Wealth Protection

Personal Touch Establishes Trust to Build Wealth

The décor in the conference room at New England Private Wealth Advisors (NEPWA) is very personal in nature. There are photos featuring each of the families of the 17 people that work there.

That’s not the norm for a financial services office, but it is the choice thoughtfully selected by the folks running NEPWA based in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

It represents a decision made with the intent to convey a message to clients that relationships – especially those closest, most intimate family relationships – come first, and that NEPWA’s goal is to best secure the financial futures of each client and his or her family."

“At the end of the day, after all of the conversations about which investments are the most appropriate, the bottom line is always about relationships and trust,” said Ira Rapaport, the firm’s CEO.

That’s why clients won’t find investment mantras or stock market price indexes pandering for their attention. Instead, the focus at NEPWA intentionally highlights the family household and multi-generational planning that most clients make their priority.

Women – whether they are clients, or the 10 of 17 employees currently working at NEPWA – are highly valued by Rapaport. He knows that more and more women are in control of wealth.

It is estimated that by 2030, women will control at least two-thirds of the wealth in America. Yet, according to statistics from the federal Bureau of Labor, only 35 percent of all financial advisors in America are women.

The industry lags way behind in terms of providing qualified female advisors to meet the growing demand of female investors – 55 percent of whom indicate they prefer to work with their own gender on financial issues.

Rapaport recognized this trend and took steps to address it, and now his firm is ahead of the industry curve.

NEPWA has more female advisors and support staff than male. The firm is poised and ready to serve the needs of a growing trend indicating that out of every ten women, nine will at some point in their lives be the sole financial decision-maker for their household.

Rapaport explained that women tend to live an average of seven years longer than their husbands or male partners. Yet, many women often live many years beyond that since statistics show that one-third of married women are widowed before age 65, according to the Women’s Institute for Secure Retirement.

Understanding and valuing the different manner in which women view finances is something Rapaport says his firm specializes in.

“Family is important for everyone, but especially for women because they tend to focus on how they can help their children and grandchildren,” he said. “This is especially true after they face the loss of their spouse.”

Financial education is one way in which NEPWA assists all clients, regardless of gender. Rapaport considers education as something that goes hand-in-hand with his fiduciary duty as a fee-only advisor committed to, and legally required to, put the client’s needs ahead of his own.

“We owe our clients our undivided loyalty,” he said.

It is a big part of what motivates NEPWA to further educate clients. Rapaport wants clients to understand what the firm does on the client’s behalf, as compared to what type of transactions occur at brokerage firms or wire houses.

That understanding is the most important thing he believes needs to change within the financial services industry.

Moves by the federal Department of Labor to put all financial advisors under a blanket definition of what a fiduciary is and does are concerning because consumers may not fully appreciate the vast difference between the work of a fee-only advisor compared to someone working on a commission basis to sell a product, Rapaport said.

“The universe of financial advisors is very fragmented,” Rapaport said. “The fee-only advisors, in my opinion, are the only ones offering fiduciary care.”

A look at how Rapaport and his team conduct client meetings, quickly reveals that his process puts the needs of his clients – emotional as well as financial – first.

Client meetings are generally scheduled for one and a half hours – and about 30 minutes of that is spent discussing investment options and strategies. The other hour is spent talking about what is happening in the client’s life and in the life of family members. Has there been a shift in priorities in terms of what their assets should accomplish for the dreams and goals of the family?

Each client meeting includes a lengthy discussion agenda that covers all potential financial planning needs for that client. This is the time used to further develop the personal relationship Rapaport and his team have with clients.

“That discussion time has to be lengthy so we can appropriately propose potential suggestions and strategies to meet the goals outlined in the meeting,” he said.

Rapaport, who launched NEPWA in 2005, began his financial service career in the audit and tax public accounting industry with stints at two of the nation’s largest firms. That experience serves him well today combined with having earned his CPA designation and master’s degree in taxation.

Rapaport believes his background lends itself to supporting his current consultative approach with an emphasis on creating fully customized and client-specific tailored financial solutions.

“We take a long-term strategic approach when building client portfolios. Each client is unique when it comes to goals, objectives, time horizon, tax considerations, liquidity constraints, and other planning opportunities. We, therefore, create custom portfolios utilizing both active and passive investment strategies. Many of our clients have acquired significant wealth, so we have found it important to continuously focus on risk-adjusted returns and preservation of wealth,” Rapaport explained, adding that ETFs are an important tool within client portfolios, especially within taxable accounts. “We believe ETFs have several attractive attributes, including tax-efficiency, transparency, liquidity, and low expense ratios.”

“With a strategic approach that limits high turnover and no product sales with commissions, we have built a talented team with advanced degrees and industry designations that puts the needs of our clients first,” Rapaport said.

Tnepwasmallhat, again, is why Rapaport sees NEPWA as the firm poised to take the lead in terms of meeting the specialized needs of all clients in the financial services marketplace.

“Many of our clients are simply more focused on personal relationships and on building trust in those relationships. They generally don’t maintain strict lines of separation between business and personal. Their mentality is not ‘how are my investments doing against the benchmark,’ but instead, they want to know, ‘are my investments meeting my goal of providing security for my family.’”

Those are the questions being answered on a daily basis at NEPWA, Rapaport said.

“Our team does an outstanding job providing each client with a unique customized, detail-oriented approach,” Rapaport said. “We need to communicate this every day to all of our clients because it develops authentic trust, and trust is the key to our relationships.”

Learn more about Ira Rapaport and New England Private Wealth Advisors online at nepwealth.com

 

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