Chapman, Nathan A. Jr. 1957–
Nathan A. Chapman, Jr. 1957–
Nathan A. Chapman, Jr. is president and chief executive officer of The Chapman Company, the first African American-owned investment banking firm in America. Since its founding in 1986, Chapman has been helping African American families learn more about how to invest their money. He has set a new trend on Wall Street, which has increasingly recognized the economic power of African Americans.
The parent company of The Chapman Company, Chapman Holdings, Inc., set a new record when it became the first African American-owned securities brokerage firm to be publicly traded. In 1998, Chapman Holdings, Inc. offered one million shares in an initial public offering trading on the Nasdaq Smallcap Market under the symbol CM AN and raised eight million dollars. This gave the firm the most equity capitalization of any African American brokerage firm, with a reserve that allowed Chapman to lead-underwrite most transactions, and the chance to develop its trademarked Domestic Emerging Markets. When the parent company became publicly owned in 1998, it was only 12 years old. “The time was right for us to go public because we’re fully developing our domestic emerging market strategy,” Chapman said in Black Enterprise. “We want to utilize this capital to help take other minority firms public.”
Chapman’s company specializes in a singular investment plan, Domestic Emerging Markets (DEM). DEM are a group of publicly-traded U.S.-based businesses owned or majority controlled by African Americans, women, Latin and Hispanic Americans, or Asian Americans. The Chapman Company has secured secondary investors to invest in DEM companies such as Black Entertainment TV (BET Holdings, Inc.), Donna Karan, the Movado Group, and Ethan Allen Interiors, among others. “We have redefined the minority market in such a way that it is now looked at from an investment perspective,” Chapman told CBB during an interview.
In addition, Chapman Company funds are the only African American controlled group of funds that have earned a “AAA” rating from Standard & Poors. The Chapman Company also was the first African American
At a Glance…
Born Nathan A. Chapman, Jr., September 3, 1957, in Baltimore, MD; son of Nathan Sr. (deceased) (a railroad worker) and Ida Inez (a seamstress); married Valerie Ann Nixon, February 21, 1990; children: Taylor, Jordan, and Jillian. Education : University of Maryland at Baltimore County, B.S., 1979.
Career : Began his career in finance as a certified public accountant with the accounting and consulting firm, Peat, Marwick & Mitchell, and as a securities representative with the investment banking firm Alex, Brown & Sons, Inc.; founded The Chapman Company, an investment banking firm, 1986-, and its affiliates Chapman Capital Management, Inc., a registered investment advisor; and Chapman Insurance, Inc, an administrative insurance company.
Member: Member, State of Maryland’s Attorney General’s Roundtable on Investment Matters; board of regents, the University of Maryland System.
Addresses: Office— The Chapman Company, World Trade Center, 401 East Pratt Street, 28th Floor, Baltimore, MD 21202.
owned company to manage and sell a fund. In 1989, Chapman Capital Management, Inc. launched a U.S. Treasury money-market fund. It was the first mutual fund started and sold by an African American-owned company.
If one gazes out at the impressive view from his office headquarters on the 28th floor of the World Trade Center in Baltimore, it is hard to believe that Chapman climbed to such economic heights after growing up in the inner city of Edmondson Village. His father, Nathan Sr., was a loader for the Pennsylvania Railroad and his mother, Ida Inez, was a seamstress in a clothing factory. “My parents really showed me what hard work was all about,” he reminisced in Baltimore.
Although he was a gifted athlete at Baltimore Polytechnic High School, Chapman became intrigued with the world of finance when a representative from a large investment bank came to the school and talked to students about careers in investment banking. Chapman realized that he liked taking risks, enjoyed working with numbers, and was interested in world affairs and the effects they had on financial markets. “I realized that I had what it took,” he observed in Jubilee.
After graduating from high school in 1975, Chapman went on to study at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), where he majored in economics and political science and minored in accounting. While doing research on the Surface Transportation Act, sponsored by then-Congressman Parren Mitchell, Chapman noted that the act required at least five percent of the federal money spent on highway construction be used to employ minority-controlled businesses. In order to qualify as minority-controlled, a firm had to be owned and managed by an African American, an Asian American, an Hispanic American, or a woman. “I was writing about minority set-aside programs and access to federal government programs back then,” he recalled in the CBB interview. “[The] whole concept of domestic emerging markets was really an evolution [from] that.”
