"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery." Charles Dickens
What prompted me to provide a questionnaire to several financial advisors for Warwick Valley Living, in part, was to avail myself of the opportunity to get to know several of them who reside in our area. I've always had an affinity for money, not so much in a possessive, material way, but for all of the necessities it provides; for that feeling of security it gives; for the hopes that it can instill about one's future; for the well being that it can help nourish. How money makes the world go round and round, a truth that never seems to lessen with time! If we could have more, what would we do with it? If we won the lottery, how would we employ it? Perhaps even more to the point, if we had a financial advisor on our side, one whom we could entrust with our hard earned money, would our financial situation be better off?
Striking up a conversation with one financial advisor from our area, the idea for this questionnaire arose. I figured ask the people who deal with money everyday, some of the questions I have. Who is my financial advisor? What are their values? What do they read? How do they feel about their business? How have they put into practice what they preach? Perhaps then, I can make a more informed decision about whether to entrust my money with one of them.
For me, I've decided it's time to get my financial ship in order. As in the Dickens quote above, I understand how having a little more in your pocket, than being indebted, is cause for a greater degree of happiness. I would imagine most of us want a measure of real financial security, something that gives us lasting comfort, rather than the fleeting feeling of having money one moment and not having it the next.
Babylon, an ancient city, became the wealthiest because its citizens were the richest people of their time. "They appreciated the value of money. They practiced sound financial principles in acquiring money, in keeping money and making their money earn more money. They provided for themselves what we all desire...incomes for the future."
The following financial advisors provide insight and wisdom about financial well being and give you a glimpse of who they are. Here's to your financial health and to the prosperity of our community.
Question #1: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Paul Murray, Axa Advisors; (201) 592-2519; website: www.chipmurray.net
Paul I first joined AXA Equitable in 1994 after interviewing with several firms in our industry. I chose AXA for a number of reasons. I had been a client of theirs for a number of years as a principal in a family business which left me with a very favorable impression. Also, they have a strategy approach to doing business which felt very comfortable to me. Today AXA has some 96 million clients, 206 thousand employees and operations in over 56 countries.
Kenneth Ford, Warwick Valley Financial Advisors, 24 Main St., Warwick, NY, 845-981-7300 website: www.warwickfa.com
Ken: I started in the Financial Industry right out of college. I began my career in the training programs of some of the leading regional firms. After spending a number of years working for some of the top firms on Wall Street, my desire to offer my clients independent and objective guidance led me to join LPL Financial - the largest independent broker/dealer nationwide *. In 2003, I founded Ford Wealth Management and just recently teamed up with another LPL financial advisor to create Warwick Valley Financial Advisors. I am a 5 star member of the Paladin Registry. Admittance to this registry is limited, based on competency, integrity, and various risk factors. I graduated from Hartwick College where I was an eight-time All-American Swimmer and in 1999 was inducted into the college’s hall of fame. To be closer to our family, my wife Femi and I, as well as our two children moved from Hoboken, NJ to Warwick. * As reported in Financial Planning magazine 1996–2009 based on total revenues.
Edward M. Lynch, Edward Jones, 77 Ronald Reagan Blvd, Warwick, NY, 845-987-7220 website: edwardjones.com/en_US/fa/index.html&CIRN=700164
Ed: I grew up in Rockland County, NY – in Nanuet. I received a 4-Year Army ROTC scholarship – which paid for my tuition and books when I went to Lehigh University. After that I had 4 years of Active Duty – and then I joined the Army Reserves – combined with my 4 years as a Cadet, I’ve served a total of 32 years. I’m married and have two kids who are teenagers in our Warwick schools. I earned both an engineering degree from Lehigh and an masters (MBA) from Fordham University. I worked for Con Edison for a number of years and now with Edward Jones, a full-service financial services firm with nearly 13,000 branches, since 2003.
Lori Schellberg, Myles Financial Services, 59 North Main Street Florida NY 10921 (845) 651-3070x225
Lori: I have been in the industry for almost 20 years. I am a local (Slate Hill) resident with 3 children in the Minisink Valley School district and grew up in Warwick so I can relate to the local folk. I have always wanted to work in the financial services field. When I was younger, I sat around the kitchen table with my parents and their advisor and knew then that it was what I was interested in doing. I went to LeMoyne College in Syracuse NY and graduated with a 4 year degree in a little over two years. I then started off my Financial career with First Albany Corp and what was then Salomon Smith Barney. I love helping people achieve their goals no matter how large or small their accounts may be.
Question #2: What do you see as your particular strength as a financial advisor?
Paul: Lots of people with good intelligence, willing to work hard can do what we do. Knowledge alone is power without direction in my opinion. Knowledge combined with the right motivation is the key, and I can’t think of a better motivation in today’s world than helping people. I would consider that motivation as my greatest strength.
Ken: Understanding a client’s financial position better than they understand it themselves. I have the ability to take complex planning strategies and make them digestible and put in place actionable steps to achieving client’s goals. I often can help investors from repeating common mistakes that can be easier avoided with their investment. Investors today need more than ever; timely unbiased financial advice that they can trust. Our goal at Warwick Valley Financial Advisors is to be your most trusted advisor through our professional knowledge, our integrity and our personalized service.
Ed: My strength is Retirement Planning. This is such an important part of our financial lives, as there is no more expensive undertaking than being financially prepared for a long retirement. People are living longer – the average male is going to live into their mid-eighties. Many people are not well prepared, nor know if they are financially fit for retirement. Many are not sufficiently saving/investing, not often enough, nor long enough – you can’t wait until fifty years old to be addressing this, because it just makes it so much harder to achieve your financial goals. As a financial advisor, I “coach” my clients with their retirement goals, by helping them set priorities and invest to achieve them. For example, faced with the choice of saving for your kids’ college education or funding your own retirement, the latter is more of a priority. Your kids will value you more if you don’t depend on them for retirement than if you gve them all of your money for college.
