Retirement Planning

Advisors As Coaches The importance of behavioral finance

Everyone goes through difficult times, financial or otherwise. Recovery from an injury is faster with a physical therapist, and so too can be recovery from a market downturn – with a strong financial coach.

 

“Coaching” is a word mentioned frequently by founding partner Robert Cepeda, CFP® and BFA, at Quest Financial Services in Orange County, New York. In a recent interview with Advisors Magazine, Cepeda made clear that serving as a financial coach, armed with deep knowledge and the latest information, is what drives him and his 10 team members. The approach, he maintained, is what gives his firm a leg up on the numerous robo-advisors nowadays.

“People prefer a doctor because it’s personalized,” Cepeda explained. “People need and want someone to coach them, especially through the tough times.” He refers to a financial advisor as an accountability coach; not unlike a trainer working to keep someone who wants to get in shape on track. “An advisor helps keep a person accountable to the financial goals and objectives, and helps make adjustments. Sometimes a person lacks the awareness that a change needs to be made.”

Advisors must educate themselves continually by talking to other financial professionals and having the willingness to embrace a lifelong learning process, added Cepeda. “Because I have a good team, we can stay on top of all the research and focus on the specific needs of our clients,” he said. “Many self-starters, those who try robo-platforms, lose interest quickly. We keep clients engaged and focused.”

Most people are good at their chosen profession, but planning their financial future might not be their strong suit – Quest Financial Services excels at educating clients and guiding them through the financial planning process.

cepeda quote
Many people may have an idea of what they want in the future, but don’t know how to get there, he explained. “So you listen clearly to the client and decipher what their values and goals are. This allows us to take a deeper dive into client goals and expectations,” he said.

One approach used by the advisors at Quest Financial Services is behavioral financial planning which centers on a rational, values-based process and better prepares clients for unplanned life events. It unravels how traditional financial practices are driven by psychology and neuroscience.

“We try to manage expectations and emotions – that’s more important than specific products, or the underlying investment,” said Cepeda, who earned his Behavioral Financial Advisor designation earlier this year.

“This designation has more strongly positioned me to help my clients avoid making emotional decisions about finances that can lead to negative outcomes,” he said. “This new knowledge, paired with my years of experience, allows my clients to focus even more sharply on making rational financial decisions that support their goals.”

As for his experience, Cepeda is also the author of Your Journey Goes On: 25 Plus Years of Observations by a Financial Advisor, a book that utilizes personal and professional experiences with an anecdotal and conversational tone to discuss financial planning at every stage of life.

“It’s hard to create something really good with just one person; I’ve surrounded myself with some great people and we take a team approach,” Cepeda acknowledges.
Quest Financial is a multi-advisor firm, and depending on the advisor one works with, different minimum investments will apply.

“We want to make sure we can help whomever comes to us because we want to help people get to where they are trying to go,” Cepeda said, adding that the firm manages over 600 million dollars in assets. “We try to be more proactive than reactive. We are diligent in our approach in the scheduling and communicating with clients, and we have clients across the nation.”

As an independent financial services firm, about 90 percent of Quest’s assets are in advisory type of accounts.

“It’s important to understand that we are independent, which allows us to be unbiased so we can use multiple things out there that are in our clients’ best interests,” he emphasized. “The goals are the most important. The actual products that we use are secondary.”

Understanding such products can still be difficult for the average client, and Cepeda believes that greater transparency in the financial services industry remains a key change that needs to happen. He is encouraged, however, that prospectuses and other supplemental materials are improving in clarity.

vacation cepedaWith people living longer today, the Quest Financial Services provides a tailored solution to retirement planning, often leveraged off a client’s unique behavioral traits. “It’s subjective; everyone has their own reasons why they want to do something, but their core values may be different,” Cepeda said. “And once we dive into those values, it makes it easier to do the financial plan.”

He noted that this is one of the reasons he wrote the book, which explores the various life experiences we all share. “We feel like life happens to us, but things that we’ve gone through, others have gone through as well,” Cepeda explained. “Death in the family. Divorce. Layoffs. People just wanting to retire. Sometimes they can retire sooner than they expect.”

Cepeda is most proud talking about the Quest Financial Services team and the systems and infrastructure they created over 28 years. Processes, such as video-conferencing – already serving clients from around the country – were in place to deliver during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s times like these when clients need seamless service.

For more information about Quest Financial Services, please visit: questfinancialservices.com

Securities offered through Securities America, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Securities America Advisors. Quest Financial Services and Securities America are separate entitiies.

 

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