Andrew H. Friedman
Financial Policy Expert: TheWashingtonUpdate.com; Washington, D.C.
What he expects; “You’re going to [hear] a drumbeat of bringing power to bear against the financial services industry…just to show that the Administration realizes people were unhappy with the bailout.”
The well-ordered mind of Andrew H. Friedman can demystify in a cogent five-bullet list the most complex of legislative developments and their likely impact on tax, fiscal and retirement policies. Then he goes a step further and gives financial advisors concrete ideas for investing client assets accordingly.
How to similarly sum up the forceful public speaker, 54, who is busily booked through October by firms including Merrill Lynch Bank of America, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and UBS?
Three years ago, the ex-tax attorney quit the prestigious Washington law firm of Covington & Burling after a 30-year career there to become a full-time speaker. The decision was propitious: as a fiscal policy expert, Friedman is certainly in high demand.
“You’ve got an activist administration combined with a financial meltdown,” he explains. “That’s a formula for Washington to get exceedingly involved in everything. Advisors need to know how to react so they can advise their clients. There’s a real hunger for that.”
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Chambers’ guide to United States attorneys dubbed Friedman “the expert’s expert.” And indeed those recommendations he supplies to FAs are his added-value.
“Andy makes sense of what’s happening in Washington,” notes Matt Witkos, president of Eaton Vance Distributors, in Boston, to whose advisor clients Friedman has presented for the last three years. “Advisors come away with an action plan. They walk out of the meeting saying, ‘He actually gave me a road map to do something with.’”
Friedman downplays his perspicacity — and ability to boil down in layperson-speak legislation in front of the Senate or House.
“I don’t think I have more insight than anybody else that’s been in Washington for 30 years,” he says, “but I’m willing to take a stand and then turn it into actionable ideas for advisors to use.”
Two-and-a-half years ago, during the massive flight to Treasuries, he forecast the municipal bond market comeback.
“Right in the middle of the meltdown — December 2008 — municipal bond values plummeted,” he recalls. “In all my speeches for the following six months, I said that the then-President-elect would be using a stimulus package to move money into the states to help them — because they were no longer getting the kind of tax revenue they used to — and that that would shore up the municipal bond market for a dramatic increase in values.”
That’s just what happened — and municipal bonds took off.
Now comes this vital Friedman heads-up: “Financial advisors have to be aware that this is a hostile [legislative] environment: a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress are going to try to implement wealth re-distribution. Their view is that there are too many people without health care or education and that it’s the function of this country to make sure they get it — and if that requires the wealthy to pay more in taxes, so be it.”