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Branch Manager by Day, Comic by Night

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There are two sides to Michael Jacobs revealed by the figurines on his desk: two raging bulls charging at each other while a golden Buddha statuette laughs heartily nearby.

The 64-year-old branch manager, who has experienced two stock market crashes, also has a funny side. During the week, Jacobs advises clients on their financial goals. On weekends, he's cracking jokes at comedy clubs in New York and Chicago.

"It's like being Superman and Clark Kent. One doesn't know the other. I do not mix the two," he says.

Jacobs keeps his clients and business separate from the comedy. That's the rule, he says (with a straight face).

"There is a very fine thread that goes through both," he adds. "Comedy helps me understand my own wherewithal. It made me realize that I am pretty tough during the tough times, and that I keep my wits about me."

Jacobs' RBC Web page mentions some of his passions, including running and chess, but humor gets no mention.

A 1973 graduate of American International College in Springfield, Mass., with a degree in philosophy and sociology, Jacobs considered becoming a lawyer. But after gazing upon a copy of The Wall Street Journal while in a drugstore, he says, he knew he wanted to go into finance.

In 1975, he started out as a clerk with Advest, a Hartford, Conn.-based brokerage, and now manages wealth for about 500 families, he says. Jacobs built his book going door to door  in obscure neighborhoods.

"I used to knock on people's doors and offer them market newsletters, information on their utility companies," he says. "I would say, 'Here's a report on your utility company; if you have any questions, call me.' "

Some of his client families have stayed on for generations, he says. Now managing five advisors with assets of $140 million combined, Jacobs says he has come to find that a good financial planner requires "an element of engagement."

"It's no different than engaging a crowd, and in this case the crowd is one person," he says. "Either way, when you go on stage, you have to be likable."

Jacobs first performed at a comedy club in 2004. The venue in Washington allowed him only five minutes on stage, enough, he says, to check off a wish from his bucket list.

When it was over, Jacobs recalls, he exclaimed, "I absolutely love this!"

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