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If you get in on change early, that will create opportunities in any market and any environment.”
The financial markets caught Kevin Collins’ attention early. Before he was in high school, he watched stock market shows on television. He got the same kick watching his grandparents use betting strategies when they went to the racetrack at Aqueduct. He liked the dynamism and the action. That’s what drew him to a career in the markets and to Alger where he has been a securities analyst, a portfolio manager and now a client portfolio manager. Alger is all about embracing change and for Collins, waking up each day and looking for that change has always been energizing.
Both of your parents were lawyers. Is that something you thought you would pursue?
I never had any interest in the law. I have always been interested in money and the financial markets. My first exposure came in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which was an exciting time. Gold was up big. Rates were super high. I used to watch Louis Rukeyser, who had a stock market show, “Wall Street Week,” on television every weekend. I liked stocks and horseracing--both had dynamic market action.
How did you get exposed to horseracing?
My grandparents were fans and they used to take me along. We would take the bus from near the Queensborough Bridge to Aqueduct and spend the day. My grandparents liked the horses and I got exposed to all sorts of strategies: conservative ones that tended to pay out a little and longer shots that paid out more. There was a definite link to investing.
Was there an early job that cemented your interest in pursuing a financial career?
I had an internship at AT&T, which at the time had the largest corporate pension fund. I worked in the pension management department, so I got to sit in on some of the sessions when the outside money managers came in to talk about their portfolios. It was even more exciting than watching Rukeyser.
You eventually became a securities analyst at Alger. What was the appeal of the job?
I had a previous job as an analyst, so I had some experience already. But when I interviewed at Alger and pitched my stocks, I knew I was going to have to step up my game. It was much more intense. Alger is a meritocracy and if you prove you can add value, you are rewarded with more responsibility. Alger and our philosophy of Positive Dynamic Change provided me with a great lens through which to view opportunities in the marketplace.
You were an analyst and later a portfolio manager at Alger for a long time before assuming your current role. Are those jobs that you get better at over time?
Yes. When you learn what is in a stock price and what isn’t, you gain confidence in your judgement so you can take advantage of movements in stock prices to benefit your client. You have to be able to move out on your own and function in the wild with great comfort.
As a client portfolio manager, you must reassure clients of Alger’s long-term investment goals through market cycles and different economic clients. Is that challenging?
As you probably know, we are in a period of acceleration and adoption of new innovative technologies. One of the things we do here at Alger is embrace change and look for change. I remember when Fred Alger came out of retirement after 9/11, he addressed us and said, “Where’s the change?” If you get in on change early, that will create opportunities in any market and any environment. That has certainly benefited us and our clients, and you can see it in our investment returns.
Are there any causes you like to get involved in when you are not working?
I really like associating with Catholic Charities and my particular favorite is the Father English Food Pantry in Paterson, New Jersey. Through the years I have had a strong relationship with them. As I travel around the country, Catholic Charities facilities are on the frontlines. They help the marginalized, the people who aren’t seen. Their efforts make a big difference.
Are there places your family has enjoyed vacationing?
When the kids were younger, we went up to Quebec to see the Winter Wonderland. That was pretty cool. My kids really like sports, so we visited a lot of the halls of fame---football, basketball, baseball, and hockey. When they got older, I really enjoyed taking them to London and Paris. It was a big eye opener for them to see places other than the United States.
Is being involved in the markets still fun for you, the way it was when the bug first bit you?
Yes because the financial markets are about change. I like to turn on the computer each morning and see what is different. It is entertaining. It was that way when I was younger, and it still is today. I am going to be doing this when I am 80 because the markets are always changing and that is what makes them interesting.
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