Terence P. Carmichael, Sr., Founder, Consultant
WestBrook Financial Freelance and Media
Favia Hill and Associates
My professional investment career started with the firm Favia Hill and Associates. I was a Senior Vice President and my primary responsibilities were portfolio management for large institutional funds and the client relationship responsibility.
My career then moved from Favia Hill to Morgan Stanley.
My Career Path
Morgan Stanley Asset Management – MSAM,
Principal and Executive Director
How I arrived at Morgan Stanley Asset Management is a personal story. The firm I worked at prior to MSAM was Favia Hill and Associates owned by Chemical Bank. The bank appointed an individual to grow the firm and attract large institutional clients.. To position the firm Ken also wanted to eliminate small, low fee clients. In a bold move on my part, I went to Ken and proposed that instead of just getting rid of these clients that, instead, Chemical bank could arrange the financing to sell these asset to me and I would even take some of the employees. He bought in and I was now talking to lawyers at the prestigious Park Avenue law firm White and Case. In very frank conversations with the lawyers, I stated that if Ken wanted to sell the assets, then sell but if I have to comply with the proposed contract requirements of reporting to him, I would have no time to run the firm. I asked the lawyers to see if Ken would consider revising the sales agreement. Unbeknownst to me, Ken was at the Chemical Bank headquarters stating that he was involved in a leveraged buy-out, he was capitalizing the revenues and rationalizing employee departures. The White and Case lawyers came back to me and stated the agreement is what Ken wants and no changes would be made. I had no choice but to go to Ken and tell him the deal is off. Well, that was a bad move on my part. Jack Favia, the President of Favia Hill, called me into his office and told me I had to get out of the firm right away and that Ken had a target on my back. Jack arranged an interview for me with Lew Lehrman, the Managing Director of Morgan Stanley Asset Management. In an earlier time, Lew barely lost in a run for the Governor of New York State. He is a powerhouse. He offered me a position as portfolio manager reporting to Barton Biggs. He showed me to my office, turned, and said “good luck”. Welcome to the world of Morgan Stanley.
Incredibly, four weeks after I arrived at MSAM, Favia Hill and Associates announced they were closing up shop. I found myself in the enviable position of sitting at Morgan Stanley. I knew and worked for a lot of the clients that would be affected. Chemical Bank tried to relocate the clients to other advisory subsidiaries in their business mix. There were a lot of clients and assets up for grabs. I was able to garner a decent amount -$350 million. I was elected Principal and later to Executive Director.
A second initiative I started while at MSAM was the development and use of my investment discipline (High Quality Large Cap Growth) and, also, the associated marketing effort to participate in a Wrap program sponsored by a leading Wall Street brokerage firm. I worked with two associates in marketing this product. We were invited everywhere. This effort brought in just over $150 million in 14 months.
But things in the asset management world were changing. The leading firms were turning to fund management where a portfolio manager and staff would manage a fund for hundreds of clients. What I was doing was called Separate Account Management where I managed one portfolio for one client. But I had a good number of clients. My clients were large.
Weiss Peck & Greer, Managing Director
A good friend and former co-worker reached out and asked if I would like to see what was going on at his firm Weiss, Peck and Greer. I liked what I saw and was offered the position of Managing Director and to be a Senior member of the Asset Allocation and Stock Selection Committee. I started to assist in managing $1.4 billion in assets as part of the Separate Account Asset Management Group. I started to establish the High Quality Large Cap Growth product I developed at Favia Hill and MSAM and bring clients into WP&G.
I didn’t need more Drama
Unknown to many, Weiss Peck and Greer was in negotiations to be acquired by the Dutch firm Robeco Investments. The new owner laid off 16 professionals, including me, that did not fit their long term business plan. Since I was new, I was able to negotiate an extension to my departure. I interviewed at 11 firms during my remaining tenure. Nothing was attractive to me. I finally decided to start my own firm, WestBrook Asset Management, in March 2005.
WestBrook Asset Management, Founder and President
After a successful career in portfolio management, I launched my own Investment advisory practice located in Garden City, New York. My firm was registered with the SEC within 35 days. My investment business focus was equity and balanced portfolios for ERISA pension funds. The proprietary investment style was High Quality Large Cap Growth and was thematically driven as discussed above. I was able to implement the latest investment management software for efficiency. I maintained and managed virtual office strategic alliances. Developed successful marketing materials, I set up systems, procedures and protocols to control compliance, a data back up source, insurance and banking services. Assets under management totaled $25 million after the first year. My goal was $60 million.
Meanwhile a legal dilemma developed in 2007 pitting my clients investment management contracts, where ERISA required pension funds to be managed by a SEC registered advisor, versus the SEC requirement that assets under management had to be greater than $25 million to renew my registration in 2008. The legal conflict was that if I couldn’t renew the registration I then would be in violation of my management contract. That was a real problem.
In the Fall of 2007, I truly felt that the markets were in for some difficulty going forward, that the assets under management would fall below the $25 million threshold. I decided to close my firm in November 2007, just before the start of the market melt down and ensuing capital market turmoil.
What I built as a business , I felt, was great and I am proud of the effort I made. However, I faced my personal “perfect storm”: 1) My timing to start the business was a problem – three years before the market turmoil of 2008; 2) the shortfall in assets I expected and 3) the legal situation I had to contend with. First rule of investing is to cut your losses. I decided to “smell the roses” for a while.
WestBrook Financial Freelance and Media, Entrepreneur, Consultant
Well I’m back. I came out of retirement in February, 2015. A brief note as to why. I broke my right leg terribly and while in a rehab center for 3 months; a wheelchair and crutches for 11 months; four doctors, two hospitals and three surgeries, I realized I had an unusual opportunity to re-evaluate what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. During my recovery I became a member of American Writers and Artists Inc. With a strong career in Asset Management and a penchant for writing, I selected, as an eventual goal, the financial freelance niche to develop this new chapter of my life.
While in the rehab, I enrolled in the Clayton Makepeace Financial Freelance Intensive home study program and also became a Writers Digest member. Since then, I have added a number of programs and tools to support my copywriting initiative. By the way, my leg is fine.
So who do I want to write for? I would like to write for the Principals of an investment firm – the strategist, the economist, the analyst with a compelling insight, the “guru”who developed a disciplined system of investing. Importantly, I want to write for a publisher and editor of successful investment letters and reports. I like the “big” picture articles. If I can write for great people, I would possess the best ingredients to be successful – which is what my career always has been about.
Westbrook Financial Freelance and Media
5 Bridge Trail Andover, NJ 07821