home Latest News A Stocking-Picking Guru Turned Wealth Manager Explains His Approach To Investing – Forbes

A Stocking-Picking Guru Turned Wealth Manager Explains His Approach To Investing – Forbes

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Mike Poppo had his choice of jobs upon completing his PaineWebber internship some thirty years ago, but he ended up taking one of the lower-paying options. He chose to work as a stockbroker rather than a higher paying role in institutional sales or investment research.

Not only was it a lower paying job but the pay check was only guaranteed for a few months.

“I figured I could build my own business and talk to clients. I thought I was cut out for it,” says Poppo, 53. Turns out he was.

Today Poppo manages some $1.3 billion in assets at UBS (which bought PaineWebber in 2000), and he ranks among the top 10 wealth managers in New York City. Poppo transformed his business a couple of times to get him where he is today.

In the 1990s, as with most brokers in that era, Poppo was focused primarily on equity research. “I did hours of research on stocks for clients. I had no time for anything else,” he says. Eventually he shifted to a fee-based structure and managed discretionary assets—meaning he no longer had to get permission from clients for each trade. Eventually, he added financial planning services for his clients.

“Even people with enormous amounts of money need [financial planning]. They may have estate planning needs, or gifting [questions],” Poppo explains.

The changes in his business model reflect the larger trends in the wealth management space. Stock-pickers are out, holistic wealth managers are in. The shift has also allowed for his team to grow from a one-man shop to a 10-person team outfitted with a junior advisor, analysts, a trader and other support staff.

With a team in place Poppo has more time to do what he enjoys most. “I love to teach my clients and explain the markets, what I see in the future and the investment process,” he says.

That investment process is straight-forward but requires the research Poppo built his career on: “I put money where people are not putting money,” he says. That means finding deep discounts where stocks are off thirty or forty percent. Last year that meant energy companies and private equity shops.

“Some people say the glass is half empty, some people say it’s half full. I look at it say ‘What if it breaks?’ Im less concerned with optimism and pessimism as I am with not being surprised,” Poppo says.

Explore the full list of Forbes’ Best-In-State Wealth Advisors here.