Tim Owen, D.A. Davidson & Co., Bozeman, Mont. Montana suits Tim Owen to a "T." A lover of all things outdoor, this former ski coach and fishing guide is now a producing manager at D.A. Davidson's Bozeman, Mont., branch, where he started his career 17 years ago. Even his investment policy is tied to the state.
"I have a very strict philosophy about what I can and can't do for a client," Owen says. "I make an analogy to driving. I like to drive 70 miles an hour. If the client likes to drive that speed, then we'll get along fine."
That's one speedometer mark shy of the 75 mile-per-hour limit imposed on Montana residents for the first time in 1999. Translation: He's on the conservative side, a buy-and-hold type.
If clients don't like his approach, then he's got 14 other brokers they can choose. As branch manager since 1991, Owen has hired a diverse group of reps to create a rich blend of personalities and talents. "I don't look for people who are like me," he says. Other reps specialize in more aggressive investments including "new economy" stocks and options.
Building his brokers up is Owen's daily priority. "When I took the manager job, developing brokers' confidence was No. 1 on my list. I wanted to figure out how to make the branch monetarily successful but also socially successful. If people don't feel good, then they are not successful."
From the glowing nominations submitted by five of his charges, it seems he's succeeded. "Tim has created an environment that's very open," says Brian Brown, a rep in the office for five years. "He willingly gives his time and energy to support us brokers. He has a 'You' attitude."
Owen requires his brokers have a similar selfless manner. He insists that reps participate in community or charitable organizations. Owen actively supports his three children's activities. For example, as a board member of Gallatin Valley Pony Club, he donates use of his stable and land for local children to keep their horses and get riding instruction.
Being active in the community was how he started building his own book. Owen adopted Big Timber, a town of 4,000 ranchers and farmers near Bozeman. "I was like the rural doctor," he says. "I went to their houses to make it convenient for them and became involved by doing seminars."
In his business now, Owen is using a different strategy, moving from 2 percent to 50 percent fees in the past two years. His 1999 production was 537,000 dollars on assets of 125 million dollars. Why the switch? He wants to work for fewer clients and pay more attention to those he retains.
His next challenge: Convert the rest of his business to fees and create a team-three reps, three assistants. "Assistants are essential in my business pla n. I believe they are the key to adding significant value to the clients."
The egalitarian attitude is the only one he accepts when it comes to the nine assistants in the office. "I think the reason why my brokers and assistant nominated me is that, as a manager, I'm clear on who my clients are," he says. "My loyalty has never been questioned."
Nobody disputes his dog-friendly policy, either. Owen brings his dogs to work and encourages reps to do the same. "They are great tension relievers for the natural stress this business creates, and besides, who can hate a broker who loves dogs?" Ah, Montana.