"Real Peeps On The Street" #1: Tim Pettee
Welcome to the first installment of my new segment: "Real Peeps on The Street." This is where I give you a brief look into the lives and backgrounds of people I've met during my time in the financial world, how they got there, and why they decided to enter the world of Wall Street.
I could think of nobody better to kick off this new series than my former boss, mentor and good friend: Tim Pettee. Tim hired me as an intern for SunAmerica Asset Management back in the spring of 2008, and while I was initially overwhelmed and scared to take the plunge in such a prominent investment role, he really made the job and learning process a lot of fun. He continues to mentor young people looking to work in the financial sector, and at the same time encourages all of them to start investing early and often.
Currently, Tim is the Chief Investment Strategist for SunAmerica Asset Management, which is a division of SunAmerica Financial Group and provides fund management and administration services on over $70 billion in assets. Prior to joining SunAmerica, Tim was the global director of research at Schroders Investment management, the director of research at U.S. Trust Company, and an analyst/portfolio manager at Alliance Capital Management.
He received his bachelor's degree in Economics from Boston University in 1980, is a former member of the Clarkson University Board of Trustees, and is presently the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation. Tim and his wife Sheila have four children and reside in Connecticut.
How and when did you decide that you wanted to work in finance?
"In high school, I took an economics class which included the creation of a mock mutual fund. Class members researched stocks to buy for the fund and my idea won and so the class invested in that company. The company was Caldor's, a local department store, which did okay at the time but later went bankrupt. Such are the perils of investing in retail stocks. I loved the idea of being rewarded for good research so from the 12th grade onward, I had the stock market bug."
What is the best part of your job?
"The best part of my job is knowing that my team’s collective hard work is rewarding for our funds’ shareholders who are looking to us for a key part of their wealth and retirement."
Is there a stock/company you have always had an affinity towards and why?
"I have always had an affinity for the Santé Fe Pacific Corporation, which was a railroad and real estate company I recommended the purchase of in the 1990s while working for a large buy side investment manager. The railroad industry was undergoing massive change, and I correctly identified the fundamental change affecting the railroad. In addition the company had substantial real estate holdings which the market heavily discounted, perhaps because it was too complicated. We bought the stock in size and it appreciated 2-3 times. And this was a low-tech company amidst the tech boom. It was in depth and dogged research that paid off."
What do you think is the biggest misconception about Wall Street?
"The biggest misconception Main Street harbors toward Wall Street is that the market is a crap shoot, a gamble; that stocks are just games of chance akin to the lottery or a weekend in Las Vegas. Wall Street is not a gamble for those that do painstaking research in which one’s fundamental judgements are on the line."
If you could give one piece of advice to someone brand new to the stock market and investing, what would you tell them?
"Invest in what you know! If you don’t know anything, DO THE RESEARCH, and THEN invest."