Class Act

By Hannah Wallace November 30, 2004

Peter deLisser is founder and president of Sage Capital, a Sarasota-based money management firm that manages $400 million in assets for clients worldwide, primarily corporations, banks, endowments, foundations and universities. He is also a saxophone player and founder of The Romero Brothers band.

"I majored in American literature at Brown University and took up playing the saxophone after college. In order to have the flexibility to pursue my music, I became a school bus driver for the Brunswick School, a private school in Greenwich, Conn. It was perfect because I drove the school bus route in the morning, practiced the sax all day, then went back to pick up the kids in the afternoon.

Somebody tipped me off that they were short of substitute teachers, so I started doing that. It eventually turned into a full-time job when the key witness in the Martha Moxley murder case, a history teacher, left the school. I taught history and jazz history and coached football, wrestling and lacrosse. I liked it; it fit into my lifestyle because by that time I was playing the saxophone a lot professionally and I cut a deal with the school that my first class didn't start till 10 a.m.

That was when I was 24. By the time I turned 31, as much as I enjoyed teaching and coaching I knew didn't want to do it forever. So I turned in my resignation and gave my class a homework assignment: bring in your fathers' business cards and tell them Mr. D. needs a job. A number of the kids did do that. I met with a number of the fathers, and one of the fathers got me interested in going to work on Wall Street.

I ended up going to work for Morgan Stanley in a training program for MBA graduates, even though I didn't have an MBA. At that time Morgan Stanley was an investment bank; they were in the business of bringing new-issue securities to market for companies around the U.S. I was in institutional sales and trading. By dumb luck it just exploded in terms of the size and scope of the business; when I joined in 1982 the firm employed about 1,300 people; when I left in 1988 there were over 6,000.

Teaching and coaching did help prepare me for this profession. At Sage Capital we specialize in convertible securities. In terms of us expanding our market we have to educate professional investors to help them understand why convertible securities provide better investment opportunities. So I use my teaching skills all the time."

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