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Financial Insights for Young Professionals: Chris Sidoni Appears on Bridge to the Burgh

by Gibson Capital June 19th, 2021

Chris Sidoni, CFA, CFP®, managing partner and CIO at Gibson Capital Management, was a recent guest on the podcast, Bridge to the Burgh, highlighting Pittsburgh residents and natives working in the finance world. Bradley Jones, CFA charterholder and board member of CFA Society-Pittsburgh, hosts the show. In the episode, Bradley asks Chris to share advice he would give to young professionals entering the financial planning industry.

Chris suggested weighing the pros and cons of getting an MBA versus a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and identifying gaps and opportunities for efficiency once employed at a firm. “Be open to a role in operations” was another piece of guidance Chris gave. He noted that while many new professionals want to work in investments immediately, roles aren’t always available. Experience working in other areas can provide a greater understanding of how a firm works and expand into an advisor role later. 

Chris also shared how new observations in behavioral science and economics are changing the industry and why he’s moving away from classic theory when designing an investment portfolio to a more modern approach. “You get to understand people better and what motivates them and the fears they have. It’s just much more nuanced than the models I learned through school,” he noted. As a CFA charterholder, Chris recently used his insight to inform and coauthor updates to the CFA curriculum recently to reflect the shifts he was experiencing in practice with his clients more accurately. 

Chris also discussed how his mentor, Roger Gibson, founder of Gibson Capital, helped him develop professionally, particularly in encouraging his tours on the conference speaking circuit. Chris credits the in-depth work he has done preparing presentations with helping him do his job better, understand concepts thoroughly, and tailor messages to clients.

You can hear more about Chris’s thoughts on recent trends such as the GameStop-Reddit boom, what investment concerns he has for the future, and why he still considers the CFA designation the gold standard for investment management professionals. Also, learn some fun facts about his favorite Pittsburgh sports memory, movies, and celebrity encounters. 

Audio Transcription

Speaker 1: (00:02)

Welcome to Bridge to the Burgh, presented by CFA Society, Pittsburgh. This is a show about Pittsburgh and finance. Each episode we meet an accomplished Pittsburgher living and working in the Burgh. Whether born here or transplanted here, each guest will share stories about their connection to Pittsburgh. We’ll hear about their successes and failures that got them where they are today and where they’re going tomorrow. Hosted by Bradley Jones, CFA charter holder, and board member of CFA Society, Pittsburgh. You won’t want to miss this unique chance to get to know the locals; a CFA charter not required. And now here’s Bradley Jones.

Speaker 2: (00:42)

This episode of Bridge to the Burgh’s guest is Chris Sidoni, managing partner and CIO at Gibson Capital Management. We hear about how he abruptly adapted from conducting nearly every meeting face-to-face to not being able to travel for over a year. He grew up in the hunting mecca of Pennsylvania and came to the big city for finance and never left. Chris talks about his unique career path, the technical skills that have helped advance his career, and some of his favorite taco stands around the country. He also talks about how he once met Alan Greenspan during a Pirates playoff game. Now let’s get started.

Speaker 2: (01:17)

Welcome, Chris. Thank you for joining us for this episode of Bridge to the Burgh. How are you doing today? 

Speaker 3: 

Doing great. Thanks Brad. Happy to be here. 

Speaker 2: 

Thanks for being here. So let’s start with, how was your 2020? 

Speaker 3: 

2020 was a little bit crazy. Unexpected. Obviously we traveled quite a bit for work and I did my last trip for client purposes at the end of February and little did I know that we’d be going remote in about two weeks. And so my team kind of figured out how to do that for us really quickly within a matter of a couple of days. And we’ve been remote ever since. So that’s worked out really well in terms of being able to still advise clients and navigate through the financial markets of 2020 with clients, and then just deal with all that. The other things that life has thrown at all of us.

Speaker 2: (02:03)

So kids at home and thousands who have their work lives interrupted, but we’re all getting through it. We’re all doing our best. So I know you didn’t grow up in Pittsburgh or were born in Pittsburgh, but can you tell us a little bit about where you grew up and what brought you to Pittsburgh? 

Speaker 3

So I grew up in St. Mary’s, Pennsylvania, a small town about two and a half hours northeast of Pittsburgh. It’s probably best known for Straub’s beer and hunting camps. And when I left St. Mary’s, I came here for school. So I went to Duquesne University and at the time for me, Pittsburgh was really like the big city. So I came here for undergrad and have been here ever since. 

