I realized early in my second year of law school that I did not want to practice law in a traditional sense. I wanted to apply the skills that I was learning for something in commerce. At the time, I did not know exactly what that was going to be until two life events simultaneously began to point me in my ultimate career direction.
I was reading Michael Lewis’ Liar’s Poker, all about bond trading at Salomon Brothers in the 1980s at the same time I met a law school classmate who was actually working at a bond trading operation in downtown Miami. I was hooked instantly and knew this was to be my course. I essentially forced, by sheer persistence, a small boutique broker dealer to hire me out of law school and teach me the business.
After obtaining some of my first institutional accounts, basic bond portfolio management came fairly easily. Back in the early 1990s, one needed to train their eye to uncover pricing discrepancies in the marketplace that today are more readily apparent with technology. My career jettisoned from being a bond salesperson to ultimately a portfolio manager and trader.
What really fascinated me was the basic lack of research that for some part still exists today in the municipal bond marketplace. I began to string together my legal and finance background into my daily work. I discovered that a wealth of potential knowledge was at my fingertips if I knew where to obtain it and how to interpret it. I dove deeply into the arcane world of distressed bond investing by synthesizing the legal pleadings and bankruptcy petitions and applying that information to distressed securities. The information gave me then, as it still does today, the ability to formulate an opinion about the price of a distressed or bankrupt asset and apply that knowledge to an often thinly traded or overlooked bond.
I have owned personally and for client accounts the bonds that others have left for dead. I have restructured bonds for private prisons, healthcare facilities, affordable housing, and industrial concerns. This relative expertise has allowed me the privilege of sitting on bondholder committees to provide insight and a steady hand in bond restructurings and asset dissolutions. After my firm was acquired by a large bank in 2006, I tremendously enjoyed running a special opportunities inventory of distressed municipal bonds while at the bank.
Las Olas Wealth Management
I continue to this day managing municipal bond portfolios of high quality assets and seek to outperform my peers through proprietary technology and years of in-the-trenches experience. I have not forgotten that while managing high quality bonds is critical for wealth preservation; there exists a place in certain instances for distressed investing.
Today, at Las Olas Wealth Management of NatAlliance Securities LLC, my partner Sean Vesey and I are making sure that we do our homework, to find the right opportunities and also to find time for a walk on the beach.