Sponsored by Oregon Business

By the book

| Print |  Email
Articles - Jan/Feb 2012
Thursday, January 19, 2012


Photos by Michael G. Hale

The latest twist has Becker buying into more technology stocks such as Microsoft and Intel. On paper, the companies are trading at more modest prices, compared to their earnings, and they’re winning favor among traditionalists by paying quarterly dividends. But Pat Becker Jr. says less exacting metrics have also made him bullish: He’s noticed, for instance, that analysts are warming to the idea that Intel can compete in the smartphone market.

“If you’re talking to people on a regular basis, you can see when opinions change,” he says.

Becker remains a curious mix of a company at once entrepreneurial and old-fashioned. Within its conservative investment philosophy, it encourages staff to take risks that produce big returns for the company. But character also counts; bonuses are a mix of performance and “nebulous” things like teamwork and amiability around the office.

The family atmosphere extends from the literal to the figurative. While Pat Sr. still clocks in at 6:15 every morning and advises, Pat Jr. helps lead the company (Janeen McAninch is the CEO), his brother, John, runs the IT department and brother-in-law Blake Howells manages portfolios. The rest of the staff has been loyal to a person: Becker hasn’t lost an investment staff member since it started in 1976, though they have had some support staff turnover.)

It could be the old-school benefits that keep them close: The company shares profits up to 20% of an employee’s earnings in good years, and 15 of the 28 staff members own shares in the company. It also pays for things such as a dental  plan for dependents, and parking passes.

But Pat Jr. argues there’s a unique temperament he searches out in new hires, which matches Becker’s approach to the market. “The wiring is so important,” he says. In a recent talk put on by Becker in Portland, renowned Wall Street strategist Jason Trennert named the ethos succinctly, saying, “When I think of Becker, I think of the F-word: fiduciary.”

The corporate world is now bending the elder Becker’s way, says Pat Jr. He sees boards behaving ethically and making fiscally sound moves in paying dividends and buying back stock. Still, there’s more to be done to restrain Wall Street from blowing more bubbles and to insulate against risks like flash crashes driven by computer-managed trading. He acknowledges that after this decade, the Occupy Portland protesters that camped out just a block from his office late last year had legitimate grievances.

“They’re right about a lot of stuff,” he says.

Rare honesty from a wealth manager, but then Becker is a rare breed.


More Articles

Straight shooter

Linda Baker
Thursday, October 08, 2015
100815-bradleyBY LINDA BAKER

In an era dominated by self-promotion and marketing speak, John Bradley, CEO of R&H Construction, is a breath of fresh air.


Photos: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon awards dinner

The Latest
Thursday, October 01, 2015
100best202thumbPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Images from the big 2015 celebration of worker-friendly organizations that make a difference.


The War Room

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Veteran political consultant Carol Butler plays to win.


100 Best Nonprofits: Working for equality inside and out

October 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Striving for social equity is the mission of many nonprofits, and this year’s 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon survey shows employees are most satisfied with their organizations’ fair treatment of differing racial, gender, disability, age and economic groups. But as a national discourse about racial discrimination and equity for low-income groups takes center stage, data show Oregon’s 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For still need to make progress on addressing these issues within their own organizations.


The cover story

Linda Baker
Thursday, November 12, 2015

I walked off the Vigor Industrial shipyard that day with a clear cover line in mind: the Love Boat.


Planter's Punch

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Molly Rogers believes she has found the solution to excessively syrupy cocktail mixes. She first just needs people to understand her product isn’t foliage.


Tech to Table

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Power Lunch at the Barn Light Cafe & Bar in Eugene.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02