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Q & A with Jeffrey C. Dillman - Chevy Chase Trust - Noteworthy

Q & A with Jeffrey C. Dillman

Jeffrey C. Dillman, CFA
Senior Portfolio Manager

Jeff Dillman joined Chevy Chase Trust as Managing Director and Portfolio Manager, coming to us from Atlantic Trust where he was Managing Director and Senior Relationship Manager.  At Chevy Chase Trust, he manages customized portfolios of individual stocks and bonds for clients.  We sat down with Jeff to find out more about how and why he pursued a career in portfolio management and what he does in his spare time.

Tell us about yourself.
I was raised in a bohemian enclave of Los Angeles and came east for college. I’ve lived in New York, San Francisco, Wilmington, DE and Washington, DC, all in different positions of the financial services industry, first in brokerage, then investment management and, for the past 14 years, wealth management. I have two wonderful children who are now young adults.

When did you discover the stock market?
At a young age I became interested in the stock market. My grandfather, a senior manager with EF Hutton at the time, taught me how to read the stock tables in the Wall Street Journal. I was captivated by the quoted numbers and fractions and (eventually) came to appreciate how these numbers reflected one’s ability to make money through investments. My grandfather taught me the tangible connection between these quotes and real companies that made things; this fascinated me.

What was your first job out of college?
With my grandfather as a role model, I sought to know as much as possible about the brokerage industry, starting out in the back office and audit functions and then going into sales. I failed miserably as a broker during my three years of trying, but discovered a passion for researching investment ideas and portfolio management. It led me to obtain my CFA.

Did you have a mentor?
I have had several mentors. My first was Michael Jamison, whom I followed to Paine Webber Asset Management where I got my first taste of quantitative analysis and an entrepreneurial asset management environment. At Radnor Capital Management, I learned a great deal from the firm’s patriarch, Elliott Farr, and then (while still at RCM) many of the qualitative aspects of investing from the firm’s eventual CIO, Doug Pyle. The firm’s co-founder, Maris Ogg, was also influential in shaping my investment beliefs.

Do you have a motto you live by?
The first that comes to mind (a propos of investing) is how the pain of an investment’s downside is exponentially greater than the joy of its upside. That’s not original, but it is a helpful reminder that downside protection is every bit as important as upside potential in investing

Do you have a favorite book?
Within the world of investing, I would recommend any newcomer to start with Edwin LeFevre’s Reminiscences of a Stock Operator. This book is beloved by many in the business and chronicles the life of Jesse Livermore, a famous trader and speculator at the turn of the 20th century. And, of course, everyone interested in investing should read Ben Graham’s The Intelligent Investor, as well as Warren Buffett’s shareholder letters. For pure fun, my favorite is Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth.

When not managing money, how do you spend your time?
I enjoy tennis and baseball. I play USTA (league) tennis which is very competitive play great exercise and fun camaraderie. The competitive play requires thought and strategy, often evolving into a chess match (particularly in doubles). I played some baseball in high school and am a huge fan of the game. I also enjoy live theatre, a product of growing up with thespians. I did a lot of work behind the stage of my mother’s community theatre. The cast parties were certainly memorable, too.

If not a portfolio manager, what would you be?
I’d probably be a high school teacher and coach – a math or history teacher and baseball coach. I love kids and enjoy helping nurture the spark that might ignite an interest.

What else should we know about you?
In terms of business – it’s all about the client. I want to make the investing experience as rewarding and comfortable as possible. Every client is different, which is part of the fun in our work; part of my job is to be sensitive to each client’s nuances and tailor our platform to their needs.

Also, I have worked since I was 13 years old in a wide variety of summer and school-term jobs. I’ve been a painter, a construction laborer, an industrial parts “picker”, on the front and back lines of fast food service, a messenger, a psych ward aid, and a NYSE clerk.

Oh, and I love dogs. All types and sizes. We have a 70 pound mutt who is the center of the family’s attention.

Continue to Jeffrey Dillman’s biography

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