This 19-Year-Old Is Trump’s Latest Market WhispererBy
Loyal ‘Trumpenomics expert’ earns retweet even as CEOs bail
Money manager barred by futures association, probed by SEC
That would be the fellow from Corona, California, who calls himself the world’s youngest hedge-fund manager. It’s possible. He’s only 19 and has already been investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Trump retweeted a post from the teenager Wednesday as members of one of the president’s now defunct business advisory councils were abandoning him after he equated neo-Nazis who held a rally in Virginia to counter-demonstrators at the event. Wohl’s message: “President Trump alone has succeeded in bringing the Stock Market, Small Business Index and Consumer Comfort to ALL TIME HIGHS! #MAGA.”
Trump had retweeted Wohl at least once before, in early July, when the Dow hit a record and the teenager posted: “When Obama was President the #MSM LOVED talking about stock market rallies! Now they barely mention new all-time-highs.”
Wohl describes himself in his Twitter profile as a “Trumpenomics Expert” and a financial and political commentator. His Twitter photo shows him and his father with Trump.
He has in fact made television appearances, on Fox Business to talk about investing and on the “Dr. Drew” show during the presidential campaign, as a representative of the cohort of young Americans supporting then-candidate Trump. Wohl’s dad, David, a lawyer and commentator on Fox News, arranged that spot for his son, who used some of his time on the show to say that Trump rival Ted Cruz had a “penchant for lying.”
Wohl started his current fund, Montgomery Assets, last year with seed money from a Chinese family office, he said in a phone interview. He declined to divulge the amount of money he manages, and there are no public documents disclosing assets. Montgomery Assets invests in equity, fixed income and commodity markets using a “quantamental” approach, he said.
Montgomery isn’t his first venture. A few years ago, Wohl said, he ran a money-management fund that started when he was a student at Santiago High School in Corona. “Classmates gave me money and then teachers and then the principal -- everyone I went to school with,” he said. In the end, he said, he raised “a half a million bucks from people around the country” for his Wohl Capital Investment Group. A call to principal Seth Bond wasn’t returned.
That endeavor got him into some hot water. David Diedrich, a client, complained to the National Futures Association. He alleged that Wohl told him his $75,000 investment had grown to $89,500. When Diedrich asked for his money back, he received a check for just $44,000.
The association’s complaint against Wohl also said his promotional materials stated he had nine years of trading experience -- suggesting Wohl had started when he was 8 or 9. The Arizona Corporation Commission, looking into investor complaints, alleged that Wohl Capital claimed to be managing around $10 million for 178 investors, when it had 13 investors with no more than $500,000.
Earlier this year, the futures association barred Wohl for life from its membership after he failed to submit to an examination of the alleged misdeeds. Wohl said he had canceled his membership before the examiners appeared at his door and they no longer had the right to look into his activities.
The SEC also took an interest in Wohl’s business. He said he cooperated with that investigation, which began about 13 months ago. He provided a letter on what appears to be SEC letterhead dated July 25 -- addressed to Wohl Capital in care of his father -- stating that it didn’t intend to recommend an enforcement action. The SEC declined to comment.
Wohl has 62,000 Twitter followers to Trump’s 36 million, but they might view the medium in some of the same ways. “Tweeting is visceral -- it comes from heart and not from brain,” Wohl said. “You’ve got 140 characters and you have to get someone’s attention. I’m good at that.”
He said he’s available if Trump is looking for replacements for the likes of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Dimon and BlackRock Inc.’s Fink, two of the members of the president’s Strategic and Policy Forum who decided to quit Wednesday. Trump beat them to the punch by dispatching a tweet that said he was ending both that advisory panel and another made up of manufacturing company leaders, many of whom were also defecting.
“I’m very young and the administration is very young,” Wohl said. “Anything can happen. Not expecting to work in the White House or the government, but if the opportunity arose, I’d absolutely look at it closely.”
— With assistance by Matt Robinson