Speaker 2

Let’s see, you went to Duquesne for your undergrad, and then I believe you attended Carnegie Mellon for your MBA. Isn’t that right? 

Speaker 3: (02:51)

I did. So I studied finance and investment management at Duquesne, and I was fortunate my sophomore year, I went to a job fair and I met a woman who was recruiting for an internship at a local investment advisory firm. And I knew I was interested in finance, but I didn’t know I was interested in wealth management in particular. And so I started an internship that went year-round basically for three years. And it was probably the best thing I could have ever stumbled into. It was really kind of just good fortune I went there that day, because when I graduated, I had a really good sense of what I wanted to do and also what it would take to get to the next level within my profession. It was really all credit to this organization I was working with and the experience I got from that internship. Carnegie Mellon came down the line a couple of years.

Speaker 3: (03:42)

I had stayed with that firm for another year out of school and started into a process of getting some professional designations and grad school was a part of that. If I could, I’ll just kind of talk about what it was like for me as a young professional in wealth management, because it’s hard to get the trust and respect of clients in your early 20s. And so the only way I thought I could do that was by kind of overcompensating on the technical side. So I decided to do whatever I had to do to be really knowledgeable and get there really quickly. So I decided to do a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ program. And then next after that was my time at Carnegie Mellon in its MBA program, part time, and then later I did the CFA program.

Speaker 2: (04:30)

That’s great. I know you have some interest in behavioral finance and economics. Did you pick up on that through your studies in school, or did you come across that through your CFA studies? What kind of got you interested in behavioral finance?

Speaker 3: (04:44)

No, if I can pinpoint the answer to that, it wasn’t at Carnegie Mellon and I don’t think it was through the CFA program. I really think it was from working with clients and finding preferences and concerns and aversions that were not like the textbook ways of designing an investment portfolio, and how you think through that from a modern portfolio theory kind of perspective. You get to understand people better and what motivates them and fears they have. It’s just much more nuanced than the models I learned through school. I really think that’s where it started and I’m not at like kind of an endpoint in that. So I’m still learning and refining and trying to figure out what to do with the behavioral observations I pick up through working with clients.

Speaker 2: (05:31)

There’s some good examples of behavioral finance that we’ve experienced recently with the GameStop, Reddit phenomenon. Do you have any thoughts on what’s going on with the fight against the hedge funds and behavioral finance’s involvement with that?

Speaker 3: (05:45)

I think the behavioral angle there is an old one and that is kind of a desire for lottery-like payoff streams. So if you think about call options, it’s kind of consistent with buying a lottery ticket. I think this started for a certain reason and maybe it’s morphing a little bit. I think, unfortunately, as it gets settled out, a lot of retail investors will probably lose a lot of money as this situation deflates, but there are also maybe more interesting subtext kinds of conversations to this short selling bad for financial markets. I think that’s an interesting dialog. I’m not on the side saying it is bad, but it’s an example of questions we can ask as a result of this. I think there could be a chance for regulation that comes out of this that could be good or bad. I think on the surface, you see this price activity, it’s wild, and those who are all watching the screen are saying, Oh my gosh, I’ve never seen anything like this. And then you kind of step back and you think about what are the real implications of this long term. And I think there could be some.

Speaker 2: (06:48)

It’ll be interesting to see what happens from a regulatory standpoint. Could you tell us a little bit more about what you do at Gibson Capital?

Speaker 3: (06:56)

Gibson Capital is a registered investment advisory firm focused mostly on private wealth management. About two-thirds or a little bit more than that of our clients and assets under management are high-net-worth taxable families and individuals. So we manage about $1.8 billion for 160 clients. Those are spread out all throughout the country. And my job as the chief investment officer is one part client relationship management and another part overseeing our investment research process. And then I also tend to work with some of our newer clients who are coming on board and have a hand in developing staff in the analyst and associate and advisor ranks.

Speaker 2: (07:38)

How would you say the CFA has helped you in your career path?

