Putting Education and Strategy First

For John Caserta, the managing director of Caserta & de Jongh, LLC, based in Cheshire, Connecticut, financial planning must involve people sitting around a table, having those critical conversations. Always interested in personal finance, Caserta had family friends in the industry, and liked the entrepreneurial aspect and helping clients with complex topics.

He started out at Mass Mutual Financial and learned about the industry. Caserta’s own practice was evolving as more holistic and comprehensive. His vision for his company’s financial planning is akin to a “one-stop shop” for all a client’s needs.

While his firm has no minimum, Caserta says the type of services provided makes sense for people with a net worth of at least $1 million. Clients have reached a point where their finances have grown beyond “a few mutual funds and a 401k,” becoming more complex. His approach starts with educating clients about all aspects of their finances, and includes financial strategies, portfolios, retirement and non-retirement investments and the rules associated with different accounts.

“We provide clients with a general understanding of how all these things really work together – what they are doing correctly and what may not be in line with what they are trying to accomplish,” Caserta says. “The more time and effort you take into gathering information – budget, cash flow, any planning you’ve done – the more you’ll get out of the experience. We emphasize educating people regarding the different aspects of personal finance, including investment portfolios, insurance, legal documents, tax returns and tax strategies. We take time to talk about different aspects of those vehicles.”

Robo-Advisors vs. Financial Planners

Caserta says that robo-advisors serve a niche for those getting started who don’t have a lot of money to invest. While it introduces financial planning, the shortcoming with robo-advisors is the emphasis on fees.

“It’s important, but when fees are driving the investment situation, it can get problematic,” he says, also pointing out that a robo-advisor will not sit down and go through tax returns, or speak with the client and their attorney about legal documents and tax strategies. “Once you get into more sophisticated planning, you need people sitting around a table having a conversation.”

Additionally, Caserta says that anyone considering hiring a financial planner should know their compensation structure.

“I address that first and foremost,” he says. Other important questions to have answered at an initial meeting include what the planner is expected to do for the client, and the exact fees and services. He recommends clients use tools like Brokercheck beforehand, so they know the planner has a clean record.

Advocate for Clients

Rather than defining successes or failures, Caserta says there have been lessons along the way helping Caserta & De Jongh, LLC evolve.

“Our success comes from the approach we’ve developed – making sure the client knows why and what they are doing and how it fits into bigger picture, really being an advocate for clients,” he says, adding that the challenge is making sure “the right people are sitting in the right seats. Have we learned lessons from having the wrong people in the wrong seats? Absolutely. We must identify those early, know it isn’t a fit, and what must change.”

For more information about Caserta & De Jongh, LLC, visit:

Registered Representatives of and Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through Hornor, Townsend & Kent, Inc. (HTK) Registered Investment Advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC. 210 Park Avenue Suite101, Florham Park, NJ 07932 (973) 538-9100; Caserta & de Jongh, llc is independent of HTK, Inc. HTK does not provide legal and tax advice. Always consult a qualified tax advisor regarding your personal tax situation and a qualified legal professional for your personal estate planning situation.

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