5 Questions With… Scott Wapner

By A.J. Katz Comment

CNBC’s Scott Wapner is celebrating five years as host of the network’s 12 p.m. program Fast Money Halftime Report. Last week he packed his show with guests ranging from billionaire investor Carl Icahn, to billionaire New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft. We caught up with Wapner about the last 5 years, and what’s next.

TVNewser: Five years as host of Halftime Report. Congratulations! Talk about the evolution of the program over time.

Wapner:  From the very start we tried to have a show that gave viewers actionable investment ideas in a fun and entertaining way, and I think we’ve succeeded in doing that. We hold people accountable too which I truly believe is a critical component to this show’s staying power and credibility. I’m also a big proponent of teachable moments when it comes to investing and trading, and I know we’ve made an effort to enhance what we do by helping people understand why certain decisions are made by the group of experts we bring on.

TVNewser: What is one episode of Halftime Report that really stands out to you?

Wapner: Well certainly the day in 2013 when Carl Icahn and Bill Ackman brawled live on the show will always be a standout.  Beyond the spectacle of it, that moment helped define what we wanted to be – THE place for “real money, real debate” where the biggest and  most trusted investors could routinely appear to discuss the markets.  Since then, most of the debates on the Halftime Report have been more civil of course, but the spirit of that event lives on in what we try to accomplish every day, albeit not always as heated.

TVNewser: What is Wall Street saying about this uncertain election, and any thoughts on how the outcome might impact the market, both long-term and short-term?

Wapner: There’s an unmistakable level of caution among Wall Street’s biggest investors and many have expressed that view on our show as recently as this week.  Many hedge fund managers are taking a wait and see approach. There’s certainly the idea that gridlock in DC will be good for stocks, but also a sense that some real initiatives could be enacted no matter who wins, such as tax reform and infrastructure spending, just to name a couple of things.

TVNewser: You’re a Redskins and Capitals fan. The past few weeks have been good for Kirk Cousins and Co., and the Caps have high expectations this season, per usual. What are your thoughts and expectations?

Wapner: Like every sports fan, my expectations are always high, as my family and trader pals will attest. But this year truly feels like we’re on to something special with both teams. One is trying to meet the lofty expectations that have become an annual exercise – the other trying to build on its recent success to become a more consistent winner.  I’m confident that both teams will accomplish those goals.

TVNewser: I hear you’re an aspiring chef. What are your go-to dishes right now, and what dishes do you want to learn how to make?

Wapner: I’m always partial to Italian and especially pasta, but I’d like to really expand my exploits into other cuisines.  Making those luscious and velvety French sauces is really complex so that’s definitely one area I’d like to keep pushing towards.