CKBlog: Inside CastleKeep

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Why CastleKeep? Why Now?

by Mike Benevento, Partner

In August of 2016, I left Bronson Point Management, a single manager long/short equity hedge fund founded by two great investors and better people, Larry Foley and Paul Farrell. Bronson was a firm filled with smart, competitive, and talented investors that were also high-quality human beings. Having worked in the hedge fund business since 2003 I can personally say that is a rare combination. I would have liked to have stayed at Bronson for the balance of my career, but for a host of reasons that wasn’t going to work.

I took the Fall of 2016 to spend time coaching my son Matthew on the football field, putting in an unnecessary amount of time into delivering a final FCFL youth football championship before he went off to high school. I also took a few months to contemplate my next step—to find “the next Bronson Point.”

During that process I learned just how much the hedge fund business had changed since the time I first joined Pequot Capital in 2003. In short, the world of equity hedge fund management had evolved towards large multi-manager platform funds dominating the landscape. World-class firms like Millennium, Citadel, and Point 72, to name a few. But these platforms demanded a style of investment that I had traditionally avoided throughout my career. Alas, it was also evident that the only opportunities for experienced portfolio managers like me were at these firms. Ultimately, I joined Millennium Management.

I spent five years at Millennium. Like I said, it is a world-class firm. I also spent most of those five years—when I wasn’t doing my job—trying to figure out how to get out. Everything I had feared about managing a portfolio at a large multi-manager platform was true. It was not a fit for me, but I ground it out to support my career and my family.

My journey down the path of Wealth Management started in 2019 when I first explored an opportunity to join a Private Bank. My motivation was simple. Having been a professional investor for over 20 years, I felt that I was leaving a personal skill set untapped. I have always felt natural connecting with people and creating networks. Over the course of my career, I have made professional introductions to people and on investments, mostly as a result of my network. I have never had an expectation for anything in return, I simply found personal gratification connecting people that would mutually benefit.

The sustainability of my network has always been motivated from a place of simply wanting to help people. I consider it part of my DNA. But if honest, I have never had the opportunity to truly flex that muscle professionally. The idea of Private Banking and High Net Worth Wealth Management appealed to me, because I felt it would be a good mix of continuing to be an investor (which I love) and allowing for the ability to make an impact on people and families. At the end of the process, I was fortunate to have choices among opportunities at well-respected Private Banks in addition to CastleKeep Investment Advisors. But in choosing CastleKeep, I felt that it was the best platform to tailor make portfolios and provide advice to clients in an agnostic way. To service the needs and desires of clients without the constraints or requirements to sell products and services. And to establish relationships built on a foundation of trust.

Let’s talk about trust. Stated simply, it is my north star. It is the principle that has guided every aspect of my life, from family and community to athletics and my career. At times it has been the thing that has let me down and pained me the most, but more often it is my rock. Money is a very personal thing. If you are going to have someone help you on a professional level, you better start and finish with trust.

Beyond offering trust to clients, throughout my process it was important to me to find trust in people with whom I chose to work. That may have been the hardest part. In the end I feel lucky to have known and ultimately been offered to partner with the Haberstroh Family and Lauren Quesada. I trust them implicitly.

When I finally made the very personal decision to join CastleKeep I shared with Steve Haberstroh a note that I had written to myself about how I was thinking about the next stage of my career:

The first thirty years of my career working to support my family. At CastleKeep I look forward to helping clients support theirs.

It has been a long process to get here, one that was well researched and very personal. But never in my career have I been more excited about going to work every day. I have found the perfect intersect of two professional motivations that I love most: investing and helping people.

Mike Benevento
CastleKeep Investment Advisors LLC
March 22nd, 2023

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