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Island Investing

Riffs, rants, and the upside of investing from way off Wall Street


Interview of Retz Reeves

IIM portfolio manager Retz Reeves was recently interviewed by Humans of the Keys.

More on Lauretta ‘Retz’ Reeves

“I’ve lived in south Florida for over 30 years. My husband moved to Key West when he was 8 and he’s in his early 60’s now. I’m originally from just outside of Pittsburgh, and he is from the other side of Pennsylvania, but we met in Davie, Florida. We’ve had the house here in the Keys for about 17 years and have lived here full time for 14. We’ve been married almost 25 years. Our babies are our dogs and cats. That’s my other passion, which is why I wrote the book, ‘Adopted Paws.’ It’s about all the animals that we have adopted from Pompano Beach to the Keys. Now we have 3 dogs and one cat.

I was the co-chief investment officer at a global investment firm in Ft. Lauderdale for 16 ½ years. The last ten years I commuted from down here. I would drive up on Tuesday morning, stay in a hotel and then drive back on Thursday night, and worked from home on Mondays and Fridays. But, I was travelling about 100,000 miles a year doing research on international companies and marketing and things like that. I was pretty much living out of a suitcase.

After I left there, I ended up starting to work with Islamorada Investment Management. Cale Smith is the general partner; he manages our US portfolios, and I manage the international ones. One of the reasons I wanted to work with Cale, and I’m glad he chose to work with me, is because we are both fiduciary responsibly minded. We’re not pushing products on the client’s because someone is paying us commission; we’re not paid to make those decisions, only on the assets we are managing. We use an outside financial advisor to determine how the assets are allocated. That lets us put the client’s interests first. Not everyone can afford to do that, but I’m glad I can and still live down here.

I love my work. My other book, ‘Advice from a Broad Abroad’ is about my years of international travel. I still get to do that since I’m continuing to invest internationally, but I’m going to be very careful when I go to Europe this upcoming year. I’ve already bought my tickets back and forth to Paris in March. I probably won’t be taking trains as much as I have in the past. But, I was in Japan during the earthquake and the tsunami. I’ve been in ash clouds, and typhoons and airplane strikes, and much more. That’s what inspired me to write that book. It is especially focused on the challenges that women travelers might confront.
My second passion is helping women with financial, business and travel advice. I’ve done a lot of informal talking with woman, especially those who have never had any real financial training and don’t even know how to start to make a budget or plan for retirement. I’ve done some work with the Keys domestic abuse shelter, doing training to teach women how to raise enough money to escape from the situation they are in, and then hopefully help them get started down the line. I think that not enough women have been trained to do that and they are afraid to try. I have women ask me to just sit and talk with them because they don’t even know where to start.

It’s all interrelated and it should be down here. By definition, it’s a community and you would want people connecting, and that’s fine with me.
I love the Keys. I love the water and the people down here. We have a boat. I love to eat and drink wine. My husband is a great cook but we love to go out. We have so many great restaurants down here. That’s a lot of what we do for fun! I notice that wine tasting is coming back around here. The Green Turtle is going to start one up. That will be nice. I love it here, this is home. I travel all over the world, meeting with companies to decide if we want to invest in them. I end up at a lot of dinners seated next to the CEO’s, and once they find out where I live, you wouldn’t believe how often all they want to talk about is how they want to live in Islamorada.

Music is another of my passions. I used to take voice lessons in Ft. Lauderdale, and I’ve taken piano lessons for the past 7 years. I think it’s important to keep learning, and it’s one of the things I try to teach women especially; just because you turn 50 you should never stop learning, and never be afraid to start anything. Some people laughed at me because I started piano lessons at almost 50, but I don’t want to be almost 70 and regret not doing something. Of course, if you’re 70 you still shouldn’t stop!

Never stop learning, and always try to grow. Keep growing, no matter what you do. Sometimes, during the process you have to be true to yourself, and that might upset people. But you have to do the right thing and stay on the path. If you need help, reach out. Get involved, but don’t get over involved. Be a little bit selfish. Enjoy being here and enjoy living.”