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Todd Feltz says he owes his success to timing. The adviser, who oversees $1.8bn in clients’ funds, founded Feltz WealthPlan in 1989.
Mr Feltz, 56, says he launched his business, which is based in Omaha, Nebraska, soon after Americans faced changes to tax legislation that affected individual retirement arrangements (IRAs) and employer-sponsored 401(k) schemes, now the bread and butter of many US retirement plans.
WealthPlan, part of LPL Financial, now has around 2,500 accounts, but had humble beginnings.
Mr Feltz says he built recognition for his business by sharing financial tips on nationally syndicated radio and the noontime television news in Omaha. “That’s the backbone of how we got started and raised a lot of assets,” he says.
To cope with market crises, Feltz WealthPlan looks for strategies that mitigate risk. Feltz has tended to move client assets into alternative strategies, including private equity and hedge funds, as well as variable annuities, structured notes and funds that can move into cash.
These methods have helped preserve client capital, he says. Client portfolios may not make as much during bull markets, but they also lose less during downturns.
“We’re not trying to outsmart the markets,” he says. “We’re trying to manage the risk and the pull backs.”
Feltz WealthPlan provides clients with daily cash flow reports and aims to keep investors updated on progress and financial goals, allowing them to understand how and when they will be able to retire. “We don’t want there to be any surprises,” Mr Feltz says.
Today, the firm’s customers tend to be doctors, entrepreneurs and small business owners — a niche client base which has also helped the firm work more efficiently. About 20 per cent of clients are retirees, he says.
Mr Feltz’s firm separates its teams into three areas: client services, financial planning and money management.
Rather than having advisers juggle marketing, account management, and various other administrative duties, this division of labour allows employees to excel in their respective areas, he says.
“We have the money management team because of the consistency they can deliver and the due diligence they’re able to dedicate their time to, whereas the individual adviser running an office by him or herself doesn’t have the time to do that research,” he says.
Mr Feltz employs seven advisers in-house and 36 outside the firm. About half of the outside advisers take advantage of the firm’s money management research, he says.
This delivers a common approach in how clients’ money is managed and also makes it easier to communicate with customers, he says.
“This way, you don’t have 45 advisers picking stocks and funds and having assets invested a thousand different ways.
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