Andy Brooks: From Trading to Aquaculture
This is the sixth in a series of articles profiling previous Markets Choice Award winners. The 10th-anniversary MCAs program will be held on May 4, 2022 in New York.
Andrew (Andy) Brooks, 66, who won Lifetime Achievement at Markets Media’s 2019 Markets Choice Awards, worked at T. Rowe Price for nearly 40 years. An industry veteran, Brooks joined the firm in 1980 as an equity trader and assumed his latest role as Vice President in 1992. He served on the firm’s Ethics Committee, and was the Chair of the National Organization of Investment Professionals. He retired from the firm in 2019, but remains active in the community.
Brooks serves on the Board of the Mayland Center for History and Culture, and is the incoming Chair of Gilman School, his alma mater. Brooks and his wife Sana are also doing some volunteer work at the local hospital GBMC Healthcare – Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
He also has interest in True Chesapeake Oyster Co., Maryland Oyster Farm & Baltimore Fine Dining. “We have an oyster farm in Southern Maryland and we’ve opened up a couple little restaurants related to that,” Brooks revealed. During our Zoom call, Brooks seemed really excited about oysters, saying that oysters purify the water, filtering 50 gallons of water a day. “Then you’re growing protein which means you’re feeding people, so that’s a good thing. And you’re putting people to work. So I’m kind of in favor of all those things,” he added.
When asked about his retirement from T. Rowe, Brooks said that it was time: “The pace of change in the business is pretty fast and and there comes a time where it’s important to pass the baton.”
He said that in the investment business the opportunity to learn is amazing, adding that if you can be in an environment and work for a company where the learning curve is pretty much straight up, “that’s stimulating and exciting”.
“I found that itself kept you pretty focused on things and really energized to come to work every day,” he said.
“It was a great firm for me,” he stressed: “I did see some opportunities over my career, but I’m glad I never took advantage of any of those.”
He said he misses his job: “I miss every goddamn day. Excuse my French. Business gets in your blood, the markets get in your blood, so I miss it, but it doesn’t mean I want to be back there,” he laughed.
Brooks said that in the three years that he’s been gone, the markets changed dramatically. One of the things that Mr Price (Thomas Rowe Price Jr., the founder of T. Rowe Price), was fond of saying, according to Brooks, is that “change is the investors’ only certainty”.
There’s a lot of truth to that still today – markets are always changing, situations are evolving, but some things don’t change, Brooks said.
He said that the most unpredictable change in the industry that he has seen was the impact of technology enabling creativity. “It’s amazing how creative Wall Street has been in the financial markets to financial institutions, creating new products and thinking about new ways to mitigate risk; and technology has really enabled so much more creativity.”
Brooks argued that even though most trading today is electronic, there is still a problem to solve. There are new set of tools like algorithms, but there are also old set of tools, which are people. “There’s always going to be a need for human intellect and a human approach to some problems, which are bigger than the marketplace.”
At the end of his career at T.Rowe Price, Brooks was involved in the company’s corporate social responsibility efforts. “I really valued that and learned a lot,” he said. “One of the great, great things about a place like T. Rowe Price is that they’ve got a very strong culture.”
The business was and still is a reputational business, he said.
“You only have one reputation, and you need to really guard that. So when you think about integrity or ethics, or doing the right thing or how you treat people – those are important things to be mindful of,” he said.
“If you want to stay in the business, you want to stay in the game, you want to stay at the table, you have to be careful about playing by the rules,” he concluded.
Previous MCA Winner profiles: