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Taking the Lead

Down in San Antonio, Jeanie Wyatt is making advances on both the investing and customer-services sides of her practice.

Kate Stalter, 04/02/2012

This article originally appeared in the April/May 2012 issue of MorningstarAdvisor magazine. To subscribe, please call 1-800-384-4000.

Jeanie Wyatt has been an investor for her entire career, but she has always considered herself more than just a stock-picker. Since the 1980s, she has focused on combining sound investment practices with a commitment to customer service.

“Helping people with their money is such an interesting profession. I’m not sure I could have ever worked in a mutual fund company, where you are managing portfolios, but you don’t have the direct client interface,” she says.

Her San Antonio-based firm, South Texas Money Management, which has nearly $1.9 billion under management and offices in Houston, Dallas, and Austin, boasts not only stock analysts and investment advisors but also client-relationship-management specialists and financial planners.

The Eventful Beginning
Wyatt almost had an altogether different career. She began her studies at the University of Texas, Austin, with a full scholarship as a drama major. Her sights were set on directing children’s theater.

That changed when she was recruited into a new actuarial sciences program at the university. Wyatt ended up switching majors and forfeiting her full scholarship, but she has no regrets about making that switch. She was introduced to investments while still a student, working in the trust department at American Bank in Austin. She then got her MBA at the University of Texas, San Antonio, and became a Chartered Financial Analyst— all while she was married with a small child. After completing her MBA, she hoped to land a job with an East Coast company and applied for a portfolio-management position advertised in The Wall Street Journal. “I knew it was with a bank, and the way it was worded, it sounded like it was in a big financial market,” she says. “So I applied, and to my surprise and disappointment, it was Frost Bank in San Antonio. That was not at all what I expected, and it was not my goal to stay in Texas.”

She went on the interview, got the job, and began a 23-year career at Frost. She quickly developed an appreciation for the bank’s culture and the opportunities she was given. “In less than one year, I started managing their largest common-stock fund,” she says. “I got to manage that with sole discretion, I got to hire people, buy software, and start some new initiatives, like their first hedging program, which was highly unusual for a bank.”

Branching Out
She enjoyed the work at Frost, but Wyatt always knew that she would someday go solo. That day arrived in 2000, after her son had graduated from college.

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