Wall Street's mother-daughter team
New York — Valery and Janine Craane are not a typical mother and daughter. Janine Craane lives at home and says that not only is her mother a very good mother, but she is also ``a good friend.'' And Valery Craane praises her daughter's steadiness and resolve. Beyond this mutual admiration, the Craanes are also one of the most successful stockbroker teams on Wall Street.
The two work for Merrill Lynch & Co. - and apparently do rather well at it. Their combined earnings for 1987 are estimated to be in seven figures and only slightly less this year. In all, they manage some $250 million in assets, much of that from abroad, invested in the United States.
``What I most enjoy about working with my mother is that she gives me the wisdom of time, a solid perspective,'' says Janine Craane, in their offices on Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan.
Like her mother, Janine Craane is multilingual, speaking five languages. Valery is currently learning Japanese; her daughter, Italian. Between them, a client can communicate in at least six tongues.
``I call them the `dynamic duo,''' says Robert Lederman, who runs the Euroconvertible trading desk at Baring Securities Inc., and who once worked with Valery Craane at Merrill Lynch. ``They are very professional. Both have a far wider knowledge of the world than many people in this industry. That's one of the reasons why they are so successful.''
Dutch-born (by way of Cura,cao), Valery Craane was a young mother in Venezuela when her husband - an auditor with Exxon Corporation - passed on, leaving her with two young children. Valery decided to move to New York, where she enrolled in New York University's Graduate School of Business. She eventually went to work for Merrill Lynch and worked at White Weld before it was taken over by Merrill Lynch.
Janine came to her career by a more direct route; Merrill Lynch recruited her for its corporate intern program while she was a student at Amherst College. Now, while they maintain separate investment portfolios, they often work together, backstopping each other when one is traveling.
Many of Valery's clients are from Europe and Asia, as well as Latin America. A technician who closely follows various market charts, she specializes in Eurobonds and currency trading. Many of Janine Craane's clients are, she notes with a laugh, ``younger millionaires from South America,'' her principal market.
The current investment climate has Valery Craane somewhat worried. She calls it ``very boring,'' because the market has tended to stay in the same overall trading range for recent months, usually moving up and down between 1,900 and 2,150 points on the Dow Jones industrial average.
``Investors are having to climb a wall of worries following last October's market crash,'' says Valery Craane. She believes Tuesday's election may help ease some market concerns - as investors get a firmer fix on the course of future federal spending, as well as such key variables as interest rates.
Both Craanes are particularly concerned about the high level of indebtedness in the economy.
In recent months, Valery has been recommending that clients put up to 60 percent of their portfolios in bonds and foreign currencies, with 20 percent in stocks and 20 percent in cash. Merrill Lynch, however, has been recommending that investors keep 15 percent of their portfolio in cash, 45 percent in bonds, and 40 percent in stocks.
``Each individual, however, has a different investment need,'' Janine says. ``I'd personally have slightly more in cash right now, since I think the market is due for a correction.''
Janine Craane believes that ``personal contacts'' are particularly important for a successful broker. Her mother quickly concurs. Thus, when either of them is on one of their frequent trips abroad, they try to call on clients for dinner or an informal meeting. Both keep in touch with their clients by telephone or computer.
Valery Craane is increasingly interested in the booming Asian market, particularly Japan, although her contacts also take her to such countries as Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
``Traders from Asia,'' her daughter notes, ``tend to be somewhat aggressive in their investment patterns.'' There are distinct cultural differences regarding investment practices. In South America, she says, ``the man usually takes credit'' for whatever wealth they may have; but behind the scenes, it is often the wife who makes many of the important financial decisions - all the time making sure their husbands get the public credit.
Janine's mother admits it was ``not always easy to be a woman consultant in a predominantly male investment community.'' But whatever initial opposition or reluctance there was to working with a woman eased considerably, she says, as investors saw the attention given their portfolios.
``Many clients may find that a woman actually brings certain desirable qualities to their work,'' she says. ``A woman may actually care a little more about an account than a man.''
Most important, she says, is ``that you have to be there for your clients; you have to be available.''
The proof, perhaps, is seen in the recognition of their peers. Valery Craane is a member of the Charles E. Merrill Circle, which among other things, requires that one bring in at least $500,000 of business for six years in a row; Janine Craane was a Win Smith Fellow last year, which requires a broker to generate over $550,000 in sales before his or her sixth year. Janine, who is still under 30 years old, did it by her second year.