to both the Chicago Graduate School of Business and the Kellogg
School, Seminetta says he chose Kellogg for its strong curricula
in management and entrepreneurship. "Independent and Competitive Decision Making was probably
the best class of my life," he says, recalling lessons in game
theory and how not to be blinded by one's personal biases. "It's
helped me become a clearer thinker." Between his triple major
in finance, management and strategy, and organizational behavior
— along with the insights gleaned from his diverse Kellogg
classmates — Seminetta had all the tools he needed to
strike out on his own.
what really gave me the guts to start my own firm," he says.
didn't take many big risks before he founded Premier Asset
Management, he says. But with his wife, Denise, whom he had
met in 1987 and who is now the firm's director of research,
he decided to take a chance: "We risked it all because we
thought we could do it better."
11, 2001, wasn't nearly the business setback Seminetta thought
it would be, he says. Because his initial client list was
small, the firm was able to devote all of its energy to the
ones that stuck around. Premier Asset Management now manages
approximately $500 million.
firm is just one project the Seminettas have taken on together.
wife and I both have a real passion for education," he says.
In recent years, the couple joined forces with other families
in their Kenilworth, Ill., community to sponsor the transformation
of a failing school on Chicago's South Side, turning it into
Providence Englewood, a thriving charter school.
Englewood was truly a community effort. Families contributed
labor as well as funding, sometimes so enthusiastically that
they had to plan on the fly: "We built a beautiful library
and thought, 'Hey, what's missing?'" Quickly, the community
called on a local Boy Scout troop to organize a successful
fully operational library now employs a librarian and a technology
"This is the
right thing to do," says Seminetta of his family's involvement
in the charter school. "We've been so blessed and education
was a big part of that." The first member of his working-class
family to go to college, Seminetta began to appreciate the
power of quality education when he transferred out of his
community Catholic school (where he says he was "not getting
along") and into Hardey Preparatory, a Sacred Heart school
on Chicago's Far North Side. The difference in culture and
curriculum were immediately apparent, he says: "I went from
being a smart kid to being really average." With more expected
of him, young Seminetta pushed himself harder. He would eventually
make the dean's list at Kellogg.
students at Providence Englewood are headed down a similar
path. In last year's Illinois Standards Achievement Test,
says Seminetta, they scored 65 percent above average in reading
and 69 percent above average in mathematics.
Premier Asset Management continues to flourish. "We're growing
very quickly — quickly and steadily," says Seminetta,
noting that strategic outsourcing of tasks has allowed the
firm to focus entirely on money management and customer service.
"When I worked for big institutions, there was so much noise
around my day that was not related to why my clients hired
me," he says.
says he and his family are fortunate to be able to use their
resources to help others.
we've been successful in investing, it allows us to do certain
things, and giving back to the community is a big part of that."