Darius Gagne

The reason I got into this profession:

I love getting people’s finances in order. I’ve figured out a lot about financial planning and investing and I use this to take care of my clients. I like learning how things work and that led me to earn a Ph.D. in quantum physics from UCLA. It was the mid-’90s, I was 26 years old at the time, and had never given a moment of serious thought as to what I wanted to be when I grew up. Satisfied with the level I had gone to with physics, I was ready to learn new things.

It would turn out to be good timing. As I was nearing the completion of my Ph.D. in physics, there were innovations developing in the financial markets that resembled the challenges, and required the techniques, of quantum mechanics. I was hooked instantly. There I was, a hippie graduate student with long hair and no networking experience. With only one name of a contact in New York, but no shortage in determination, I lined up a weeklong series of interviews with the top Wall Street firms in Manhattan. On the last day of a week I will never forget, UBS made me an offer at the end of the interview to be a quantitative analyst — the start of a career, and much to learn.

After several terrific years in New York, with the birth of our first son, my wife and I moved back to Los Angeles, to be closer to our families again, just a few months before 9-11. As my career grew, and as my family grew with the birth of our second son, I started studying personal financial planning. I was not happy with the lack of quality, objective financial advice available out there, so I went into full learning mode again. While working at PIMCO (Pacific Investment Management Company) as a portfolio manager and financial engineer, I became a Charted Financial Analyst (CFA) and a Certified Financial Planner (CFP).

At that time, I also earned an Executive MBA from UCLA in the evenings and weekends, and upon graduation, my classmate and first business partner, David DeWolf, and I founded Quantum Wealth Management in 2005 so we could help people take care of their money the same way we wanted our money cared for. After seven great years running Quantum, we merged our business with Abacus in 2012, where I am the Chief Investment Officer (CIO) and I lead a team of financial advisors. I love what I do. Many of my clients tend to be free-market oriented and a top value for them, and me, is their financial independence.

Outside of work, my passions include

My wife, Carla, and I share a love for modern architecture. After many years of dreaming and planning, in 2014 we completed construction of our home in the hills of Brentwood, designed by modern architect Renzo Zecchetto.

My wife and I start each day with our practice of Ashtanga yoga. The grounding and peace of mind has been important to me as an investment advisor.

I am the founder and president of the Los Angeles Objectivists club, which discusses the application of Objectivism, the philosophy developed by Ayn Rand, to life, to social and moral issues, as well as to real world challenges such as climate change, income inequality, health care, foreign policy and economics.

But my wife and I keep it light too. An ideal weekend is hanging with our two sons, even if it means driving all over Southern California to their sport tournaments (soccer, running and wrestling).

The primary way I’m advancing my career knowledge

Much of my study time is on climate change, and how I think it should impact our investment decisions. As a physicist by training, I like to look at the data sources, the various adjustments that have been made on much of the data overtime, the track record and accuracy of the forecasting models, and the uncertainty bands around the outputs of the models. I like to know by whom the researchers are funded.

I also enjoy studying economics, and in particular the history and causes of financial crisis and market crashes. One of my favorite books that I recommend to my students is Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt. Related areas of study and interest are philosophy, and income inequality.

My financial plan is focused on

  • a balance between short-term budgeting for the current calendar year,
  • medium-term saving for college for my sons,
  • and long-term investing in the ingenuity of mankind (represented uniquely by the stock market) for lifelong spending

I’m trying to expand what’s possible with money by

I provide financial education by speaking regularly to the public. This includes my monthly Coffee with the CIO event (registration available on our website), regular guest speaking for various organizations and teaching at UCLA Extension.

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