Speaker 3: (07:43)

I think it’s helped a lot. I’ve always looked at the CFA program as the gold standard investment credential. We look at it that way as a firm; across our firm, many of our advisors have the CFA charter and it’s something we look for new people we hire. So it really helped me get to a point where I felt confident I had the technical chops to do the job very well for clients. And I’ve been proud to be affiliated with the CFA Institute. I had an interesting opportunity a couple of years ago to coauthor the private wealth management portion of the curriculum found in level three. I did that a couple of years ago, but it was actually just published in 2020. So it’s been a good relationship for me with the CFA Institute all the way.

Speaker 2: (08:31)

How did you come across that? Writing some of the curriculum?

Speaker 3: (08:34)

The CFA Institute held a meeting in New York about a year prior to that. And they invited practitioners from various firms around the country to come and talk about real-world issues practitioners were facing vis-a-vis the existing curriculum and where their mismatches were. And a couple days after that, someone from CFA Institute called me and asked if I’d be interested in coauthoring the curriculum.

Speaker 2: (09:01)

What’s an example of one of those mismatches?

Speaker 3: (09:04)

Well, I think the behavioral considerations are a good example of a mismatch. I mean, if you think about the classical way of designing a portfolio for an investor, do you tend to only think in classical theory, the expected return of the portfolio and the amount of volatility that it’s going to experience? And if the client can handle that amount of volatility and the amount of expected return meets their objectives, then that portfolio is a fit. But in practice, there can be asset classes, for instance, that are a part of that portfolio that the client is not familiar with or comfortable with, or the pattern of returns isn’t easy for the client to live with. Maybe the mean and the variants are right over time, but in the middle, the pattern of returns is something that’s really difficult for a client to live with. And I think the behavioral considerations to portfolio design are an example of what’s not handled well in the classical literature. 

Speaker 2: (09:59)

Would you say the illiquidity premium with private equity is overestimated in the current environment?

Speaker 3: (10:06)

I think it’s overestimated if one is looking at the historical illiquidity premium. So if you look back in time and conclude that private equity earned 4% annualized over the public market and then project that forward or extrapolate that forward, my guess is that going forward, illiquidity premiums are going to be lower than that. I just think it’s really hard. When an asset class has experienced the kind of growth private equity has experienced, the amount of flow into private equity and the fee situation hasn’t meaningfully changed. It’s a little bit lower for some various reasons, but you still have high fees. You have much more money chasing relatively few opportunities. I’d be surprised if the illiquidity premium going forward is that big.

Speaker 2: (10:56)

So it’s my understanding you once met Harry Markowitz, is that correct?

Speaker 3: (11:00)

I met Harry Markowitz and had the good fortune to have dinner with Harry and his wife at a Chinese restaurant outside of San Diego. And the surreal experience was that Dr. Markowitz felt strongly about walking me to every station in the Chinese buffet and giving me his take on each entree. So you had this Nobel Laureate walking up to the orange chicken station and saying, now, listen, Chris, I really think you ought to stay away from the orange chicken tonight. Let’s move on to this next one. It was just a fantastic night. And one I’ll remember forever.

Speaker 2: (11:37)

Did he give you any takeaways from the world of finance and economics?

Speaker 3: (11:42)

I recall trying very hard to keep up in the conversation. I’ll put it that way.

Speaker 2: (11:47)

Yeah. I was once at a wedding where Rick Santorum was there, if you know him. He gave me his take on cheese curds, he said, they squeak if they’re good. He told me he is from Wisconsin, that’s a Wisconsin thing. Right. I don’t know how he knew that; he’s from Pennsylvania as far as I know. So who have been some of your mentors in your career?

Speaker 3: (12:11)

I got to start with Roger Gibson. So Roger founded Gibson Capital in the late 1980s. And he wrote an influential book on the topic of strategic asset allocation that’s really still the backbone of the investment thinking in the firm. And I remember our first meeting, Roger came to an interview with the company. I was not looking for a job, but I was looking for a little bit more guidance. I was at a point in my career. I was in my mid-20s and I was working with clients at a large bank. And I really felt like I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know enough of what I was doing to do it well. So while I wasn’t necessarily interested in a new job, I listened to Roger talk about the really deep client focus he had on doing what’s right for the client all the time and coupling that with rigorous investment knowledge.

Speaker 3: (13:05)

So people who really knew what they were doing. I felt like if I came here, I would get a lot better and I got that one right. It’s been great to be associated with Roger and with his wife, Brenda, who’ve run the firm together for all these years and they’ve been great mentors to me. I’ll also add when I started my career, I mentioned the small advisory firm I began with at school that was called Legend Financial Advisors. The gentleman who founded that firm, Lou Stannis, was a great mentor to me. I credit him with instilling in me some early curiosity about how all this works and he really got me excited about the profession. So those are mentors who stick out. I’d also say I had a great experience at Duquesne and I had finance professors I still keep in contact with today who were important for my career.

