Craig Popp, CFA, CRPS
Raymond James Financial Services
Craig Popp, CFA, CRPS, has a gift for cultivating relationships, and that skill is critical in his work serving clients’ financial and investment needs. As a financial advisor specializing in asset allocation and portfolio construction, Craig works with clients to design investment portfolios that meet their needs.
When a 20-year-old Craig answered an advertisement in the local newspaper (back when want ads were still a thing), he was simply looking for a better job. He had no idea he would be meeting his future business partner.
Craig at that time was working part-time at a warehouse in Willmar, Minnesota, where he made the financial decision to attend Willmar Community College for his first two years of post-secondary schooling. He carefully read the advertisement calling for an office assistant at a financial services firm and soon met Eric Weiberg, CFP, and his wife, Alice. Craig said working alongside Eric and Alice helped solidify his desire to work in the financial services industry.
“I saw how they had such strong relationships with their clients,” he said.
Craig continued on his educational journey and graduated from Saint Cloud State University’s G.R. Herberger Business School, where he was active in the Investment Club and helped manage the Husky Growth Fund, a university-owned portfolio managed by students.
An early yearning
Craig, a Rice, Minnesota native, knew he wanted to pursue a career in finance from his first high-school business classes and a special two-week stock market segment. After graduating in 2000, Craig began his career at a time when “things were interesting.”
“It was easy to buy a stock and make money,” he says.
After completing his undergraduate degree, Craig began a 15-year career at RBC Wealth Management in Minneapolis, starting in operations and rising to the position of Senior Global Manager Research Analyst.
Path to becoming a CFA® charterholder
At the time, “the CFA wasn’t then what it is now in terms of popularity,” but Craig knew the credential was important for where he was headed in his career. He took Level 1 while working in operations. He continued his quest while advancing at RBC, joining the firm’s manager research team between Level 1 and Level 2 and earning his charter in 2007. Craig also served as a voting member of RBC Wealth Management’s Discretionary Investment Committee, which manages the firm’s discretionary mutual fund portfolios.
Craig continued his professional advancement and was fortunate to work for an organization that supported his pursuit of an MBA, which he earned at the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management.
“I found with in-person classes, the connections you make, many of us are still connected,” he says. “Many of us had aspirations of having our own businesses.”
Just as he stayed in touch with many in his MBA cohort, Craig continued to stay in contact with his first supervisor in the financial services industry, Eric Weiberg. The two men had a connection in the industry and would regularly visit a few times a year.
“We were actually golfing and he casually said, ‘Would you ever think about getting in my side of the industry? I’m going to retire someday, and I think you are someone who is going to be good at this.’”
That invitation was issued nearly ten years ago, and Craig was thoughtful and deeply intentional about the possibility.
At first, moving out of the metro was a concern, but after some conversations with Eric, Craig began to realize that, “most of what is there that you think you need, you don’t always utilize.”
Craig saw that Eric and Alice “knew I had experience in the industry, and felt I would be a good fit for the client base,” he says. “They knew in me they had someone they could trust, someone who understands doing things the right way.”
Craig joined the business with the intent to purchase it and he loves his new community of Willmar.
“Day-to-day life is very easy,” Craig says. “We live five minutes from the office. I go home for lunch once or twice a week.”
The adjustments to the COVID-19 pandemic have been surprisingly minimal.
“We are such a small office that from a work perspective we haven’t changed much,” Craig says. “We have a few more virtual meetings with clients.”
The biggest COVID-19 effect was its delay in making a new hire. Craig had posted a position and reviewed résumés in mid-March, and just now concluded the search. “In fact, we just got an acceptance today,” he says of a new associate financial advisor who will develop into a planner in the future.
When Craig and Eric formally welcome their new hire for that person’s first day of work, they will have come full circle. After all, this is a team that maximizes relationships for today — and tomorrow.
In Craig’s own words
If you weren’t a CFA® charterholder, what would you be and/or do?
I’d be a professional poker player. I enjoy the intellectual side of poker. It’s kind of like investing. You are working with incomplete information and you have to make clear decisions based on a probability. I don’t like slots; I like playing cards because you have to think.
What is one thing people who know you would be surprised to learn about you?
I grew up on a dairy farm. I’ve definitely adapted to being a city person, so this surprises people.
How do you spend your free time?
My wife and I enjoy dining in a nice restaurant, or a weekend getaway to Minneapolis/Saint Paul, where we will try out a new restaurant. We have two dogs (Cooper, a Shih Tzu Poodle, age 2, and Laylah, a 4.5 pound Shih Tzu Maltese Yorkie mix, age 9).
Craig Popp earned his MBA in entrepreneurship from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management and he holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from St. Cloud State University. Craig currently holds FINRA licenses: Series 7, Series 63 and Series 9/10. Learn more about Craig and his insights on his blog, The Cognitive Bias, at https://cognitivebiasblog.com/