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September 2, 2013

Wrap Powerhouse

By Alan Rubenfeld

Kravitz's career path has taken him literally from ground zero of the UMA platform revolution to where he now runs the largest desk of its kind on Wall Street. Kravitz joined Morgan Stanley as part of the merger with Citigroup's Smith Barney unit in 2009, where he was managing director and head trader for Citi's managed account trading platform. Through mergers and acquisitions, he has held trading positions with predecessor firms Legg Mason, Smith Barney, Solomon Smith Barney, Shearson Lehman Hutton and Shearson Lehman Brothers. He began his career at Shearson Lehman in 1986, working as a purchase and sales clerk, where he had the chance to gain a complete understanding of the trade settlement process: "It wasn't glamorous, but it enabled me to get a complete, front-to-back understanding of the trading process."

In 1987, Kravitz joined the Shearson desk to trade for one of the firm's top money managers. During his first years of trading, he balanced omnibus accounts and settled all trades. At that point in time, $1 billion was being managed in a single style strategy for Shearson clients, an almost unheard amount of AUM for a single portfolio manager.

Over the next few years, he moved up the ranks as he remained with the same investment management team, although it was rebranded with a host of new names (including Shearson Lehman Brothers, Shearson Lehman Hutton, Smith Barney Shearson, Solomon Smith Barney and others). In the mid-'90s, Kravitz joined the Citi Assets buyside desk, trading traditional SMAs, mutual funds and institutional accounts. In 2005, Citigroup Asset Management was sold to Legg Mason and Kravitz became the head trader for Legg Mason's spin-off Private Portfolio Group, which was then sold back to Citibank's Smith Barney unit in 2008. In 2009, Smith Barney and Morgan Stanley began their joint venture between their wealth management units, with Morgan Stanley becoming the sole owner this year. Although one might need a scorecard to keep track of the corporate movements, one of the few constants throughout the process was Kravitz and his team of traders, working together with a core team of analysts and portfolio managers since 2007.

Earlier in his career, Kravitz had some regrets about not following in his father's footsteps and going into the family's gold refining business alongside his brothers. However, after 27 years, trading remains his passion-and while the recent run-up in gold gives him cause for reflection, he says he knows that there is no business he would rather be in today.

Today, Kravitz is now part of the PPG team under the leadership of Roger Paradiso, managing director and head of investment solutions and portfolio development, and creator of the UMA. Kravitz notes the unique chemistry between all the groups within PPG, as all the department heads have been together as a team for more than 20 years. He believes this has created a unique synergy among operations, technology, implementation, compliance and trading, allowing the business to grow exponentially.

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