The world today offers more choices about how we live our life and how and where we work. The financial industry is no different. Traditional wire houses (think Merrill Lynch), large independent broker dealers, and RIAs of all sizes allow advisors to pick the best fit for how they would like to run their practice. Each of these models have their benefits, but I want to look at the benefits that I found as a financial planner employed at Pinnacle Advisory Group.
As a financial planner at previous companies, I had to wear many hats and spend time working on parts of the business that were not always my strongest suit. Since becoming a financial planner employed at Pinnacle, I have found that I am able to focus on what I do best which is building and maintaining relationships with clients and being engaged in their planning. When some of the areas of my business were shifted to other folks within the firm I was able to concentrate on what I do best, financial planning. The three areas where this really made a difference were the existence of a dedicated investment team, client service team and a full-time marketing and communications department.
Many advisors who work in smaller RIA’s or broker dealers shoulder the load of making investment decisions regarding their client’s portfolios. While most advisors are certainly capable of making portfolio decisions for their clients themselves (me being one of them), I find it reassuring that I have a dedicated team of professionals to make those decisions for me. My investment team of CFA’s, Chartered Market Technicians, Certified Financial Technicians, and Financial Risk Managers sole job is to manage the portfolios of our clients. They are far more qualified in terms of education and I have great comfort knowing that they are researching and studying the markets daily to the benefit of my clients. It is reassuring to know that someone is looking after client portfolios when I am out of the office on appointments or away on vacation and that is not incumbent on me alone to make decisions for my client’s accounts. Although I am not making the day to day decisions on client investments, I am able to meet with our investment team at a minimum of once a month, if not more, to be able to understand what they are doing in my client’s portfolios and why. In addition to the monthly debrief we are also made aware of any changes in our client’s portfolio and the reasoning behind the move with trade memos. A dedicated investment team is a huge benefit of joining Pinnacle.
Another benefit is our client service group. Having a dedicated person to work with my clients on all of their administrative needs has been very valuable. Working as a solo practitioner at some firms you may do much of your administration work yourself which takes time away from growing the practice and the planning work that is necessary for each client. Paperwork can be a big time drain and is not always the best use of an advisor’s skillset. And because they work as a team, there is always someone available to help clients.
Client touches are very important in maintaining relationships with clients, particularly in the digital age. Our marketing and communications team provides thoughtful and insightful touches through the use of social media, client emails, and educational events. This dedicated team makes sure that our clients know what is going on with the markets and other important events that will affect them. For example, we sent out educational pieces on what to do about the Equifax hack and key points of the recent tax law change signed into law by President Trump. Our Pinnacle quarterly is a nice newsletter to keep clients informed on the investment teams perspective and on financial planning topics that are relevant. Additionally, they organize several in person client educational events, highlighted by our Inside the Investment Committee meeting every spring. Being able to have a team that is dedicated to providing client touches and lots of educational content for our clients is a huge benefit.
Joining Pinnacle was the right move for me and has eliminated a lot of the headaches I used to face as a financial planner. Joining a larger firm may not be the best thing for you and you don’t have to. Nowadays there are a large number of options available to advisors who want to outsource the most time consuming tasks so they can focus on what they do best. You don’t have to do it all.