Edmund Finder, Salomon Smith Barney
Picture a veranda overlooking the ocean with a 20-foot polished mahogany desktop supported by driftwood. On the desk are two television sets, a laptop computer, a fax machine and two phones. Just 10 steps away is a free-form pool surrounded by palm trees and exotic island flowers.
The setting is St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Edmund Finder, senior vice president, investments, Salomon Smith Barney, works five months of the year. The rest of the time hes at 59th and Madison in New York. One of the firms top producers, he credits his success to consistently providing a high return with low risk for his clients. His financial career spans almost 30 years.
Island living isnt for everybody, Finder says, but he has a hard time thinking of any negatives. You have to be someone who doesnt need to hear traffic patterns every morning, who appreciates natural beauty, who likes to watch the surf rolling in and likes taking the kids out snorkeling in the afternoon. He and his wife Elizabeth have 10-year-old triplet sons--Adam, Matthew and Andrew.
Since Finders first visit to a college friends home on the ocean, he has wanted to live in this kind of setting. It never occurred to me that I couldnt do it, he says.
Finder already owned two waterfront residences near New York before becoming the owner of a six-bedroom Spanish-style house on St. Croix. Why St. Croix? He sent an assistant to the library to find the best climate on U.S. offshore islands, and found that St. Croix has very little rainfall and humidity. He made the deal to buy the house over the phone in 1986.
The move fit well with Finders existing plan to have an office in the Caribbean. I saw the handwriting on the wall as far as communications are concerned. Also, I already had my own network of friends at brokerage and investment banking houses where I could get whatever information I needed, he says. He started out with phones, a fax and a Quotron machine. He now has a Bloomberg system and a total of six phone lines. Two full-time staff members in New York, Neil Martinez and Benjamin Qualls, do the support work.
Although Finder hasnt solicited accounts in St. Croix, word of mouth has brought him substantial local business, and clients from New York and elsewhere make a point of visiting him. He entertains them at his house, at a restaurant or on his 55-foot Viking motor yacht. A lot of socializing takes place on boats here, he notes.
Finder doesnt underestimate the support he has had from people at the firm, other colleagues and friends. When you do something like this, you have a lot of people rooting for you. The only time they may not be is when they call you in the dead of winter and find out youre sitting by the pool, he says.
What advice does he have for others who want to follow in his footsteps? If you live your life without fear and have a spirit of adventure, theres nothing you cant do. Decide what it is you want, then do it. You only pay a price for not living your dream.