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Tess Vigeland: In 2008 we asked a lot of people a simple question: What are you doing? How are you changing your ways to adapt to an economic mess? Well, as we look ahead to 2009, we’ll take inspiration from one more of those answers. This one comes from Ben Valore-Caplan. He left is Wall Street job to strike out on his own.
Ben Valore-Caplan: My name is Ben Valore-Caplan and I am the managing partner of an investment firm called Syntrisic Investment Council. We advise foundations and endowments on how to store their assets.
I’ve been doing this for eight years. I was at one of the large Wall Street firms, UBS. I had my own little boutique team within that, and over the last year or so it just became evident to us that we wanted more control of our reputations. Things caused our clients to question our firm’s integrity and I did have three of my largest clients say we’re no longer comfortable with you being affiliated with UBS. Now, I think they would have said the same thing if I’d been at Citigroup or Meryl Lynch.
I felt in my gut we need to be out by September. We left Aug. 20. Started our own firm and — so I mean, we went form basically the largest wealth manager in the world to setting up our own shop.
Absolutely scary, because so few banks are lending, and particularly not to start-ups. So it meant putting a lot more of my own capital in to start. The vast majority of our clients have agreed and have, have come with us.
It certainly would have been more convenient, in many ways, to just stay the course, almost as convenient to just move to another firm — same model, same idea — get a nice, big check. But, I also know if I hadn’t made this choice, a little part of me would have died. And I didn’t want to look back 20 years from now wishing I had made that leap of faith.
It’s not going to get easy any time soon, meaning there’s months and months of this sort of uncertainly still to play out. I think that what we’re going through as a country right now is an incredible opportunity to reevaluate what we’re doing personally, and professionally. What am I trying to accomplish with my life? And what do I really believe in? And starting there and building that clarity first.
Vigeland: Ben Valore-Caplan manages money for charitable investors in Denver, Colo.
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