About Ted Turner Mediator
Ted Turner’s Cape Cod residence pays homage to the sailors who preceded him. He purchased the house after signing on with his first broker/dealer in 1966 and has since transformed it into an office where, surrounded by scrimshaw, old sea wares and nautical artifacts, he helps his clients make money and mediates their sticky situations. It’s a safe harbor for all who enter.
Raised in Osterville, Mass., Turner was the son of Theodore Turner, Sr., a former PGA touring professional golfer. The elder Turner would have his son work with him in the locker room at the Wianno Club where young Ted would polish golf clubs and shoes for extra money.
Knowing that his son couldn’t shine shoes forever, the senior Turner asked the youth what he’d be interested in doing for a full-time job. “I told him a stockbroker, because they give dollar tips,” says Turner, now an affiliated colleague with American Portfolios Financial Services (APFS).
Unfortunately for Turner, breaking into the brokerage business four and a half decades ago was not as simple as majoring in finance. You had to be born into the business, and if you weren’t, you had to know someone who could get you in. After Turner’s active duty in the U.S. Coast Guard [where he received the Coast Guard Achievement Medal for Professional and Leadership Achievement], a friend at the golf club recognized Turner’s desire and secured him a position at New York Hanseatic, a stint that paid $110.79 every two weeks. At the time, New York Hanseatic was the largest over-the-counter securities trading firm in the world.
“I was in it full-time and eventually was completely licensed and working in Boston,” Turner says. “I lived out of the Sherry Biltmore for $150 a month. It was a fleabag motel.” Missing home and the coastline where he’d grown up, he returned to Cape Cod in 1966, where’s been ever since.
By the Sea, Yet Not Free
Over the years, Turner held positions as a producing branch manager for several firms. By the end of 1992 he was managing and supervising approximately 2,000 retail accounts representing over $100 million, all the while managing and supervising personnel. He started to deal in arbitration for the NASD and NYSE, as well as mediation for the NASD, Cape Cod Dispute Resolution Center, the Trial District Court Department of Massachusetts and as a County Mediator Certified by the Supreme Court of Florida. Resolving issues came easily to Turner. “I can see what people are thinking. I don’t know how or why, but I can.”
He attended seminars and continuing education sessions for securities arbitration, and was soon serving as a panelist at the Massachusetts Bar Association seminars on arbitration.
Although it seemed that Turner’s career was running at top speed, like many smart business professionals, he knew his future success would come from independence. In 1993, with a little push from his partner of 20 years, Kelly Lonergan (whom he met in 1988 while at Thomson McKinnon), Turner transitioned his licenses to LPL Financial Services, marking the beginning of Turner Corp., his personal arbitration consulting firm.
As an independent contractor, Turner was now able to serve his clients as he saw fit. The world was his oyster, and his Osterville residence was the newfound site of Turner Corp. “Kelly and I put in a fireplace and adopted a cat. There are fish ponds outside, and a private guest house. Our clients love the fact that our office is very private and that it is not in a typical retail setting. No one knows their business.
Although Turner’s course seemed charted for open waters, he soon met currents of resistance. He felt that his broker/dealer had begun to place unfair demands on their independent professionals, so he started looking to leave. He called Nathan & Lewis Securities, which was a small, independent brokerage firm operating out of New York at the time.“When I called, Jay Lewis, the CEO, picked up the phone. I invited him to Cape Cod to have dinner with Kelly and me. He came, and I decided to go with him.”
From 1995 to 2003, Turner settled in and built his business at Nathan & Lewis Securities. However, everything changed in 2003 when the firm was sold to Met Life Insurance and became Walnut Street Securities. “I tried to get out the first week after this happened. I called Lon Dolber [CEO of APFS], but there was nothing I could do to get out. They weren’t letting me go, I was trapped.”
Turner was working an average of 18 hours a day, seven days a week at Walnut. He was finding it impossible to get time off and growing frustrated with the lack of support he received. “When I opened my mouth, my words fell on deaf ears. It’s like when you’re in combat on the front lines and you pick up the field phone to say, ‘Send me another box of ammo,’ and the captain says, ‘I sent you one yesterday!’ They don’t understand because they are not the ones on the front line. No one in a management position at Walnut Street has been a retail securities Broker for 45 years, as I have.” They know about insurance products, not investments.
After three years of working through the acquisition of Nathan & Lewis by Met Life, Turner finally got out and transitioned to APFS. “You can’t soar with the eagles if you’re working with turkeys,” says Turner “The people at American Portfolios have class. I wasn’t going to find that anywhere else. Everybody works to go forward instead of making brokers go backwards. But, the most important characteristic of APFS is that they are honest.”
Turner is currently a producing branch manager at APFS, advising approximately 400 families with a combined total of about $150 million in assets. He has expanded his practice from his Cape Cod office to include a 1,200-square-foot space in Florida where, with the help of modern technology, he simply plugs in his laptop and starts working.
With a list of awards and adulations as long as a ticker tape, Turner must be onto something. He’s been in the top 20 at every firm he’s affiliated with, and a member of each of their top producing clubs. He was the top producer of the Eaton Vance Classic Senior Floating Rate Fund in 1998, for which he named his 1960 Crosby Striper power boat. He was also ranked third on American Portfolios’ Top Ten Leaders List in 2008.
Turner gives the nod to Keith Funston, former NYSE President, for his philosophy. “The most productive man is not always the man who sells the most securities. He is the man who helps the right people select the right amount of the right securities for the right reason. At the heart of the matter is a moral commitment which goes far beyond matters of immediate economic gain."
Turner has lived this credo during the recent economic downturn. When most investors saw losses during the latter part of 2008 into 2009, Turner kept many of his clients from financial tragedy. “I saw it coming. The reason the market really cracked this past year is the mark-to-market rules. The SEC was messing around with securities rules and regulations including C-shares and an inverted U curve started to develop in market movement. I just thought, ‘I’m going to get my clients out.”
So he did. He admits that it was slow going at first, calling each client individually, but by the early part of 2006, all of them were out. "I suggested to them a fund that had no down years since 1994. They were still averaging around 5.55 to 7 %.”
Turner also believes in the power of compounding interest. “If you purchase a good income fund with a good track record and reinvest the monthly dividends it doesn’t matter if the daily price of that fund fluctuates, eventually the worth of that investment will be higher. This theory just proved itself during the recent credit crisis debacle and ensuing market correction that we just went through. My son’s IRA is up over 5%, with no additional contributions, since December of 2005 using this method.”
Ted is not jumping right back into the market, however. “I’m going to stay right where I am. I’d like to buy some things though, a couple smaller companies around here and some APFS stock. AFPS is the best little brokerage firm around. Lon [Dolber] is building a future and a firm with people who have the client’s interest at heart. He is honest and as far as I’m concerned, the direction he’s going is the right way to go.”
As for Turner’s own future, it lies in Osterville, the Massachusetts coastline, and Turner Corp., for in the words of Herman Melville, “Life is a voyage that’s homeward bound.”