Will Marks: Investment Analyst and Children's Author

Covers of two children's books

Will Marks, B.A., Economics, ’88

You might not guess from reading Will Marks’ comments in business stories in the Wall Street Journal or Bloomberg that his alter ego speaks in funny rhymes.

Portrait photo
Will Marks

A longtime equities researcher, Marks (B.A., Economics, ’88) has been a go-to source for business reporters and Wall Street investors on the hotel and ski resort industries. He was twice named as the top real estate stock picker in the Wall Street Journal’s annual “Best on the Street” analyst survey (2001 and 2006).

He is also the author of two children’s books — Lawrence the Laughing Cookie Jar (2002) and Rhyme, about a pig in politics (2008) — as well a rhyming cookbook, No More Mac and Cheese: A Bachelor's Guide to Cooking with Ease (2003).

Verse with a purpose

“It’s a hobby,” he said. “I like to write silly stories.”

His stories, nevertheless, take inspiration from real life.

The cookbook grew out of his early career days as a commercial real estate broker, watching male housemates fumble their way around their San Francisco kitchen. For the recipes, he drew on his mother’s dishes as well as cooking lessons he took as a UC Davis junior on a study abroad program in Avignon, France.

His first picture book, written after he married and became a father, was inspired in part by childhood memories of his mother’s always-full cookie jar.

Adviser to investors

Writing he did during his 21 years as a research analyst — the first seven years for Banc of America Securities and the next 13 for JMP Securities — was far more serious. In addition to his UC Davis degree, he also earned an MBA at Northwestern University in Chicago.

Marks likened securities research to investigative news reporting. Specializing in hotels and ski resorts, he interviewed executives and researched company performance and industry trends and wrote in-depth reports for banks, mutual fund managers and other investors. 

In 2014, Marks left the field to help with a family commercial real estate business and to start WCM Ventures, a small-business service company in San Francisco.

He lives in San Francisco with his wife, Evelyn, and their three children, ages 14 to 9 — son Max and daughters Ella and Maggie.

A grateful Aggie

A strong believer in the value of a liberal arts education, Marks also gives back to his alma mater.

A self-described average student, Marks said he was lucky to be an Aggie when the costs of attending were less than $500 a quarter. “Looking back, it was a bargain,” he said.

“UC Davis was such an incredible experience for me,” Marks said. “I wanted to contribute.”

— Kathleen Holder, content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science.