Longtime Minnesota financial investor Lee Kopp has announced his retirement—and with it, the end of his Bloomington-based financial services company Kopp Investment Advisors. He will retire as chairman effective November 30, as he looks to focus his time and resources more on the philanthropy work of his namesake charity the Kopp Family Foundation.
“I have always believed that you cannot get carried away with your achievements in life as there is always another hill to climb,” Kopp said in a letter to clients, thanking them for their trust in himself and the company’s team. “Together, we have achieved some truly amazing results, and having reached the summit, I believe now is the right time to retire.”
Kopp and his company have indeed achieved much throughout his career: 60 years in the investment business overall, and just under 30 years since he founded Kopp Investment Advisors in 1990.
An Edina resident, Kopp has been named Broker of the Year by Registered Representative Magazine (in 1987), and Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year for the Midwest region (in 1995). He also made appearances on CNBC, and has been featured in several magazines and newspapers including The Wall Street Journal.
Since the company’s inception through the end of 2018, the value of Kopp Investment Advisors’ signature business model, the Emerging Growth Strategy, has increased by more than double the benchmark Russell 2000 Growth Index, and the strategy’s returns are top ranking across the industry space of small cap growth separate account strategies.
The company’s assets under management at the close of 2018, according to NASDAQ, was valued at $111 million.
Prior to founding Kopp Investment Advisors, Kopp spent 30 years with Minneapolis brokerage and investment firm Dain Bosworth, which is now RBC Wealth Management. He served as senior vice president before leaving to open his own business. Kopp has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Minnesota, and is a veteran of the U.S. Navy.
Kopp was known professionally and personally for his focus and dedication, according to client and close friend, Thomas Crowley.
“Lee was the most competitive man that I ever met,” says Crowley. “…he took his ‘must win attitude’ to the board room table. You always felt comfortable with his honesty and that he was working your account with his personally devised strategy to the best of his abilities.”
But even as Kopp Investment Advisors has continued to grow in recent years, Kopp’s “laser-focus” has shifted to the family’s foundation. Established in 1987 around goals of supporting education, youth development, women’s issues, elderly care and quality of life, and emergency assistance for those in need, the foundation hit a milestone of $50 million given away in 2013. Just four years later, it surpassed $55 million, according to the Foundation’s 2017 report.
Their philanthropy work earned Kopp and his wife, Barbara, the title of Benefactor of the Year, a national award given by the Council for Resource Development. The award was specifically in recognition of the Kopps’ contributions to community colleges—including, among others, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Dakota County Technical College, and Inver Hills Community College.
“Lee and Barbara have touched so many lives within the community,” says Michelle Boe, executive director of the Dakota County Technical College Foundation and the Inver Hills Community College Foundation. “We are beyond grateful for their generosity, support, and investment in higher education.”