Stephen Cutler M’61 began his investment career in the 1960s after enrolling in the Babson MBA program “at the strong urging of my wife.” He called the decision “one of the most fortuitous occurrences in my life, [and] a decision ... that freed me from a career as an assistant buyer at Jordan Marsh.” Although Cutler majored in accounting, his love for the stock market led him in that direction. Professor Wilson F. Payne, Division of Finance and Investments, who specialized in the securities market, and Professor Clinton A. Petersen ’46 M’68, who taught accounting for more than 40 years at Babson, were influential in preparing Cutler for a successful career in the investment field.
Cutler chose the investment field because, “There are always both cyclical and secular changes taking place that can provide investment and life changing opportunities. You can be involved in that change and be able to provide clients with profits from the changes. [It] opens up vistas over all different areas.” Equipped with an AB from Brown University and an MBA from Babson, Cutler began his career in 1962 as a portfolio manager and securities analyst with Keystone Custodian Funds. In 1967, he became director of investments and fund manager for The Massachusetts Company before leaving to become president and director of Baring American Asset Co. Inc., from 1971 to 1989.
In 1989, Cutler “decided to get together and build something” with the founder of the Essex Investment Management Company in Boston. At that time Essex managed less than $1 billion in assets. Currently, Cutler is president and a principal of Essex, which now has more than $10 billion under management. The company specializes in investing in growth equities and fixed-income securities. Essex provides investment advisory services to defined benefit plans, endowments, foundations, partnership and private individuals. The investment philosophy of Essex is to find new companies with innovative products or services that will lead to accelerating growth.
Cutler’s strong interest in finance and his commitment to Babson led him to give a generous gift to the school to fund the previously named Stephen D. Cutler Investment Management Center. The Cutler Center provides the Babson community with leading edge data services and tools to conduct financial and investment research in a real-world environment. Also, alumni are welcome to use the Cutler Center and selected services, including Bloomberg.
Cutler’s vision for the Cutler Center is to “help people recognize the importance of the stock market in creating capital for the growth of this country and not just a playground for day traders. We need to find companies that will change the face of this nation. Here’s a way to get down to basics. People have to raise money to grow their business in order to increase their growth, make jobs for people, and increase the growth of the system. [We need to] use financial markets to achieve that end.”
While devotion to his work has earned him respect and success, Cutler’s greatest moments come from time spent with his family, including his five grandchildren. He and his wife Alice also love to travel. Trips to Russia, Cuba, Israel, and New Zealand have given Cutler “some indication of how the rest of the world really lives … [including] what business opportunities are there, and what you can help them do for themselves.” Will he retire anytime soon? Not a chance. Cutler’s contract with Essex continues for another seven years, but he would “like to lower [his] golf score one of these days.”