A MICHAELANGELO in the financial world

When Christopher P. Provo, RFC, CRPC, president and CEO of Provo Financial Services, starts working with a client, he likens his role in the relationship to that of Italian sculptor Michelangelo—envisioning a masterpiece in the end—always chipping away at the surface by asking a lot of questions. That’s how he molds and constructs his business relationships in the financial world.
“A client may know the want or the need but have no idea how to get there. That’s where we come in. If I’m Michelangelo and I look at a rock and see a sculpture, I have to help my client get there,” Provo says. “If my clients can’t see the figure at the end, we just have to chisel away at the last few pieces. So ultimately when we make a recommendation, it’s what our clients already wanted or needed, but we show them how to get there.”

Provo says from his perspective, it’s all about asking the right questions and being forthcoming with information. “A lot of it is disclosure and transparency. It’s worth working with your clients and telling them about the pros and cons of what you’re putting together for them,” he says.

That emphasis on integrity allowed Provo to not only open his firm, Provo Financial Services, Inc., but to grow substantially during the ’08 downturn because clients were dissatisfied with their previous advisor relationships. “Clients want someone who has integrity, will do the right thing, make the right recommendations in their best interest and provide outstanding service,” Provo explains. “We’ve got a staff of six, and all of these people really care about our clients and want to provide good service. We are 100 percent accountable and very purposeful with our processes. I’m running an investment shop the way you’d want an investment shop to be run.”

Which means the firm also offers advanced specialization for clients. “We have a lot of team members who specialize in a lot of different areas. We have a lawyer who’s certified in financial planning for example,” Provo adds. “We always want to try and get our clients in front of a specialist, someone who really is the best in that industry, so the team concept is something we’ve bought into.”

Provo asserts the key to pulling it all together for clients is to review the plan often, and be prepared for unexpected events. “There are a lot of things you can’t foresee, like the passing of a spouse, or a divorce,” he says. “That’s when reviews become really important. It comes down to constantly meeting, and reviewing your client’s portfolio and plan. You have to stay on top of that. And you’ve got to have a process that allows you to stay on top of that.”

“And to me, everything is about analyzing risk,” he continues. “Because when you had a client at 50, who had been with you for 15 years, experienced the ’01-02 crash and the ’08 crash, and now they’re 65 years old and retired. All they want to talk about is “if the market drops 50 percent, can I lose 20 percent?” They’re willing to give up some upside growth by making sure the portfolio is really diversified and they’ve got a well-balanced approach. If you do that, then they are not surprised by the events that occur in the market.”

To make sure clients get recommendations that are in their best interest, working with an advisor who upholds a fiduciary standard is imperative. “I think the fiduciary rule is dead on. Advisors who don’t act as a fiduciary make me wonder why they are in the business,” Provo added. “You can’t manage someone’s money and then say an investment was suitable but yet the client lost everything. And you aren’t held liable? To me, that’s acting like a car salesman. You need to be held accountable and responsible for what you advise. From what I can see, I love the new rule. I think more accountability on the broker is something that should have already been there.”

Provo says the greatest success for his firm has been their tenacity and drive. They constantly want to do what’s best for their clients, create systems, fix mistakes and improve things moving forward. “We try to turn every negative into a positive,” he says. “We look at the Department of Labor fiduciary rule as an opportunity. What’s going to come out of this that’s going to make us bigger, faster, stronger? And in turn will help our clients take better control of their financial future?”

How are Michelangelo and Chris Provo both Renaissance men?  They both show freedom of thought, attention to detail and employ realism and the laws of perspective in their work.  Like Michelangelo, Chris Provo is ahead of his time, creating with passion and compassion.

“I think you just try to turn every obstacle into an opportunity. That’s the strength of our company.”

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