Jon Stolper

Chief Investment Officer and Portfolio Manager |

Jon’s fascination with business and investment can be traced back to a time well before the concept of internet research. As a teenager, Jon could be found at the local library studying Value Line research reports and picking companies he liked, whose annual reports he would then order. And while many thirteen year olds might go straight for the “funnies” section of the paper, Jon was the one who would first check out the business news. Much of this early interest in investing may be credited to Jon’s father, who was both an avid saver and staunch believer in the value of compounding. As a conservative investor in the market over many decades, his father encouraged Jon’s interest in investing and was a significant influence in Jon’s choice to ultimately pursue a career in investment management. To this day Jon remains as enthusiastic about the subject and his choice of profession as he was from these early beginnings.

At Oklahoma State University, Jon majored in finance and minored in accounting, which served to strengthen his keen interest in studying business and keeping current with financial news and issues. At the same time, he worked at a local bank as a loan collector, progressing to credit analyst before graduation. During this time Jon learned a lot from young progressive bankers, who were also influential in encouraging his interest in finance. While banking held some appeal, Jon’s true passion was investing and, with the continuing encouragement of his father, he chose investment management as his profession.

Jon was lucky to be surrounded early in life by mentors who helped establish important foundations that have proved to be the roots of Jon’s success. At home, he was taught honesty beyond reproach by his parents and he learned the value of hard work by holding steady jobs since the age of thirteen. In college, Jon worked half-time at the local bank and earned room and board by serving as Treasurer for his fraternity. He remembers being commended by alums for doing what, by then, was instinctive to him…investing the funds needed to run the fraternity during the summer in treasury bills. His mentors in college taught him that anything worthwhile would take at least ten years and valuable lessons were re-emphasized at Jon’s college graduation by alumnus Boone Pickens who cautioned: “You can have fame and fortune often, but you have your reputation only once.” Jon took those words to heart and they have served him well.

Jon grew up in Muskogee as a third generation Okie with close family ties and a desire to contribute to the community. It therefore made both business and personal sense to start a career in Oklahoma. Jon’s first job after college was as a trainee with Merrill Lynch in Tulsa and, while the corporate environment at Merrill was not Jon’s style, it proved a great learning experience where he formed valuable relationships both with clients and associates.

He was exposed early on to the teachings of the legendary value investor Ben Graham, author of The Intelligent Investor. Jon quickly adopted and practiced the philosophies espoused in the book including the crucial concept of “margin of safety” (the principle of purchasing securities only when the market price is significantly below intrinsic value). Over the years he has furthered his education by reading many books on investing, which helped him establish his own philosophy and a deep understanding of business. It’s hard to be a Ben Graham fan and not appreciate the achievements one of his best students, Warren Buffett. Attending the annual Berkshire Hathaway meetings in Omaha for many years, Jon has benefited greatly from the teachings of someone he has yet to personally meet.

After working for Merrill for ten years, Jon approached Principal Securities about opening an office in Tulsa. Over the next four years Jon managed and grew the Tulsa office for Principal, eventually also overseeing the Wichita office. These roles allowed him to continue to fulfill his passion of helping clients with investments. Principal’s sixty retail brokerage offices, including Tulsa, were dwarfed by its global insurance operations, a situation that ultimately led to the company’s exit from the brokerage business. In 1998 Jon used this opportunity to establish an independent firm, and ultimately an independent investment advisory business in 2003.

Jon decided to join Raymond James and opened an office on Twenty-First Street in Tulsa. As an independent Investment Adviser Representative Jon was able to manage accounts on a discretionary basis and begin tracking performance, applying the same value philosophy he had been practicing over the years. This has proved to be a great opportunity.

Along the way, Jon started a family and he is still busy with two college-age boys, a very rewarding part of Jon’s life. Jon’s wife, Angie, works in the business office at the grade school the boys attended.

Jon is dedicated to a number of non-profit organizations and has served them in various lay leadership positions. Early in his career, as a twenty-two year-old trainee, Jon wrote a set of business standards and to this day he keeps a copy of these standards in his desk drawer. In them, he decided that his motivations for success would firstly be serving his clients, and secondly giving back to society. While in Tulsa, Jon has benefited from the example of great mentors who have further confirmed that giving back to society is an integral part of the way well-meaning people learn to operate. He is fortunate to have close relationships with people who exemplify a deep commitment to this philosophy.

Given Jon’s passion for investing, and his belief that being a good investor requires a large volume of reading, most of his evenings are spent studying business periodicals, annual reports and anything else likely to lead to increased knowledge to help keep on the cutting edge of the ever-changing and very competitive world of investments. Good investment opportunities can be rare and Jon understands that, in order to identify them, you need to invest a lot of time in research. He loves doing this research and believes that through discipline and rigorous digging into balance sheets, income statements, cash flow statements, and a myriad of other information sources, unique opportunities can be uncovered for patient and prudent investors.

Jon hopes that his gardening hobby sticks with his children, just as he hopes that his lessons about finance and investing will stay with them and help them no matter what profession they choose. Whether it’s the example of a small plant that starts from a seed and produces fruit or a small nest egg properly nurtured that allows people to focus on important work in their lives, he hopes that others will benefit from the commitment he has to helping them fulfill their dreams.