Ben Carlson may not be as famous as the neurosurgeon and presidential candidate who shares his name, minus the l, but the Chartered Financial Analyst has made quite a name for himself at his popular blog, A Wealth of Common Sense. His writings caught the attention of fellow bloggers Barry Ritholtz and Josh Brown, the respective Chairman/CIO and CEO of Ritholtz Wealth Management, so much so that Mr. Brown asked Mr. Carlson to join the firm as its Director of Institutional Asset Management. Mr. Carlson accepted.
“I told Josh that my role at the time as part of a small team that managed an endowment fund that was close to $1.5 billion was very interesting, but I’ve always wanted to venture out on my own and help other organizations and individuals,” Mr. Carlson wrote in a September 22 blog post. “He finally stopped me and said, ‘Why don’t you come do all of that for us?’”
“The world of institutional investment is beginning to embrace a message we’ve been sending for years, which is that ‘less is more’ and portfolio construction should be dictated by logic, data and straightforward advice,” said Mr. Brown, in a recent annoucement. “We’ve been impressed with Ben and his vast body of written work on these topics at his blog, A Wealth of Common Sense, which became an overnight sensation from the moment it launched. It is great to have him on the team as his ethos and sense of purpose match up precisely with our own.”
In his new role, Mr. Carlson will report to Mr. Ritholtz. He’ll work in partnership with Mr. Brown and Ritholtz’s Director of Research Michael Batnick. Mr. Carlson’s responsibilities will include working directly with institutional investors to develop portfolio solutions that address each client’s particular needs, as well as contributing to the firm’s internal research.
“There are actually over 80,000 charitable foundations in the United States,” said Mr. Carlson, on his blog. “Ninety-nine percent of these funds have less than $100 million in their portfolios. The majority of these charitable organizations, along with many municipal and corporate pension plans don’t have the time, resources or expertise to invest institutional level portfolios or create the comprehensive investment plans they require.”
Portfolio Management Background
Prior to joining Ritholtz, Mr. Carlson was part of the investment team that managed the endowment fund for the Van Andel Institute, a medical-research charity. Prior to that, he worked at an institutional investment consulting firm, where he managed portfolios for various endowments, foundations, and pension plans. Mr. Carlson earned his respective MBA and undergraduate degrees at Grand Valley State University and Hope College, both Michigan schools.
“I have watched with great interest as Ritholtz Wealth Management has built its reputation for transparent and sensible financial planning,” said Mr. Carlson. “Their model and message place them at the vanguard of today’s conflict-free, holistic advice movement. The time for these principles to be applied to the institutional market segment is now.”
“We are excited to have one of today’s leading investment writers and thought leaders coming aboard,” Mr. Ritholtz said. “As a practitioner in the institutional investment field and one of its foremost proponents of reform, Ben’s experience will add significant leadership and capability to our firm.”