After graduating from UMBC in 1979, Chapman worked for nearly three years as a certified public accountant at the prestigious accounting and consulting firm of Peat, Marwick & Mitchell. “One of my accounting professors asked me whether or not I’d ever thought about going to work in public accounting and actually arranged the interview with Peat, Marwick,” Chapman told CBB. At his firm’s annual fundraising meeting Chapman met Sam Hopkins, one of the managing partners of Alex, Brown & Sons, Inc., then the oldest investment banking firm in the country. During the course of their conversation, Chapman remarked that he was thinking of leaving Peat, Marwick. Hopkins encouraged him to join Alex, Brown & Sons and arranged an interview. Following the interview, Chapman was offered a position and worked for nearly six years as a securities representative for Alex, Brown & Sons, Inc. “For me it was a great experience. I loved working there,” he explained to CBB. “It was an entrepreneurial firm, a firm filled with highly motivated people, a competitive firm, so I enjoyed the environment.”
In 1986, Chapman left Alex, Brown to form his own company. He put together a management team which included Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks, the executive director of the NAACP from 1977 to 1993. “Starting a business from scratch is not an easy thing,” he admitted to CBB. “It requires a lot of work, a lot of planning, raising the capital, hiring good people that are going to be helpful to you and loyal. There are always things that are beyond your control. We founded our company in 1986; 1987 was one of our worst stock market crashes in history. You can’t control things like that. You just have to work through them and learn from them.”
Chapman’s company has experienced both triumph and disappointment. In 1996 Park’s Sausage, Chapman’s first account, went bankrupt and was sold to ex-football star Franco Harris. This caused layoffs at The Chapman Company. The company also was involved in a controversial business transaction in which Baltimore City agreed to let it invest up to $10 million in pension money. The deal ultimately came to nothing. In addition, the company was fined $30,000 and given a ten-day suspension because it fell below its minimum capital requirements during several months in 1993 and the following year. Despite these setbacks, The Chapman Company and its affiliates Chapman Capital Management, Inc. and Chapman Insurance, Inc. have continued to grow. The Chapman Company alone ended October 31, 1997 with revenues of $2.5 million, a 31% increase from the same period in 1996. His net income for the initial ten months of 1997 was $314,000, in contrast to the $95,000 over the same time period the previous year.
Chapman is widely respected by many of his business colleagues. Otis Warren, a real estate developer and a leader in Baltimore’s minority business community, told the Baltimore Business Journal, “He’s aggressive, hard hitting, and hard working.” Raymond V. Haysbert Sr., the president of Forum Catering in Baltimore and the ex-co-owner and chairman of Parks Sausage Company, remembered when the sausage company was Chapman’s initial account. “Nate [Chapman] was so driven and focused,” he commented to the Baltimore Business Journal, “if you got within 3 feet of him, you were in the ‘Chapman Zone.’ And once you were in the ‘Chapman Zone,’ then Nathan Chapman was trying to sell you.”
Despite his drive to succeed, Chapman has described his investment philosophy in Baltimore as “conservative.” The fact that his customers are entrusting their hard-earned money to him is a responsibility that Chapman takes seriously. “The dollars we invest aren’t just numbers,” he stated in Baltimore. “They’re somebody’s retirement or education hopes.”
When asked to reflect on the most significant change in his business career, Chapman told CBB, “Well, certainly the IPO [initial public offering] and going public and being the first African American firm to do that has brought us to the attention of a lot of people. For instance, I was on CNN, talking about our company and Domestic Emerging Markets. I’ve primarily been a technical person. I look at charts. I study companies. I figure out which ones people ought to invest in and make money. Now I do a lot more speaking. I’m getting out a lot more. That’s been a real change for me.”
Chapman is a man who looks to the future with both excitement and optimism. “I think our best days are ahead of us,” he told CBB. “I want to establish Chapman worldwide as the name in financial services. I believe that with the changes in technology and the delivery of financial services that we have the potential of being the Merrill Lynch of the millennium. Right now we’ve got a pretty extensive website and you can do business with us over [it]. This whole area of Domestic Emerging Markets is really taking off. We’ve got the best talent we’ve ever had working for us, we have more people working for us than we’ve ever had, we’re better capitalized today then we’ve ever been, so I’m pretty optimistic about our future.”
Baltimore, January 1999, p. 21.
Baltimore Business Journal, January 12, 1998; May 15, 1998, p. 5; May 18, 1998; June 12, 1998, pp.1, 46; June 15, 1998; June 29, 1998; July 1, 1998.
Black Enterprise, June 1998, p. 31; July 1998, p. 46.
Commercial Appeal, October 27, 1998; November 19, 1998, p. C1.
Essence, November 1998, p. 76.
Jet, July 27, 1998, p. 23.
Jubilee, July 1998, pp. 16-18.
Metropolitan Business News, May 15, 1998, p. 1.
Mutual Funds, June 1998.
New York Beacon, May 28-June 4, 1998.
Registered Representative, October 1998, pp. 135-136.
Additional material for this profile was obtained from an interview with Nathan A. Chapman, Jr.; from The Chapman Company and its site on the World Wide Web at http://www.chapmancompany.com.; from http://www.washingtonpost.com., and from an article on the Web by Ursula V. Battle.
—Alison Carb Sussman
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