Jason Joanis, BMO Wealth Management

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Jason Joanis, director, senior portfolio manager, BMO Wealth Management.

What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

The most challenging and the most rewarding aspects of my job boil down to the same answer, but they come at different phases of being a portfolio manager. I started at M&I Trust Co., now BMO Private Bank, in early 2010. In 2010 the markets were much improved from the 2008 crisis, but there were still high levels of investor skepticism and trepidation. Investors in 2010 were either debating to sell and take their profits or just ride it out, but still scared to add more cash to their investment portfolio.

The easy part of my job at BMO Wealth Management is crafting the investment plan; the most challenging part is getting the clients to implement their investment plan. Many investors believe they are going to market time their investment perfectly or market time the next correction, but I’ve found out no one has a 1.000 batting average on buying and selling their portfolio. Once the investment plan is implemented the journey doesn’t stop there, and in many cases the journey will continue for several years. Subsequently, the most rewarding aspect of the job is the journey to a successful investment plan. Enjoy the journey.

Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?

I don’t read much fiction — mainly it’s non-fiction books, investment newsletters, or annual shareholder letters. My most frequent reads include Warren Buffett, Gary Shilling, David Rosenberg, and Michael Lewis. Each of these writers is uniquely intelligent, and they can easily explain a sophisticated subject matter to a novice in a few choice words. This one simple but very important trait is what I admire and try to emulate with my client base.

What has been the high point of your career so far?

My father told me once that if you don’t have the proper tools in your toolbox, the job will take longer to finish and probably be finished with sub-standard results. In addition to undergrad or graduate degrees, investment professionals are typically encouraged to enroll in the program that administers the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. The six-month, self-study curriculum is administered over three tests that cover concepts and skills that will be used at all stages of your investment career. I was fortunate enough to complete the program before I was married and had a family. The high point was my future wife reading me that final letter saying I had successfully passed level three.

Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Take more risks with your investments and with your career. The estimated risks always seem much greater in the deciding moment than the actual risks relative to the outsized returns.

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What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?

That’s easy — the unique personality of Madison. I’ve lived in small-town northern Wisconsin and the metropolitan Milwaukee area; Dane County has a similar feeling to both with the additional benefits of being a university town and housing the state capitol.

Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?

One of my early high school coaches advised his players to play every sport or activity they had the opportunity to play. Due to his advice and leadership I lettered in three high school sports, played collegiate Division III football, and only recently stopped playing Home Talent Baseball to concentrate on coaching my kids’ baseball teams. I also grew up with a family that loved boating and all the extra water sports that come along with it. At a very young age, my mother and uncle taught me how to slalom ski, barefoot ski, and wakeboard. I don’t think any of these activities are very secret with social media, or very extraordinary, but it shows that I’ll pretty much try any physical activity. Within the past few years, I’ve tandem sky dived with my wife and family, and run half marathons with friends. Presently my kids want me to compete in American Ninja Warrior, but the jury is still deliberating that decision.

What are your guilty pleasures?

Traveling out west to ski and snowboard with a few buddies is my expensive guilty pleasure. We don’t travel to Colorado as often as we used to, but that’s what makes the times we do get together that much better.

On one occasion after a day of skiing in Tahoe, two friends and I began the hunt for a bar to watch No. 3-seed Wisconsin take on No. 10-seed Davidson in the NCAA basketball tournament. We found a local bar that didn’t have many basketball fans, and since no one cared or knew about either team, we got the whole bar to cheer for Wisconsin. Needless to say, future NBA MVP Stephen Curry led Davidson to victory and these three Wisconsin fans were eating crow after talking up our defensive prowess.

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