Meet Four Chicago Businessmen
By Adam Fendelman
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT/CIO, HARRIS PRIVATE BANK
This big-picture thinker talks tongue-in-cheek about earning six suspensions for innocent, nonconformist behavior at the city’s Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School. Though Jack Ablin says he wasn’t a sound listener then, he asserts that he’s taken a “divergent view” to learning and understanding things now.
“In college, I majored in math but studied art,” says Ablin, who’s married with two daughters. “My first job out of college was with the Sotheby’s art auction in New York. Investors are better [when they] take a different tack. Conventional wisdom leads to conventional returns. We look at things through a different lens.”
Ablin, whose group oversees about $57 billion, uses his art education to study human nature and understand how people are likely to respond to different markets. “I can be very creative in an industry that historically hasn’t been,” he says.
After spending most of his career in Boston and Florida, Ablin moved back to Chicago for work and for the “right mix of family, friends and fun things to do,” he says. “If it wasn’t Harris and it wasn’t Chicago, this deal wouldn’t have worked.”
CHAIRMAN/CEO, CAPITAL MANAGEMENT GROUP
As the second African American member of the Chicago Stock Exchange and one of the city’s most powerful financiers, it’s easy to imagine that Shawn Baldwin’s brain is relentlessly firing: “People who know me think I’m ‘on’ all the time.”
This focus has paid off: Capital Management underwrote $68 billion worth of transactions during one recent four-year period. Baldwin has built this booming empire around a simple philosophy he calls “R squared S”: using research and relationships to develop solutions.
Baldwin has spoken about finace at the last two Milken Institute Global Conferences, and he is a regular on CNN and CNBC. Much of his work brings him to the Middle East, and he’ll be headlining a private hedge fund conference in Malta this month.
In his free time, Baldwin contributes to Fast Company and Forbes, and he raises four kids with his high school sweetheart. He is also passionate about comic books, fine art and film. He sits on the advisory board of the Gene Siskel Film Center and jokes about his evergrowing art collection: “That’s an archetype for a finance guy.”
DIRECTOR, OXFORD FINANCIAL GROUP, LTD.
Working on Wall Street taught Charles Heekin plenty about its “conflicted advice” and “questionable practices.” Since then, he’s glad he joined an “unconflicted,” feeonly, registered advisory firm with just one agenda: objective investment advice. Oxford manages $13 billion in assets for high-net-worth families and institutions.
Heekin currently finds himself “unbelievably busy with work in 2010, because people are keen on finding better financial solutions,” he says. “In 2009, people weren’t making decisions.”
A 20-year resident of Chicago, Heekin is a diehard Cubs fan who has held season tickets for a decade. He’s also an undercover science geek. “I’m secretly obsessed with Nova on PBS,” he says. “I’m fascinated by the universe and pure science.”
A divorced father of two boys, Heekin admits he might be biased in his support of the best-selling book for singles Undateable. He is dating co-author Anne Coyle, who has become a patron saint for women with shocking stories of dates gone awry. “I inspired a few of the ‘undateables,’” Heekin jokes, “though [Coyle] wouldn’t say that.”
MANAGING DIRECTOR, UBS
On the rare occasion he’s not nattily attired as the leader of 1,000 wealth management employees who oversee $56 billion in assets for the Midwest region of private banking powerhouse UBS, you might find Robert Graham in a kilt.
“My basic philosophy,” says Graham, a Scot by way of the Bronx, “is that a leader impacts people and communities. He doesn’t look to take credit and wants to leave a legacy.”
Graham, who is a vice chair of the Joffrey Ballet’s board, a member of the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation and the proud son of a New York City fireman, admits he’s in an industry where the lines between work and play can be blurry. “In [financial] circles, people always know what you do,” Graham says. “That’s why my work-life balance is integrated. My son even interned [at UBS] so I could see him more.”
A consummate overachiever, Graham enjoys the thrill of constant change; if you’re resting in business, he says, you’re declining. “I don’t like average,” he says. “I like excitement; I thrive on multitasking. I guide people through tough times. I’m wired to help people.”
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ANTHONY TAHLIER