About Joan Lappin

Joan Lappin’s Wall Street career has spanned 45 years with many notable successes. She started in the research training program at Merrill Lynch and ended the 14 year analyst chapter of her career with 8 years at the Dreyfus Corporation. She earned an MBA at New York University in financial accounting by going at night and getting her employers to pay for it along the way, far better than a student loan. She became a Chartered Financial Analyst, the hardest of the Wall Street certifications to attain.

During Joan’s career, she has uncovered two significant corporate accounting frauds that nobody else on Wall Street even noticed. The first was a home study school (not unlike CoCo and Phoenix Online University –check names) called Career Academy, a very high flier of its day. When her report for Equity Research Associates was published in 1969, the stock was 42. The next day it was 24. Eighteen months later, it was bankrupt.

In 1999, Lappin interested Gene Marcial who for decades has written the Inside Wall Street column for Business Week, in writing a story about how Qwest Communications was cooking its books. Three years later, the Board reversed the very accounting transactions she and Gene called into question as improper. It took a decade for its then CEO, Joe Nacchio, to wind up in jail but that’s where he is now. The New York Times acknowledged that even in the modern era of computerized trading and superficial analysis, Lappin still knows how to tear apart a balance sheet and an income statement and truly analyze a company to spot corporate shenanigans.

In 1980 Joan began managing OPM (Other People’s Money) at Manufacturers Hanover Trust as a VP in the Trust Dept. She started Gramercy Capital in 1986 and within a few years GC was ranked #1 in the United States for five year performance in the Nelson’s Directory of Registered Investment Advisors. Of the thousands of investment managers in the United States, only two dozen other firms have accomplished that feat in the years those ratings have been published. Gramercy’s winning track record was all the more extraordinary because it was achieved without the use of leverage, a tactic used by many of its competitors to enhance performance.

Through the years, The Wall Street Journal has headlined Lappin as a “Top Manager” in a feature story. Business Week has called Joan a Wall Street guru and named her as one of its 50 Top Corporate Women. CNBC has described her an “Investment Maven,” and USA Today has written of her as “An Investors Dream.” She has also long been a strong advocate for equal employment opportunity for women and people of color.

In recent years, Lappin has been a contributor to Forbes.com. Her unique and original point of view has been reflected in columns she has authored on many diverse topics. She predicted Motorola’s downfall when almost nobody on Wall Street saw it coming in a series of Forbes’ articles. How to Start a Ponzi Scheme was written after the arrest of Bernie Madoff in 2008, and Live and Be Well Steve Jobs was authored when Steve was ill and on leave in 2009.

Joan Lappin’s goal now is to embark together with you on a journey to figure out how best to approach your senior years, just as she is doing. Her hope is to help you replace your fear and concern with optimism and a workable plan for your future.