Speaker 2: (13:53)

What has been your biggest challenge or hurdle and how have you overcome it?

Speaker 3: (13:56)

I’d say my biggest challenge career-wise has been learning to become a better leader and manager. It’s not something that’s natural and it’s also not something you learn how to do in school. I think you kind of learn by doing it and just some of my basic personality makeup, I think, makes it a little bit harder for me to do that effectively. I wouldn’t say I’ve overcome it. I would say I’m in the midst of working on it.

Speaker 2: (14:22)

What would be one tip you have for students or future CFA candidates, those who are considering the CFA program for the exam process or networking or any tips you have?

Speaker 3: (14:34)

So on the exam itself, the tip I would share that helped me quite a bit was just to quiz like crazy. I think it’s hard to sit down and just really read through the material. I found it was easier to certainly read through the material, but by taking a lot of quizzes, I was able to identify what I wasn’t good at. And I would kind of get upset at myself that I wasn’t good at something. And then I would go back and read with intent to really get better at a particular topic. And that really helped me for the CFA exams. I think on the career front, this is specific to wealth management and maybe at smaller organizations, I would tell candidates to think about operations as a first step into an organization. I think when you’re starting out and you’re really interested in financial markets and investment research, you want to do that right away.

Speaker 3: (15:24)

And at least for organizations like mine, that role may not be available right away, but we may have a role that’s available in our operations group. Our operations group is staffed with really top-notch professionals, but also younger folks who may not be there in that role five or 10 years from now. And they may be on to an analyst or an associate type client-facing role later. But that operations role I think gives a really excellent perspective on how it works within private wealth management and how you get things done. So I would say be open to that possibility of working in operations. And the third tip is look for gaps within an organization once you’re there. You can’t know those before you get there and start to see how an organization works, but you’ll find for various reasons, something people don’t want to do or isn’t done quite right, and where you can really step in and make a difference.

Speaker 3: (16:21)

I think about my colleagues and the impact some of them made for instance, at a time when we were trying to centralize more of our trading activities, one of my colleagues really stepped in and did more of that work, taking that on his shoulders to do that well. And it made us more efficient. Another one of my colleagues started to develop more technical, financial planning, skills and knowledge. That was not something he came here thinking he was going to do, but he saw we needed it and just took it on. And now he’s a bit of a go-to resource for us internally. So it’s being willing to take a job that may not be exactly what you want initially, and then finding those gaps.

Speaker 2: (16:59)

That’s good advice. What are some positives or opportunities you’ve seen over the last year through the crisis, through the pandemic for 2020 and into 2021? How this moment in history has changed you or just the opportunities you’ve seen?

Speaker 3: (17:13)

Well, I think it’s changed service delivery in private wealth. I think prior to this year, a firm like ours, we have clients in 30 states and we feel really strongly about being face-to-face and building those relationships. And what I’ve found is it’s very hard to build new relationships over Zoom, but for existing relationships, maybe we didn’t need to be there every quarter or every year, and maybe Zoom meetings can work that way. And if it’s more efficient for the firm and actually some clients prefer it, too, I think that could be a permanent change that comes out of this. I also think firms realize their staff members don’t need to be in the office every day of the week. And I’ve been surprised by how much our staff has liked not being in the office. So I think when we get on the other side of this, and we’re certainly not unique in this way, but I would envision our staff is not in the office every day of the week. And that may have a great implication for work-life balance for them, and may not take much away from the business.

Speaker 2: (18:13)

What has been the one or two biggest concerns from clients? Is it just simply us getting past the pandemic, getting vaccines, anything that sticks out as a major concern that may not be the obvious answer?

Speaker 3: (18:28)

Last year surprised me most in that our clients were very calm in the March, April time period, relative to other bear markets. And maybe it was just because it happened really fast and the recovery came really fast. I’m not sure that’s the case. It’s just when I compare it to my experience, working with clients in 2008 and 2009, it was night and day; different clients were ready to rebalance out of their equity positions in March. And we’re relatively unconcerned about that. Interestingly, I heard more concern in the May, June, July time period from clients who felt like the market was really disconnected from the economic reality of the day. And they couldn’t really process that. It wasn’t making sense to them. And so we didn’t have clients make market timing type mistakes in March, but we had more of that risk in June and July where someone potentially would have said this doesn’t make sense.

