New York Stock Exchange trader Kenny Polcari likes to dole out market wisdom to clients via email before the trading day begins.
But along with his stream-of-conscious thoughts about the economy, Federal Reserve policy and market trends, Polcari offers up a daily recipe. It might be pan seared arctic char with kalamata olives one day, or pasta primavera with roasted vegetables the next.
Since Polcari accidentally sent a recipe for arugula pesto along with his morning note last November, the number of folks getting his daily email has jumped from about 15 to more than 375.
“They enjoy the entertainment value of it and they like to know what they’re having for dinner,” says Polcari, a 28-year veteran sales trader and broker who runs the floor operations for ICAP Equities, a business he built after joining the firm 14 years ago.
Polcari used to call his clients individually before trading began. But he found it more efficient to send out a group email.
His commentary doesn’t include stock picks, and isn’t meant to represent ICAP’s views of the market. It’s just Polcari’s way of keeping clients in the loop about what he's thinking.
A typical offering is laced with short-hand, sentence fragments—and usually a good amount of indignation. Anyone who knows Polcari can hear him talking and gesturing as they read it.
Consider this comment on May 18: “I mean yesterday the Industrial Production report came in at ZERO – they blamed Japan…ok hear you…but when that disaster happened — if you recall — all of the street analysts downplayed the significance…nothing to worry about — no problem…”
Polcari, who ran Salomon Brothers’ NYSE division in the late 1990s, refers to the Federal Reserve as “Uncle Benny and the Jets” and the man-on-the-street as "JoeQ public."
It’s actually JoeQ public whose perspective Polcari is determined to convey.
“Joe is pessimistic because he too sees zero improvement in the job picture," Polcari says in one post. "Which means he is pulling in the reigns on discretionary spending — no matter what the gov’t is saying. He is not drinking the Kool Aid.”
Polcari's audience has grown even more recently. Todd Schoenberger, managing director at LandColt and a friend of Polcari’s, now passes along his commentaries and recipes to the 2,500 subscribers of LandColt Trading’s daily newsletter.
Schoenberger says the best part about adding recipes to his newsletter is that people print it out, take it home, and pass it around to friends and family.
One day when Schoenberger forgot to include the recipe, he was barraged with emails asking, "what am I going to fix for dinner?"
“It was a brilliant marketing plan that he didn’t even know about,” Schoenberger says.
The recipes come from Polcari’s own experience, often reflecting his Italian-American heritage and sometimes his wife’s Puerto Rican background. They rarely include measurements. An occasional wine recommendation and side dish, however, are offered before he signs off with “buon appetito.”
Polcari's cooking acumen came from his mother, who was insistent her children—four boys and a girl—knew how to cook, clean and do laundry, he says.
“I cook by feel,” Polcari says. “That’s the way my mother cooked, the way my grandmother cooked.”