Finance

SUITED for Independence

“I’ve been in this business since 2002, and as long as I’ve been investing, forecasters have been predicting the same volatile markets. The key for planners and investors alike is to understand that markets are volatile, and that’s what creates the opportunities.”

Looking out for a client’s best interests is what enabled James Liotta, MBA, NSSA, to open his own independent firm, Prominence Capital GP, LLC. “Sometimes clients don’t like what planners have to tell them because of the risks, but that’s our job.”

Before launching Prominence Capital GP in 2013, Liotta had already managed corporate strategy, detailed financial plans and portfolios for high net worth individuals at Merrrill Lynch and Wells Fargo. It was these experiences which made him realize that being independent suited him better.

“Managing the expectations of a Wall Street firm and corporate strategy – and also my clients’ needs – often became difficult,” he said. “The biggest thing I’ve learned from those past experiences is that becoming independent was the right way for me to go about this.”

Because of complexities involving the proposed fiduciary standard, Liotta chose to open his independent firm as a registered investment advisor. He discovered that most people assume all financial professionals are obligated to that same high standard of care, which is obviously not the case, and this fact can be most detrimental to the client.

“I take the time to help my clients understand that there is a flat difference between a sales person at a bank or brokerage who is bound by a suitability standard of care, versus a fiduciary standard of care, which I’m legally bound to,” he said, adding that “not every situation may require a fiduciary standard, however, clients need to know who is acting in a fiduciary capacity and who is not. Then they can make an informed decision on who is best to work with.”

Liotta looks for investor/client relationships based on a conversation where both parties mutually agree to work together. “I think focusing on the right business arrangement is the appropriate starting point, rather than decisions made on a minimum account size.” And Liotta says that as clients become older and more sophisticated in growing their wealth, the relationship aspect becomes more important for understanding the full scope of complexities that families go through. “For many of them, I’m one of the first phone calls they make. I’m a comforting voice when issues arise and we’re able to sit down and work through things, generating plans and a course of action.”

Most of Liotta’s current clients were with him when he worked as an advisor with the big banks and brokerages. “I think that in itself speaks volumes – that I’m able to go out independently and not have to be at a large firm for people to understand that I create value in their life.”

Liotta noted with pride, “To be rewarded with the ability to build a business and bring my old clients on has been my greatest success.”

For more information visit: www.prominencecapital.com

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