An early product of the baby boom, Kathryn M. Welling grew up in New Haven, IN, the oldest of seven children. Youthful employment on the wait staff of her father's restaurant proved a powerful incentive for academic achievement. Kate excelled at Bishop Luers High in Fort Wayne, and attended Northwestern University on a scholarship. Upon graduating in 1974 with a B.S. from the Medill School of Journalism, the "Woodstein" wannabe ventured to the Big Apple, joining Dow Jones & Co. as a copyreader for the AP-Dow Jones wire service. Soon she also started freelancing for publications ranging from Savvy, a women's magazine, to Barron's Business and Financial Weekly.
By 1976, Kate had talked her way into an editing job at the Wall Street Journal, but left the paper later that same year when Alan Abelson, at that time the managing editor of Barron's, offered her the opportunity to report and write full-time for the magazine. Over the next two-plus decades, Kate tackled topics ranging from cardiac pacemakers to "down-hole steam generators" for enhanced oil recovery; from mainframes through minicomputers to PCs and the Net; from Disney's magical accounting to the burgeoning derivatives markets. Along the way, she covered financial crises spawned by the likes of Baldwin United, Penn Square Bank, Drysdale Government Securities, the Crash of 1987 (and its successors), and the demise of both Drexel Burnham Lambert and Long-Term Capital Management. Among the innumerable exposés she penned were the first ever published on (subsequently) convicted penny stock fraudster Robert Brennan and his once-high-flying First Jersey Securities, and a bubble-pricking piece on Presstek's highly touted "revolutionary" printing technology. Another revealed - near the apex of the stock's trajectory and more than a year before the company sought bankruptcy protection - that a hot issue named Solv-Ex was more of a tar baby than a tar sands wunderkind. Kate also outed a company called ZZZZ Best....which wasn't.
In December 1981, Alan Abelson became Barron's editor and promoted Kate to assistant to the editor. Having turned 30, she claimed the managing editor title in February 1983. The Abelson-Welling team built, directed, shaped, edited and in no small measure wrote Barron's throughout the tumultuous 'Eighties, driving its circulation to record levels.
Kate relinquished the managing editor's post at the magazine at the end of 1991 to take an extended maternity leave after the birth of her second son. She rejoined Barron's, part-time, as associate editor, in May 1992, and full-time, the next year, but resumed only two of her long-standing roles: Backing up Abelson in the creation of his iconic Up And Down Wall Street column and producing virtually all of the magazine's signature "Q&A" interviews, including its annual Roundtable issues.
In March 1999, looking for fresh challenges, Kate resigned from Barron's. Barry Small, then-CEO of Weeden & Co. LP, had offered her the irresistible opportunity join the partnership to create an independent research service his storied institutional brokerage firm would exclusively distribute globally. The first issue of that service, dubbed welling@weeden, was sent to Weeden’s several thousand institutional-investor clients that August, as both a digital and hard copy newsletter. Featuring Kate’s trademark style of in-depth interrogatory journalism, the widely circulated biweekly journal of often-contrarian investment news analysis and research, quickly gained traction, generating subscription inquiries and new Weeden clients across the globe.
The logistical and financial advantages of digital distribution to her far-flung readership quickly became apparent as the new century dawned, and Kate soon dropped the letter’s hard-copy format, transforming welling@weeden into a pioneering online research service. But the publication’s mission never wavered: To consistently deliver incisive, independent market intelligence, analysis, insight and perspective to institutional investors doing business through Weeden.
It was a great run. But by 2012 the economics of the institutional stock brokerage business had changed dramatically, Weeden clients were increasingly opting to forgo its unparalleled high-touch trading services in favor of algorithmic solutions. Kate’s readers, new and prospective, were looking to pay for her services, not via brokerage commissions, but in hard dollars. So Kate took the leap, negotiating an amicable split from her partners at Weeden, and taking her business wholly independent.
Renamed Welling on Wall St., the first issue of her journal of research, analysis, opinion and insight landed in her readers’ inboxes on April Fool’s Day, 2012. No joke. In assuming full responsibility for the distribution and marketing of her publication, as well as its editorial production, Kate was placing a big bet. It was, pure and simple, that she could make a living — and broaden and deepen her readership —by making her work once again accessible not only to the top-tier institutional investors who had subscribed through Weeden, but to thoughtful investors of all stripes, like those who first started following her work years ago, at Barron’s.
She was and is wagering that Wall Street's ever-changing business model had, in effect, come full circle. That savvy institutional investors would continue to pay her well for truly singular, incisive and thought-provoking "boutique" research that helps them connect the dots in an investment scene that grows more layered and complex by the day. And that a growing number of them would soon decide to make those payments directly, rather than in soft dollars. Plus, that a considerable tribe of discerning and contrarian investment advisers and independent-minded individual investors — mindful of the value of her perspective and insight — would (gasp) pay for access to WOWS. So far, so good.
In 2018, Kate added another role to her resume, book author. "Merger Masters, Tales of Arbitrage," which Kate wrote with long-time friend Mario Gabelli, a merger master himself, was published by Columbia Business School Publishing, an imprint of Columbia University Press.
Kate and husband Don Boyle live in Mattituck, on Long Island's North Fork.