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Interview with Peter Bartel

When I first started working at Vista Investment Partners earlier this summer, I knew that Pete Bartel had worked with my mom in the banking industry years ago. However, I did not realize that the two of them worked together when my mom was twenty, which is how old I will be next month. After becoming aware of this, I decided to interview Pete about his career, both in the banking and investment industries, as well as how he has changed over the past five decades. 

Jenna: When you started at First National Bank Richmond, which is where you worked with my mom, had you been in the banking industry for long?

Pete Bartel: When I graduated from Indiana University in 1972, the labor markets were very tight since there were so many people graduating and entering the work force. I originally started in Dayton, Ohio and I interviewed with several financial institutions there. I was hired by the First National Bank of Dayton in a management training program, so that is how I started my banking career. 

Jenna: What prompted you to move to Richmond?

Pete Bartel: It became apparent to me that in order to move up in my banking career more rapidly, I had to move around. I took a job in 1978 with the First National Bank of Troy, Ohio where I worked for a year. Shortly after, I relocated back to Richmond to work at the First National Bank here where I was the manager of the commercial loan department. In 1986, we were bought out by Bank One.

Jenna: In 1993, you left behind Bank One as well as the entire banking industry, why?

Pete Bartel: Working on the investment side had always been in the back of my mind because I thought it would be a fun career. Moving from the banking and lending side to the investing side gave me a more well-rounded view of the financial world. I found that when I moved into the brokerage business that there were far more opportunities. It is very self-driven.

Jenna: Just like your career changed throughout many years, so has the financial industry. What are some of the biggest differences you have noticed? 

Pete Bartel: Technology has been huge. When I first came into the investment business, to place an order to buy a stock, I wrote out a ticket in writing and it was transmitted over what we called “the wire,” which was similar to a telegraph. From there it was sent to the trading desk, which for the company I worked for was in Indianapolis, and then it was executed. That was in the mid ‘90s, and from there it evolved quickly as computers gained more widespread use. As far as organizational business and how I determined risk for clients, I had to go from having the information in my head to having it in the computer on a system with software.

Jenna: Are there certain companies now that dominate the stock market that weren’t publicly traded when you first began?

Pete Bartel: Apple is a big one, really just cellphones in general. Oh goodness, I can remember the first mobile phone I ever used was a mobile phone that the bank owned. I think they had one or two, and you would borrow them. For example, if I was driving to Indianapolis to meet with someone or attend a meeting, I would take the phone with me. It was a pretty big phone too. At the time I don’t even know if I was aware that Apple existed. 

Jenna: One last question, and it’s about your personal growth. How would you say that you have changed as a person as your career has evolved?

Pete Bartel: We either grow or we die. To grow you have to keep learning, and that means you have to accept change. Throughout the course of my career, whether it was banking or investing, I have tried to stay ahead of new things. I would say that throughout my career I have tried to learn more and more. 
Written by Jenna Barker, VIP Intern