FAI Insights Podcast: An Interview with FAI's Chief Invesment Officer Curt Gross
Q: Please Introduce yourself.
My name is Curt Gross. I am the Chief Investment Officer at FAI Wealth Management.
Q: Tell me about your role or roles prior to FAI.
Prior to FAI, I was an investment analyst for several years at a bank following a majority of the S&P 500 sectors. I then moved on to become a portfolio manager and I managed wealthy individual money as well as a global mutual fund and a core US fund. I also had the responsibility of running a domestic biotech hedge fund. I’ve got lots of experience in many aspects of the investment industry, both institutional and individual.
Q: Tell me about your current position with FAI.
So I’m the Chief Investment Officer and what that means is that I’m totally responsible for all of FAI’s investment policies and practices. We do several things for clients. We do asset allocation, security selection and portfolio construction.
The investment process here is a little different than what most people are used to in that we do a lot of diversification work to make sure the portfolios are extremely diversified and we do it a little differently than most because we concentrate on price drivers of securities as opposed to individual collections of diversification maps or things that other institutions would detail as being diversified.
We make sure that we understand every security that we own, what’s going to make its price either go up or down, and that allows us to make sure that the portfolio is constructed in a way that we’re not overly exposed to any one variable in the economy.
Q: What do you see changing within the investment environment?
Security selection is going to be very important in the coming years and we talk a lot about this with clients from the perspective of a lot of institutions have basically tried to institute either robo-investors and or index investing which locks you into specific securities over a long period of time. We think active management adds a lot more value, especially when you have investment professionals with significant years of experience looking at the securities that you own personally every single day.
Q: How is FAI’s investment process different than others’?
So one of the things we do differently in the investment process is we have built internally a model to do asset allocation that is specific to our experiences. We take a look at business fundamentals, economic condition and valuation (because we are a value manager) and we combine all three entities in a competitive model that is proprietary to FAI to devise a way to do our asset allocation decisions.
One of the sayings that we have here is: “Own what you know and know what you own.” We spend an incredible amount of time for every security that we own doing very detailed research to understand exactly what that investment is, does, will do, is expected to do, and how it fits into the portfolio structure. A lot of that information is garnered through very sophisticated techniques. We have sophisticated spreadsheets and models that dig into several different databases of information, historical information, that goes back several decades to understand exactly what a company does and how they do it. We think that gives us a competitive advantage when we’re looking at picking securities.
Q: What are some of the things that you like to do in your freetime or within the community?
The things that I like to do in my free time, I’ve got three children and most of my excess time is spent with them. They’re very sports-oriented. They play baseball, basketball, hockey, volleyball, cheerleading—so I’ve spent a lot of time in a lot of gyms over the years. I’ve also helped coach several of their teams over the years and have been very involved in the community in helping coach other kids—especially baseball, which is my passion, which is something that I did in college as well.
Q: Are you originally from the Columbia, MD area?
I am originally from just north of Pittsburgh, Butler, PA, and that’s where I currently live so I actually commute every week to come to Maryland. I work in the office here three days a week and I work from home two days a week.
Q: So are you a Steelers fan or a Ravens fan?
I am definitely a Steelers fan and not a Ravens fan. If you saw my office you would see lots of Pittsburgh paraphernalia and no Baltimore paraphernalia, which leads to very interesting conversations in the office.
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