Akhil Kumar of Arch Global Advisors: 5 Things To Look For When Hiring a Financial Planner or Financial Adviser
An Interview with Tyler Gallagher
A good advisor can predict the client’s needs ahead of time. While most advisors react to information or news, we at Arch Global work to understand our clients personally so that we can stay current and anticipate our clients’ needs ahead of time. Staying ahead of the curve and up to date on shifting market trends helps us plan better financial outcomes for our clients, and this is an attribute to look for in an ideal advisor or financial firm.
As part of our series about what one should look for when hiring a financial planner or adviser, I had the pleasure of interviewing Akhil Kumar.
Akhil Kumar is the Vice-President and Chief Compliance Officer at Arch Global Advisors. Mr. Kumar co-founded the firm with one vision, to provide financial confidence to clients by delivering comprehensive planning, resources and options that help them meet their long-term goals. Akhil has spent his entire career devising innovative solutions to create a blueprint for clients to achieve better financial outcomes and serves in a leadership role with Arch Global Advisor’s Investment Committee. Leveraging Mr. Kumar’s nearly two decades of financial experience, he is instrumental in developing the strategic vision of the firm, as well as analyzing and anticipating market trends. In addition, Mr. Kumar plays a key role in Arch Global’s internal Asset Track Program, which bypasses the rising cost of external managers and helps clients optimize returns through well-thought out asset allocation.
As a former collegiate golfer, Mr. Kumar combined his strength for financial management with his fascination for predictive human behaviors to earn his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics, finance and management and a minor in psychology from Manhattanville College. He holds a General Securities Representative Registration (Series 7), Uniform Securities Agent State Law Examination Registration (Series 63), as well as Life and Annuity Licenses. Mr. Kumar was awarded Westchester’s Business Council’s “40 under 40” award in 2018, which represents the best and brightest community leaders who have strong professional accomplishments and demonstrated leadership skills. Mr. Kumar is also a candidate for the CFP® (Certified Financial Planner™) exam.
Mr. Kumar is active in supporting his community and serves as a member of the Rye Golf Club commission. He volunteers regularly with multiple charities, including non-profits like Achilles International, which encourages disabled people to participate in mainstream athletics. He currently resides in Rye, New York with his wife Kristin and their two children.
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?
My pleasure, thank you for having me. I knew from an early age that I wanted to make a difference in the lives of others by supplying them with better financial planning and outcomes. When I was a teenager, my family moved to the United States from a small town in India, and I remember wanting to help provide a better future for my family in this new country. I kept this in mind when I co-founded Arch Global Advisors, and now, as the Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer, my career is dedicated to helping others with similar diverse backgrounds navigate the ever-complex financial markets. As someone who always likes to go out of my way for others, this career path allows me to utilize my diverse background and leave a positive impact on the financial well-being of every client I help.
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 important lesson I have learned is not to judge a book by its cover. When I first started in the business, we used to wear suits and ties to the office every day. But, one day early in my career, I forgot to bring a tie with me, and I had to borrow one from one of my co-workers for a meeting. In the end, it all worked out with the meeting going well and the clients leaving happy and satisfied. But that day taught me to always be prepared. Since then, I made a point to leave an extra tie in my desk drawer just in case I ran into a similar situation again.
Thankfully for me today, the industry has evolved, and so has the dress code. We no longer need to sit in meetings with clients with a tie choking our necks to be viewed as a professional. We are just as capable of giving our clients the sound advice they are looking for and helping them plan for better outcomes with or without a necktie on.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes, at Arch Global Advisors, we are very proud to work with clients from all walks of life. Thanks to our team’s diverse backgrounds, we are able to help clients internationally while also taking into account their unique cultures and perspectives.
Diversity and inclusion are important topics, and we as a firm are proud to support organizations and charities in promoting that mission. For example, this year, we are helping organize a golf tournament on behalf of a local NYC charity. Their mission is to continue advancing economic equity and bringing diversity and equality to the workforce by providing training to skilled talent and connecting them with leading businesses. This, in turn, helps local men and women from diverse backgrounds get the opportunity to work with some of the largest employers in the United States and advance their careers.
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?
Being in the business for the last 17 years has had its up and downs. This is a very challenging business, but it can be very rewarding and fulfilling as well when you see the impact you can have on a client’s life. In 2018 we decided to register as an Independent Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), and that decision changed the path of our firm. Since then, we have diversified our team even further, bringing together
people of many different backgrounds as well as hiring our first female associate. Shifting to be an independent firm allows us to utilize our associate’s unique skills and perspectives to provide personalized and innovative solutions to our clients and help them achieve their financial goals.
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?
Burnout is very common in today’s world, no matter what business or industry you work in. This past year and a half is a good example of this, with the entire world dealing with the effects of COVID-19. The restrictions that were imposed on all businesses meant everyone had to adapt to the new changes quickly. Unfortunately, for some, COVID-19 put them out of work, or worse yet, resulted in a friend or family member succumbing to the virus. We at Arch Global Advisors made a very preemptive decision and started to work remotely in early March 2020 to keep our team members and their families safe.
