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Larry Christenson’s Hitting Home Runs in the Investment World


Larry Christenson has always had people skills. He remembers their names and recalls the circumstances when he first met them. The 6-foot-4 former pitcher spent 11 years in the majors and has a World Series ring from the 1980 Phillies championship. He knows how to tell a good story—and he certainly has a few.

It’s mesmerizing hearing him recount those 1970s memories, when Lefty, Schmitty, Bowa, Tugger and the Bull teamed to lift the Phils from decades of doldrums to the top of the baseball world. He has tales about legendary center fielder and broadcaster Richie Ashburn, and he talks about how Harry Kalas always wanted to find a bar with a piano in it. Christenson once hit a home run using Dick Allen’s 42-ounce bat and then forgot to get the slugger to autograph it. And don’t even get him started about the infamous Enchante dance club in Cherry Hill, N.J. 

Christenson’s talent as raconteur, mixed with his good looks and baseball pedigree, made him the perfect frontman when he decided to begin his second professional act a couple years after his retirement from the game in 1985. Once he earned his Series 7 license and went to work in the investment industry, it was natural that he would be in marketing. 

“I learned in the business world not to burn bridges but to build relationships and to be patient and stick with it,” Christenson says. “You watch and wait for things to evolve. It’s also important to be honest, have integrity, and build trust.”

Not content to be the opening act, Christenson started applying himself to the details of the investment business—not just the broad strokes necessary to work the room. He began learning more about the products he was selling, how the markets worked, and what the benefits of certain strategies were. Now, he could start the game and close it out, too. 

That’s why his company, Christenson Investment Partners in Conshohocken, has fared so well. Founded 12 years ago, CIP represents a variety of funds that it recommends to clients. Though he may be better known for his big right arm, Christenson could make the argument that he’s distinguished himself even more in his 30 years as an investment professional. “He’s got to be one of the best marketers and salesmen in the investment business, and I’ve been around for quite some time,” says Rich Reisert, CIP’s chief operating officer. “He covers all the bases.”

Steve Gottesman, senior vice president at Christenson’s firm, wasn’t exactly excited 25 years ago when he learned he’d be working with the former Phillie. A lifelong Mets fan, Gottesman remembers many occasions when L.C. would stifle his team. Christenson had an all-time 12-5 record against New York, including a complete-game 7-1 victory in his first-ever big league start. “As a Mets fan, I thought, ‘Oh, crap,’” Gottesman says. 

Christenson began his post-baseball career in 1986 with Prudential Securities in Philadelphia, just a year after he officially retired, though he hadn’t thrown a pitch since ’83. He returned to his home in Everett, Wash., and spent some time convalescing—and hunting, fishing and snowmobiling. “I had a few years to myself,” he says.

Christenson had invested his baseball earnings wisely, but he didn’t have enough to live on for the rest of his life—at least, not comfortably. He thought about going in on a restaurant, but then he became interested in the financial world. It sounded like a good idea, except for one thing. “The market opens at 6:30 in the morning [in Washington],” says Christenson, who wasn’t exactly the “early to bed” type during his playing days. 

So he headed back to Philadelphia, soon joining Prudential. He had to use some of his own money to stake himself and struggled with the perception that he was merely a former jock trying to trade on his name. Certainly, Christenson’s reputation in the Philadelphia market helped him, but he wanted to be known for more than his pitching career. “It wasn’t easy to get credibility,” he admits. “People were saying, ‘Should we use you just because you’re a former baseball player?’”

In 1989, Christenson joined the Princeton-based Hamilton & Company, where he served as managing director and consultant. That’s where he met Gottesman, the Mets fan. Gottesman and Reisert had connected three years earlier and began working together at Hamilton. “I’m not much of a sports fan, but the people from Central and South Jersey were really excited to have a pro baseball player as part of that organization,” Reisert says.

At first, Christenson was the marketer who would meet with clients, identify their needs, and relate them to partners, who would craft investment strategies. Reisert says the Hamilton-era Christenson was “the quintessential door-opener,” helping the company grow. Reisert certainly appreciated Christenson’s work—and so, for that matter, did Gottesman.

Christenson doesn’t walk around talking constantly about his time in the bigs, but he is a Phillie to the very marrow and has an office filled with photographs, bobblehead dolls and other memorabilia. His most prized possession is a framed picture of him meeting Pope John Paul II, taken when Christenson visited Rome with a Philadelphia-area contingent that included former Eagles general manager Jim Murray. 

It’s not a lot about baseball these days for Christenson, no matter how many reminders may adorn his office. He spends as much time as he can with his daughters—Libby, 23, and Claire, 21—and is a busy traveler for his firm. 

Meanwhile, Christenson Investment Partners is a national powerhouse on the investment-consulting scene. “He drove himself to learn and made himself the success he is today,” says Reisert. “It’s not enough to glad-hand.”

And that’s not some old baseball story.

Larry Christenson in his Conshohocken office