Two years ago today, Madison Heights Advisors’ registered investment adviser application was approved by the State of California. For me personally, like many beginnings, this event was preceded by an end, more than one. The first ending occurred in 2015 when I left BlackRock after an 18 year career. We parted on good terms, my transition was motivated by the desire to remain in the Los Angeles area rather than relocate to BlackRock’s West Coast office in San Francisco. I did not want to leave the area that for the last 27 years was my family’s home.
I was fortunate to work for BlackRock as it grew from $83 billion at the beginning of 1997 to $4.7 trillion when I left in 2015. My financial experience at BlackRock and a preceding firm acquired by BlackRock included 3 major financial shocks: the bond market crash in 1994, the dot-com crash that began in 2000, and the global financial crisis that began in 2007. There were also numerous other smaller shocks, too many to mention. Despite the challenges of the markets, the most important thing I learned from BlackRock was executive management’s commitment to clients.
The second ending occurred when I made the decision to work with individuals as an investment adviser. At BlackRock, I managed institutional client relationships. During my transition I realized that my knowledge and experience with institutions was just as valuable, perhaps even more valuable, to individuals. My prior experience working with individuals, families and youth, as the Scoutmaster for my sons’ Boy Scout Troop was enjoyable and meaningful. My thoughts of working one on one with real people and advising them on their financial life became increasingly compelling. Ultimately, I gave up my registration as a broker (Series 7) and became an investment adviser representative (Series 65).
The last ending occurred when I finished the third and last level of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) exam in the weeks prior to the registration approval. Two months passed before I learned of the exam results, but passing the exam and earning the CFA designation was a happy ending to a 3 year journey that required focus and dedication I didn’t even know I had. Ironically, I started studying for the CFA exam before I had any idea that I would be starting a registered investment adviser. The rigor and comprehensiveness of the CFA curriculum has proved to be an excellent basis for advising clients.
Now that two years have elapsed, I find that working with and advising individuals is far more interesting and emotionally rewarding work than I ever imagined. I am thankful for the clients that have trusted me to work with them and also thankful to the hundreds of individuals I have talked with and learned from over the last few years.
I am always happy to have a conversation. Please reach out to me with your questions anytime.
Scott Laudeman, CFA