Peter Princi was always a numbers guy, and as a closing pitcher in the minor leagues, he knew the numbers were against him to make it to the big leagues.
So, after signing a minor league contract with the New York Mets, Princi honed his financial skills by studying business periodicals on long bus rides and working a Smith Barney internship during the off-season. He also had a business finance degree from Wake Forest University. Soon, his teammates in the dugout started asking him to look over their portfolios.
When the Mets released him in 2000, Princi, then 24 years old, set out to start his own firm using the analytic and research-based investment approach he learned from two advisors who mentored him at Smith Barney. “I wanted to get on a more stable career path and get started early,” he says. He saw that his mentors worked hard. “But,” he notes, “if they needed to catch a day with a family member, they were able to do that, which I thought was very intriguing and rewarding.”
Princi says his experience with the daily grind of a baseball season and his competitive nature helped him during his early days as an advisor. Noticing the outrageous valuations of tech companies during the dotcom bubble, he focused on young tech entrepreneurs to build up a book of business. He urged clients to diversify their portfolios with more conservative investments and take some assets off the table. When the tech bubble burst, they were happy their money was protected, and the referrals started rolling in.
The key was doing the research and being competitive. “I knew more about their companies than they did,” Princi says. “I think that’s key for any young advisor—do a lot of due diligence and build an opinion on everything.”
The most important lesson he says he learned from the pitching mound was overcoming failure. “I would have to deal with defeat, like giving up a bad pitch and a home run in front of everyone, and would quickly have to erase it from my memory and execute on the next pitch,” Princi says. “In portfolio management, you’re trying to put yourself and your clients in the best position possible to make a decision… and you’re not always right. And when it doesn’t work out, we know when to cut our losses and move on to the next one.”