I grew up in Erie, Pa. At 10, I started caddying for my father and golf became my passion. I got my first set of clubs at 11, and I haven't looked back.
I started college at Gannon University in Erie, in a program with Hahnemann University's medical school. It was designed to educate enrollees as family practitioners at a time when many medical students were pursuing specialties. The time commitment was grueling, however. Labs went until 5 p.m. and I worked at night. I was missing out on extracurricular activities, including the golf team, so I changed my [major] to psychology. I stayed at Gannon for an M.B.A. in finance.
In 1985, I took a job at a brokerage firm in Erie. Then, almost eight years later, I became a registered investment advisor at Commonwealth Asset Management in Pittsburgh. In the mid-1990s I joined Parker/Hunter as a portfolio manager, just as the firm was establishing its asset management division. I became managing director in 2001, and in 2005 we were merged into Janney Montgomery Scott.
Several years later, I was asked to become Janney's Chief Investment Strategist while retaining my responsibilities for leading Parker/Hunter Asset Management. So, I have a dual role that's fairly unique in the industry. It's a public role.
I bring a passion to the industry. To me, it's an avocation as well as a vocation. I believe I've been able to develop a rapport with people inside the company and out, and I like to think clients see me as trustworthy. I'm often in the media eye. Everyone's nervous at the start, but I've learned that public speaking demands muscle memory, or repetition. You [correct] little things you may have done initially because of nerves, such as fumbling for words or thinking too far ahead. Then you develop helpful techniques, such as addressing the interviewer by name, and they're reinforced the more you do them. It becomes more natural to listen fully to the question being asked and respond in an articulate fashion in a framework that the interviewer is looking for. You get a feel for who's looking for a vignette and who's giving you a longer runway. Print journalists are in a hurry and are looking for a succinct response that perhaps includes something catchy. If you return their calls quickly, you establish trust and they see you as a resource they can count on.
Our industry is full of challenges, but at the same time it's evolving. As a firm, we're looking into proposed regulation regarding the fiduciary role and the prospective impact on our position as advisors. The issue is still open-ended, and we're not sure what the tea leaves suggest regulators have in store.
I still love golf, but I don't have the time to give to it. I've been called a "professional ranger" because I frequently spend 45 minutes at the range but seldom get on the course.
As Told To Pat Olsen