Imagine getting the adviser of the huge global investment funds to advise you instead
Interview with Richard Gussow
Would you consider it to be an unfair advantage to get financial advice from the very same experts that advise the huge global investments funds? It is not too often that individuals have this opportunity nor is it too often that this advice is available to the average person at an affordable price.
Richard, tell us about your background.
I’m originally from Brooklyn but I made aliyah from North Miami Beach, Florida. My family just celebrated 20 years in Israel, the last 17 in Modiin. I earned my CPA in the US and worked at at Deloitte and Touche — one of the Big Four global accounting firms. After making aliyah, I switched careers and became an investment analyst, advising large foreign institutions such as Fidelity, T. Rowe Price and others on investing in Israel. I worked for both Israeli investment houses and foreign institutions such as ING Barings, Lehman Brothers and Deutsche Bank. After doing that for 18 years, I decided to become a personal financial planner and I founded my own firm.
Why the switch?
I had been planning this for over 20 years but I had not been in a position to take a risk and go off on my own. I much prefer talking to people rather than banks. While I was indirectly helping individuals by advising their investment funds, what I really wanted was to talk directly to individuals and help them with their finances and investments. I wanted to give individuals the chance to benefit from the services that I gave the large financial institutions, at an affordable price.
Who is your typical client?
In a word, anyone. I am the only Israeli member of the Garrett Planning Network, an international organization of fee-only personal financial planners. Garrett’s philosophy is that everyone should have access to professional financial advice. All members are committed to not requiring clients to have minimum investment amounts. This allows middle-income as well as wealthy individuals to benefit from our advice.
What does fee-only mean?
It means that I am only compensated by my clients and I receive no compensation from the sale of products or anything else. Therefore, my advice is objective and independent. My fees are normally based on a per-project basis.
How is fee-only better for your clients?
Many financial advisors receive commissions on the sale of financial products. This creates the possibility that your advisor is not acting in your best interests. Your advisor may be selling investment products that generate high commissions for the advisor at the client’s expense. The client may not even notice the commissions and fees because they are taken out of the account directly. That’s not to say that all commission-based advisors are not acting in their clients’ best interests. Most do. But, the chances of a conflict of interest are still there. A fee-only advisor such as myself receives the same compensation whether I recommend Product A or Product B. Thus, my only incentive is to provide advice that best suits the client. And it is usually less expensive so you get objective advice at lower cost.
What types of services do you provide?
I provide advice on investment allocation, retirement planning, insurance needs, Israeli pension advice and other areas. Financial advice is only the means – my goal is to improve the lives of my clients.
So it’s not all about the numbers?
Not at all. Certain advice may make perfect financial sense, but would actually be detrimental to a particular individual’s lifestyle. For example, a colleague of mine in the US had a client who was an executive at a large corporation. He received a generous offer for early retirement and he wanted to know if it made sense. It did, financially. My colleague though sensed something and was astute enough to ask the right questions. By the end of the meeting, the client got up and thanked my colleague for making him realize what he really wanted. And what he really wanted was to remain in the social and professional atmosphere that his work provided. He turned down the offer and never regretted it.
What are the biggest concerns of your clients?
Everyone wants to improve their lives. Concerns vary with life’s stages. Younger people in their 20s and 30s tend to want to make ends meet while saving toward both near-term goals (such as purchasing a home) and longer-term goals (retirement). Many middle-aged people have already purchased homes and seek advice on retirement savings as well as helping their children financially. They may also have to help support their elderly parents. Retirees focus on preserving their nest eggs while trying to generate enough income in today’s low interest rate environment to cover their living expenses. I can design strategies that address all of these issues.
Richard Gussow Personal Financial Planning
Office: (08) 970-7627 Mobile: 052-806-6690 Website: www.richardgussow.com
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