Harold Finley, Howe Barnes Investments, Chicago
Persistence pays off. A few weeks before celebrating his 83rd birthday in February, Harold Finley landed four new accounts he had pursued patiently for years, each bringing assets in the seven-figure range.
"That's one of the reasons for staying active when you get old," says Finley, first vice president of investments with Howe Barnes Investments in Chicago. "These were all people I had known for years and had not gotten business from before. They just all came through simultaneously."
Remaining visible is key to business success, says Finley, who serves on the boards of seven educational institutions and is active in at least a half dozen community groups. It also helps to outlive the competition. "Not very many people have as many years as I do," he adds, with a chuckle.
"As far as the financial markets go, I think Harold has seen it all," adds supervisor Mario Bernardi. "His client-first approach and thorough research have earned him the respect and admiration of his clients and peers."
Longevity is only one of the blessings in Finley's life. He is also a genius. At age 5, he took a Stanford-Binet intelligence quotient test and posted a score of 197--the second-highest IQ score ever recorded at that time in the United States.
In 1933, he graduated from Northwestern University fourth in his class. Two years later, at 19, he received a special exemption from the NYSE allowing him to register as a stockbroker even though he was shy of the 21-year-old age requirement. He became one of the top producers at a Chicago brokerage firm called Lamson Bros.
Finley spent 23 years as an investment manager with Chicago Title and Trust Co., later joining Kemper Securities in Chicago. In 1994, Finley and his son, Robert, both joined Howe Barnes. Finley has 100 million in assets under management and produced 700,000 in 1998.
Along with his daily work at Howe Barnes, Finley volunteers his time with "unusually bright kids" enrolled at the Science and Arts Academy, a school in Des Plaines, Ill. And he spends Saturday mornings sharing investment knowledge with inmates at maximum-security prison Joliet Correctional Center.
Finley has two main investment strategies. First, he suggests investing in growth stocks before they become popular. "My theory is that you don't want to buy the famous--Amazon.com, Microsoft and Motorola--the ones that everybody these days is putting in the category of great growth stocks," he says. "You want to find relatively small companies that have a germ of growth."
Second, Finley likes convertible bonds. Although such bonds have fallen out of favor with investors, he's seen annual cash returns in the 6% to 8% range for companies such as Unisys, Airborne Freight and Bindley Western, generating total returns of 50% for his clients.
A typical overachiever, Finley's list of accomplishments is long. He was ordained as a minister in 1944 and authored a syndicated column on market trends for the Chicago Tribune from 1974 to 1981. His life has also been chronicled in a play called "Harold," a musical called "Hinky Dink" (his nickname) and a book titled "Harold: The Gifted Small Town Boy."
Still, this Midwestern genius has some very simple advice for the novice stockbroker. "Look everywhere, talk to everybody, start a conversation with a stranger on the airplane next to you," Finley says. "I've had some wonderful customers come from chance acquaintances like that."--Michael Hayes
Outstanding Traits:"Harold is very well-respected and extremely detailed in his analysis. He can probably tell you the exact price of every stock we've ever bought or sold here at the college."--client Gordon Hippe, vice president for business affairs,Alice Lloyd College, Pippa Passes, Ky.
"Not only does Harold live by the Golden Rule, but he continues to teach us new lessons about philanthropy and generosity."--client Cindy Cook Whitt, vice president for alumni and development, Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, Tenn.