Becoming Yourself on Wall Street: Josh Brown and Alexander Palumbo

June 19, 2018

This morning the Dow Futures were down about 400 points. Looks like another fun day on Wall Street. I take it all in stride -- a somewhat slower, more measured stride but at least it's still something resembling a stride, even with my two artificial hips. Without so much as turning on the television or my computer, I already know what to expect today. The pundits who have predicted 17 of the last 2 recessions will be reminding us of their brilliance when, just before Trump's election, they urged everyone to buy gold and get out of stocks. Then there will be those annoying online pop-up ads from some fear-monger who can't put a sentence together for his over-priced newsletter without the words "doom" "apocalypse" and "collapse." Alas. Sigh. Here we go again. World ends at 6 p.m. Video at 11 p.m. Tape to be posted on our YouTube channel.

If you work on Wall Street, today is going to be about holding hands or pushing dollar-cost-averaging or selling everything for the panicked customer. If you are a customer who own stocks, it's a Maalox day. That being said, look back to March 2009, when life as we knew it was coming to an end. Hmmmmm .  .  .  on March 6, 2009, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was as low as 6,469 and at yesterday's close it was 24,987.47. Not much of an end-of-the-world if you ask me and if you're here to ask me and I'm hear to be asked then the world did not end. Even factoring in a 1,000 point drop today, it still works out to something like a quadruple of the average during the past decade or so. Sometimes you just gotta close your eyes and hold your nose -- and, yeah, sometimes you cut your losses. I leave it to my readers to figure whether this is the time to hang tough or move to the sidelines. I don't give financial advice. I do have several hundred 1929 $5 Indian Head Gold Tribute coins which I thought were solid gold but found out that they were only gold clad -- I'm offering each for the amazingly low price of $1,209 and will accept Bitcoin. I have prepared a certificate of authenticity for each coin that I sell. You know it's authentic because I printed the word "authentic" on the certificate and affixed one of those shiny gold medallions with an adhesive backing.

All of which left me surfing the Internet this morning. At some point in my online wandering, I came upon a video posted by my pal Josh Brown of Ritholz Wealth Management. I knew Josh "when," and "when" was during the days that he was a stockbroker, albeit one who was becoming reformed. In the ensuing years since Josh and I became acquainted, his professional arc has been dazzling. He has become among the most accessible financial talking-heads on cable and the publisher of books, blogs, websites, and assorted what-not. He and his partner Barry Ritholz, someone I long admired, have built a very credible investment advisory business, and done so in a fashion that seems to have attracted some wonderful young men and women to their firm.

Josh Brown remembers where he came from and not with particular fondness. Josh's broker-dealer experience propelled him to leave the whole FINRA-member-firm platform and build his future via a registered investment advisor or RIA as we call it in the biz. Long ago, I abandoned much faith in the future of the FINRA-regulated broker-dealer model and see it as a wasting asset doomed for obsolescence. Suffice it to say that I am an ardent proponent of creative destruction. As a disciple of the great Yoda, I have embraced his wisdom: "The greatest teacher, failure is."  

Today, however, I come not to bury FINRA or its member firms but to praise Josh Brown's recent video "Being a Younger Advisor," which features Josh Brown, 41 (the older but debonair guy on the left of the screen) and Alexander Palumbo, 26 (the too-goddamn-young-and-handsome bearded guy on the right of the screen). Sadly, I have underwear older than both of them!

As Wall Street melts down today, give yourself a treat and take about six minutes out of your life and watch Josh's video interview of Alexander. For those in the biz, it may put a smile on your face and remind you when you were young and hungry and Wall Street was the place to be. For those of you who are seeking financial advice, this is what you should be looking for: integrity, honesty, and an eagerness to build your trust and your assets under management. 

Alexander Palumbo started out in the broker-dealer channel, found Josh, found Ritholz Wealth Management, and seems on the way to a very successful career. My guess is that the clients he signs in 2018 will be very happy in a decade, in 20 years, and in 30 years. How refreshing it is to once again see a young man's excitement as he embarks upon a career. How reassuring it is to see a smart kid not only on the right track but ambling along with enthusiasm and professionalism. How nice that Alexander is not a know-it-all punk but a young man putting in the hours to learn his craft and do right by his clients. His parents didn't do just a good job with their son, they did an incredible one. As to Josh's folks, well, what can I say, he's 41, the warranty long ago expired, and, well, at least he's not living at home, right?

I will get through today's events on Wall Street. You will too. More importantly, I may have a little smile on my face as I think about Josh and Alexander and the next generation on the Street -- my Street. For those of you who match my cynicism -- no, I never have and do not represent Ritholz Wealth Management, I don't have an account there, I don't have any sponsorship deal or under-the-table compensation. They don't advertise on my blog. I've never personally met Alexander. I've met Josh and although he's very impressive on television and in print, frankly, he was disappointing in person but let's just keep that between us. 

For some reason, that wonderful tune and those haunting lyrics are caught in my head this morning:

You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good-bye.