punctuality," says Warren Cohn when I call him at
exactly 10:30 a.m. for a phone interview. As vice
president of Mellon Financial Corp.'s private
wealth management group, Cohn needs to keep punctual,
considering his client base of high-net-worth
individuals and his responsibility for billion-dollar
Born in Atlanta
and raised in South Florida, Cohn, 35, has vaulted
himself into one of the most dynamic jobs in the financial
industry. Based in Los Angeles, he is investment
management house Mellon's representative to the
city's megawealthy, including some of the most
notable film, TV, and sports stars in the world. (No, Cohn
wouldn't name names.)
investment banker at PaineWebber, Cohn made a personal
discovery after finishing graduate school in Florida.
"I realized the world of private wealth was a
lot more enjoyable than institutional wealth," he
Mellon is neither
a retail bank nor a brokerage firm; it's a company
that manages assets, including the often misunderstood
hedge funds. Simply put, a hedge fund, Cohn explains,
"is a contrarian investment to hedge against
loss," comprising a pool of money invested on behalf
of clients. Investments can be made in a variety of
assets, including stocks, bonds, horses, wine, and
even film production.
Since Mellon does
not advertise or cold-call potential investors, Cohn
relies on word-of-mouth referrals and his own reputation.
That means his schedule is very flexible. "If
somebody calls me tomorrow and says, 'I've
got $20 million,' I'm going to get on the
plane and go meet with them," he says.
He'll then put together a team of Mellon staffers to
handle such clients once they come on board. As he
puts it, "I play the quarterback."
Being openly gay
in the financial industry, Cohn says, hasn't been a
problem, particularly at Mellon, which scored a perfect 100
on the Human Rights Campaign's 2006 Corporate
Equality Index. A member of the firm's LGBT
employee group, he says his "three passions are gay
causes, youth causes, and StandUp for Kids," a
national advocacy group for runaway youths. He also
works with gay rights groups Lambda Legal and Equality
California and serves on the board of the Trevor Project, an
organization working to curb suicide among queer and
But his sexuality
does not define him, Cohn says--even if many people
joke that he's "the straightest gay guy
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