From my experience, three pieces of advice I could give to avoid burnout would include: — First, make sure you spend time with your family and loved ones. As we know, we are only on this earth for a short time, so use your time wisely.
Second, work hard and be sure to meet your work obligations and deadlines, but also take some time off to do something for yourself. Pick up a hobby or a sport to get your mind off work so that you are fresh and energized when you do get back to work. For example, I use golf as my outlet, and it is an excellent way to relieve stress and get some fresh air and exercise. Find something that you enjoy and make the time commitment to go ahead and execute that plan.
Lastly, having a senior member of your team or mentor in the business is of the utmost importance as they can help guide you through the ups and downs that the business will bring. Hopefully, they can help you navigate through the tough times by providing their insight and knowledge and being there to celebrate your accomplishments and achievements with you. They can also help you find a balance between when to buckle down and focus and when it is time to rest and take some time for yourself or your family.
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?
This is a great question and one that is asked of us many times.
I believe that for picking the right financial advisor, you should look for some of the following characteristics:
1. One must have something in common with their advisor so that the connection they make is deeper than just an advisor–client relationship. Whether it be that the client and advisor share the same religious beliefs, same cultural background, or just have similar interests, this connection leads to better communication and helps build your confidence in the advisor’s skills.
2. You must trust your advisor and know that they have your best interest in mind. Most fee-based advisors, such as our firm, have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that the advice we provide is appropriate and suitable for the client. In other words, be sure that the advisor you work with is bound by the duty to provide the most accurate and helpful financial advice possible to you as a client. By doing your research before choosing an advisor, trusting your first impression, and finding common ground to build a relationship based on trust, you will find the best financial advisor for your situation.
3. The advisor must know your complete financial picture. If they are left in the dark and do not know all the relevant facts to help develop a proper plan for you, that plan will not work. That is why building a connection based on trust and common ground is crucial, so you feel comfortable discussing your financial situation honestly. Advisors are here to help, not judge, so being honest with your advisor about your goals and aspirations is just as important for you as it is for the advisor to have a better picture of how to plan for your goals.
4. Choosing an accessible advisor and being able to reach out to your advisor or someone on their team in times of need is essential. I cannot tell you how many clients come over to our firm because they feel they did not get the attention or service they were looking for from their previous advisor. No matter what your financial situation or investment portfolio looks like, be sure to find an advisor that will take the time to thoroughly advise you on how to best manage your assets.
5. Lastly, a good advisor can predict the client’s needs ahead of time. While most advisors react to information or news, we at Arch Global work to understand our clients personally so that we can stay current and anticipate our clients’ needs ahead of time. Staying ahead of the curve and up to date on shifting market trends helps us plan better financial outcomes for our clients, and this is an attribute to look for in an ideal advisor or financial firm.
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?
The most straightforward answer to this question is that everyone can benefit from hiring a financial advisor. It does not matter how young or old you are or how wealthy you are. Having an advisor work with you helps provide you with financial confidence to face all of life’s challenges. The myth that only wealthy people need advisors is not true.
I cannot stress the importance of getting the proper financial guidance from an early age and the power of compound interest. There is truth in the old adage “the early bird catches the worm.”
Let me give you an example: If you are planning for your long-term future and consider the power of compound interest, a simple $6,000 investment put away for 8 years ($48,000 total invested) beginning at age 25 would grow to $873,694 by age 65 at an 8% growth rate compounded annually.
But, if you waited 10 years to begin and started investing at age 35, you would need to invest a total of $180,000 from ages 35 to 65 to end up with $799,279 at the same 8% growth rate compounded annually.
Simply put, this means that by waiting 10 years, you end up investing $132,000 more of your own money, and you still come up $74,415 less at age 65.
From what I have seen in my 17 years of experience in the business most advisors and clients don’t think they are ready to work with each other. Clients have this notion that they need to have a certain amount of money to get started, but as I have shown, every year you wait to get started is a year that you cannot get back.
At our firm, we have a process in place to help our clients match with the right advisor who will guide them through their financial planning needs. By listening to our client’s needs and pairing them with the correct financial specialist, we can help the clients’ assets grow over time and reach positive financial outcomes.
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?
Yes, my business partner, Sheraz Iftikhar. I am very grateful and fortunate to have a business partner who is also a mentor and, most importantly, a friend. We have known each other for almost two decades and have been through good and bad times together.
Sheraz’s experience and knowledge about the business and his guidance along the way has been instrumental in my development and has helped shape me into the advisor that I am today. I am looking forward to what the next two decades have in store for us.
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. :-)
Being a former collegiate athlete, I would love to have more schools and colleges teach their student athletes the importance of saving and investing early in their careers. During my time at University, I noticed there was a lack of emphasis on teaching these types of values.
As a financial advisor, I would love to see more advisors get involved with their Alumni Associations and hire more student-athletes in their offices as interns. I believe this would teach the student-athletes about the importance of hard work, dedication, and perseverance that is needed to be successful in the financial services industry.
Securities offered through Registered Representatives of Cadaret Grant & Co. Inc., a broker-dealer, member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Arch Global Advisors, LLC a Registered Investment Adviser. Arch Global Advisors, LLC and Cadaret Grant & Co. Inc., are not affiliated.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.