Ryan Erickson, SlateStone Wealth

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Ryan Erickson, CFA, managing director, senior portfolio manager, partner at SlateStone Wealth.
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What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

Early in my career, the most challenging aspect of being a portfolio manager was getting comfortable with meeting clients face to face. The analytical and research aspect of managing financial portfolios draws many introverts to the field, as the promise of working in an office — alone — looking over numbers, and developing ideas is our “ideal” space. What became apparent to me early on was that my ability to discuss the findings and solutions with clients is where I could really shine and differentiate myself. This challenge leads directly to the most rewarding aspect, which is the solid relationships I have with my clients. Helping people better understand their investments and other financial topics and being “on call” for any financial dilemma my clients may have is very fulfilling. I recently joined SlateStone Wealth in Madison, which offers another rewarding challenge as we continue to build the firm.

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

One of my first business connections when I started my career was Joan Gillman. Joan, now retired, had an impressive career with the UW School of Business and she remains connected to everything “business-wise” in Madison. My first impression, years ago, was that she was smart and welcoming, but also a “tough cookie.” She was not afraid to tell you if she thought there was a better way to handle a situation. She has a great ability to steward introspection and personal growth. Joan has been an important aspect of my growth professionally. We do not always agree, but we have good conversations and I consider her a great friend!

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

Although it was an early point in my career, earning the right to use the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation was the proudest moment. There are many designations in the finance profession, but the industry consensus is that the CFA designation requires the most dedication and has the largest focus on financial ethics and the fiduciary standard. The rigorous self-study program requires at least 2 1/2 years to pass the three exams, and the average pass rate is under 40%. Successfully completing the program demonstrates the candidate’s dedication to the investment management field and the fiduciary standard.

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

Force yourself to do things outside your comfort zone. Every time I have grown professionally, it was a direct result of doing something that was different than taking the “comfortable” path.

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

I grew up here and graduated from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in business, finance, risk management, and insurance, and have been serving clients here for 25 years. Last November, the opportunity to join SlateStone Wealth and reconnect with clients I worked with for 20 years was too good to pass up. Two colleagues whom I respect so much, Jason Joanis and Jennifer Ridley Hanson, joined me and we now lead the Madison office together. I love that we have a significant business community here and beautiful scenery. The best of both worlds!

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

I’m pretty good with electronics and technology. I got my first investment intern job in college because I convinced the business owners I could work on the lone computer in the office. I ended up being the main tech person for the company as we grew even though my main responsibility was portfolio management.

What are your guilty pleasures?

I enjoy live music. Country music was something that brought my wife and me together initially. Right after we were married, I heard a radio advertisement for a bus trip to a couple of casinos that ended with a Vince Gill concert in the Quad Cities. My wife loved Vince, so I booked it as a surprise. As it turned out, the main draw for the trip — for everyone but us — was the casino portion. The rest of the group were all retired 70-year-olds, and we were in our mid-20s! We had a blast, and it felt like we had 30 new sets of grandparents, even though they made fun of us every time we reboarded the bus. Although we were right on time, they were always 10 minutes early!

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