When Rubin Miller graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in English he had no idea what he wanted to do but he did have one unique skill. He was an unusually good chess player. At 15, Miller had ranked high enough to become a chess master.
As he approached his college graduation, one of his close chess connections, who worked in finance, reached out with a job offer as an oil futures trader at Tradelink. After eight months, he took a job at Breakwater Trading and ultimately became a senior fixed-income trader.
“I didn’t know what that was, and I didn’t even study economics in college. They just thought ‘He’s good at chess, he’ll figure this out as well,’” said Miller. But he didn’t really figure it out. “I didn’t have a great career as a trader,” he added.
Miller said many people associate being good at chess with trading acumen. But that’s a fallacy because unlike chess, which is played in a controlled environment with set variables, the behavior of markets can be hard to predict, especially in the short term.
“So much of success in investing is just avoiding unforced errors,” Miller said. “Chess players are used to good moves, leading to good outcomes, because there’s no randomness. But investing doesn’t work that way. In investing, you can make good moves, you can do all the right things, but you can still have a really bad day in the market,” said Miller.
After more than six years as a bond trader, Miller went back to school for his MBA, in part to figure out what he wanted to do.
“When I went there, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I thought maybe I’d stay in investments or trading. I just knew I wanted to work with people more and not stare at screens all day,” said Miller. “It turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made. I learned a lot and I got a more foundational curriculum around finance.”
Through a connection he had met at a party in grad school, Miller landed an interview at Dimensional Fund Advisors and was hired as a regional director working with financial advisors in 2015.
Working with advisors gave him that personal touch he was looking for but still built upon his background in trading and his knowledge of investing.
After nearly seven years at Dimensional, Miller was then recruited by Perspective Wealth Partners, an RIA he worked with at Dimensional, to work as a senior financial advisor and CIO. He founded his own RIA, Peltoma Capital Partners, in 2023.
As a financial advisor, Miller said he’s finally found his true career path and one that builds upon the skills he developed as a chess player and as a trader.
To be good at chess, said Miller, a player has to be good a seeing the entire picture and constructing a strategy based off of that information.
“You can imagine where a chess player would actually be pretty good at financial planning,” said Miller. “To be a good financial advisor, I have to have a pretty clear vision of my client’s assets and liabilities and I have full vision into my clients’ goals.”
While chess may be the reason Miller first got his job in trading, he said it’s not the reason he’s been able to build a decades-long career in finance.
He puts that down to the connections he’s made and the mentors he’s had. From Zach Fishman, who gave him his first job in finance, to his business professor who first told him about Dimensional, to his RIA client who became his future boss.
“I don’t by any means say that ‘Chess is why I got here or why I’m good at my job.’ It was a part of who I was, and it introduced me to some interesting people,” said Miller. “I think my success is much more because of mentorships and friendships and nurturing those relationships.”