Speaker 3: (19:27)

I’m throwing my hands up. I’ve got to reduce my risk. And then they miss out on the second half of the year, which was fantastic. So that was maybe most surprising last year and then concerns this year going forward. I think I’m more concerned just about prospective returns or the key building blocks in a lot of client portfolios. When you think about U.S. stocks and U.S. bonds, you’re looking at fairly low prospective rates of return. And I’m also concerned with political divisiveness as it pertains to how clients and other investors view their portfolios. It’s becoming harder to detach one’s political viewpoint from one’s portfolio. And it can’t be the case that half of all investors all the time are completely either optimistic or pessimistic about the next four years, or it shouldn’t be the case that that’s true, but I’m sensing from clients that it’s harder and harder to disentangle these things. And I don’t think we have a solution for that yet.

Speaker 2: (20:29)

What do you think the biggest factors have been through all the volatility with politically divisiveness? Everything that’s happened in the last year with the pandemic and that the market has been so resilient, do you think it’s mainly stimulus, hopes of vaccines? Where do we stand with the rest of the world trade? What do you think has kept the market outside of primarily March of 2020, kept it fairly smooth through a very volatile climate?

Speaker 3: (21:00)

Mostly stimulus. I think taking interest rates close to zero and then signaling they’ll stay there for a very long time is part of it. But I think the fiscal stimulus is new. I think the monetary stimulus was there in the cards before, but fiscal stimulus and potentially on an ongoing basis, at least opening the door to that possibility and the potential impact on asset pricing from that, I think that’s the new variable that comes out of 2020. And interestingly, this relationship between really low interest rates and high valuations doesn’t hold internationally. I can look at very low 10-year government bond yields here in the U.S. and say, wow, that kinda sorta makes sense that U.S. equity valuations are high, but it’s not that way overseas. So one of those two relationships has to break down, I think over time.

Speaker 2: (21:51)

Are you shifting your client portfolios in any way over the last few months toward international or any specific trend or sector in the market?

Speaker 3: (22:02)

No real shifts. I mean, we’re of the mindset that investment advisors don’t add a lot of value by making a lot of tactical shifts and you really open up the possibility of detracting from returns over time. And potentially there are some opportunities that come along every now and then, and they’re probably valuation driven, and those are hard for the client to get right, because you have to really take a contrarian view and stick with it. But with that said, we have probably more non-U.S. stock exposure than is true or than is the case for other investment advisory firms. And we’re sticking with that. And we’re happy about that on a going forward basis. And we also have a little bit of a value orientation, which has not helped returns recently, but looking forward, we’re excited about the possibility of some value add from a value tilt within U.S. and non-U.S. stocks.

Speaker 2: (22:56)

I asked this question to Lisa in a previous podcast, but I’ll just throw it out as this kind of random question that popped up. Where were you on 9/11?

Speaker 3: (23:06)

I was sitting in the back of a classroom at Duquesne. I remember my roommate came in looking somewhat disheveled, but that was not unusual. And he told me about the first tower. That’s how that day got started. Wow. Where were you living in Pittsburgh at the time? I was living on campus.

Speaker 2: (23:24)

Oh, you’re on campus. Okay. So Chris, what would you say are some changes you’ve seen to your philosophy, your approach in the current time?

Speaker 3: (23:34)

Yeah, I’d say that this isn’t necessarily in the current times per se, but over the course of the last couple of years, I have found myself moving away from an approach that emphasizes trying to find uncorrelated asset classes to add to client portfolios, which would be kind of the technical way you design a portfolio. And what I think has happened is that as investors have broadly embraced modern portfolio theory, and that’s really happened over the last 20 years plus, but as that’s happened, the pricing of relatively low correlated asset classes is such that it eliminates a lot of the possible benefit from it. In other words, investors see that an asset class or building block as potentially uncorrelated and prices are bid up or valuations are bid up for that, or asset flows go to that space, which then change that asset class in negative ways.

