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No. 2 , Charles Brandes



Estimated worth: $2 billion

While he was training to become a stockbroker in the late 1960s, Charles Brandes was inspired by fellow San Diegan Benjamin Graham, considered the father of the value investing approach to buying and selling stocks.

After meeting Graham, the same investment guru who influenced Warren Buffett, Brandes started his own firm in 1974 that followed the Graham strategy of investing in undervalued stocks and loaded up heavily on international companies that weren’t in favor.

The strategy proved to be wildly successful and as his firm’s returns beat much larger investment houses, he was able to attract larger institutional clients. Today, San Diego-based Brandes Investment Partners manages total assets of more than $102 billion. The firm earns fees for managing portfolios, including that of the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation tribe in San Diego.

Brandes Investment Partners has about 500 employees, with the majority working at its headquarters in Carmel Valley, not far from Brandes’ 30-acre estate in Rancho Santa Fe.

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According to

Forbes

magazine, he’s worth about $2 billion, making him the second wealthiest person in San Diego. And yet mentioning his name to many well-connected sources elicited no recognition.

Brandes, 62, maintains a regular work schedule despite his enormous wealth. “He works his business. He’s not a four-hour-a-day guy,” said a local investment manager who preferred to remain anonymous.

John Messner, co-owner of a Downtown-based investment firm, said Brandes’ investment strategy was contrarian when he got started, but proved to be a winner through most of the last several decades.

“He hit it just right,” Messner said. “He got the jump on just about everybody in going into the international markets with a value perspective.”

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