Financial Guides

Overwhelming investment options require strategic guidance

Investors can, at least in theory, purchase stock from any of the more than 100,000 publicly traded companies in the world. And while in the U.S., investors only have access to about 4,000 actively traded stocks through the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ, that still leaves four figures worth of options to narrow down. Add in bonds, mutual funds, indexes, and other products and it becomes obvious that the average investor is in over their head.

“Considering the amount of investment options out there, it truly is staggering, and it’s overwhelming for the vast majority of people,” said Mark Blinderman RIA, CEA, Notary Public, and managing partner of Walnut Investment Services, LLC., a small independent RIA firm based in Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York. Blinderman works with clients to “distill” their options down based on a personal profile of their goals, wants, and needs.

“Obviously, in the universe of 17,000 or 18,000 mutual and index funds, and 4,000 stocks out there, you can’t possibly encompass everything and cover every field and every sector and every segment of the market,” Blinderman said. “But we do have quite a bit of experience and have learned to narrow these things down to the most proven points.”
Walnut Investment Services provides comprehensive wealth management and retirement planning services. The firm recently has increased its selectivity, mandating a $100,000 minimum to invest, and setting a $25,000 floor for retirement clients. Increased selectivity allows Walnut Investment Services to maintain high-quality, personalized client service, Blinderman said.

“We are a small firm, we’d like to stay that way, so we are being a little more selective,” he said.

Walnut Investment Services, is a fiduciary firm, meaning the clients’ interest comes first. Blinderman said a fiduciary mindset is essential when handling clients’ accumulated savings, business earnings, or helping them achieve long-held goals. But the federal government’s fiduciary rule — which mandates financial professionals, including insurance salesmen and stockbrokers, act as fiduciaries — presents a large burden for small firms, while being designed to catch only a few “bad apples,” he said.

Still, fiduciary responsibility and personalized service is key in today’s rapidly changing financial landscape, where new government rules and emerging technologies are changing the way people earn, save, and invest. And for Blinderman, regardless of how things change, putting clients first always will remain the same.

“You are dealing here with not just selling a service, you’re dealing with people’s lives, their retirements … I think there should be a little bit more personalized approach to investing,” he said. “You really have to display more involvement.”

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