Keeping local capital well invested, protected and solid is crucial to Puerto Rico, as it is the only way to create jobs and move the economy, said Gregory Kaufman, newly appointed president of Popular Securities during his first meeting with members of the media Wednesday.
The soft-spoken executive, who assumes the reins of the Banco Popular division after nearly 10 years with the company, also said despite its risks, investing in Puerto Rico government investment products should be part of a well-balanced portfolio.
“We’re seeing a diversification in investment portfolios that include different tools to ensure short, middle and long-term results,” said the Georgetown University School of Law graduate. “That way, if something happens to one part of the investment, it won’t affect everything else.”
And while diverse investment portfolios are encouraged, Kaufman said investing significantly in Puerto Rico products is “what we prefer to see.”
“We prefer to see that investment in Puerto Rico because it moves the economy. Private capital that’s well-invested here is just as important as government investment because it moves the economy and creates jobs,” he said.
Having a financial plan, no matter what a person’s wealth level is, is indispensable for long-term peace of mind. Achieving that requires planning, education and forward-looking vision.
“An educated customer is the best kind of customer to have. So we have to educate our clients and make them aware that there’s always risk,” Kaufman said.
Puerto Rico investors have taken a significant beating in recent years following the banking debacle that brought down stock value and several banks in the process. The economy has also not been a friend to wealth management activities, but is slowly bouncing back.
One of the consequences of the meltdown is that it sent investors running toward safer options in U.S. markets, such as mutual and municipal funds.
“People lost a lot of money in stocks,” said Juan Guerrero, executive vice president of Popular’s Financial and Insurance Services group, who was on hand at the meeting with Kaufman.
“With everything that’s happened in Puerto Rico and the world, people are opening up to the idea of investing in something other than bonds, which I think is a good thing even if they have to pay taxes on those investments,” he said, noting that historically local residents have invested well in Puerto Rico tax-free bonds.
Prior to joining Popular Securities, Kaufman led the Debt Capital Markets and Latin American Investment Banking groups for Prudential Securities in New York City. Before assuming that post, he served as executive vice president of finance in the Government Development Bank for Puerto Rico.