It was 1976 and Martin V. Higgins was working in construction. One day, while he was painting a house, his boss told him he was taking a vacation and that Higgins would be supervising the job for the next week. So he thought it might be a good time to bring up the possibility of a raise.
“And he said, ‘Well, that’s really not possible at this time.’ So I’m thinking there’s something wrong with this picture long term. He’s taking his family to Disney and I’m working for him and I can’t get a raise,” Higgins recalls.
That was just the push he needed to get into the insurance business and later financial planning in the early ‘80s. He admits he entered the insurance field initially because it offered the potential for uncapped income and the ability to set his own hours. Later, he obtained his CFP and discovered what truly energized him was the opportunity to do comprehensive financial planning.
Today, as founder of Family Wealth Management Advisory, L.L.C. in Marlton, N.J., Higgins oversees the financial plans of about 800 clients, mostly seniors. About 15 years ago, he created a fee-based program called the WealthCare™ Process. In this system, Higgins ascertains a client’s goals in retirement and literally maps out everything from their interests (cooking and travel, for example), family relationships, their assets, their short and long term goals, and prints it on a laminated board.
But instead of actively managing the client’s money by picking stocks and bonds, he leaves that to a money manager. By doing so, he can focus on cultivating client relationships and making sure the client’s overall objectives are being met.
He uses a baseball analogy to describe the WealthCare™ Process: The client is the owner and he’s the general manager of the client’s retirement savings. It’s then up to Higgins to hire the right money manager to handle an individual client’s investments, much like a baseball manager manages the players on the field.
“If I understand the goals and objectives of what this money means, then I can go get the right money manager and then they’re going to get the stocks,” Higgins says. “I have to make sure that they’re doing a good job for my client. If they’re not, then I’ll fire the manager.
“I believe that you can manage people, or you can manage money,” Higgins continues. “Pick one. People say they’re going to manage the client relationship and then they sit in front of a quote channel picking stocks and bonds and rebalancing everything. It’s two separate jobs.”
As the GM of a person’s retirement portfolio, Higgins says it’s vital to meet with clients regularly to find out any life changes and to also ensure that clients are meeting with other important advisors, such as their attorney and CPA.