Local News

Cary man helped town make $1M

Posted January 2, 2009 6:02 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:11 p.m. EDT

— For nearly 20 years, Cary resident Ken Bell has been watching the stock market and watching investments.

A little more than a year ago, he saw something.

"I really started getting concerned about the housing bubble, in particular, and credit bubble and Fannie (Mae) and Freddie (Mac) securities," said Bell, an investment adviser with Aspera Financial.

"Everybody was saying, 'Buy housing. Don't worry about price. Don't worry about mortgage. Housing always goes up,'" Bell said. "It was clear it was a disaster in the making to me, early on."

So, he pulled his own money he had invested in the housing market. He pulled out his clients' money.

The next step – a little more ambitious, he says – was to convince the town he lives in to pull out its money, too.

"It was really more about protecting the town," Bell said. "It really wasn't so much to do this to make money. It was really about, 'Let's not get slaughtered.'"

Bell sent an e-mail to Cary's finance manager, Karen Mills, and after a series of e-mail exchanges and consulting with its own finance advisers, the town listened.

"We were very fortunate," Mills said.

Cary stopped investing in the now-bankrupt mortgage giants and pulled out money it had invested. It reinvested more conservatively and was able to sell some at a premium.

Because of the reinvestments, the town will be in the black for the 2009 fiscal year.

"It created a revenue windfall for us – a one-time windfall of $1.1 million," Mills said."

All spurred on by one e-mail.

"It was nice to know that I had a role in that and helped save the town a little money," Bell said.