Shared Values: Wealth planning engagements can’t help but develop into very personal relationships as both the client and the planner end up sharing personal victories and deep losses — it’s only natural. While a common set of values isn’t necessarily mandatory, I believe a shared set of core beliefs usually helps facilitate deeper discussions and better planning experience.
As part of our series about what one should look for when hiring a financial planner or adviser, I had the pleasure of interviewing Anthony Kure. Anthony C. Kure, CFP® is Director of Northeastern Ohio Market, Portfolio Manager Wealth Management, Cleveland — Akron. Tony joined Johnson Investment Counsel in 2017 and is a Portfolio Manager and a Director of Northeastern Ohio Market. Prior to joining the firm, Tony was the Owner and Financial Advisor of Magis Wealth Planning. Before founding Magis Wealth Planning, he worked as an Equity Analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit more. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Prior to my vocation in wealth planning, I was a sell side equity analyst for a big Cleveland bank. The job paid well, I came to know a lot of great people and it was an invaluable learning experience. But the hours were long and the travel was strenuous, especially with three young daughters and a wife at home. I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t so much interested in helping hedge funds move “fast money” to add to their wealth as I was in helping families grow, maintain and pass along their wealth. In addition, the wealth planning industry has pitfalls of its own for those seeking advice so I wanted to ensure I worked in an environment where I could look myself in the mirror every morning. To do that I needed to provide thorough and objective advice while at the same time saving folks from what can be unsavory engagements common in many wealth planning models.
Can you share a story about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting in the industry? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaway you learned from that?
The most humorous mistake I made was my first choice of office space when I started as an independent, solo practitioner. The small office I chose would generously be described as a glorified broom closet as it was cramped, dark and not very inviting. At the time I thought it didn’t matter because my trusted advice would trump appearances and the occasional cobweb. What I learned was that when you’re “selling the invisible” (advice), people do need context clues to engender confidence in the person they are entrusting with their life savings. While an opulent, over-the-top office also isn’t advisable, doing business in a respectable & welcoming environment helps clients with a sense of confidence in their counsel.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am working on further refining our workflows and processes so as to ensure nothing gets missed on a particular planning topic. I read “Checklist Manifesto” awhile back and it really opened my eyes as to how investing time designing processes can pay big dividends down the road with respect to driving efficiency and almost ensures a thorough analysis. Once completed, I believe our series of refined processes and workflows will open up capacity to help more people and enhance consistency in outcomes.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lesson that others can learn from that?
I’ve always been a writer, including my days as a stock analyst writing equity research notes. I thought I could leverage this capability to drive marketing efforts and provide to prospective clients my view and my voice. The best part was, it was virtually free to execute! I learned people were finding me on-line and through my writing, were already pre-disposed to my planning style and thought process so by the time we held our initial meeting, they were essentially pre-screened as likely to want to work with me.
What three pieces of advice would you give to your colleagues in the finance field to thrive and avoid burnout? Can you give a story or example?
I would value every minute of your working day, which is to optimize the time you spend at work. The focus on time-management is critical as effective use of working hours usually allows for much-needed time to spend away from work for faith, family and friends. I would say don’t internalize and take personally if a prospect decides not to work with you. One needs to recognize that the bitter feeling of rejection is purely self-inflicted, is your own perception and has no impact on how you move forward unless you choose to let it impact you. If a prospective client can’t see the value in what we do, it might be a blessing in disguise they chose not to proceed. I believe it’s critical to remember we as advisors are so blessed to work in an industry at a time that so many people need our help as our nation’s demographics are certainly on our side. This means the pool of good people we can help is almost endless, as long as we have the courage to stay-the-course with confidence there are always people out there we can help.
Ok. Thank you for all of that. Let’s now move to the core focus of our interview. As a “finance insider”, you know much more about the finance industry than most consumers. If your loved one wanted to hire a financial advisor (not you :-)), which 5 things would you advise them to find out about before committing? Can you give an example or story for each?
1) Compensation Model: Of critical importance is how the advisor is paid. The reality is compensation and incentives drive behavior, no matter how good intentions may be. So I would highly recommend seeking out an advisor who is purely “fee only” and accepts no commissions or kickback from any third party of any kind. This would exclude “fee based” advisors who actually accept BOTH fees and commissions and is a common misperception in the industry. Wealth planning is all about trust and I would never want a client questioning whether or not the planning advice is in the clients’ best interest or the planners. That said, there are many competent and ethical fee-based and commission-based advisors out there. But if I were advising my family member on where to start with choosing an advisor, I would start with compensation model.
2) Holistic Advisor — The second thing I would highly recommend is an advisor who factors in all the major factors of a financial life: integrating well researched investments, income tax planning, life insurance planning (not sales) and estate planning. I do not think this would require a person who is a CFA / CPA / Attorney but rather an advisor that integrates all these factors into the broader life plan.
3) Competence & Experience — Credentials such as the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) and Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) designation are good indicators of a thorough understanding of the critical success factors of a wealth plan. Not all CFP® and CFA® credentialed individuals are perfect, and those without these designations can still be good planners. I would just suggest starting with someone who already has a third party endorsement of their knowledgebase.
4) Projecting Next Week’s Stock Market Outlook: A good question for a potential planner is to get their prediction on what the stock market is likely to do next week or even next month. If they tell you they know due to some “proprietary model” they employ, turn and run because they don’t know and neither does anyone else. It’s a huge red flag in my mind.
5) Shared Values: Wealth planning engagements can’t help but develop into very personal relationships as both the client and the planner end up sharing personal victories and deep losses — it’s only natural. While a common set of values isn’t necessarily mandatory, I believe a shared set of core beliefs usually helps facilitate deeper discussions and better planning experience.
I think most people think that financial advisors are for very wealthy people. This is likely not actually true. Can you explain who would most benefit from hiring a financial advisor and why? Can you give an example?
I think most people could benefit from working with an advisor for one inarguable attribute: The advisor is not the client. Said differently, because the advisor can take an objective view, he or she can provide more analytical & dispassionate advice– impossible for a person to provide for themselves when emotion could potentially cloud judgement. For example, there are annual studies showing how the most substantial headwind to investor performance is not security selection nor asset allocation. The biggest headwind is psychological — the mistakes of buying high when the financial news is joyfully telling you “it’s different this time” and selling low when financial news is woefully telling you “it’s different this time”.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am most grateful to my parents for providing a helpful mix of skills sets which has helped me in my career. From my Dad, l learned work ethic, “hustle” and what it means to be an entrepreneur. From my Mom, I learned writing and speaking skills and some courage to speak up for what I feel is right. What resonates most to me is a common piece of wisdom from my Dad, who often told us that “you can never be blamed for being out-talented but you should never, ever be out-worked.”
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
In talking to many young people, including my own kids and young-adult nieces and nephews, it’s stunning to me how little they’re being educated on the basics of personal finance and investing. While they don’t need to diagnose how a Black — Scholes option pricing model works, they should at least be educated in the basics of personal finance, the wonders of compound growth and income taxes. For this reason, I believe all high school curriculums should mandate students pass at least two semesters of personal finance as a graduation requirement.
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Monthly Blog: https://www.johnsoninv.com/perspective/blog
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.