only as good as the next person sitting in your seat. That kept people humble.
In 1981, I moved to Goldman Sachs and built an institutional and individual wealth management business. I stayed for 14 years before leaving to join DLJ to build its business in Florida and Latin America. In the 2000s, Citigroup Private Bank hired me to build a wealth management business to augment its credit business, and I built the wealth management business at Deutsche Bank and SunTrust as well. In 2009, I accepted my current position at Jefferies. We've been dealing with wealthy families that have removed the risk from their portfolios. We're tapping Jefferies' institutional platform in this market and thinking outside the box for the best solutions. Cookie cutter solutions don't work.
I've been fortunate to be able to look at trends and see the big picture regarding career moves. Not everyone has agreed with me all the time, but my choices have paid off and reinforced the idea that you should trust yourself. I feel lucky to be in this industry and at Jefferies because there are enormous opportunities. Every day I come to work with a smile. I've been successful using this model at several companies, and I know it works. Our advisors are happy, which makes it fun to come to work.
Everyone who knows me knows I'm a huge Miami Hurricanes fan. My wife, who is Brazilian, is a soccer fanatic. I've grown to love soccer, and she's grown to love me and leave me alone during football.
As Told To Pat Olsen