A Conversation with Gene Gard

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How did you get into financial planning and investing?

I got started at Dupree Mutual Funds, a small fund family focused on municipal bond strategies. It was a great learning experience because almost everything was done in-house, from keeping track of the shareholders to the challenging calculations involved in striking the NAVs (net asset values) to managing the portfolios. After that, I worked at a firm in Memphis called Additive that ran a hedge fund.

What I realized from both these experiences was to avoid the old-fashioned model of launching a fund to get a track record to attract investors down the road. Having a relationship with clients is much more meaningful and much more sustainable for both parties.

At a firm like Telarray, we can ask the important questions about exactly what clients need. We can constantly evaluate and adapt to changing market and economic conditions in the best interests of our clients’ overall financial picture.

I think the right model for developing new investment concepts is to work with clients, see what they need, then innovate as necessary based on client feedback. T2, Telarray’s proprietary momentum-based investment strategy, is a great example of this process, and I look forward to working with the investment committee to evaluate and implement new ideas like T2 in the future.

What is your greatest career success?

At the mutual fund, I championed the launch of a unique taxable municipal bond fund. The IRS does not always allow state and local governments to issue tax-free bonds, so taxable munis are a small but increasingly significant niche in the muni market. The fund was controversial for several reasons, but did eventually get launched and has done well for about 10 years now.

What has been the most significant learning experience in your career?

The events of late 2008 were some of the most instructive times for me. I had recently come to the investment industry from my time in the Navy and found myself in the midst of a financial hurricane. We all know that things worked out in the end, but at the time there was real fear that banks would close their doors and cash would stop coming out of ATMs. Fortunately, markets have a way of working themselves out for long-term investors. The most recent downturn and recovery in 2020 is another powerful example of the value of the long-term approach that I learned back in 2008.

When people you have worked with talk about you, what do they say?

I hope they say I’m a good problem-solver. I like to believe every problem is solvable, and while that isn’t always true, there’s usually an answer out there somewhere waiting to be discovered.


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