Make art great again: The investor

By Gary Krimershmoys

 

Artenol’s publisher, Gary Krimershmoys, organizing the hanging of the magazine's recent "The Revolution Continues"show in Manhattan. Krimershmoys has found renewed purpose in socially responsible investing. Artenol photoMy first child was born on March 30th, 2008, at the Portland Hospital in London. It was a momentous occasion, of course, for more then the usual reasons. In the heat of the moment, I decided to spend the night after the birth with my wife in her private room. The nurse brought in a cot, but I tossed and turned, unable to sleep. The birth of my son wasn’t the cause of my restless. At a time when everything in my life was about to change, I was thinking that my job needed changing, too.

I wanted to be a role model for my son. That night, I decided I would follow my passion. When my paternity leave was over, the next day at work, I scheduled a meeting with my boss to discuss the terms of my exit. I told him I was quitting my job as a financial broker.

So began my circuitous path to socially-engaged art and socially-responsible investing. After spending my early childhood in the former Soviet Union and emigrating to the United States in 1981 at the age of 9, I instinctively knew that capitalism worked and communism didn’t. That was reinforced when, right after graduation from college, my first job was in that bastion of capitalism, the stock market. Working initially as an option trader on the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, and then within a year moving on to the American Stock Exchange in New York, I bought the neo-liberal story hook, line and sinker. I religiously read the Wall Street Journal and hungrily consumed the works of Ayn Rand. All of my inherent preconceptions about economic and societal rights and wrongs were reinforced and amplified.

A change in my ironclad life philosophy came during the eight years my wife and I lived in England. We moved to London in 2001, a couple of months before the attacks on 9/11. It was a fortuitous move because I might have still been working at the American Stock Exchange, about a block from the World Trade Center.

MONEY WELL SPENTRead an article on socially responsible investing in Forbes magazine here.In London, I dove headfirst into the world of capital markets, first as a stock option trader, then moving on to be a broker of credit derivatives and then structured credit derivatives. With each new year, I was making more money, moving up through the ranks, eventually heading the European brokerage team at the second biggest interdealer broker in the world. But something was missing. I found the days at work mind-numbing and the nights entertaining clients (who mostly couldn’t talk about anything other then the markets or making and spending money) physically and emotionally abusive. I found that the lifestyle didn’t produce for me real, basic happiness.

Another crack in my philosophical foundation formed when I saw that there could be an economic system different from Rand’s pure capitalism. Experiencing the European economic experiment that mixed capitalism and socialism, showed me, to my surprise, that people didn’t derive all of their happiness from economic prosperity. I started to believe that contentedness could be found in shared purposes and stories, more so than through the often-egocentric materialism of financial success.

With the birth of my son, I decided to extricate myself from the lucrative brokerage business. To achieve a deeper satisfaction in my working life, I inventoried my passions to see which of them might accommodate a career shift.

Read the rest of this story in the Summer 2016 issue of Artenol. Order yours today

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