Call them ishmael at sea

Sometimes, investors feel like Ishmael, in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Especially when money gurus are studying market corrections on Wall Street, often times, leaving them feeling adrift in a stormy sea as they sail on the whaling ship Pequod under the command of Captain Ahab, the quixotic journey always dangerous and life threatening.

“How do you keep them emotionally anchored? And keep them calm in this sea of noise?” said Christopher J. Haydel (MBA, CFP, ChFC), managing principal of Haydel, Biel & Associates. Haydel’s firm developed a “Family Index Number” after the 2008 financial crisis left investors scared – he saw client defections for the first time in his more than 20-year career – and unsure what to do, and who to listen to. The Family Index Number provides Haydel’s clients with a target rate of return required to maintain their living standard, stability, and achieve their investment goals. The index has allowed Haydel, Biel & Associates to develop stronger relationships with clients and to provide more targeted advice to keep investors on track.

Haydel, Biel & Associates is a financial planning and wealth management firm that serves higher-income, and high-worth, clients who have at least $1 million to invest, or $260,000 in annual income. Haydel’s decision to target these clients – considered “accredited investors” by the Securities and Exchange Commission – grew from his belief that there are other opportunities worth investing in beyond traditional capital markets.

“In order to build portfolios that satisfy our desire to incorporate these investments, the clients need to be qualified, accredited investors,” Haydel told The Suit Magazine in a recent interview.
Alternative investments can help protect clients during down markets, Haydel said. The best solution to market chaos, however, is a strong client-manager relationship and the ability to keep investors focused on what matters – their goals. That’s why the firm’s Family Index Number is valuable to clients.

“You’re trying to cut through a lot of the noise, which index to follow, what the stock market did today,” Haydel said, describing many overwhelming investors. “We help them to focus on … The family index number that matters to them.”

The need for close client relationships leads Haydel to doubt automated tools will replace traditional wealth advisors. The so-called “robo-advisors,” however, can serve a valuable purpose by providing clients with some stability.

“If clients can have a dashboard and stay focused on the things most important to them, that’s nice,” Haydel said, adding that those tools are even more beneficial in “volatile times” like now. 
Haydel, who began his finance career at IDS/American Express Financial Advisors, built his entire career on relationships. At IDS, the clients that proved “stickier” were the ones who had a “deeper emotional” commitment to their financial plans, and a stronger connection to their advisors. That’s a lesson he carried with him when he founded Haydel, Biel & Associates.
“Our goal is not to generate alpha, although that’s wonderful, it’s to preserve the relationship by serving the client,” he said. 

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