Lori: I feel the fact that our company can offer a full service "one stop shop" gives me an advantage over other advisors. We can help clients with the full picture and not necessarily just their financial needs. We have a network of accountants and attorneys and real estate brokers that we work with. So if there is something that we cannot handle, for instance updating a will or trust or listing a home for sale as you need the funds to live, we can refer to the network to help the client rather than send them out "blind." My individual strength is that I am female and believe I tend to be more patient and compassionate than other male advisors.
Question #3: What book and/or person have you been most influenced by in terms of how it has helped shape your financial philosophy?
Paul: I cannot point to any one book as having influenced or shaped my financial philosophy. I will say that in addition to the wide variety of financial and investment planning periodicals and publications that I try to keep up with, I am required as a CFP and registered representative of FINRA, to complete a number of continuing education courses to maintain my credentialing.
Ken: I have been influenced by Dow Theory Books. Charles Dow was an American journalist who co-founded Dow Jones & Company and The Wall Street Journal with Edward Jones in the late 1800’s. Dow was first known for being one of the first journalists to publish financial data on public companies stocks. He also created the Dow Jones Industrial & Transportation averages in order to follow the price movements and patterns of the indexes which later became known as Dow Theory. Dow Theory has been around for almost 100 years, yet even in today's volatile and technology-driven markets, the basic components of Dow Theory still remain valid. Dow’s theory addresses not only technical analysis and price action, but also market philosophy. Many of the ideas and comments put forth by Dow and Hamilton became axioms of Wall Street. While there are those who may think that it is different this time, a read through The Dow Theory will attest that the stock market behaves the same today as it did almost 100 years ago. I recently went back and read many of Dow’s columns… and I was reminded that we will always have booms and busts – as well as fear and greed – in the markets. As far as we have come, we have to realize human nature doesn't change.
Ed: One of my role models is my Dad. By his example, he taught me the importance of integrity and a strong work ethic, something I bring to my profession to this day. My father was intent on succeeding and helping his family (he and my mom had four kids to raise) to have a better life. While he didn’t have the means for much financial investing, his greatest investment was toward his family. As a result, his children are all successful professionals with families, and working to make a better life for their kids as well.One of my favorite books is called Good to Great by Jim Collins. This book’s theme encourages leaders in business to realize, as good as your firm may be, there is always room for improvement. I try to live my life this way. I’m an “eternal student,” always reading to improve my knowledge in my profession and assessing my business, to ensure my services to my clients are the best that they can be.
Lori: There has not been one. I attend several financial and insurance conferences throughout the year which keeps me up to date and gives me ideas to use and influences my decisions.
Question #4: What tips or advice could you give us for 2011?
Paul: 1.) Plan. In order to reach your financial goals, you have to know first where you’re going. For example, if you’re investing for retirement, you need to determine when you want to retire, how much you will need to live on in retirement, how much time your investments have to grow, and how much you can afford to save each year. Once you’ve answered these questions, you or your financial professional can develop the investment strategy that will help take you where you want to go. 2.) Prepare. Make sure that all your emergency needs are covered—including adequate life insurance and saving enough in a rainy day fund to tide you over during an unexpected run of bad luck. Once your emergency needs are covered, you can begin putting your savings to work in a long-term investment strategy. 3.) Diversify. Even if you’re an aggressive investor, it’s never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket. Those who most successfully weather the market’s ups and downs are those who have a variety of investments—some fixed income securities along with a diversified stock portfolio that includes small and large cap, growth and value sectors.
Ken: 1.) Have a written financial and investment plan in place 2.) Be clear on how you are compensating your financial professional. Does your advisor work on a fee-basis, commission basis, or hourly fee? I believe it is extremely important to understand the fees that you are paying need to be transparent so that all conflicts of interest can be removed from the client advisor relationship. This will help you determine if you are working will a financial professional that is helping you manage your investments or are you working with a salesman who is just selling you financial products 3.) Develop a Risk Management Plan. Have a sell discipline for getting out of investments that are not working. What did you learn from the market crash of 2008 or the one in 2001-2002? What protection systems do you have in place to protect your investment portfolios from major market drawdowns? Realize that a 50% decline in an investment portfolio will require a 100% future gain just to get back to even. We believe there needs to be great focus on risk verses return.
Ed: I believe in principled investing. Investing is not about trying to become an overnight success, by taking significant risks. That’s ‘trading’ not ‘investing’. Principled investing is a long term venture, with 5 key tenets: 1.) Have a long-term time horizon with investing - it’s not a one year proposition – it’s about being prudent with your assets and investing for a minimum of five years or more. 2.) Be well diversified (“don’t put all your eggs in one basket”) 3.) Choose good quality – stocks can fall out of favor. 4.) Save - Put what you can away, often and on a regular basis (e.g. every paycheck). Pay yourself first. 5.) Leave it to a professional and firm, with whom you feel comfortable and whom you trust -- to give you advice. What’s most important is their track record, the company they represent and whether or not they give you sufficient time to help you understand your investments, e.g. meet with you regularly.
Lori: 1.) Get started now planning for tomorrow. Taxes should be almost filed and the financial documents a planner needs to review should be at your fingertips. 2.) work with a planner for professional advice and action 3.) diversification is key