Speaker 3: (24:33)

Either it becomes more correlated with traditional building blocks or its future return thereafter comes down. And two other factors, one is they’re usually higher cost than the traditional building blocks in the portfolio. And they’re almost always less familiar for clients. So if you can find that uncorrelated asset class early, it may still have interesting benefits in a portfolio context, but it’s hard for clients to own because it’s unusual and it’s unfamiliar as it becomes more familiar and clients can better deal with the pattern of returns it produces. Its forward-looking returns ought to be lower as that unfamiliarity discount sort of goes away. So I think going forward for us, we’ll have less of a focus on trying to find uncorrelated assets or assets that aren’t as highly correlated to the broad markets as we might have, say 10 years ago.

Speaker 2: (25:31)

Yeah. That’s good advice. So you have your CFA, your CFP, and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon. Do you have any advice to younger people who are considering different avenues? They’re considering the CFA or they’re considering the MBA and not sure exactly what direction they want to go. What advice do you have based on different career paths?

Speaker 3: (25:54)

I think the MBA program for me turned out to be valuable and worth it. And I love my experience at Tepper, but I would not necessarily advise everyone to just go do that. I think the cost really has to be taken into consideration. And when you look at the cost of the MBA program versus the CFA credential, and we think really highly of the CFA credential, the cost-benefit skews toward the CFA charter. And I think it really depends on also where you want to be career-wise, because if you, for instance, if you want to be in private wealth management, the CFA charter holds a lot of cache, even in relation to the MBA. And the MBA is so much more broad based in terms of knowledge that it may not be worth it. I think for someone who’s looking to get recruited out of an MBA program, it could be. But for me that wasn’t the case because I did it part time and I knew where I wanted to be after graduation. So it was a great experience. It turned out to be a good step for me in the process and worthwhile, but I don’t think it would be for everyone. And I caution folks who ask me that question.

Speaker 2: (27:01)

Yeah. That’s good advice. Through your connections with Carnegie Mellon, are there people you stay in touch with there as well? People you’ve met through the MBA program or professors or just the fraternity of Carnegie Mellon graduates in Pittsburgh?

Speaker 3: (27:16)

Yeah. I have a couple of classmates I’m still in contact with. And I think the thing that stands out to me there was just the caliber of the people around me. My classmates were super smart, really interesting people. They’ve gone on to have success in a lot of different fields. And I still have contacts with a couple of professors there and I’ve bounced questions off them on occasion, found them to be open to sitting down and chatting through issues with me. I wouldn’t give those things up for the world. I mean, those have been great relationships I’ll have for a long time.

Speaker 2: (27:47)

What is something that you’ve enjoyed getting out of this TFA Society locally or something you would be looking forward to the society providing in the future?

Speaker 3: (27:57)

I have not been as engaged as I want to be in the CFA Society. And part of that for me, I used to work downtown and now I work in the suburbs. It’s hard to take a big chunk out of your day and go to the lunch, for instance. But I do miss that. I miss the connection with that community, finding a way to get reconnected with the community, I’d like to do that.

Speaker 2: (28:19)

The future. Yeah. That’s been a challenge for us at the society, to find the best ways to get everyone involved. That’s the thing. If you don’t work downtown, it’s a chunk out of your day. I worked from home before my most recent position. So I know what that’s like as well. You end up taking four hours out of your day to go downtown for the lunch. What we’re trying to provide, especially now, some of the online events. So hopefully we can get you more involved in that as well. Is there anything else you had on your mind you would like to discuss before we jump into some other questions as we wrap up now? 

Speaker 3

I don’t think so. 

Speaker 2

Okay. Great. So just to jump into some final questions, more on the lighter side, what is your favorite Pittsburgh sports memory? Do you have one that sticks out?

Speaker 3: (29:04)

So I was in New York for my favorite Pittsburgh sports memory. It was the night that the Pirates were in the playoffs. Most recently, I forget what year I’m a long-time Pirates fan. So this was a long time coming and I wish I was in Pittsburgh to go to the game, my friends are going to the game, but I was at a dinner event and I was seated next to Alan Greenspan. And I had just read his autobiography. So at one point, this is before we sat down, I went in and introduced myself and I said, Dr. Greenspan, you’ll have to forgive me if my focus is divided tonight, my Pirates are in the playoffs for the first time forever. I knew he grew up in New York. So I said, I know a Yankee fan, you don’t think anything about being in the playoffs. And he said something and I didn’t hear him. And so I leaned in and he said Nationals. And I looked at him, I said Nationals. And he said, I spent some time in DC. Like, yes, I’m aware of the time you spent in DC. And then riding home that night, I got to hear the end of the ballgame. So I was in a taxi running to my hotel, listening to the end of that game, which was awesome.

