Dan Goldie’s success at Wimbledon demanded aggressive tennis. His transition to financial adviser required a mental change that championed a different approach to investing.
Goldie employed a serve-and-volley game to defeat Jimmy Connors en route to the 1989 Wimbledon quarterfinals and a world ranking of No. 27 before injury forced him off the courts.
He used his economics background to build a second career as an independent investment adviser, managing about $500 million for 250 clients including former tennis opponents and his former coach at Stanford University.
“I think they’re just two different worlds,” Goldie said in an interview at his office in Menlo Park, California. “In the athletic world, you are rewarded for your hard work and your talent and your discipline, and if you’re better you’re going to consistently perform better than other competitors. With investments, I think markets work well enough and are efficient enough that it takes away a lot of competitive advantages.”
Goldie, 47, recognizes attributes that carried over well from tennis to his second career -- such as discipline and a tunnel-vision focus. That’s where the similarities end.
“It is very counter to what I did earlier in my life, where I was learning how to compete and trying to do my best,” he said. “Markets reward scarcity. The knowledge and the information that we think we might have to take advantage of others, I don’t think that’s enough. It’s smarter to let everyone else battle it out and you take the low-cost, efficient route.”
‘The Investment Answer’
Goldie’s approach to investing -- don’t try to time trades or outsmart the experts, focus instead on rising with the market -- was the basis for a book he co-authored last year with former Wall Street banker Gordon Murray.
“The Investment Answer,” a 66-page guide aimed at the casual investor that rose to No. 1 on the New York Times list of hardcover business bestsellers in February, preaches the virtues of diversification and rails against the Wall Street hype of specific stocks and funds.
Murray, who was a bond salesman for Goldman Sachs Group who rose to managing director at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Credit Suisse First Boston, all based in New York, before retiring in 2001, died of brain cancer in mid-January at the age of 60.
NCAA Singles Title
Goldie, president of Dan Goldie Financial Services, began his interest in finance while helping to lead Stanford, in Stanford, California, to National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s tennis titles in 1983 and 1986. He was a three-time All-American and won the 1986 NCAA singles title. He was on the pro tour from 1986-91.
While many other players spent their free hours on the ATP Tour sampling local nightlife, Goldie was accompanied on his world travels by books on Wall Street and finance.
“He’s very analytical and very even-tempered,” said former Stanford coach Dick Gould, who now uses Goldie as his investment adviser. “On the court, he was good under pressure. There was nothing impulsive about what he did, ever.”
Goldie was ranked No. 48 in the world when he defeated 10th-seeded Connors in four sets in the second round of Wimbledon in 1989. He then beat Australia’s Wally Masur and Yugoslavia’s Slobodan Zivojinovic before losing in straight sets in the quarterfinals to Ivan Lendl of Czechoslovakia.
Stress fractures in both shins derailed his career, sending him into finance. Gould said in a telephone interview that he was comfortable from the start with using Goldie as an investment adviser.
“His whole philosophy fit me very well; he doesn’t get too high or get too low,” said Gould, 73, who led Stanford to 17 NCAA championships as coach from 1966-2004 and now is director of tennis for the Cardinal. “You just don’t think he’s going to come in and sell you a rock when you need a marshmallow.”
There are more academic certificates than tennis plaques on the walls of Goldie’s corner office, which offers views of a shopping plaza parking lot. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Stanford and an MBA from the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley.
Being an athlete is far more stressful than being a financial adviser, Goldie said, because the business world moves at a much slower pace and is less prone to the ups and downs of sports.
“In the sports world, when you were playing well and doing well, life was great,” he said. “When you weren’t playing well, then life was really bad. You really lived and died by your athletic performance. In business it just seems so much more stable. The wins and losses in business are just so much less impactful.”