As a sophomore at New College, Adam Kendall began an internship at Morgan Stanley’s Sarasota branch—an experience that grew into a part-time, longer-term opportunity at the multinational firm. On most days, he’d go to class after or before work.
Thus, for much of his last two years at New College, Kendall wore a suit on campus. “I was the only guy wearing a suit,” Kendall recalls. “Actually, I was the only one wearing shoes.”
Although he was dressed a little formally for campus, Kendall, 35, found a supportive environment among his peers, and guidance from his professors. He recalls dynamic class conversations about global post-Sept. 11 economics. He worked closely with his thesis advisor Cathy Elliott (now retired) on his senior thesis examining the nuanced behavior of stock market investors during financial calamity. And economics Prof. Richard Coe helped Kendall turn the process of achieving his securities certification as a financial advisor into a college independent-study project. “It has been great stepping-stone for my entire career,” Kendall says about his studies at New College.
Before he graduated in 2002, Kendall went from making cold calls and folding envelopes to being able to advise clients on what was happening with AT&T stock. Today, Kendall, a vice president and certified financial planner, is still at the Sarasota branch of Morgan Stanley — except now with a ninth-floor office overlooking the downtown Sarasota Bayfront.
During an interview in December, the sun gleamed on the water. Inside orchids lined the windowsill. The orchids, a passion that “rubbed off on him” from his mom, help bring the outdoors into his office. While the setting is pleasant for an office, clients come to Kendall for his guidance on investing, and newly-hired financial advisors come to the Kentucky native — who became a Financial Advisor Associate Coach in 2012 — for mentoring.
Kendall has earned several certifications and is currently enrolled in a distance-learning program at The School of Theology at Sewanee: The University of the South. He tells younger advisors to not be afraid to ask questions. “Always ask questions. You’re not expected to know everything. Inquire as much as you can.”
And he tells them to be sure to listen carefully to their clients. That’s something he learned while working on his thesis project at New College. The project, titled “The Parody of Hysterics: How Simple Rules of Thumb Manipulate Stock Market Mentality” had Kendall studying economic trends, behavioral finance, and how investors react. He learned people react differently to situations based on the financial risks they’re willing to take over a certain period of time.
“I thought I would be able to study psychology and behavioral finance and then be able to sit down with Mr. and Mrs. Client, and tell them this is what you should do,” Kendall said. “But each family has different needs, goals, and desires. I determined that the Nobel Prize-winning concept, “Modern Portfolio Theory,” was a good approach to constructing investment portfolios to increase return and lower the risk. That’s something I took from my thesis.”
Kendall lives in Venice with his wife, Judith. Currently, he is also working on an enterprise to develop a website and app that would help employees find training opportunities and match companies to skilled workers. He’s working closely with New College professor David Gillman and two recent grads on research and site development to bring the project, called Certrek, to fruition.