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As the Founding Partner and CEO of Lexion Capital Management, Elle Kaplan focuses exclusively on providing customized investment solutions. Elle provides a broad range of wealth and risk management advice to individuals, foundations, trusts, and endowments. Her analytical and thoughtful approach is the product of more than a decade of experience in investment banking, institutional trading and private wealth management.
Lexion Capital is an unbiased and private firm with one mission: to provide private clients, families and foundations with the best advice to achieve their goals. As an independent and fee only firm, they are free to provide the best in class options and resources to their clients while maintaining the individual care and attention of a small firm.
MO: Where does your passion for finance come from? And then more specifically, your passion for women and finance?
Elle: I swear I was born with a passion about finance. At a young age I recall watching Mary Poppins and not understanding why the children were giving their tuppence away to feed the birds rather than placing their coins in the bank where they could accrue interest. However, it wasn’t until after college that I believed I could make a living from my hobby. My mother was unexpectedly widowed and fumbled through money issues. I was inspired by her struggles and decided to champion finance on my own and simultaneously cater to clients in life transitions. I wanted to create a place that was worthy of my mom, and that in turn has become one of the leading mantra’s of my firm. “Is this investment advice good enough for my own mother?”
MO: Why were you inspired to open your own your own firm instead of working for an established company? What are you doing differently?
Elle: As much as I would like to claim otherwise, this idea was not mine. Three clients, all independent of one another, approached me (at the firm I used to work for), and asked me to leave and manage their money independent of a traditional Wall Street firm. Finally, after the third request I said “yes” and began working all day at my then current job and then all night to create my current firm. I wanted to create a firm using the “best of” from every place I had worked. I was tired of the product pushing culture of Wall Street. And I was able to create a very different firm. Lexion Capital Management is a completely independent firm that is held to a fiduciary standard. Legally, we must act in the best interests of our clients. (vs. the brokerage industries lower “suitability standard”) This means we truly sit on the same side of the table as our clients. That higher standard also means there are no hidden fees or commissions.
We are in business to do one thing—and that is to help our clients secure and grow their portfolios.
MO: Do you feel that there’s a general lack of education regarding personal finance with our school systems? What are the most common mistakes you see people making?
Elle: There is absolutely a lack of education about finance, not only in our school systems but everywhere. People are nervous about “finance” and therefore tend to brush it off as opposed to take the time to learn about it. I think that teaching about personal finance in school would be a wonderful way to de-mystify the whole process and start people off on the right foot at a young age.
The most common mistake I see people make is investing with emotion. People tend to be fearful or greedy at the exact wrong times. Finance isn’t about emotion; it’s about facts and numbers.
MO: You say that you ‘opened’ at 2pm on your first day and by 5pm you had surpassed your annual goals and were profitable. Those are some pretty remarkable results, how were you able to achieve such an impressive start on day one?
Elle: It was an incredible and happy day for me. Yes! The results were remarkable and I was jubilant by 5pm. A year and a half prior, three clients asked me to form an independent firm. So, when I called them to let them know I had each of those three joined me immediately. The next client I contacted made me promise that no matter how big I got, I would always work directly with her family. Another client wrote to tell me she heard I left and she was upset. I sent her a link to www.lexioncapital.com and within one minute she had written back to say of course she was coming with me. I was thrilled to have her- and could tell by the rapid reply that she did not even read my web site. Every client that I invited to join me, came.
Mind you, prior to the grand opening of Lexion Capital Management I went to business school at Columbia University and spent over a decade in finance. I have worked in Investment Banking and Institutional trading in both New York and London. I had a lot of success with my own portfolio and would always tell clients exactly what I was doing. My decisions were always very different than the flavor of the month product push of Wall Street.
MO: What’s the major difference between working for an established firm and being an entrepreneur? Is it what you expected?
Elle: The major difference is being a CEO instead of an employee. I have to wear more hats and have more people report to me. Long term planning is no longer flushing out my schedule till the end of the month or quarter. It’s looking years down the road and figuring out what needs to be done to get myself and the company where I want us to be.
It is more fun that I had expected. I definitely feel that I prepared myself well. The one thing that surprises me are the emails that I get. Women around the county will write me seeking advice, or asking if they can meet me when they come to NYC. It is very flattering.
MO: Can you tell our readers of 2 finance trends that they should be paying attention to or taking advantage of?
Elle: I wouldn’t say it is a “trend” but everyone should make sure to diversify their portfolios in numerous ways including:
1. Size – Own index funds with a mix of small, medium and large market capitalizations
2. Geography – Be global!
3. Asset Class – You should own a mix of stocks, bonds, and hard assets (commodities and REITS)
If the above seems overwhelming then just begin by saving. But by all means, begin!
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