Pumping Up Portfolios

Arthur Wylie’s passion for investing started in college, when he discovered that he not only enjoyed, but had a knack for trading stocks. It was not long before Wylie transformed his fascination with the stock market into a thriving business enterprise.

These days, the 29-year-old is president of Charlotte, North Carolina-based Arthur Wylie Wealth Management Group. The firm works with clients to establish structured short-, medium-, and long-term goals, and offers a range of services, including budget planning, debt/credit management, portfolio analysis, real estate investing/purchasing, and insurance planning. Launched as a one-man operation in November 1998, the firm now has a staff of 18 and more than 1,000 individual and corporate clients.

Starting with $7,000 in personal savings, Wylie purchased a desk, computer, and office supplies, and had a Website built. In just over five years, the company’s assets under management have grown to about $40 million in investments, insurance, and real estate. The firm’s revenues reached $400,000 in 2002, and Wylie projects 2003 revenues to exceed $1.2 million.

Fiscally savvy, Wylie drew upon his own expertise when he decided to launch his venture. “Banks saw that I was a young, black man and they created a no-win situation for me.” When he applied for a loan, officers responded by stating that he needed better credit, additional collateral, and more capital.

To ensure that his credit was flawless, Wylie contacted the credit agencies in search of any discrepancies on his credit report and, if needed, he disputed the claims. To obtain additional collateral, Wylie took matters into his own hands and started buying properties, and in 2000, he added real estate services to his repertoire. Profits earned from real estate sales were set aside to help him accumulate capital. Although banks are now more willing to offer the entrepreneur funding, Wylie admits it still does not come easily.

Wylie follows a disciplined approach and focuses on establishing goals with investment vehicles that include money markets, government securities, mutual funds, stocks, and bonds. One problem Wylie mentions is the fact that when people focus on individual investments, they lose sight of their ultimate wealth management goals. Regardless of the client’s income, credit, age, etc., he or she has a budget that must be followed. “I like to focus on the plan, not the investment,” he says.

Wylie says the recent mutual fund scandal has actually driven his business up because clients are moving away from the larger companies in search of a company, like his, that will offer more personalized attention. Clients are no longer concerned with the size of the firm, but rather who is managing their money.

Looking ahead, Wylie is planning to expand regionally and open satellite offices in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. Wylie also plans to place a heavier emphasis on wealth management for individuals in the sports and entertainment arenas. “It is one thing for a client to give me a million dollars to manage. However, I form a trusting alliance with a client when I help him or her to accumulate