An Interview with Larry Fisher, Senior Managing Director & President, Family Wealth Services. Larry joined Chevy Chase Trust in 2010 after an impressive early career in banking followed by 15 years as a leader in multi-generational wealth advising.
Tell us about yourself?
I was born in Detroit (actually in a car), went to high school in Connecticut and ended up at Georgetown, earning a BSBA in Finance. While I really enjoyed growing up in Detroit (attending as many Lions, Tigers, and Red Wings games as possible), once I arrived in D.C., I decided to stay. I do still have family in Detroit, some still in auto-related businesses.
I have two grown children and currently live in Bethesda. Working at Chevy Chase Trust has been the reward for being a finance major and working in financial services for 37 years.
When were you first interested in finance?
I am sure that growing up with a grandfather, and a father in banking had quite a bit to do with it. During my senior year at G.U., I had an internship in the credit department of Riggs Bank and was lucky enough to turn that into a job offer. I completed the Executive Management Training Program and was in corporate lending until I moved with a group of folks to American Security Bank. In all, I spent 17 years in corporate banking.
Why did you make the switch to wealth management?
I realized that banking was not going to be my life long occupation. The business had increasingly become commoditized. In the early ’90s, I spent a few years in public service which included a stint at the National Transportation Safety Board working on budgeting and accounting systems. After returning to banking in the Middle Market Lending Division of Mellon Bank, I found myself frequently referring clients to wealth managers. I decided to try working on the other side of the balance sheet and accepted a job in the de novo D.C. office of U.S. Trust. Once there, I discovered how much more I enjoyed creating real solutions for individuals and families and helping them reach their overall financial goals. The asset management business was much more rewarding than lending, which had become more formulaic and restrictive – I didn’t feel like I was adding value for my clients. Working on real-life situations was exciting for me. Building a business and identifying those we could help became a real passion. And working for a company like U.S. Trust, before it was purchased by Schwab and again by Bank of America, felt like I was working for a privately owned company, a significantly positive differentiator in our industry.
What advice do you have for those considering a career in wealth management?
Learn as much as you can about the financial markets first. Start in your college years, if possible, by taking finance-related courses in school, and then read, read, read—the dailys, weeklys, Financial Times, Barron’s, the Wall Street Journal. My favorite book for those considering our business is James E. Hughes’ “Family Wealth–Keeping It in the Family: How Family Members and Their Advisers Preserve Human, Intellectual, and Financial Assets for Generations.”
What’s been your guiding principal?
As an employee as well as a client of CCT, the phrase, “Do unto others…” has real meaning/significance.
How do you spend your time outside of work?
My parents set a terrific example for all of us as we were growing up. They were always involved in helping our community and instilled in us a culture of giving back. Consequently, I spend a lot of time on philanthropic endeavors, especially those that are education-related, helping build the tools kids need to survive. Our work for clients also involves next-generation education and financial literacy. I have served on the boards of Georgetown University McDonough School of Business, Junior Achievement, Teach for America, the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, Wolf Trap, and GMAC (Graduate Management Admission Council). I recently finished my term on the foundation board of Suburban Hospital. We are all witnessing the developing challenges of our aging population, which is captured by a few of our investment themes at Chevy Chase Trust. I decided to get involved with Suburban to learn how I can help, not only in the community but also with the challenges that health care presents to our clients too. I am continuing my board service with LessCancer.org, which focuses on cancer awareness and prevention. The most interesting recent philanthropic assignment I have received was a Congressional Appointment to the Library of Congress Trust Fund Board. I am continuously amazed by the massive resources that are made available to the public, in addition to it being the largest library in the world. The Library of Congresses collection includes more than 38 million books and other printed materials, 3.6 million recordings, 14 million photographs, 5.5 million maps, 8.1 million pieces of sheet music and 70 million manuscripts, 5,711 incunabula, and 122,810,430 items in the nonclassified (special) collections: more than 167 million total items.
What are your hobbies?
While usually mutually exclusive activities, I enjoy golf and boating.