Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Making sense of dollars and pounds
London-based wealth manager and financial planner Mark Scher, SBA ’90, maximizes the investments of his clients -- U.S. citizens and ex-pats living in the U.K. -- by navigating complex U.S. and U.K. tax laws. Scher uses his thorough understanding of the intricacies of the dollar, pound, euro, tax rates, capital gains, dividends and tax credits to help wealthy American bankers and lawyers invest.
Scher is a member of an elite group. As one of about 30 wealth managers licensed in both countries, he is uniquely qualified to offer financial services to the estimated 200,000 U.S. citizens living in the U.K. The members of this group combined hold nearly $100 billion in investible assets.
”This is a niche market, and our specialization is critical for those who must comply with international regulations and tax regimes,” explains Scher, senior investment advisor, MASECO Private Wealth. ”The U.S. is one of only four countries worldwide where citizens have to pay taxes on income.”
Igniting the investment passion
Scher started at Oakland University's SBA after he left the Marine Corps in 1987. In his first economics class with SBA’s Anandi Sahu, chair and professor, economics, Scher discovered his passion for global finance and investing.
”I love knowing everything there is to know about numbers and how they equate to day-to-day living,” he says. ”How to calculate a mortgage or lease payment, how to get around taxes, things like that, have always fascinated me.”
Simply put, Scher couldn't quench his thirst for numbers. He took enough classes to graduate with three majors from the SBA -- economics, finance and accounting. This intense course of study resulting in the trifecta of majors has provided a solid foundation for Scher's success in his career and advancing his education.
Scher went on to earn a master's in Finance from Walsh College. Now, he's pursuing his Ph.D. in Finance at one of the top universities in the world -- the prestigious King's College London, University of London. And, completing the circle in his education, Sahu graciously agreed to serve as his Ph.D. sponsor.
Sahu speaks highly of Scher's success in business -- and in the classroom. ”Mark’s intense zeal to master economic concepts and a ceaseless effort to be always at the top of the class had the predictable effect – an exceptional success in his chosen profession,” he says. ”His pursuit of a Ph.D. degree while already well settled in professional life speaks to his motivation and ability.”
Staying connected to OU
Recognizing the influence OU and the SBA had on his life, Scher has remained involved with the university in a variety of ways, including through the (then) President's Club and other philanthropic endeavors. His involvement also extends to sharing his time with students.
Last spring, Scher shared his knowledge and passion about finance and living abroad with a group of SBA graduate students who traveled to London as part of Adjunct Professor Frank Cardimen's Globalization (MGT 681) class.
”The students said it was a great finance overview; they said it was the clearest explanation they ever had about the finance industry,” Scher says about the meeting where he explained his investment philosophy, provided an overview of MASECO, and answered questions about finance and living in London.
Spending time educating today's business student about the global economy is one way Scher believes he can acknowledge the start he got at OU and the opportunities he had to follow his dream.
”There is not a place in the U.S. that I could have this kind of opportunity, not in New York, not in L.A.,” he says, but points out that technology is 10 to 15 years behind the U.S. ”This is stunning, when you look at technology worldwide.”
The differences don't end there. ”It's a totally different way of life,” he adds. ”You are frowned upon for working 60 hours a week, and it's a far more relaxed lifestyle. There are no big-box stores in London; you have to go store to store. It harkens back to the old days.”
For now, Scher and his wife, Ashley, who is also a financial planner at MASECO, are content with their career, lifestyle and the opportunity they have to give OU students a unique perspective on life and work across the pond.
By Dawn Pauli, CAS '88