Robert M. Holt, Jr.
For Robert M. Holt, Jr., attending Louisiana Tech was a family tradition.
"Both of my parents went to school at Tech and to some extent, I grew up in the Tech family," says Holt, founder of Fort Worth, Texas-based Holt Capital Partners, LP. "I continued that tradition with my own education."
That shared history provided an emotional underpinning when Holt learned that he was to be named CAB's alumnus of the year.
"I asked the dean (Dr. Shirley P. Reagan) if she was sure she had the right person," says Holt, chuckling softly. "She said she did, but I was still surprised."
The recognition comes as Holt, a member of the CAB Advisory Board, feels an ever-more powerful tug to give back to his alma mater.
"I've always felt a closeness to the university, following the sports and so on," he say. "but it has become more of a two-way street since I became involved in the advisory board. I have gone from just being an alumnus to being an involved alumnus. Tech formed the foundation and core of my higher education, and from there I continued to move forward."
While establishing his own firm in 2001 is a career capstone, Holt already had a distinguished list of accomplishments from nearly 30 years as an investment manager. Holt, who was a Wyly Scholar at Tech, received his bachelor's degree in finance in just three years. He went on to earn an MBA from the University of Texas in 1978. He worked for five years as an assistant vice president for the American Founders Life Insurance Company, and then spent two decades as a partner with Fort Worth's Luther King Capital Management -- one of the largest independent investment counseling firms in the Southwest.
"That was probably the best career move I had made, joining Luther King," he says. "I wanted to be part of an organization that was solely devoted to the investment process."
Still, the multifaceted nature of his position resulted in splitting his time researching companies, managing portfolios, meeting with clients and marketing the firm. Holt longed for the opportunity to immerse himself in creating and implementing investment strategies.
"The impetus for starting my own firm was to return to my roots," Holt says, "and spend time in a purely investment role."
His innovative approach at Holt Capital is to combine an index fund with a hedge fund for investors. He's marrying the diversification and tax efficiency of an index strategy with the investment structure of a hedge fund, which is comprised of four distinct long-short strategies.
"It's been very stimulating to create the investment philosophy that is utilized in the invest partnership," says Holt, who received the Houston Society of Financial Analysts Scholarship Award for his graduate school research in equity valuation using options. In fact, nearly three decades into his career, Holt remains enthused by the constantly changing nature of financial markets.
"It's always an exciting time in the investment business," he says, "because the industry is so dynamic. Your feedback on investment decisions is really instantaneous."
Holt compares the daily market watch to examining an electrocardiogram as it moves up and down to record heart function.
"I have often compared it to a physician watching a patient's EKG," he says. "That's the way the stock market can be monitored, too."
An inquisitive sort, Holt discovered the stock market at age 11, when he bought two shares of stock in a regional grocery store chain -- and made a 75 percent return on the investment.
"I was hooked," Holt admits. "I love getting up and coming to work every morning. A lot of people say my favorite question is: "Why? That fits in well with what I'm doing. We have to ask the questions: Why are a company's earnings better or worse than expected? Why are the stocks up? We ask these questions all day long."
He and his wife, Peggy, recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary. They have two children, Rachel and Mack.
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