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How a Scientist and Olympic Wrestler Became a Chief Investment Officer

Abdur Nimeri, Ph.D, recently joined UMB to serve as the Chief Investment Officer for UMB’s new Family Wealth offering. Abdur shares how his background in the scientific field and time spent as a competitive wrestler impacts his ability to help clients reach their financial goals.

Tell me about your career journey to UMB.

While I was in graduate school, I spent a lot of time collaborating with other scientists many of which shared an interest in financial modeling. Specifically, we designed financial trading models using mathematical tools borrowed from our scientific research.

I pursued formal training in the banking industry, and after graduating from the University of Chicago, I joined Northern Trust.  During my time there, I led the corporate model risk management team; built out the portfolio research team in wealth management; and then finally migrated to the asset management business before coming to UMB to help launch our new Family Wealth business.

You also earned your Ph.D. in physical chemistry. Why did you decide to pursue this level of education?

I’ve always enjoyed being in an academic environment.  I really enjoy the energy and all the curiosity surrounding you. For me, being around people who are constantly pushing each other to think differently and find new solutions is thrilling, which is also something I really enjoy about my role now.

How do you use your science degrees to support your role with UMB?

In the science industry, the peer review process can be brutal, so you must be able to think along different paths to find a solution – you must think creatively and in many cases in a non-linear fashion. I often incorporate this approach when seeking ways to help reach my clients’ desired solutions.

I find it exciting to look at patterns in the financial market and really listen to what my clients want to accomplish so I can provide recommendations for them. Also, in both the scientific field and the financial industry, you have a lot of regulations to work within and being innovative can help you find the right answer for your clients.

You competed as a world class wrestler. What did you learn from the experience?

My biggest lesson from wrestling was learning how to assemble a team. When I was competing, there were certain things I knew well and certain things I didn’t. I quickly learned it was important to surround myself with teammates and coaches who could cover my blind spots. For example, I view the world as glass half full, but I find it is important to have teammates who are slightly more pragmatic around me, so we can build a holistic plan for our clients.

I also quickly discovered that each wrestler’s style is unique to them, which is what makes the sport so interesting. Some wrestlers are short and muscular, and others are tall and lean. Either way, they can win championships. Because of this lesson, I know there are multiple ways to success. You must be nimble; encouraging and thoughtful; and learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable to achieve the best results with your team, and it’s the same for clients and their financial goals.

I still coach today, which I really enjoy, because my athletes continue to teach me something new every season.

Why are you passionate about the financial industry?

The family wealth industry is dynamic and complex. There are multiple of opportunities to be flexible and try something new. I really enjoy working closely with my clients to ensure their finances are working in conjunction with their values and in turn, supporting their communities and loved ones.

What trends are you seeing in the family wealth industry?

We are seeing more of our clients move from business owners to investors. Some of our clients have spent a good portion of their lives building a business, and now they have a great deal of wealth they need to manage. At the same time, others are still accumulating wealth and thinking through what the generational transfer or sale of their business is going to look like. We can help them preserve and grow their capital through:

  • Direct investments – meaning they want to see their money impact their local communities.
  • Sustainable investments – many Baby Boomer and Gen-X clients are supporting investments that are in line with their values and beliefs, and the younger generation is following suit.
  • Private equity investments – areas where they can invest in a new company or project.

There are many shifting priorities right now, which is exciting because we can be innovative and think through income generation, wealth creation, sustainability and tax management solutions. For many of our clients, this is the first time they are wading into the investment waters outside of investing in themselves and their companies, and we are here to help them reach their goals and objectives.

What is the best thing a client or prospect could say to you?

I hope a client or prospect would tell me they know I am authentic when they are working with me. We see their goals as holistic and not silo their goals into non-connected buckets.  We create a collaborative atmosphere as we work toward their goals.

Securities offered through UMB Family Wealth are:

NOT FDIC INSURED | NO BANK GUARANTEE | MAY LOSE VALUE

Interested in learning more about our UMB’s Family Wealth division? See what we mean when we say, Wealth with impact™.

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