The financial advisory business is said to be a relationship business. As we know, in life as in business, there are all kinds of relationships: peaceful ones, rocky ones, intense ones, deep ones, weak ones and rock-solid ones. It would stand to reason that the financial advisors chosen by our distinguished panel of judges for our annual Advisor Hall of Fame owe their stand-out success to exemplary client relationships.
That at least was the overriding impression given by our five honorees. Here is a group of people whose commitment to their clients and passion for their work just leap from the pages.
Take New York-based Wachovia advisor James Cotto, whose mission statement opens: "We want to add value to our clients. We want to provide for all of our families."
Get the imagery here? Someone who provides for his family feels a tremendous sense of responsibility for them.
Fellow Wachovia advisor Howard Lorch, of Houston, says: "This isn't a job, this is a passion." And LPL's Eric Park, of Washington, Mo., echoes this sentiment: "I almost feel like I've never worked yet because every day I get up and I go to a place I still feel passionate about. People joke that if I die and go to heaven, I'll wake up at my desk."
Clearly, Lorch and Park are people whose pleasure derives from pleasing others.
New York-based Smith Barney advisor Carol Glazer touches on this point very viscerally: "I like to be needed. We become very involved with clients. We become part of their lives. It's a real personal thing." And Raymond James' Van Pearcy, of Midland, Texas, sums up what it's all about: "When your clients say you've made a world of difference in their life -- to say something like that, that gets you up in the morning."
Clearly, in the minds of these advisors, it's not about them -- it's all about the client. There is an inherent and unusual maturity involved in these client relationships. These advisors are bound to their clients (and their clients to them) by what they do for them. If you invest a lot in a cause -- a charity, your marriage -- its importance to you inevitably grows.
Why are these five advisors important people? Because their clients are important to them.
We want to acknowledge with great appreciation how important Moshe Milevsky has been to us. For the past year, his Retirement Income University column has been an enormous hit with our readers. With his final contribution in this issue, Prof. Milevsky will be "retiring" from his editorial duties to concentrate on a heavy load of academic and professional responsibilities, including the publication of a new book in 2008. While we will miss his wit and wisdom, we are pleased to have a worthy successor in Fran?ois Gadenne, a retirement income visionary, whose column debuts next month.