My young life evolved along two paths. As a high-schooler in Saratoga, Calif., I worked summers in my parents' telecommunications company, where I did a little of everything, including drafting printed circuit boards. The 1973-1975 recession hit Silicon Valley particularly hard. Watching my parents get through that period, I learned you have to pull in your purse strings and redouble your efforts if you want to survive adversity. I know that people are often more resilient than they realize.
My father loved to invest in the stock market. Thanks to his influence, I began investing at a young age, which helped pay for my undergraduate degree in electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California Berkeley.
After I graduated, I put my love of electronics to work at Hughes Aircraft Co. working on radar systems. Then I decided to get my MBA at Columbia University to see if I'd like finance as much as I thought I would. After graduation, I got a job at Goldman Sachs, which was very different from working at Hughes. It taught me to adapt rapidly to change.
I ran the Miami office for three years and returned to New York. I was attracted to wealth management because it touches all aspects of the field. In 1998, I moved to the wealth management group at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, which Credit Suisse acquired two years later.
While there, I called on small, entrepreneurial companies, like my family's business. DLJ had a strong technology practice, plus we were in the middle of a technology boom, so I was able to use my tech background to grow my business. I eventually spent two years as a producing branch manager.
Making the move from investment banking to wealth management was a big success for me, but also tough. I took a big step back in compensation. I started in 1998, the year of the Russian-Asian financial crisis, a resulting equity meltdown and the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management.
After serving as a managing director in the private wealth management group at Deutsche Bank, I joined Jefferies in 2009. Mark Peters, global head of wealth management, asked me to help expand the group and it's been fantastic. But I joined Jefferies in the middle of another economic meltdown.
I get through tough times by using what I learned watching my parents and adapting to new situationsyou have to make your own luck. Advisors have to take charge of their own destiny and roll with the punches. We've hit some severe market cycles, and you have to be resilient, keep your head down and keep on plugging. You have to say, "This is uncharted territory." You just get through it.
As Told to Pat Olsen
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