“The real value of an advisor,” said Richard Sincere, is having the ability to answer the question, “’How do I give this client the ability to live a happy life?’”
Yes, providing investment performance is important, but if “that’s the only thing that an advisor is doing for them, they’re missing the point.” The main driver for advisors, especially fee-only ones, should be “getting to know your client and plan around what your client needs, helping them get a better life from a tax standpoint, for planning for retirement and education, and giving permission for them to look at their life and say, ‘You can spend more or spend less — but you have the ability to live a full life.’”
If you don’t know Sincere, then you’re probably not a member of NAPFA, the fee-only advisor group whose conference exhibit halls always feature a Sincere & Co. booth. If you think he’s just one more advocate among the bevy of marketing partners for mutual fund companies whose booths fill fee-only and other RIA advisor meetings, then you don’t understand how his company consistently represents undiscovered money managers whose interesting stories are only matched by their performance.
Owing to his background in banking and RIA custodial services (Citicorp and Fidelity), Sincere understands what advisors are looking for when they’re looking to outsource their investment management responsibilities.
With his understated but significant charitable work and his strict ethics, matched by an easy-going Midwestern mien, Sincere is also that most rare of marketing experts: like a good glue, he connects the right people to each other, regardless of whether such networking connections benefit him directly, though it does benefit the entire advisor community.
So what do advisors need now, and how well is the advisor ecosphere meeting those needs? Sincere said that “20 years ago, the mutual fund industry didn’t know what a fee advisor was.” Now, “there’s a whole group of technology firms that need to be introduced to the independent fee advisor.”
As an advocate for the mutual fund companies he represents at Sincere & Co., Sincere admitted that these are “not easy times for anybody in active management.” But for advisors, it’s also a tough time owing to the environment in which we live in this country. “Clients are concerned even if their portfolios are going up,” he said, and he worries that “the animosity from the presidential campaigns is dripping over” into the broader culture.