Mark Heiden, Managing Director, Investments, Wedbush Securities

Years in Securities Business: 25

I grew up in Anaheim, Calif., in the early 1950s when Orange County had orange groves and Disneyland was about to open. It was a wonderful time and place to grow up, and my father started his career as a financial advisor during this time. I loved the world of finance and had part-time jobs working in a bank or as a bill collector during college.

My first job out of graduate school was in the treasurer’s office at Pacific Gas and Electric. The biggest break I ever got was when senior management turned down one of my financing proposals. I told a friend who worked at Security Pacific Bank how crushed I was about my project not getting approved. He hired me on the spot to present my proposal to other utilities. We ended up lending several hundred million dollars and I got promoted to a point where I ran several lending operations.

The success I had at such an early age gave me confidence to expand into investment banking with a friend in Los Angeles. Eventually, we morphed into the leveraged buyout business and bought several companies.

I mention all this history because it led me to become a financial advisor. The key to this transition was that I ran most of the companies we acquired. And I hated it. What I discovered is that the job of CEO meant that I was too scattered. 

I have always been close to my father and at the time I sold the last of my acquisitions he became ill. He was an advisor in Orange County and I offered to help cover for him while he recovered.  So I went to work in the industry and got licensed.

I realized I loved it from the first day. I enjoyed being an entrepreneur instead of managing people. My dad and I became partners and it was fun to work with him. He was such a great teacher and an ethical guy. I learned a lot from him, even though I was in my 40s at the time. My father retired a few years ago after 50 years in the business.  

I have three sons in the business. One of them now works for me at Wedbush.

My biggest challenge: Managing time. I am always in a hurry to get things done. I want to give time to each of my clients so they know how special they are to me.

My biggest accomplishment: I’ve grown the practice a lot. I’m the No. 1 producer at Wedbush. Prior to this I was a top producer at Morgan Stanley. There are many rewards for achieving high levels of production in our industry. However, the one that means the most to me is that my clients like what I do and refer me to others.

Over 20 years, my book of business has really grown. I want to keep growing and develop the business so my family can carry on the legacy started by my father in the 1950s. 

As told to Paula Vasan.



Image: Mark Heiden.

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