Clients are Evolving Their Views on Fiduciaries
Source: FA-IQ, Mar. 22, 2018
RITA RAAGAS DE RAMOS, SPECIAL PROJECTS MANAGER, FINANCIAL ADVISOR IQ: Hello, I’m Rita Raagas De Ramos from Financial Advisor IQ. And with me today is Jim McLaughlin, senior vice president for investments at Princeton Wealth Advisors, which is part of the Raymond James network. How has it changed in terms of the needs and demands of your clients?
JAMES MCLAUGHLIN, SVP, INVESTMENTS, PRINCETON WEALTH ADVISORS: If you think back to 1982, we were not financial advisors, we were stockbrokers. Interest rates were rather high at the time. So I built my book of business on cold calling people and basically selling tax-free bonds from New York and New Jersey. We then morphed into registered representatives from stockbrokers, and then advisors, and then lastly financial advisors or high net worth advisors, and my business transition from being basically a commission salesperson to a fiduciary for our clients.
RITA RAAGAS DE RAMOS: You mentioned fiduciary. The client’s best interest has been in the spotlight lately. What are you doing to make sure that your firm is ensuring that you are indeed working for the best interest of your clients?
JAMES MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we transitioned to Raymond James a little over 10 years ago. We had spent a lot of time deciding what we wanted to do in the business. And we decided at that point in time that we liked working as fiduciaries for our clients. We did some of that previously, but we took that transition to transition not just firms, but also to the fiduciary side of our business. So a greater than 99% of our business is fee-based fiduciary, discretionary as well, where we have full discretion on their client accounts.
RITA RAAGAS DE RAMOS: Do you think that the clients actually know the difference between, OK, my advisor is acting as a fiduciary and my friend’s advisor is not, and does it mean a lot to them?
JAMES MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I think it’s evolving, I think, because of what’s been in the press about DOL. And I certainly have answered a lot of questions and then have to remind clients that, well, we’ve been doing this for over 10 years. But yeah, I think it’s more front and center than it was years ago.
RITA RAAGAS DE RAMOS: What are their main concerns, not just with the DOL and not just with regulations, but what are the main concerns of your clients, and how are you addressing these concerns?
JAMES MCLAUGHLIN: Well, for the vast majority of our clients, we’re fortunate enough, as I said, to be doing this a long time, and we’re very fortunate to have a great many high net worth investors. And it becomes more a matter of, for them, making sure that their money is working as efficiently as it can, not so much about whether they’ll have enough money for retirement or for a college education. Those are covered, and it’s just a matter of -- since most of them are successful businessmen and businesswomen, they want to make sure that they’re being smart about managing their assets.
RITA RAAGAS DE RAMOS: Thank you.
JAMES MCLAUGHLIN: Thank you, Rita.