Speaker 2: (30:16)

That would have been 2013. I was at the game. I see you’re talking about the first one, when Russell Martin hit two homers. Yeah, the Cueto game. That’s the second time that’s come up in the podcast as well. That was one of my greatest memories, if not the greatest as well. Although I didn’t spend any time with Harry or with Greenspan at the time. What is your favorite restaurant in Pittsburgh?

Speaker 3: (30:40)

I got to go with Piccolo Forno in Lawrenceville. I have such good memories of being at that place with friends. There’s just something about it. I mean, it’s great food. Everybody would bring a bottle of wine, just like a great neighborhood Italian place. And maybe it’s just a function of the couple of times we were there just having a great time. That’s my pick.

Speaker 2: (30:58)

Is that your favorite type of food is Italian or not necessarily?

Speaker 3: (31:01)

I am embarrassing to be around good taco places. Like when I go to San Diego, I used to pick my hotel in proximity to like this taco stand I enjoyed. So I would go out to dinner with clients and then I’d come home and I would change. And then I would go to this taco stand. So love Mexican, love Thai, good Chinese food, too. 

Speaker 2: (31:24)

So besides Harry Markowitz and Alan Greenspan, who is your favorite celebrity you’ve met?

Speaker 3: (31:30)

I met Mario Lemieux very briefly last year when he crossed over a fairway to give me my golf club back that I had left on a tee box a couple of holes earlier. And then my friend I was playing with, who could not believe I didn’t actually hit the next ball with the club that super Mario just gave back to me, made me hit my ball over again with that club, genuflecting. Thank you Mr. Lemieux, but that doesn’t really count as a meeting, but kind of sorta.

Speaker 2: (31:57)

Close enough. That’s a good one. 

Speaker 3: (31:59)

I’ll do one more. I never met Aaron Rogers. People used to say I look like Aaron Rogers. I remember one time being in an elevator and I was going to a book signing; my client had written a book and there was this elderly couple in the elevator with me and the gentleman turned to me and he said, you know, you look just like Aaron Rogers, but younger and weaker. And I mean, it really caught me by surprise. And I wish he didn’t say weaker. It’s probably accurate, but I’m actually older than Aaron Rogers. So I got to put that one on the list. I’ve never met him, but after you, someday,

Speaker 2: (32:31)

That’s pretty funny. As soon as you said, Aaron Rogers, it crossed my mind to be honest, but I hadn’t thought of before that that’s funny. It would be a celebrity you’ve not met who you would most like to meet. Maybe it’s Aaron Rogers. I don’t know.

Speaker 3: (32:45)

I can’t think quickly enough to give you an answer on that. 

Speaker 2

What is your favorite movie? 

Speaker 3

I have like this series of classic movies that if they’re on TV, I have to watch them. I don’t know that they’re my favorite movies, but they must be because I have to watch them when they come on TV. And it’s like “Field of Dreams,” “Hoosiers,” or really anything with Gene Hackman. And for some reason, I can’t tell you why. And then there’s this strange pick, which is “The Day After Tomorrow.” It’s this movie about natural catastrophes or something. I don’t know why, but I watch it if it’s on.

Speaker 2: (33:17)

Those are great movies. Are you a big sports movies fan?

Speaker 3: (33:21)

Yes. So, because you could put “Rudy” in the mix. I haven’t really spent a lot of time analyzing that. My colleagues tease me that I really haven’t picked up on anything in pop culture, like in the last 15 years or so. I’ve just either been in the books or my phone. I have two little kids. So we’ve been busy after that, too.

Speaker 2: (33:39)

Yeah. It’s been a tough past year for baseball as well. A lot of Hall of Famers who have passed away. So I think of “Field of Dreams” and the new squad they have to compete on the field of dreams, which they were actually supposed to play a game this past year there. But it ended up getting canceled. So hopefully they do that this year. That’s cool. Who would play you in a movie about your life? 

Speaker 3: (34:06)

Geez. I don’t know. I also get Paul Ryan, the former congressman. I remember standing in LaGuardia one time and a couple approached me and the husband said he looks just like Paul Ryan and the wife smacked him as though it was the worst thing someone could ever say about another person was that they look like Paul Ryan. So I don’t know, they’re not actors, so that’s no help.

