FA-IQ reached out to advisors to ask: What are the biggest challenges you expect to face in your advisory practice this year?

Andy Ferguson, chief executive officer of Proquility Private Wealth Partners. Las Vegas-based Ferguson has been in the industry for 39 years and has $325 million in fee-based assets.

“With the onset of Covid-19 during the first quarter of 2020, and the resulting 34% decline in the U.S. stock market over just 33 days now a distant memory, the biggest challenge we expect to face in 2022 is managing the expectations of our clients.

Andy Ferguson
2020’s sudden decline, followed by a rapid recovery, has once again put investors at ease. Double-digit portfolio returns have become the norm and complacency about volatility has set in.

We have made a concerted effort to address the inevitable volatility of the markets head-on by ‘inoculating’ every one of our clients during semi-annual reviews with our version of a ‘flu shot,’ which is a look at the worst 12-, 24-, and 36-month periods for all risk profiles going back 84 years.

We apply current portfolio values to the worst drops a client would have experienced during these time periods in history with their particular asset allocation, not just with percentages but in dollar value. By doing so since 1995, we have reminded clients twice a year, during good times and bad times in the markets, what kind of downside volatility they can potentially expect, and emphasizing that if this occurs again it will be a temporary condition, not a permanent one. This approach helped to avoid any client capitulation during the bear markets of 2000-2003, 2007-2009 and 2020.”

Steve Schwarzbach, founder and managing partner at Icon Wealth Partners. Houston-based Schwarzbach has been in the industry for 13 years and has around $2 billion in client assets.

Steve Schwarzbach
“From a client investment standpoint, our challenge in 2022, as it has been in 2021, will be finding alternative sources of income and yield in the low interest rate environment we have been operating in.

Adding complexity to this challenge is the current level of elevated inflation, which diminishes our clients' buying power.

Our view is that both the current rate environment as well as elevated levels of inflation are likely to persist in the short, if not the medium term, so finding creative solutions to our clients' income needs will continue to be a primary area of focus in 2022.”

Chuck Cooper, managing partner at StrongBox Wealth. Lee's Summit, Missouri-based Cooper has been in the industry for 29 years and has $370 million in client assets.

Chuck Cooper
“Our most formidable challenges have to do with scaling for growth and pacing. Since our August 2019 firm launch, existing high-net-worth clients have substantially increased our managed AUM through additional deposits. Our referral and new client onboard rates have accelerated due to myriad additional resources, network capital development with centers of influence and existing clients.

A renowned National Basketball Association coach advised me recently that the most successful teams embrace pressure, especially when it comes to strategy execution and problem solving. Thus, we must execute each day to integrate growth while ensuring capacity to consistently deliver bespoke value. Keeping pace will involve problem-solving to build efficiencies through automated workflows and remaining operationally sound.”

Elizabeth van Walleghem, CEO and founder of Maximai Investment Partners. Miami and Coral Gables, Florida-based van Walleghem has been in the industry for 30 years and has $450 million in client assets.

Elizabeth van Walleghem
“The challenges we see ahead are finding the right mix of talented professionals to meet our growing business needs.

The pandemic has created many challenges for small businesses, especially in the wealth management industry.

We already suffered from lack of diversity, pre-pandemic. It has only gotten worse as many left the work force altogether. Our goal in 2022 is to grow our advisory and client service team.”

John Marchisotta, partner and managing director at Procyon Partners. Melville, New York-based Marchisotta has been in the industry for 30 years and his firm has $4.6 billion in client assets.

John Marchisotta
“Inevitably with growth comes challenges. Hiring the right staff, promoting from within, offering new services, improving technology and opening new offices such as in New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, etc. all take careful and thoughtful consideration.

One of our biggest concerns is to never let our vision and growth dilute the high standards by which we operate, specifically around delivering exceptional client service and advice.

Therefore, we work very hard every day to manage our growth, so it never occurs at the expense of the exceptional service we provide our clients. Our clients and their experience at Procyon are paramount.”

Steven Tenney, founding partner and CEO of Great Diamond Partners. Portland, Maine-based Tenney has been in the industry for 28 years and has $700 million in client assets.

Steven Tenney
“Opportunities from growing our virtual family office business are closely related to our challenge — attracting new colleagues to the firm that are highly qualified, diverse in background and skills, and share our orientation towards conscious capitalism.”

Patrick Swift, vice president for wealth planning at Amplius Wealth Advisors. Blue Bell, Pennsylvania-based Swift has been in the industry for six years and his firm has $1.2 billion in client assets.

Patrick Swift
"Not unlike other times in history, when multiple asset classes are all appreciating — stocks, real estate, digital assets, etc. — it is easy for clients to take excessive risk or become overconcentrated. We anticipate moderate challenges to keep clients disciplined and focused on their goals.

As a newer firm, we are excited to continue improving and scaling a standardized client experience. We have plans to add client advisory boards and other initiatives to invite clients to become more vested in our firm’s success and give them an equitable voice in our operations to create a client experience they find most valuable.

Another challenge is standardizing our own talent acquisition efforts and building a model that best fits all Amplius employees."

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