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Investment Guru John Milne Gives $1 Billion in Assets Back to Clients

·5 min read

FORT MYERS, FL / ACCESSWIRE / July 21, 2022 / John Milne built a remarkable career as an investment manager putting people before profit. His philosophy created billions in assets for the companies fortunate enough to employee his expertise and for an investment company he founded.

John Milne, Thursday, July 21, 2022, Press release picture
John Milne, Thursday, July 21, 2022, Press release picture

Now, Milne is retiring from the investment world and once again his people-first values are guiding the decision to give $1 billion dollars' worth of investments back to his clients, who were part of JKMilne Asset Management, which originally started in Pittsburgh before moving offices to Fort Myers, Fl.

It's a move not often seen in the frenzied world of asset management, but one Milne believes he owed to his 28 clients, many from reputable non-profits. Portfolios ranged from $2.1 million to $351 million. Milne ceased operations in July.

"It occurred to me, after numerous negotiations, that a year from now, what are people going to say about me," the 68-year-old Milne said. "I did not want somebody to call and say ‘what did you do to me. My clients have been loyal. I decided to do what was best for them.

"The billions we managed were a privilege afforded to us. We have done what we set out to do."

Milne's decision to leave the breath-taking lifestyle of managing and monetizing treasury bonds, stocks and other portfolio builders saddened many of his clients.

He received numerous letters, with similar comments, like:

"Your sound advice and prudent investment management protected assets and improved net income."

"We will find another firm to replace JKMilne Asset Management but will never find another John Milne. You and your firm have always adhered to the highest ethical standard possible."

Every single letter he received, had the word "sad" in the first sentence, and other repeated words that mean a great deal to Milne because of his decision to return the assets: "You are a gentleman. We expected nothing less of you."

Milne's standards resonate through every opportunity during a 43-year investment career. Most notably was his time as president and Chief Investment Officer of Mellon Bond Associates, L.L.P. He grew assets from $7 billion in 1985 to $90 billion in 2003. Milne grew assets so rapidly because he made it a point to get to know his clients - even their children and pets. His advice may not always have been what clients wanted to hear, but it was the truth.

"We focused on an objective of shared success," the former Cape Coral, Fl., resident said. "When a relationship goes bad, it is usually because truth has left the room first."

Milne's relationship with Mellon Bond Associates (part of Mellon Bank) and with approximately 900 clients remained strong during his time there, but in 2003, "I wanted a clean slate." He left and considered buying a marina (he had a home in Key West, FL.), a Harley Davidson dealership or sticking with his core strength - managing money.

A chemistry major in college, Milne was a dedicated follower of actions and reactions. He understood range of outcomes, especially in the investment world. He knew people and how to get their trust. Starting with advice from 25 people "I liked being in the room with," Milne founded JKMilne Asset Management on Aug. 2, 2004. He had his first client signed by Oct. 1. He and his eight employees focused on union pension funds, endowments, and the non-profits. Milne's new venture had $215 million worth of assets under management after the first year.

JKMilne Asset Management also grew in reputation and in assets because of a commitment he made to bring in college students from across the country as paid interns. He had 23 over 17 years, asking college business departments "to send us your best," Milne said. "All of them have gone on to do great things," Milne said. One rang the bell to open the New York Stock Exchange. "I told them I would stick with them through their entire careers."

Milne even navigated his company through the market plunging times of the Great Recession in 2008, earning what he considers to be one of the greatest honors of his career. JKMilne Asset Management was named Institutional Investor News Foundation & Endowment Money Management's Nonprofit Bond Manager of the Year. "We were bond manager of the year in one of the worst bond markets in a generation," Milne said. Institutional Investor News noted in announcing JKMilne as the winner that "80% of its $1.3 billion in assets under management comes from nonprofit investors."

Milne knew the investment industry can be "all consuming." He knew it was time to give back to his wife of 43 years. She had been patient and supportive through the 14-hour days, the 110 days of travel a year and only five weeks of vacation in 17 years.

He moves on with great memories, appreciative clients, and no regrets. Milne will travel with his wife, spend time at their homes in Key West and Asheville, N.C., and stay involved in economic research. Serving on various boards for 34 years, Milne will continue to give his time to the Misericordia University (Dallas, Pa.) advisory board and Nuventive Advisory Board.

He built his life on truth, trust and competency. His simple philosophy was "sometimes you win, sometimes you lose," and living by words he told his students: "We always told them you are only part of the solution - a tiny slice. Never expect to be enough to move the needle."

John Milne moved the needle.

Milne is available to share his decades of investment experience and welcomes the opportunity to talk with individuals or companies. He can be reached at 412-606-8978.

CONTACT: Tom Hayden
Spiro & Associates; (239)-481-5511

SOURCE: John Milne

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