When some of the top entertainment executives look for locations around the globe to film their next big blockbuster, money is one of the top items they always have to consider. Producers are the managers of films, and with their job title and responsibility comes keeping the motion picture on budget, which usually means they need to find a specific area that can give them their most “bang f or their buck”!
Enter Leonardo Barros, one of the top Financial Advisors & Analysts for FBT Investments (http://www.fbtinvestments.com), that offers private placements, fixed income and equity public offerings, venture capital, 1031 exchanges, retirement planning, mutual funds, fixed and variable annuities, and institutional trading expertise in Louisiana.
Since moving to the United States from Brasilia, Brazil, Leonardo has successfully used his skills and knowledge at FBT Investments to put Louisiana back on the Hollywood filming map. He is on e of the top brokers of the Louisiana Film Tax Credits and has helped advise countless CPAs on how to use those credits to save tax dollars while bringing their projects to his area; A win-win for producers looking to save money and for his new home of Louisiana that receives additional income.
The Levity Ball sat down with Leonardo to discuss his blossoming career, achievements and what’s next…
When did you first decide you wanted to become a financial advisor and analyst?
After seeing some of my friends in college trading stocks, I started reading about it and decided to take a Finance class where a virtual Stock Trading game was part of the class. From that moment I knew that I wanted to know more about it and become an expert in the financial markets.
Why did you decide to take a job opportunity in America, instead of back home in Brasilia, Brazil?
The American financial system and capital markets are the most developed and exciting markets in the world. Every other market is heavily dependent on the US Market and Economy as well. Participating in this market and making a difference has been my goal since college. And also, Brazil has had a very unstable economic-political scenario for the last decade or so and that can be a considerably large risk for someone who wants to be involved with the financial markets.
Since working at FBT Investments you have helped broker Louisiana Film Tax Credits… how did this all come your way?
Our firm has been on the front line for recruiting productions here and understanding all laws and legislative changes that make this program work. We understand the full picture when it comes to film making. And we have great relationships with CPAs who connect us to tax credit buyers, who are individuals and businesses with Louisiana state tax liability. FBT has been consistently growing in this business and has become the top Louisiana film credit broker in the state. This is a niche business where our relationship with a financial institution, First Bank and Trust, our parent company, gives us a lot of credibility, which is something this market relies heavily on. I was able to help FBT expand our program greatly by understanding the market and helping to recruit production companies to Louisiana. I’ve also created relationships with CPA firms and legislators and also by educating individual and corporate taxpayers on the mechanics and benefits of the program.
Why should people from Hollywood film their projects in Louisiana?
Louisiana has grown to become one of the most attractive places to film in the world. We have a well-developed infrastructure and a deep, highly trained crew base. We have studio space and stages all over the state, a varied physical landscape that is great for locations and most of the major sec tors of the industry have moved a location here– from post production to lighting and make up. You name it, we got it. Filmmakers can come here and have most if not all of the support services and trained crew that they would have in Hollywood, and they’ll receive a generous tax incentive to do so.
What has been your own personal biggest achievement since working at FBT Investments besides the film tax credits?
I have had the chance to become an expert in Individual Municipal Bonds, helping the firm to grow that business about 20 fold. I have also become the Municipal Bond Principal of the firm, now overseeing all the research, trading and recommendations we provide to the more than hundreds of clients that purchase these types of securities. That part of the business now accounts for a very large percentage of our firm’s total revenues.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
“Don’t be afraid of rejection”
What advice would you give others (both in America and back in Brazil) looking at becoming a successful advisor and analyst like yourself?
Become an expert in investments, which means studying and reading a lot about them, but know that it will take years of doing that to really become an expert. Anyone can sell a product, but they don’t always know what these products are or are meant to do. That’s where your knowledge will come in handy. And always be honest and upfront with your clients and colleagues because that will go a long way in helping you achieve success.
Besides work, your wife and you run the Child’s Wish non-profit organization… tell us about this incredible charity…
It’s been an amazing journey being able to give back to my community. The concept of giving back is not as popular where I come from (in Brazil), so it’s definitely something I’ve learned to treasure and embrace. This non-profit provides wishes to Louisiana children that have been diagnosed with terminal illnesses. Through the years I’ve been involved, I have been able t o help the organization raise several hundred thousand dollars at different benefits. And of course, I’ve had the chance to meet amazing families and help their children have moments of extreme happiness, which makes it all worth it. This is a non-paid all-volunteer charity that has provided more than 1,000 wishes through the past 30 years. I feel that this is a passion I want to continue for as long as I can.
Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
Being a financial advisor requires that you establish a trust relationship with your clients that should last for years. I’ve made the commitment of being an advisor to my clients and their families, and I’d love to continue that and keep my promises. I see myself growing in the ranks of FBT Investments to become an ever more valuable member of this firm; growing my book of business, becoming the trusted advisor to more families, and hopefully getting to a point where I can mentor someone from the new generation to become a Financial Advisor.
What would you ultimately like to be remembered for?
For my knowledge of investments and my dedication to the financial success of my clients!