Stories like these keep our community vibrant. Share a story today.
Kathi Douglas enjoyed a wonderful career at AIM, starting in 1986 as the 75th employee of the company in the newly formed marketing group. "Under the tutelage of the very generous seasoned AIM investment professionals with whom I worked, I learned the business and was fortunate to grow with the company. I ended my Invesco/AIM career as a National Account Manager," shares Kathi.
Kathi’s daughter, Cara, and her family live in Austin. “Of course, Jake, my grandson, is absolutely perfect. I now keep busy volunteering as a CASA child advocate in Montgomery County. I've also traveled regularly to Africa to build houses with Habitat for Humanity, and I have once traveled to Argentina with an HFH team, which was also a great experience,” said Kathi.
“My Habitat experience is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, In October I will return to Africa with another Habitat for Humanity Global Villages team, this time building in Malawi. Our work focuses on the Orphans and Vulnerable Children Project, which builds homes for orphans and their caretakers, as well as providing them with health and legal resources. Each time I have built was with a different group of team members (typically a team consists of 10-14 members), many of whom have remained good friends. We all share a common love for our work and the families for whom we build. We work alongside the family for whom we are building homes. In fact, part of their HFH contract is that they must help with the work. Typically, a male family member will help with the construction and the female family members will cook lunch each day (over an open fire too),” says Kathi.
Interested in Habitat for Humanity? Read more at http://habitat.org.
In 1996, Joab Salce started his AIM career in FAS working for Mary Gentempo. He went on to work in various IT roles throughout his tenure, finally leaving Invesco’s Market Data Services in 2007. Joab then moved from Houston to Austin to work for AIM alumnus Jay Freeman at Dimensional Fund Advisors. Other AIM alumni at the firm include Robert Trotter, Denise Jewell and Paul Wise.
Following his tenure at Dimensional Fund Advisors, Joab worked at Charles Schwab and is currently employed by National Financial Partners (NFP).
Like many former AIM employees, Joab has a deep appreciation for his time at AIM and especially for the three founders. “Ted Bauer’s commitment to his employees is something I have not seen repeated at any other company. It was an amazing place. What Ted did for The University of Houston defines who he is. You do not find this kind of mentality at other places, even other privately held companies where I have worked,” finds Joab.
“Much of my success I owe to all the wonderful co-workers and mentors that invested themselves and their precious time in me. I wouldn't be a success without all of those that sacrificed a small piece of their lives for me. While some founders were quieter than others, they all shared a deep regard for the employees. They treated everyone like family. There was no doubt that employees really meant something to them. They never held back on anything. They were generous with benefits and went above and beyond what any other company did for its employees. I will always value the years I worked at AIM. Nothing has or likely will compare to what I learned, what I was exposed to, and to the people who made AIM so special,” shares Joab.
“I certainly miss the environment and I appreciate reading about what others are doing now.”
This month, we take a long look back at a story from the publication, Financial Trends, published in 1981 that noted AIM’s call to invest in bonds. The prediction went counter to some influential investment bankers and economists. It was not just an expected ‘first move’ in rates, but a prediction that there would be a long and deep decline. Gary Crum, VP of AIM and manager of its fixed-income and high-yield securities sector at the time of the article, cited the drop of approximately 300 basis points in short-term interest rates from their highs and said that AIM principals believed that interest rates ‘are going to gradually trend downward’.
The article is so very interesting looking back given today’s contrast of generational lows in interest rates, says Brasada Capital’s Mark McMeans, “As it turned out, investors paying heed to this article would’ve benefitted for over three decades. The next time Gary Crum makes a rate call in the press, I’m really going to pay attention.”
Says Dick Berry, “Bonds were a great place to be. We had double digit interest rates at the time, combined with an inverted yield curve (short maturity bonds having a larger yield than long term bonds). We were at extremely high levels of interest rates, and as rates came down, bonds outperformed stocks for a very long time.”
Dick joined AIM in 1987 and ran the firm’s municipal bond mutual fund and a few private accounts. “It was Institutional money market funds that first made AIM profitable. I was originally AIM’s customer when I worked as head of fixed income for a large bank trust department. We were AIM’s largest client. While I was at the bank, the controller of currency wanted me to reduce our exposure to AIM’s money market funds. I said give me a year. He did, and sure enough the fund grew so much that our exposure went from 50% to less than 25%. I got to know the people at AIM well then.”
When Dick realized the bank for which he worked was going to go through a merger, he approached Ted Bauer and Ted was interested in hiring Dick. “AIM had started a municipal fund,” explains Dick. “That was the inception of our municipal funds. I started in Dallas and in 1992 AIM acquired the CIGNA fund assets. It was a sizable municipal fund so I moved to Houston.” Dick went on to become AIM’s Chief Investment Officer of municipal bond investing, and was the lead manager on the AIM Tax Free Intermediate Fund for just under twenty-five years, and the AIM Municipal Bond Fund for just under twenty years.
