MARKET COMMENTARY

Five Questions with Jon Heckscher

12.03.2020 - Jon Heckscher

Jon Heckscher joined Fiduciary Trust in May 2020 as part of the merger with Pennsylvania Trust. He recently sat down with us to share some of his background and his thoughts about the transition.  

1. As a senior member of the Investment Management Team, what do you find particularly interesting about building portfolios for clients?

I really enjoy looking at client portfolios through an asset allocation lens, both strategically and tactically. The former allows investors to choose their portfolio's long-term profile. The latter incorporates tactical adjustments to try to take advantage of short‐term opportunities. By creating a customized framework, clients often have a better opportunity to achieve their financial goals.  During this process, understanding a client’s risk tolerance, investment horizon and goals can be helpful in determining the portfolio’s potential performance.  

Trying to understand the fundamental drivers of each asset class is also intriguing. Digging into historical performance and how different asset classes interact gets me excited. Armed with these insights, I think a more comprehensive approach to asset allocation can be undertaken, which hopefully provides better outcomes for our clients.

2. How did you decide to pursue the career you are in today?

When I was in sixth grade, I used to take the train into downtown Philadelphia after school to my father’s office at Goldman Sachs. I’d sit at his desk and try to build stock portfolios on a Quotron. If you don’t know what that is, and at the risk of dating myself, it was the first company to show stock market prices on a computer screen instead of on a printed ticker tape. My “portfolios” usually included companies that made video games, stereo equipment, sporting goods and cars.  

Those early experiences with my dad inspired me to follow in his footsteps. Starting off in the back office of the old Boston Company (now known as Bank of New York Mellon), I eventually moved into fixed income at a small investment manager, STW Fixed Income, located in Bermuda. Driving a scooter around the island and riding the local ferry to the office offered a different kind of environment to work in as well as to raise my kids. All three of them were actually born on the island as we lived there for nearly 14 years.

While STW managed a sizable asset base, we had a relatively small team. Everyone got involved in the investment decision-making process which allowed me access to the nuts and bolts of managing money for clients. The firm’s macroeconomic focus, in particular, formed a key driver for my career path.

3. Is there a piece of advice you’ve received that you still rely on?

Early in my career, Billy Williams, a founder and former CEO of STW, preached a motto of “where there's smoke, there's fire.” Using that as a guiding mantra, we sold companies that experienced a sudden news announcement like a government investigation or similarly adverse event. Based on that decades-old advice, trying to exit positions before the market reacts has become part of my process. Afterwards, if it makes sense and the downside risks can be quantified, buying back the position becomes an option.

4. What is the hardest part of your current role?

One word … time. I truly enjoy my career but that often translates into long days at the office. Add in working from home during the pandemic and the work-life balance sometimes can get challenging.

Also, as a leader in the Radnor office, I feel it’s important to find time for my local colleagues. They are a great group of people and I try to connect with everyone to hear what’s on their minds. Given my other commitments, this can be difficult but it’s something that I try to do as often as possible.

5. What has been the most rewarding part of joining Fiduciary Trust?

I may have a unique perspective on this topic as I was not directly hired by Fiduciary. Instead, my former firm, Pennsylvania Trust, merged with Fiduciary this past May. Since then, a lot of work happened behind the scenes to make this merger a reality. From my point of view that meant getting an understanding of how life works at Fiduciary as well as how our culture would adapt. We all knew there would be challenges along the way, but everyone also realized that this was a natural next step for Pennsylvania Trust's maturation and future growth. 

As the integration evolved, I had the chance to work alongside Fiduciary’s investment leadership. I can truly say that each organization has brought different strengths to the table. That diversity of people and abilities has made the whole team stronger portfolio managers, relationship managers and decision makers. I would add that this process was done remotely in the middle of the worst health crisis in 100 years. Succeeding under such adverse conditions has been especially satisfying.

 






This communication is intended solely to provide general information. The information and opinions stated may change without notice. The information and opinions do not represent a complete analysis of every material fact regarding any market, industry, sector or security. Statements of fact have been obtained from sources deemed reliable, but no representation is made as to their completeness or accuracy. The opinions expressed are not intended as individual investment, tax or estate planning advice or as a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Please consult your personal advisor to determine whether this information may be appropriate for you. This information is provided solely for insight into our general management philosophy and process. Historical performance does not guarantee future results and results may differ over future time periods.

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