PaineWebber rep Bruce Fleet invests with his head, for a portion of his heart.
Bruce Fleet has a big heart. So big, in fact, that he even has room for a foundation, A Portion of My Heart.
Fleet, a broker with PaineWebber in Denver, works to serve the poor locally and around the world. But he also serves the rich, managing $100 million in assets and requiring $1 million just to open an account.
"One day I was looking at my son and thought, `If I were to die, what would my son say?'" Fleet remembers. "He would probably say something like, `My dad was awesome at making money.' I didn't want just that." So Fleet decided to focus his volunteer activities on his foundation, which assists several inner-city programs.
He melds a passion for music with this charitable work. Fleet is a trained singer, songwriter, guitarist and conductor who has worked with Jimmy Buffett, Dan Fogelberg and Dave Mason, among others. He performs at his church and at concerts throughout the year.
Fleet is also a performer for World Vision, the world's largest Christian relief agency, assisting poor children in developing countries. And he raises money for the poor through the sale of his CD, "A Portion of My Heart."
All of the proceeds from the sale of his music go toward Fleet's foundation, which in turn supports eight groups. These include Whiz Kids, a mentoring program for inner-city youths, the Denver Rescue Mission and the Denver Street School, which educates kids who have fallen out of the system. Fleet and his board pay for all of the overhead and expenses of his foundation.
Like-Minded Clients With a book of about 80 families and foundations, Fleet has plans to grow to about 125 households. About a third of his business is foundation money, which he wants to expand to about half. Fleet attracts most of his clients through foundation meetings, conferences and functions.
At these gatherings, people naturally talk about what they do. "And I happen to talk about investments," Fleet says. Some of those dialogues lead to meetings with prospective foundation clients.
Fleet's full-time associate, Ben Valore-Caplan, has a background in the nonprofit area. Valore-Caplan was founder and director of an inner-city educational program, the Denver Summerbridge at Kent Denver School.
The foundation marketplace is a large one. There are some 50,000 foundations in the United States, according to The Foundation Center, a New York-based organization that maintains a foundation directory (www.fdncenter.org).
While there are no solid statistics on just how much money foundations control, The Foundation Center says the top 1,000 foundations alone represent nearly $10 billion in assets. And more is pouring in from the new wealth created in the stock market over the past decade, according to the center.
Fleet invests mostly in individual securities, and his tendency is to be conservative, choosing large cap stocks for the long term. Clients have the same outlook.
His clients usually have a charitable bent as well. For example, one client, a retired physician, is now a hospice worker. Another client is a real estate developer who provides academic scholarships to inner-city children.
These are clients who, like Fleet, care about what their money does rather than just how much they have. It's what drives Fleet to focus on foundation money. "When you earn money for foundation accounts, you know the money goes back to doing good work," he says.
Fleet's music, charity and investing lives all blend together nicely. "Conducting an orchestra is not terribly different than managing money," Fleet says. "There are many different pieces going on at the same time. Only when all the pieces come together does it sound good."