I had the pleasure of interviewing Christopher R. Manske who leads a disciplined and well-credentialed team providing sophisticated wealth management and individualized investment advice. I learned he’s actively working to find representation for his book, Wartime Investing, which describes how society invests very predictably when faced with acts of war and offers many interesting vignettes about the intersection of America’s military history and investors’ appetite for stock market risk. Once published, this will be another accolade on Manske’s long list which includes: he helped train over 1,600 financial advisors across the United States; he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and ran with the bulls in Pamplona; and he’s most proud of almost twenty years of marriage to Jessica who helps him raise their four daughters.
After graduating from The United States Military Academy at West Point and serving overseas, I resigned my commission as an Army Captain in the year 2000. When I’d left the service, I’d either trained, was stationed, or deployed to Brazil, Bosnia, Germany, and a variety of bases in the United States. I was offered a job at Merrill Lynch, where I served as a Financial Advisor expecting that, as an office worker, my life would be quite different than the muddy boots world I was leaving.
I was pleasantly surprised that my values not only didn’t change, but rather, my professional military culture served me very well. During my tenure at Merrill, I earned a constant upward movement on their corporate ladder until I was in the corner office on the top floor of the Houston’s Galleria Financial District. I’d been recognized in various ways in the top 1% across the firm and had been selected to mentor other Financial Advisors all over the United States on how to build and maintain a world-class investment advisory practice.
Now, almost twenty years after leaving the service, I still rely on my military experience to help guide my transition from being a client-facing advisor to serving as a leader of financial advisors. At the boutique investment firm which I founded in 2012, there are six accomplished financial advisors running their practices and, with the help of a few other key teammates, they manage almost $300 million.
With almost a decade in the military, I entered the civilian workforce with these values: an excellent definition of long hours, putting the needs of my co-workers above my own, living the example I expected of those around me, a practical understanding of both integrity and loyalty, and the importance of doing “the harder right over the easier wrong.” But what I think most prepared me for business was the mission-focused aspect of military culture.
Because I had to regularly define and describe different missions to those around me, I was exceptionally well-prepared for how to communicate and accomplish objectives in the business world. Further, I could easily translate my mission-focused approach in the military to the everyday work I did as a financial advisor because they had such clear similarities. For example, it used to be that I prepared soldiers to be able to “take the hill” and I made decisions that could put their lives at risk.
As a Financial Advisor, I prepared clients to take their own hills — usually retirement — and I made decisions that managed risk in their financial lives. Both in the Army and as a financial advisor, I had to honestly assess people’s strengths and weaknesses to determine how best to identify and then overcome obstacles so that they’d accomplish the objective with as little risk as possible. Frankly, I often saw more worry and concern about money and people’s financial lives than I did people’s actual lives when I was in the service.
I’d define my leadership style as a combination of four roles: visionary; operator; processor; and synergist. As a visionary, I seek opportunities in the marketplace and alter my company’s offerings to fill those needs. I constantly seek improvement and adore thoughtful debate. I trust my own judgment and am proud to offer my vision to my team in as clear and consistent a format as I can. As an operator, I’m focused on getting things done and I often work very long hours and expect the same from those around me. I lead by example and tend to push myself as hard as I do everyone else. I do not enjoy being micromanaged and try to give my team the same latitude that I prefer for myself.
Being an operator means I am usually more forgiving of my staff who try and fail than I am of those who don’t try at all. As a processor, I value routine, I examine and easily trust data, and I often rely on consistently applying successful formulas to help the company grow. As a synergist, I try to employ a high degree of emotional intelligence, read people well, and build consensus for my ideas. I listen to my employees and try to keep everyone working together toward the same goals.
The six military leadership lessons I feel strongly help businesses are divided into two categories: definitions and values. The first three are definitions so that teams can make more productive comparisons and the last three are values that help the team to excel.
Almost twenty years after leaving the service, my military work ethic and dedication to the team attracts me to millennials and Gen-Z who have very well-developed morals. They often seek a cause bigger than themselves and prefer to work in groups where they can collaborate and rise together. I enjoy working with my younger teammates and, as I continue to transition from being a client-facing financial advisor to being a leader of financial advisors, I’ve found them to be the most open to change and technological advancement.
At the boutique investment firm which I founded in 2012, one of the things we do to attract younger generations is to seriously submit our big-picture vision in writing for all to examine, critique, and debate. The “why” for our work is very important to them and they know that they have just as much ownership of it as I do. At the moment, there are four accomplished financial advisors under the age of thirty on the team and, with the help of a few other key colleagues, they manage almost $200 million. With (and often in spite of) my guidance, they are a part of a team that I deeply care about and greatly admire. They are both disciplined and highly credentialed as they offer sophisticated wealth management and individualized investment advice to all manner of clients and institutions. My relationship with them and my ability to lead them is largely founded on my experience and training as an Army Officer.
In the past, it was Ernest Hemmingway and Ayn Rand. Today, I’d really like to sit down with Mary Anastasia O’Grady and Peggy Noonan, both excellent columnists with the Wall Street Journal.
Chris Quiocho is a combat veteran and pilot. Millennial leader and CEO of Offland Media, the premier content partner for business aviation. Chris is an insightful and motivational public speaker, and an emerging thought leader for the business aviation industry.
Originally published at medium.com