James A. Miller, CFA
Chairman, Investment Advisor
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Talk to Jim Miller about investments or his love of Cincinnati and it’s hard to believe he considers himself shy. The affable and gregarious Chairman of Bartlett exudes a contagious passion for helping clients achieve their financial goals that’s as strong today as when he joined the firm 34 years ago.
“The first thing I do each morning is turn on the TV to see what the markets did overseas,” says Jim, who read his first book on investment strategies before he got his driver’s license. “It’s been a labor of love. Every day when the market opens, it’s a new day and I’m curious and still enjoy the game. I love interacting with clients and explaining our investment philosophy. I want my clients to know they’re doing well and why.”
Upon graduating from the University of Michigan, Jim joined his family’s real estate development firm in Dayton, Ohio to help out after his father suffered a debilitating stroke. Jim eventually bought an apartment building on his own and experienced firsthand the 24/7 challenges of managing residential complexes.
“Every year I owned that building, I figured my life expectancy went down about three years,” says Jim, flashing a keen sense of humor that is one of his trademarks. “My dad was smart. He never went into residential real estate.”
He Finds his Calling
Jim eventually found his career calling shortly after obtaining his MBA from the Harvard Business School. It wasn’t without a few bumps in the road, however.
“The first time I interviewed with Bartlett in 1975, I was told to come back when I had some experience,” says Jim, whose stellar career at Bartlett is compelling evidence why second chances are a good thing. “Not getting hired the first time at Bartlett was probably the best thing that ever happened to me because I joined a brokerage house and learned the business. When I was finally hired at Bartlett, it was like a garden of earthly delights. The firm is so research-oriented and I had an incredible wealth of information at my disposal.”
In a career spanning four decades, Jim has seen various market environments that have tested his mettle to maintain Bartlett’s long-term, valued-based investment philosophy. But, the market fluctuations have only confirmed his belief that Bartlett’s disciplined investment philosophy is grounded in analytical, research-based logic.
“You’ve got to have a consistent, cogent investment philosophy, which we do, and you have to embrace that philosophy and not capitulate,” says Jim. “I try to explain to clients how to value an enterprise, and how we’re buying businesses, not stocks. It’s just logic – analyzing the valuations and buying businesses at a reasonable multiple of cash flow, sustainable earnings capacity and a viable competitive edge.”
Giving back to the community
Over the years, Jim’s philanthropy has earned him the well-deserved reputation as one of Cincinnati’s most generous corporate executives. He is also a tireless volunteer, spending a great deal of time serving on the board of directors of several prestigious institutions.
“Cincinnati has been terrific to me, and I derive a great deal of gratification giving back to the community,” says Jim, who believes the arts help make Cincinnati a great city. “I liken my work on some of the boards to our productive collaboration here at Bartlett. We really mentor one another and bring out the best in each other.”
James A. Miller: At a glance
Chairman, Investment Advisor
Education & Certifications:
Chartered Financial Analyst (since 1981);
BA, Economics, University of Michigan;
MBA, Harvard Business School
Member, Board of Directors:
- Xavier University
- University of Michigan Economics Department Advisory Council
- Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center
- Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park
- American Jewish Committee
- The Wellness Community
Married to wife Mary; two children: Casey and Katherine