Tom Sudyka is Planning for the Long-Term
Meet Lawson Kroeker’s Portfolio Manager, and Find Out Which Unique Money Lessons Shaped His Philosophy
“Lawson Kroeker is a firm that plans to be around forever, passing the philosophy and management from one generation to the next. The company’s commitment to remaining an independent investment management firm really aligned with my beliefs back then. It still does.”
Hometown: Omaha, Neb.
Years in the Investment/Finance Industry: 30-plus
First Car: 1973 Mercury Capri for $250, sold years later for $450
Local Involvement in Omaha: Coaching kids’ basketball; trustee on the St. Cecilia Cathedral Educational Endowment; chair and trustee for the Omaha Archdiocesan Educational and Parish Endowment Funds; member of the Archdiocese of Omaha Investment Committee
When you begin working with Lawson Kroeker, the approach might surprise you. They’re not your average investment management firm, chasing Wall Street trends or trying to sell you on a particular financial product. Instead, their approach is to help you access the wealth-building that comes with long-term, sustainable investing.
Even better, the approach is friendly, upbeat and engaging – a lot like Tom Sudyka, Portfolio Manager.
Tom talks about portfolios with clients in a way that feels more like a trusted friend who shares your values and, as a fiduciary, he has your best interests in mind. Want to know a little more about Tom? Read on.
Education and Early Money Lessons
Tom earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Creighton University, then received his MBA from the University of Nebraska while working at his first full-time investment job.
Some of his earliest education toward money was gained when his grandfather took him to the Nebraska horse racetracks at a young age. It was there that he first learned about odds, math, predicting, investing and how to handle (or how not to handle) money.
Tom became a chartered financial analyst (CFA) in 1989, which is considered the “gold standard” in the investment world. He was particularly happy that he got it finished while working, completing his MBA and prior to the arrival of his first son.
He also earned the chartered analyst in Philanthropy (CAP) in 2018, motivated by a desire to learn additional ways to help Lawson Kroeker clients. It was enlightening for Tom to work with the 12 other professionals over the year-long class to observe new avenues available to help clients with their decisions.
Choosing Omaha and Lawson Kroeker
When Tom decided to leave the institutional investment world, Omaha was a natural choice because he had grown up here. On a professional level, the investment community in Omaha is well respected, yet not cut-throat competitive. “When talking with different investment firms nearly 20 years ago, I knew right away that the chance to spend most of my time and investment efforts on a small group of clients at Lawson Kroeker was appealing,” says Tom. “It was also appealing to know that Lawson Kroeker is a firm that plans to be around forever, passing the philosophy and management from one generation to the next. The company’s commitment to remaining an independent investment management firm really aligned with my beliefs back then. It still does.”
Tom feels that not being constantly bombarded with Wall Street’s “need to do something” allows him to really take the time to listen and think about what investments are truly appropriate for clients, as well as to consider the type of investment advice that makes sense for the long term.
Reflecting a lifelong interest in sports, Tom enjoys working with budding young basketball players, as well as just shooting baskets and playing the game himself. “I’m old, slow and never was very good, but I enjoy the game,” he adds.
What Tom’s First Car Says About Him
In 1980, as a Colorado high school sophomore, Tom bought a 1973 Mercury Capri for $250. It was green with a gorgeous brown leather interior. During his junior year in college, he sold the Capri for $450. The buyer just wanted the interior, which he tore out and put into another Capri he owned. Tom was pleased, “Now that is my kind of investment, when you pay $250, then sell for $450 after using it for several years.”
Community Involvement and the Great Outdoors: A Source of Inspiration
When Tom isn’t working with clients, you might see him coaching kids’ sports. He has also been a trustee on the St. Cecilia Cathedral Educational Endowment for years and serves with the Archdiocese of Omaha, where he is currently chair and trustee for the Omaha Archdiocesan Educational and Parish Endowment Funds, as well as a member of the Archdiocese of Omaha Investment Committee.
Even with all his work and volunteer time, Tom does kick back for some fun now and then. He spends a fair amount of the summer waterskiing, fishing, grilling and relaxing at their family lake house in Iowa. He also likes traveling during the winter months and usually gets a snow-ski and a beach trip into his calendar. Tom is also excited to work on remodeling projects and spent the last year gutting and helping to remodel his oldest son’s 1930s house.
Tom is married to Kathryn, and talks with pride about their three sons: Thomas (28), Stephen (26) and David (24).
To make an appointment with Tom or another CFA at Lawson Kroeker, contact us at our office today. You’ll quickly see a difference in how we handle your portfolio, offering investment advice for the long-term, not just following the buzz on Wall Street.
What Makes Lawson Kroeker Different From Other Investment Management Firms?
Investment Management That’s Focused, Flexible and Carefully Considered
You have a lot of choices when it comes to investment management. You may have so many choices, in fact, that it can become challenging to know what you should be looking for in an investment management firm.
When you come to Lawson Kroeker, you’ll see a difference right away. You’ll see that the team at Lawson Kroeker has all the Wall Street savvy and knowledge, and that we offer several team members with large portfolio management experience … But what you won’t see is the disconnection (and the drama) of Wall Street. Instead, your portfolio will be handled with a patient, consistent approach that builds success over time.
Lawson Kroeker is built on a unique foundation. We are a small team which allows us to be client-focused. We’re also employee-owned, which means each advisor is fully invested in the process. Our team offers 30 years of experience, lending a disciplined strength to our business practices. We’re known as advisors who “spend time thinking,” a quality our co-founder Ken Kroeker established from day one. We’re proud to continue this legacy.
Did we mention we are independent? Another point of difference is that Lawson Kroeker is not associated with any single bank. Clients are able to hold their portfolio at any custodian according to their priorities. In addition, we can assist with all your investment management needs with our single team – and this means confidence, efficiency and alignment. Across various life situations including divorce, estate planning and death, we’re right there beside you.
Lawson Kroeker advisors are held to a higher standard. You need an investment management firm that holds its work to the same level of integrity that you hold your own. At Lawson Kroeker, advisors are fiduciaries. This means that any action taken must be in the best interest of the client. Many financial advisors are only held to the lower suitability standard, meaning that any action must only be considered a suitable choice for the client.
Did you know it takes three years for Lawson Kroeker advisors to become Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA®s), and each advisor is a practitioner, not a salesperson? In fact, we see our work as an art form and this allows us to be deliberate and thoughtful. In contrast, for many firms, the emphasis is toward growing sales and chasing market fads. At Lawson Kroeker, the focus is on protecting and growing your wealth, and we are proud of our low manager-to-client ratio.
Clients appreciate the Lawson Kroeker “experience.” While clients vary in their reasons for doing business with Lawson Kroeker, there are certain qualities that stand out and are frequently mentioned:
- You’ll never feel pushed into a particular investment with our advisors.
- Advisors engage in a lot of conversation with clients, allowing them to get to know you and your needs.
- There’s no race to a sale, so your first meeting will simply involve conversation.
You’ll notice that when you place your investment management in the hands of Lawson Kroeker, your experience is noticeably different than with other advising firms. Contact us at Lawson Kroeker and find out how we’ll work together.
Invest Like It’s 1986: Because a Long-Term Plan is Always in Style
If you watch the headlines or listen to the news, you might wonder if you should be trying some new strategies or responding to media headlines for your investments. The answer is almost always a resounding no. While headlines and media topics may fly past you every day, the basics of sound investing remain consistent over time.
At Lawson Kroeker, we can say “invest like it’s 1986” because that’s the year our company was founded. During the the past 30+ years, we believe many of the elements for portfolio management have remained the same. (As for our clothing and hair styles from 1986, well, that’s a different story all together.)
That’s not to say that technology hasn’t improved, or that we haven’t followed it where it advances our client service. There are better tools available for reporting, and you can find convenient predictors for retirement planning now as technology impacts and expands our industry.
The core of the philosophy at Lawson Kroeker hasn’t changed though. You’ll see that when perusing our Lawson Kroeker newsletter, “As We See It,” with archived issues available on our website. It’s interesting that the investment philosophies that have always guided this group of advisors were foundational from the beginning:
In most instances, the building up of one’s assets is, if not a lifetime project, an endeavor that spans many years. It starts with the development of and adherence to a sound long-range plan.
Compare that 1980s message from our newsletter with that of our current philosophy found on our website.
Our investment style is often described as contrarian because it is a patient, disciplined, long-term approach that does not focus on the stock market and its emotional roller coaster ride. Wall Street’s short-term views do not sway our Main Street long-term goals. We believe that following the crowd is not a sound plan for achieving financial success.
In terms of diversification, which you likely hear often, we advised the following in our 1980s newsletter:
Diversification is one of the basic fundamentals of prudent investing. It means much more than simply purchasing a wide variety of securities. It involves spreading risk among asset classes, as well as diversifying within each of those classes.
Today, our website still emphasizes the importance of diversification in an investment strategy:
As a general rule, investors have three objectives when investing in securities. These objectives are stability of principal, current income, and growth. Unfortunately, there is no single security which satisfies all of these objectives. Satisfaction of the three objectives requires the utilization of three types of securities or asset classes: cash equivalents, bonds, and stocks.
While there have certainly been changes in how investment management is handled, the path to success still looks a lot like 1986. It’s consistent, focused and carefully considered. In fact, this is still how we believe your investment strategies should be managed.
Make an appointment today to learn more about our approach.