People become financial advisors for many reasons, but it's probably safe to say that few enter the profession because of the Rolling Stones. Yet in a roundabout way, the aging British rockers eventually led Doug Potash to a mid-life career change from movies to mutual funds.
Potash, 54, spent most of his adult life distributing films for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and several other companies. From his Chicago-based office for MGM, he oversaw the placement of movies in theaters in a handful of Midwestern cities. He eventually relocated to Annapolis, Md., to be closer to his son. But whenever the Stones launched one of their massive world concert tours every few years or so, he darted off around the United States and overseas to catch as many shows as time and money allowed.
To say that the Stones' music gives Potash satisfaction is both a very bad pun and an understatement. He wears his passion on his sleeve--literally.
"Nobody can match the Stones as a live band," says Potash, wearing a black leather jacket with the left sleeve sporting a patch of the familiar Stones logo that's a caricature of Mick Jagger's lips and tongue. Potash is an advisor with Ameriprise Financial in Annapolis, and on this day he drove to New York to meet up with friends to watch a Stones cover band. Beneath the jacket was a lime green ''Shidoobee Crew 2005-06'' T-shirt.
Shidoobee refers to the refrain from the Stones hit “Shattered.” It also refers to hardcore Stones fanatics known as Shidoobees, a group of people brought together through a popular Internet message board started by Potash in 2000 called Shidoobee With Stonesdoug (Stonesdoug is Potash's screen name on the Web). And these are happy times for Shidoobees: The Stones are in the midst of a year-long world tour that began in August; the mainly North American first half concludes in March.
Shidoobees share their seemingly boundless enthusiasm for the Stones on the chat board, meet up for concerts when the band tours, and get together annually in Wildwood, N.J., during years when the Stones aren't touring. Potash is the group's leader, a man with graying sandy hair, a sun-reddened face and a friendly demeanor who seems well-suited as someone to hang out with over a beer and rock-n-roll.
Somewhere along the line, some of the Shidoobees came up with the idea to buy a vacation retreat where they could all get together in their later years. It seemed like a good idea to Potash, although he wondered how they could afford it. He personally thought he was in good shape for retirement, but when he put pencil to paper he found out he wasn't. "I realized that if I didn't have enough for retirement, then none of my friends did, either," he says. "I wanted to get into something that could help me and my friends."
Potash graduated with an accounting degree from Villanova, so he has a head for numbers. He also followed the markets, so switching careers to the financial world seemed a viable option. He got licensed as a financial advisor and began work with American Express Financial (now Ameriprise) in 2002. "I liked the notion of helping people reach their financial goals."
Living the life of a practicing Shidoobee isn't cheap, not with Stones tickets selling for as much as $450. Even sticking with nosebleed seats adds up over the course of 10, 20 or even 30 concerts per tour, particularly after tacking on airfare, hotels and meals. Potash himself plans to attend "only" 13 shows this tour, down from 34 shows during the last go-round. "Spending $20,000 on a tour," he says with a slight pause, "it's just crazy."
Roughly half of Potash's 65 clients are Shidoobees. "A lot of Shidoobees would rather be poor with great memories than retired with nothing to remember," he says. "I'm trying to get them to save more and grow their assets. I tell them they can still see some shows, but they can't go as wild as they did in the past."