I think about whether or not I could live somewhere else besides the New York City metro area. I could do San Diego or Southern Florida. The DC area would be doable as well. After this past week, I am adding Chicago to my list. It was my 3rd or 4th trip there, but the first time I’ve been in the city during the spring.
I absolutely fell in love, as did my partners Michael and Kris. The areas we spent time in had all of the elements of Manhattan and residential Brooklyn (great food, shopping, wide avenues, beautiful architecture, water views, etc), minus the grime and filth of Manhattan. Chicago is a cleaner city than New York. Yeah, I said it.
And the people are nicer. And it’s more affordable, even in the best neighborhoods.
I love my hometown, but if I had to be in Chicago, I could be happy.
And judging by the response we got, it’s very possible that we will need to open up an office there. Now that would be a great excuse for us to visit more often.
The Morningstar Investment Conference. I got to meet Jeffrey Ptak and hang out with Don Phillips – two of the most knowledgable people in the investment management industry in the country, maybe both in the top 20.
I met Kunal Kapoor, the brand new CEO of Morningstar who oversees an amazing business. I spent some time with M’star’s Leslie Marshall and Tricia Rothschild on-stage and off, and bumped into lots of old friends – Michael Kitces, Mario Gabelli, Aaron Klein (Riskalyze), Brian Portnoy (Virtus), Bob Seawright (Above the Market), the O’Shaughnessy Gang, my man Wes Gray (Alpha Architect) and my pal Tadas Viskanta (Abnormal Returns). There are others I’m forgetting at the moment, but it was a pretty epic week to be in town.
Speaking on stage about whether or not innovation and disruption are benefiting investors or bewildering them was quite a thrill. Tricia, Don and Paolo Sironi (who heads up IBM Watson’s financial services aspirations) were fantastic. If you want some of the highlights, check out Barron’s write-up of my panel or the one at Financial Planning magazine. Here’s the official Morningstar recap, where they quote me talking about advisors needing to act like bouncers sometimes, lol.
We checked out David Burke’s Prime House steak joint in the James Hotel with the folks from Bridgeway Capital Management, hit a hidden gem of a cocktail bar (the Berkshire Room), had seafood at Catch 35, happy hour at The Betty in the burgeoning new Fulton Market district (where Google built its HQ), breakfasted at the 82-year-old landmark Lou Mitchell’s and then did some Chicago-style hot dogs at Portillo’s.
I had to be rolled onto the plane.
I brought my firm’s directors of research and financial planning, Michael Batnick and Kris Venne, out with me to spend some time with clients we have in the Chicago area and some prospective clients who’ve reached out to us. We had some really rewarding and interesting conversations with the households we currently serve and some new folks who wanted to learn more about what we do.
I have always said that our clients are among the smartest and most interesting people I’ve ever dealt with, probably as a consequence of how they’ve come to find us – they are intellectually curious and engaged enough to be following financial blog posts! We’re so proud of our growing clientele, they totally get it and challenge us with great questions all the time.
We also had some substantive discussions with our colleagues in the wealth management and financial advisory business. It’s always fun to compare notes with pros from around the country and get a sense of how the best and brightest are looking at issues and addressing challenges. We have a really smart network of top RIAs and fund company professionals from all over the nation that we talk to online every day – seeing everyone in person is so much cooler.
Okay, some pics from the trip if you’re interested. The gallery below can be flipped through pretty easily: