Debra Brede didn't set out to be an investment manager. She was going to be a doctor and took a job in the financial services industry just to find out what to do with all the money she and her husband (a dentist) were going to make. After a year she was going to go to medical school.
Her sales assistant job with Shearson turned into a nine-year gig, including promotion to second vice president of operations and then training as a broker.
"We used to have to cold call and ask for 10,000 bucks," she recalls, "and my hand would be shaking. I used to ask for $25,000, so if they only gave me $10,000 it would still be okay. I used to prospect with municipal bonds because I felt that people who were municipal bond buyers were people with money. They were buying because they had a tax problem and then they really wouldn't be calling you for quotes all the time like an options trader or a commodity trader." She would then urge those same clients to buy stocks with their dividends, which is how she built her business.
Brede moved on in 1988 to Prudential Bache, after Shearson merged with E.F. Hutton. "They offered up-front money and I put an addition onto the house," she recalls. "I was there for a couple of years and I just hated it. I thought it would be different.
"You always think the grass will be greener on the other side and then you get to the other place and it's just the same play, different actors."
She started her own firm two years later with rental furniture and a one-year time frame to make good. If it didn't work out, she figured she could always go back to the wirehouse world, where several firms had tried to recruit her.
"It was a tough period because 1990 was really a rough year in the market, but I made it through and it's been great ever since."