Published: Sunday, August 7, 2016 at 8:07 p.m.
When Keith Albritton isn’t fulfilling his role as president and chief executive officer at Allen & Company in Lakeland, he’s probably outside.
For him, the perfect day might go like this: “Definitely somewhere outdoors with family and friends enjoying nature,” he wrote in an email. “It could be hunting, or fishing with my kids, maybe at the beach or even in the mountains. Anna Maria Island is one of our favorite places.”
The father of four teenagers, which comes with challenges but is a “true gift,” Albritton said he enjoys his hometown, a place he described as “wonderful.”
“I love the many childhood memories I have of growing up here, and now, even more meaningful raising my family here,” he said. “It’s a community filled with generosity and leaders with great vision. For me, it’s a joyful opportunity to be in the position to give back to our community.”
The wannabe guitarist would love to play in the praise band at Christ Community Presbyterian Church, where he is a Sunday worship leader and home fellowship group leader.
He’s also held many roles in the community, from serving on the executive committee of the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce and the board of the Salvation Army to chairing the 2015 Polk Heart and Stroke Ball. A graduate of Leadership Lakeland, he also supports the Imperial Symphony Orchestra, among other things.
Albritton earned a bachelor of science in finance from the University of Florida, where he played golf on a team that won two national championships. He started work as a financial adviser at Allen & Company in 1996, and now serves on the firm’s executive committee and board of directors.
Named one of the Orlando Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40 Business Leaders in Central Florida” in 1999, Albritton, 46, shared some thoughts for The Ledger’s “Five Questions” feature.
Q. Allen & Company is one of the oldest investment firms in Polk County. What attracted you to the company?
A. Allen & Company of Florida Inc. is the oldest investment firm domiciled in the state of Florida and we are certainly proud of this heritage. The firm captured my attention for a couple of reasons. Initially, I was attracted to our firm due to eight decades of reputation founded in character and integrity. That statement is as true today as it was for me in the beginning. And, I value working for a privately held company with a leadership team that is ingrained in the community.
Q. What does Allen & Company offer that people can’t find at other similar firms?
A. A couple of things come to mind. First of all, we are an ESOP company (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) and all of our tenured associates are owners of the firm. This ownership mentality is a competitive advantage in serving our clients, our fellow associates and our communities. Secondly, our partnership with one of the largest financial services companies in the country allows us to provide the broad range of products and services offered by others while maintaining our independence. Being independently owned allows us to remain client focused at all times, providing a best-of- both-worlds experience for our clients and associates.
Q. What’s your take on the stock market today?
A. The most important long-term factor for the equity market is corporate earnings. In the near term, the global uncertainly and election cycles could cause higher levels of volatility, but earnings are the story. Corporate earnings have been in a modest decline the past 12 months or so, but are projected to improve over the coming several quarters. Historically, this is the primary engine that moves the market higher over the long term.
Q. Allen & Company is geared toward retirement investing. What advice do you give young people who walk into your office?
A. We are truly geared toward comprehensive financial planning, and retirement investing is certainly a big part of this. The key factors that determine long-term retirement success for a young person perhaps in their 20s or early 30s is their ability to save and stay out of debt. These two long-term principles have stood the test of time and market. I would suggest a savings rate of 10 percent as a minimum. In recapping, spend less than you make, save and then invest the difference wisely over a period of decades. This is not without challenges, but simple at its very essence.
Q. What’s the most important part of your job, day in and day out?
A. My most important activity daily is modeling our four Core Values: 1) Treat one another with dignity and respect. 2) Strive to find a better way. 3) Maintain the highest levels of integrity. 4) Make a profound and positive difference. These values are the foundation of our culture and I subscribe that maintaining our culture is the most significant role I serve. For an employee-owned firm like ours, culture is even more important than strategy.