Providing a True Client-Focused Service
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 Lou Cannataro, founder and partner of Cannataro Park Avenue Financial, which is part of the Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Network.
I know that clients are at the center of advisor's practice. And I see from your practice that you pay a lot of attention to commitment, integrity, and results. Could you talk a little bit more about how you integrate those three? And how you provide the client service experience?
LOUIS CANNATARO, FOUNDER AND PARTNER, CANNATARO PARK AVENUE FINANCIAL: Commitment, integrity, and results are the pillars that we build the practice on. And it's commitment to the client from the beginning that we act in their best interest, focusing on what they're trying to accomplish now and for the rest of their lives.
Integrity is providing consistent, sound advice backed by education and experience. And not only current education, but we continue to build on our education credentials within the practice.
And the results are really -- and we can see it from our client testimonials, looking backwards on what we're able to do when assisting our clients in accomplishing their goals. And quite often, they have told us that, hey, if we weren't part of their lives, they may not have accomplished what they wanted to in the fashion that they have done.
RITA RAAGAS DE RAMOS: What do they say? Where have they found you to be most useful?
LOUIS CANNATARO: It is really being able to decipher and eliminate the noise and confusion that's out there. And it's not only on the sophistication on the estate planning and tax rules, but also on investments.
They are bombarded every day with media and what's the right thing to do next. And nine times out of 10, reality is you have to be planning and investing proactively, not reactively. So when things are occurring and they are hearing things in the media, we're able to meet with them, bring them back to center, and show them and reassure them that we've planned already. And we've done it. There's nothing else that we need to do at this moment.
RITA RAAGAS DE RAMOS: Right. So there's a lot of hand-holding involved. And I guess you had to put that into practice during the sell-off in February. What kind of reaction were you getting from clients? And how did you in turn try to appease them?
LOUIS CANNATARO: The sell-off in February actually wasn't that bad in terms of client interaction. We can go back to 2008. And obviously, over 25 years we had other major downturns. But 2008, everybody can relate to.
And in our practice, we still had those calls of like, 'Oh my god, what are we going to do now?' But again, when they came in and we looked at the planning, and we showed them that we already planned for this. Meaning that we already have a year or two years worth of living expenses in cash.
So do you need money now? And usually, the answer was no. Or if they did lose their job, yes -- OK, well, we have that money. And it wasn't at risk and it didn't go down. Your other assets are at risk. They went down, but we have time.
Over and over again, we let our clients know, it's not about timing the market. It's about timing your investments to your goals.
RITA RAAGAS DE RAMOS: Do you think the fact that you didn't have as much client interaction or any calls from clients or emails from clients as much as you did in the past, do you think that that's because of the pre-planning that's helped them calm down?
LOUIS CANNATARO: It's the pre-planning and it's the consistent education over the years. Quite often now, when the market takes a dip, the calls that we do get are, 'Hey, Lou, is this an opportunity to invest in the market?' Quite different I think than most advisors.
RITA RAAGAS DE RAMOS: Right. And most advisors would say that they do give importance to client servicing, but how do you or your firm go that extra mile to provide them the care and attention that they need?
LOUIS CANNATARO: Part of that is back to the technology. If you speak with any of our clients from the beginning, any time that phone is picked up or email, it is done on a very friendly and professional basis. We have built the staff over time to support the number of clients that are coming on board. Which again, is extremely important.
But reality is it's running a wealth management firm with empathy. I think empathy is the most important aspect in any business. And we get into our clients' shoes. And if you're calling the office, most likely you're a very busy person. And you're getting to this one piece that you know you want to just get it done. And that's what our team knows, that when someone calls in or emails, they want quick response and they want action. And they want to get it off their list. And that's our job.
RITA RAAGAS DE RAMOS: Thank you, Lou.
LOUIS CANNATARO: Sure. Thank you for having me.