Out of the Ivory Tower and Into the Pilot’s Seat

Markets have rallied about 15% year-to-date, a recession in the United States has not materialized, and the economy continues to improve slowly. The landscape, however, is always changing and at Krietzberg Wealth Management it’s all about navigating through the challenges.

“A financial advisor needs to act like a pilot,” Curtis Krietzberg, CFA, MBA told Advisors Magazine in a recent interview. “There are times that a pilot is going to experience turbulence. There are times when a pilot will experience clear, smooth skies,” he added. “But at the end of the day, it’s the pilot’s job to get all of the passengers safely to where they’re heading.”

Curtis KrietzbergCurtis, along with his brother David Krietzberg, CFP®, MBA, CBEC®, founded the New Jersey-based firm in 2005. And while they cannot control the storm and turbulence of markets and economics, they are firmly committed to getting their clients to their destinations. In the area of personal wealth management, the firm provides investment advice, insurance strategies and lifecycle financial planning. It also specializes in corporate financial solutions, such as company retirement plans, benefits, succession planning and business-exit readiness evaluations.

After graduating college, Curtis joined Merrill Lynch as a securities analyst. It was something he always wanted to be, and he spent about 10 years in such a role. “It was the career I always thought I wanted, but along the way – mid to late-20s – you gain a little perspective, and I realized that Wall Street analysts are in their own ivory towers.”

He was happy to be there, but it also occurred to Curtis that a client’s primary point of contact is the salesperson – and there weren’t too many people in the retail side of investment services that started out as a securities analyst. “I had my MBA at that point, and I thought it would be cool to jump out of my ivory tower, come over to the retail side, and to actually help clients.”

His journey also included a stint in management with Lincoln Financial Advisors, where he helped other financial planners manage their clients’ assets. “I was essentially a planner’s planner,” Curtis recalled.

After a few years at Lincoln Financial, he had a choice to either continue in management or to start his own business. He didn’t see management as exciting as working directly with people. “I had all the experience that I thought I needed to start my own practice,” he said. “So, I called up my oldest brother who was also in the industry, and we teamed up – and it has been David and I since August of 2005.”

To this day, however, Lincoln Financial Advisors serves as Krietzberg Wealth Management’s broker-dealer. “It’s great to have the support of a major, Fortune 500 company right behind us,” Curtis acknowledged. “They spend an enormous amount of capital to protect our client’s privacy and security.” And in these times when cyberattacks on financial service business are increasing, such a partnership provides peace of mind.

The Krietzberg brothers, in fact, chose the retail side of financial services because they firmly believed it was where they were needed most and could do the best.

“I basically chose this end of the industry because I thought it needed a lot of help; it was broken and it kind of still is – it’s difficult to get good advice,” Curtis noted. “And I saw an opportunity to truly help people, one client at a time.”

At Krietzberg Wealth Management, which has seven staffers in addition to Curtis and David, education is front and center.

“People get a lot of information nowadays,” Curtis explained, adding, “Some of it is accurate, some of it isn’t accurate – and clients want to know how it all applies to them.” He said the firm helps clients determine if information is not only accurate, but if the complete story is being told and what are the implications at a personal level.

Curtis said: “What does it all mean to them? Answering that is really our primary job.”

And his background as a securities analyst helps. Often, clients will ask him his opinion about an article they read. “It could be about anything – inflation, the labor market, wages, energy prices. “It’s all about education, communication, objectivity and transparency,” Curtis emphasized. “Those are the core pillars of our firm.”

And those pillars are foundational when it comes to the two main questions asked by Krietzberg’s clients: Am I going to be okay? Will I run out of money?

“And we get those questions at all asset levels,” Curtis said. “Whatever the perception is, it goes all the way up the chain. A client with a million in assets will say, ‘I guess I’m okay with that, but it’s not like I have $2 million – those guys are set.’ But then we have those with $2 million and they think that’s alright, but they’d like $5 million, or those with $5 million see others with $10 million.”

Curtis observed: “No one ever is confident or comfortable or secure in what they have, regardless of what they have. And it’s our job to tell them honestly, that they’re going to be okay and here’s why. Or, you’re going to be fine, but you might need to change a couple of things.”

He added: “Interest rates, inflation, recessions – those are just some of the things that drive performance, but they are beyond our control. What we can control is risk. We’ve always had a custom approach given a client’s objectives and a client’s risk tolerance.”

And the advisor/pilot is always prepared to tell clients: “There may be a storm ahead, but we are going to do all we can to go around it.”

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Curtis Krietzberg and David Krietzberg are registered representatives of Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. Securities and investment advisory services offered through Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp., a broker/dealer (member SIPC) and registered investment advisor. Insurance offered through Lincoln affiliates and other fine companies. Krietzberg Wealth Management is a marketing name for registered representatives of Lincoln Financial Advisors.


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