Smog City to Sun Valley

Mark Eshman, Imperial Capital LLCThe January 1994 Northridge earthquake rolled through Santa Monica, Calif., without even waking Mark Eshmans daughters, then ages 3 and 5. But it jolted Eshman, a managing director and retail broker at Imperial Capital LLC in Beverly Hills, Calif., into thinking about moving.I grew up in Los Angeles, but I wasnt happy with the fires, floods and quakes, and the way

Mark Eshman, Imperial Capital LLC

The January 1994 Northridge earthquake rolled through Santa Monica, Calif., without even waking Mark Eshmans daughters, then ages 3 and 5. But it jolted Eshman, a managing director and retail broker at Imperial Capital LLC in Beverly Hills, Calif., into thinking about moving.

I grew up in Los Angeles, but I wasnt happy with the fires, floods and quakes, and the way the city had changed, Eshman says. Most of all, he and his wife wanted their daughters to grow up in a different environment.

The Eshmans had often visited Sun Valley, Idaho, so the skiing vacation theyd planned just after the earthquake turned into a fact-finding trip. They were pleased to learn that this town of only a few thousand permanent residents had excellent public and private schools.

A few weeks later Eshman broached the subject of moving with the principals at the firm. The solution was a satellite office electronically linked with Beverly Hills and a commitment to maintain his production in the new location.

Eshman, who started his career at Drexel in the early 80s, trades high-yield bonds as well as stocks. His client base is 90% high-net-worth individuals and 10% institutional. A million-dollar producer, he didnt have a problem making the transition. Im more productive here, he says. Its good to be away from office politics. I dont waste time shooting the breeze.

With a view of a serene mountain landscape, the Sun Valley office has a squawk box broadcasting the activity of the firms trading room. Eshman has one computer with a Bloomberg system, another for contact management and a third which is linked to the company that clears trades. A total of 21 phone lines keep the modems, fax machines and telephones connected. He now uses a dedicated wide-area network.

Eshman travels to Los Angeles every eight weeks to see clients and makes frequent trips to New York as well. He hasnt worked much at developing local clients. I thought it was important to get involved in charitable organizations first, he says. In a small town, people want to be anonymous as far as their finances are concerned. Now, people are coming to him. About 75% of his clients are in Southern California, about 15% are in various parts of the United States and another 10% are in Idaho.

Is it less stressful working in Idaho? This is a stressful business, Eshman says. But the ambiance makes it easier to cope. Having just a six-minute commute gives him time to go snowboarding in winter, and biking and fishing in summer. He says, When Im working, I look out at the mountain and know that at the end of the day Ill have my reward.

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