The Roller Coaster of High Finance

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Michael Lehman cultivated a keen interest in the stock market from a young age. Growing up on New York’s Long Island in the 1990s — not that far from Wall Street’s bustling financial district — he thought stocks were king, and big companies like Microsoft — or IBM in those days — held the keys to wealth.

Lehman’s mindset changed after studying finance and getting some real-life experience in one of the most volatile financial markets in history. As a financial adviser for high-net-worth clients — most of them approaching retirement — in UBS Investment Bank’s Farmington Hills office, Lehman is the junior member of a four-person team that manages 200 client relationships worth anywhere from a few thousand to $50 million.

At 28, Lehman spends the majority of his time conducting investment research, which helps the senior members advise clients on keeping their money safe, preserving enough to leave an estate, building more wealth if possible and meeting other personal goals. The work has taught him the importance of diversification.

“You can’t put all your eggs in one basket,” he says. “There’s a lot of other stuff out there” besides blue-chip stocks. Small emerging companies, international companies and mutual funds offer diversification and wealth-building opportunities large-sector stocks can’t, especially in this financial market, he says.

That’s not to say the research isn’t disheartening sometimes. “I started in this business in 2008 — the worst year since the Great Depression.” he says.

Lehman’s life, too, has had its share of commotion in recent years. During his years in school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, he met Victoria, a law major who grew up in Kalamazoo, Mich. When he graduated, he landed a job at UBS near his New York home. He lived in Manhattan and commuted to the firm’s New Jersey home office, rotating through multiple UBS departments as part of his training.

Lehman’s first position at UBS was in operations and compliance in the firm’s Rochester, N.Y. office. Victoria’s career, however, took her to a Detroit law firm, and the couple reached a fork in the road, Lehman says. “We were kinda at that point where we had to either move somewhere together or break up.”

In 2007, Lehman got a transfer to UBS’s Farmington Hills office and moved to Royal Oak. He then acquired a license to be a financial adviser and joined his current team at UBS. Along the way, he married Victoria, and the couple settled in Huntington Woods with their pet dog.

After working in three different states during his six-year tenure at UBS, Lehman says he’s staying in Michigan, and staying in his job. “Every day is a challenge; I love what I do. There are always ups and downs in the markets — and life; ride it out.”

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