Speaker 2: (34:28)

It could be their debut. Do you have a favorite quote or a word? 

Speaker 3: (34:33)

I don’t. I’m disappointing you.

Speaker 2: (34:38)

Finally, if you had any superpower, what would you choose?

Speaker 3: (34:42)

So tricky. I mean, you want to go with being able to know what other people are thinking or would that be a curse? So I’ll still go with that one. I’ll go with that one and see what the curse would be like.

Speaker 2: (34:54)

Chris, discussing behavioral finance. Do you have any recent observations on some other things that have been changing that you’ve seen?

Speaker 3: (35:02)

Yeah. As I’ve dug into a couple of different topics within behavioral finance and gotten to know the literature and some of the academics better, I’ve also had a chance to interact with some of the authors of important white papers. And that’s been really interesting. It has occurred to me that even behavioral economists may not have the same observations I have about investment decision-making from clients. I’ll give you one example. It is the preference for income that certain investors have rather than capital appreciation in particular retired investors. I think the field of behavioral economics still doesn’t understand the actual motivation for this income preference by these clients or these investors. Rather, right now, the literature suggests it’s a self-control mechanism. So you kind of only spend the income. So you don’t outlive your money. And therefore you’ve imposed this sort of self-control on yourself.

Speaker 3: (35:59)

And it doesn’t square with some of my clients who have that preference who are not at risk of outliving their money and they don’t need a self-control device. It is something else that causes this preference. And I think it’s a form of loss aversion. They don’t want to lose a part of their portfolio by selling a little bit of it to fund a lifestyle need. It’s a different kind of loss aversion than what’s in the literature, but I believe that’s more the answer and I just can’t prove it yet. 

Speaker 2

That’s very interesting. Are there any other tools or tips that have helped you throughout your career?

Speaker 3

I will share one I would not have thought to do without Roger Gibson’s influence. And that is speaking at conferences. It was something Roger did throughout his career. And what I found in doing it is it makes you a lot better at your job because you have to understand concepts well enough to be able to get up in front of your peers, to talk about that and be prepared at that level.

Speaker 3: (36:59)

And just the skill of delivering a presentation in front of an audience is its own thing. But the preparation that goes into that has made me better in my work with clients and also in my work with prospects, because you kind of learn to tailor a message to an audience. I’m actually really happy I’ve had those experiences, but I probably would not have sought them out without Roger’s influence. 

Speaker 2

Yeah, that’s really good advice. I know Linda had very similar advice to that as well. The importance of just kind of getting up in front of people and speaking, how that is very helpful to your career. Okay, Chris, so as we wrap up, please let the listeners know where you can be reached for any additional information or any follow-up questions, any information that you’d like to provide.

Speaker 3

You can reach me at my work email. It’s Chris dot s@gibsoncapital.com always call the office line (724) 934-3200. 

Speaker 2

Perfect. We appreciate your availability for any follow-up questions anybody would have. And we thank you very much for your time today. We really enjoyed this and hope to talk to you again soon. 

Speaker 3

Thanks, Brad. My pleasure.

Speaker 1: (38:09)

You’ve been listening to Bridge to the Burgh presented by CFA Society Pittsburgh. Don’t forget to subscribe so you never miss a new episode. And if you’re interested in learning more about the local society, obtaining a CFA charter or upcoming events, visit us at CFA society.org/pittsburgh. A special thank you to our guest today, to our host Bradley Jones and to the CFA Society Pittsburgh board for bringing this vision to life. Our editing is done by Matthew of the Podcast Consultant and the producer is me, Kristen Mullen. What you just heard reflects the opinions of the hosts and guests and does not reflect the opinions of CFA Society Pittsburgh or CFA Institute. This podcast is not intended to provide financial, legal, or tax advice on the topics we’ve covered. Thanks for listening. Join us next month for another great episode of Bridge.




As Chief Investment Officer, Chris leads our investment research agenda as well as our portfolio management philosophy and client service initiatives. He is continuing our legacy of innovations to convey complex advisory concepts to clients and professional audiences alike. Chris has professional experience ranging from high-net-worth portfolio management to comprehensive financial planning. As an investment advisor, Chris manages all aspects of client relationships.

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