‘Client Service and Care:’ Moisand Fitzgerald Tamayo, LLC
Charlie Fitzgerald, principal of Moisand Fitzgerald Tamayo, LLC, says that the keys to his firm’s success are fourfold: “the importance of keeping client service and care at the very center of everything we do; do all we can to take care of our staff and associates; [use] common systems and processes for all we do; and finally, three partners who are equally committed to all of this working harmoniously.”
New clients come in through referrals, most “through existing clients, some through professionals, FPA PlannerSearch, and NAPFA’s referral program,” he says. Some referrals “have been helped along by some of the PR and media exposure that our firm has received over the last several years.”
The typical client, says Fitzgerald, is “someone we think we are going to enjoy working with; someone looking to delegate, comfortable with paying a reasonable fee for professional service who wants and values comprehensive financial advice, someone who wants to learn and seems to be teachable, and someone who understands that conflicted advice abounds in our industry.”
The firm rises above others in the marketplace, Fitzgerald explains, first through the major custodians it uses (primarily Schwab and TDAmeritrade), which allows it “to offer the best of both worlds: access to a world-class investment platform, and . . . access to the kind of personal relationships that only a smaller firm . . . can offer.” Second, as fiduciaries, the firm is “able to easily separate ourselves from all of the problems surrounding Wall Street, as we view ourselves as outsiders to the Street and all its problems.” Third, it “stuck to our philosophy of investing and client service.” Rebalancing of portfolios and staying calm has caused client portfolios to recover much of what was lost.
The firm serves clients differently by “directing [client] focus on the things we were doing in response to the market collapse.” This included revisiting financial plans, updating financial models, and reworking the plans of clients “who were withdrawing funds at unsustainable levels.”
Fitzgerald says, “We view ourselves mostly as the CFO on our client’s board of directors. We are here to advise and assist.” The firm also manages all client investments “consistent with their unique financial plan, and certainly their investment policy statement.” Clients rarely choose not to follow their advice.
On the issue of the fiduciary standard, Fitzgerald says, “I think that it is simple; if someone holds themselves out as a financial planner or a financial advisor, then that individual should be obligated to function as a professional with appropriate standards of care that put the client first and foremost. Client interests must trump the interests of the professional and certainly the professional’s company…”—Marlene Y. Satter
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