In addition to bonds, the article quotes AIM President Ted Bauer on his expectation that investors would not abandon money market funds. “I think the money market funds are permanent,” he said. “People are used to them. They like them. They’re getting good service on them, and they’re getting competitive rates.”
“They don’t have to think about re-investing every six months. There are now some $160 billion or so in the funds, and the funds may lose some of that if stocks get going, but it’s going to be a permanent part of the market,” continued Bauer.
INVESCO later acquired Van Kampen and when the decision was made to move the municipal people to Chicago, Dick began looking for the right opportunity which would keep him in Houston. “I had no interest in moving to Chicago. It was a natural fit to take my private accounts and move to Brasada. I joined a number of other AIM colleagues here and we are actively seeking to manage some additional private accounts or to work as a subadvisor to mutual funds”, says Dick.
Jack Broyles works with financial advisors through his company Jack Broyles and Associates. His focus? He ensures that financial managers are equipped to better serve clients who have early onset or are already suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Geared to advisers and their clients, Jack’s events go through the steps a financial advisor should follow. “There are compliance issues because the individuals are vulnerable and planners need to document the signs they see and understand people often do not seek help until there is a house set on fire, or a family member walks into a stranger’s house and the family get a phone call,” explains Jack.
Most recently, Jack was invited by two former AIM colleagues to speak at the Merrill Lynch Symposium in Orlando, Florida. “Gene Needles and Scott Widder are both with American Beacon and they invited me to address a break out session. These sessions are always well received,” shares Jack.
“My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2000 and I saw the toll it takes. There are too many individuals out there who are suffering from memory loss and early onset Alzheimer’s and it is critical that a financial planner is aware of the signs and prepared to take action,” says Jack.
Jack shares how important it is that people understand the illness and the signs. He explains that five million individuals in the US have been diagnosed, but double that number are showing signs and have not been diagnosed. “Before diagnosis or in the early stages is when to get things done. When your clients are still in the moment and can plan properly. They can still be involved,” Jack has learned.
Following his mother’s diagnosis, Jack got involved with the Dallas Chapter of Alzheimers where he served on the Board and was Chairman of the Board in 2010. In 2012, he started presenting on the subject and he has 60 events booked this year. “Alzheimers is impacting so many people. Every sixty seconds another American develops Alzheimer’s disease. You cannot stop it, slow it down, and you cannot prevent it. There is so much we don’t know about the brain. We can open the stomach, take out the heart, fix it and put it back. We can’t do that with the brain,” explains Jack.
Talking to Jack, you see the same level of enthusiasm and dedication that made Jack so successful during his years at AIM.
“We were in an environment with talented management and marketing professionals. We had great products and marketing materials, and they gave us the incentives to do the best we could. And we did. When I came on board in 1993, we raised 5 billion and by 2000 that number increased to 38.5 billion. It is incredible what we could accomplish. We had the support to go out and do it,” recalls Jack.
One of my fondest memories is meeting Patti Hefley when I went in to interview with Mike Cemo and Jim Salners, and later with Gordon Sprague. I met Patti first. I came back to do my 20 minute presentation and Patti said, ‘Jack good luck we are all rooting for you’.
Ted Bauer cared about all of the employees. Each quarter there was a new employee meeting and I would then talk about the retirement plan. Ted wanted people investing. It was 1996 or 1997 and we had our sales meeting after the new employee meeting. Ted said to me, “100% signed up. That is the best participation ever. What did you tell them?” he asked me. “Invest and take your match, and when you get to Ted’s age you won’t have to work,” I replied. He laughed and said, “Hell, when they get to my age they will be dead.” “Ted cared about everyone. He was a wonderful man,” remembers Jack.
Another fond memory that Jack recalled and said people still talk about today is Jim Salners and the charter check-book that Jim came up with. Jack commented, like many AIM Alumni, how his time at AIM has impacted his personal life and how he remains in touch with many of his friends. In particular, he enjoyed driving to Houston in April for the AIM Alumni happy hour where it was so much fun seeing everyone. Read more about Jack Broyles and Associates and his work preparing financial advisors to work with individuals suffering from Alzeimer’s disease at http://www.jackbroylesandassociates.com.
Sheri Morris shared on the AIM Alumni website that Kamellia Ishak passed away April 30. Kamelia holds the distinction of having been at the firm longer than anyone else, including the founders. She began her career at AIM over 35 years ago as one of the first fund accountants. Kamellia was an integral part of the foundation of the fund administration team. Her kindness and warmth which she so freely shared with all will be greatly missed.