Leadership

Individual Client Focus Key to Sound Financial Planning

Recent client surveys aimed at assessing financial advisor performance conducted by J.D. Power and Associates and Natixis reported that “not listening” topped the list of client criticisms. According to three different surveys conducted by the two opinion-generating giants, nearly 50 percent of clients also said they were dissatisfied with how their financial advisor performed some basic tasks including establishing personal financial goals, creating and managing a strategy to meet those goals, and tracking progress.

These most common client complaints aren’t heard at the offices of Ellis Investment Partners, LLC.

To ensure a high standard of individual client focus, advisors at Ellis Investment Partners are asked to limit their roster to 60 clients, explained Jennifer A. Garrett, CFA and senior portfolio manager of the Berwyn, Pennsylvania-based firm.

“Because we adhere to that low client to advisor ratio, we do have the time to focus on the client’s needs and to provide the education they need as well,” she said. “We spend a lot of time with clients to ensure that the client and the advisor are both comfortable with the advice that is given and with the strategy we provide.”

2016 GroupPhotoThe guiding principle at Ellis Investment Partners that helps advisors to determine what financial investments work best for each client is straightforward.

Garrett explains that advisors begin crafting individualized portfolios for each client by first asking themselves this reflective question: “How would the client invest their money if they had our level of experience, expertise and knowledge?” “We move forward from there,” she said.

An important topic has been added to the firm’s client conversations over recent years – the definition of a “fiduciary.”

“It’s been interesting,” Garrett said, referencing the recent attempts by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to create a uniform definition of fiduciary for all players within the financial services industry. “Up until five years ago, clients never talked about fiduciary. Now, it comes up in conversations all the time.”

She views the DOL’s activity as creating more confusion among people, instead of its actual intent to protect them.

Because Ellis Investment Partners is committed to a slower growth pace – compared to other leading registered investment advisory (RIA) firms who continually add more advisors to their rosters – client questions are fully explained, as is the advisor’s role within the fiduciary standard. “We believe that fiduciary standard should be integrated in the fabric of a firm’s culture.”

Ellis Investment Partners advisors are a tight-knit group. While the firm is six years old, many of the advisors have worked together for the past ten to 20 years, Garrett said.

“We are trying to be very prudent in how we maintain our assets under management while maintaining the goals of our firm and how we work together,” she said.
For Garrett, numbers have been a life-long interest.

“As long as I can remember, I have always been interested in financial investments and I majored in economics in college because of that,” she said.

Her career in financial services began at a broker-dealer firm, but Garrett quickly recognized that this client service model wasn’t a good fit for her, so she moved to the RIA side of the industry. Following her instincts has created what she considers the ideal career.

“It has provided a great way for me to combine my quantitative skills with my desire to work with people and help them to achieve their goals,” she said.

For more information on Ellis Investment Partners, LLC, visit: ellisinvestmentpartners.com

 

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