Robert Luna, CIMA, founded Surevest Wealth Management in 2002 and serves as the firm’s CEO and CIO, overseeing the investments process for all of the firm’s clients. He’s a Wharton Fellow with more than 16 years of experience in managing assets for institutions, professional athletes, small business owners and high-net-worth investors. His latest distinction is the Global Executive MBA he’ll leave UCLA Anderson with on Saturday.
A lifelong businessman who began amassing his baseball card collection with the money he earned selling candy, Luna appears regularly on CNBC and other financial networks and has been featured in numerous publications, including the Wall Street Journal. He wouldn’t mind being stranded on a desert island as long as he had a steady supply of red wine, cheese and salame. He’s inspired by Disney and the Dodgers, and his daughter’s name means Beautiful Moon in Italian.
As he gears up to graduate, Luna agreed to share a bit more about himself and why he pursued the GEMBA for Asia Pacific that will equip him with dual degrees from UCLA Anderson and National University of Singapore.
By Robert Luna (GEMBA ’16)
Remember the book Everything I Know I Learned in Kindergarten? Well, most everything I know I learned from trading baseball cards. I parlayed my meager earnings selling candy bars door-to-door into promising rookie cards. I would study the stats of the top prospects in the farm leagues to gain insights into who would flourish in the big leagues. My “go to” category was rookie prospect cards. These were the guys who had not yet been called up to the majors. This was the baseball card equivalent of an IPO. Once they became “hot rookies,” I would hit the sell button. This strategy panned out reasonably well: By the age of 14, I had my own incorporated business, Sport Card City. I switched my inventory from hot prospects to blue chip hall of famers.
Suffice it to say, I took my baseball cards seriously.
As entrepreneurs in business, we often go with gut feeling. Sometimes this can work but many times it creates a lot of blind spots and underdeveloped ideas and strategies. My childhood crash course in “trading” would prove invaluable to my ultimate career. But the frameworks I learned in UCLA Anderson’s GEMBA for Asia Pacific — on everything from finance to strategy — have given me a newfound enthusiasm to get back to work and apply this learning to growing my business.
Prior to entering the program, I had invested for several years into emerging markets in India and China on behalf of my clients. I naively thought that all you needed to be successful when investing in a country was to look at balance sheets and read economic reports. My perspective has completely changed. Spending time studying in Asia and talking with global heads of business, as well as with my classmates, I learned that cultural distinctions are something that must be experienced firsthand. I am coming away from this program equipped with new opportunities in Asia and the right tools to capitalize on them.
I still love baseball (go, Dodgers!) but these days my research is devoted to finding the best combination of investments for our clients. I am planning on taking Surevest into new markets domestically and globally as soon as I resume the helm full time (in other words, on Monday morning). I am also taking away with me 40 new friends, an education provided by world-class faculty and membership in the global Anderson alumni community that will serve as a priceless resource as I embark on that journey.
UCLA Anderson’s GEMBA Class of 2016 graduates on Saturday, August 27, 2016. Alumnus David Leonard (’05), president of Aluvion Energies Consulting, will deliver the keynote address.