Analyst found an early key to business success

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By Linda Laderman
Legal News

Oakland County Bar Foundation Fellow and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Mauricio Kohn, got an early start in the world of finance.

As a teen-ager, Kohn was intrigued with equities and financial markets. So he began selling and buying silver coins. With part of his profits, he bought Christmas gifts. He reinvested the remainder in his coin collection.

Kohn’s interest in investing played a dominant theme throughout his education.

During his senior year in high school he saw an opportunity to create his own lunch and learn. He noticed that every day his physics teacher read The Wall Street Journal in the cafeteria.
So Kohn joined him to discuss the current economic climate, the financial markets, and how to buy and sell stocks.

“What he showed me was how to read the paper, the front two columns, and the market summary section.  He also taught me about different types of trading; options commodities as well as stocks,” Kohn said.

Kohn took what he learned one step further when he made a trade based on a transaction his mentor was making.

“He bought Ford and then I bought Ford options.  My first trade was very memorable.  I collected my money in Zurich; a 60-plus percent return.  It was fun walking in to Merrill Lynch in Zurich to collect $600 to $700,” Kohn said.

While he was working at a lawn care business during college, Kohn discovered he also had an interest in mergers and acquisitions.

“I got exposure to buying companies because my company was merging with another business,” Kohn said. “I enjoyed the acquisition process and decided I wanted to be a CFA.”

Determined to pursue his interest in finance, Kohn went to work for Orville B. Lefko, then principal of the Lefko Group. There, Kohn learned the intricacies of evaluating businesses.

Like Kohn’s physics teacher, Lefko, became an important mentor. He was the one who showed him how his expertise could serve the legal profession.

“Lefko and I jostled back and forth about evaluation issues,” Kohn said. “From him I learned to be very precise.”

That penchant for preciseness served Kohn well, when at 28, a year after receiving his graduate degree in finance from Walsh College, he was asked to be an expert witness in a case involving a breach of the Michigan Beer and Wine Franchise Act.

“During voir dire, the defense tried to challenge my credentials based on my age, graduation date, and experience. But the judge allowed me to testify,” Kohn said. “While I like to be precise in doing my work, I try to be even more precise when testifying.  That means that if questions have an ambiguity, I try to make sure that I address the ambiguity.”

Adequate time to prepare is the best antidote to keeping ambiguity at bay, said Kohn.

“Sometimes counsel believes that working from summary information is reasonable when it turns out not to be the case.  As they say, the devil is in the details.”

Over the years, Kohn said his job as an expert witness has evolved beyond the numbers.

“I have come to appreciate that tasks that I may perceive as basic may not be for the trier of fact or even counsel. Accordingly, I now see my role as also including a great deal of education for all of the parties.”

“I enjoy helping lawyers put see the big picture, to show how all the elements in a particular case come together,” Kohn said.

Now the owner of his own consulting firm, Kohn has a roster of nearly 500 clients.  His success has allowed him to support a host of worthwhile charitable causes, including this year’s Signature Event sponsored by the Oakland County Bar Foundation.

As a Gold Level Sponsor ($5,000) of the May 6 gala at Oakland Hills Country Club, Kohn Financial Consulting is among the primary supporters of the OCBF’s outreach efforts in the community. Proceeds from the 17th annual event help fund legal aid work and legal education programs in the area.

For Kohn, his world is not solely about making sense of financial facts and figures, and lending aid where needed.  Kohn’s wife, Shannon, an animal welfare advocate, has added another dimension to his life.

 
“Every year we foster many animals and have quite a few of our own.  Our most recent addition is Prudence, our pot-bellied pig.  In addition to her, we have three dogs, three cats, six ducks, two peacocks, two fish tanks, one salt-water and one fresh water.  With all the animals, I enjoy spending time watching them and also watching our daughter learn to appreciate animals as well,” Kohn said.
 

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