Q&A with Brian Spinelli, Chair of Investment Committee and Senior Wealth Advisor at Halbert Hargrove

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Q&A with Brian Spinelli, Chair of Investment Committee and Senior Wealth Advisor at Halbert Hargrove

Ajay Singh Nov 14, 2019

MutualFunds.com got an opportunity to ask Brian Spinelli, Chair of Investment Committee and Senior Wealth Advisor at Halbert Hargrove, about the changing landscape of the advisory business. Read the Q&A below to learn more.
MutualFunds.com: Please introduce your company.

Brian Spinelli (BS): Halbert Hargrove provides fiduciary investment management and wealth advisory to the quietly wealthy. Led by Chairman/CEO Russ Hill for nearly four decades, we are fee-only advisors whose goal is twofold: give clients the peace of mind that comes with knowing they’ll get to enjoy their nest egg, and give clients the time they need to live their best life today and tomorrow.
MutualFunds.com: What is your typical client profile, and what is your role in interacting with clients?
BS: Our typical clients are high-net-worth disciplined savers, who are in retirement or have retirement on the horizon within the next ten years. They have many aspirations for their wealth, including preserving assets for future generations and enjoying a healthy nest egg during their golden years.
We aim to be our clients’ guides, gurus and gladiators. We build our relationships by conducting in-depth discovery process that helps us to understand what truly matters to clients and enables us to advise them on a unified strategy for their wealth. We engage with our clients in an ongoing way to help them stay on track with their objectives—and we are not intimidated to ask tough questions and facilitate fearless conversations when necessary.
My role as Senior Wealth Advisor is all about creating trusted relationships with clients and understanding their whole financial picture to help them make better financial decisions.
MutualFunds.com: What do your clients contact you most about in regards to their financial plans?
BS: Most clients want to know if they are saving enough to hit a certain retirement date or if their resources are enough to continue the lifestyle they are used to in retirement. As we all know, goals change through time, and being able to model out these changes for clients helps give them confidence in their decisions. We believe in having fearless conversations with clients. If a desired goal threatens their longevity with their financial resources, we will identify it and work on finding possible alternatives.
MutualFunds.com: What is your outlook on the advisory business in 2020? Any major trends you are watching?
BS: We expect merger and acquisition (M&A) of advisory firms to continue as the business is undergoing a change of leadership. Founders of advisory firms on a broad scale are in transition to the next generation and figuring out the best path that serves their clients and their future generations, as well. Do they sell to aggregators, merge with a similar firm or sell to their next generation within their firm?
The major trends we are watching and are concerned about is how clients expect to manage risk with low returns on stable investments, while prices continue to climb in the equity markets. Another trend we are closely monitoring is technology adoption – firms are going to have to continue to develop their technology and partner with evolving platforms to better scale and serve the growing client base within this industry.
MutualFunds.com: What are your biggest takeaways from the IMPACT conference?
BS: The IMPACT conference was a great use of time, and it is fascinating to see how Schwab continues to change and improve for their clients. As a company, they are focused on continuing to bring costs down allowing all people to participate in investing. They also recognize that the demand for advice continues to expand while there seems to be a shortage of people in the profession. The advice business is undergoing quite a bit of change as M&A activity between firms is increasing, and as firms need the size to scale service to clients.
Furthermore, Schwab partners with advisory firms, such as Halbert Hargrove, when they have clients who need customization of accounts and more in-depth wealth advisory services. Schwab continues to improve this program and evolve it as their client’s needs change.
Last but not least, they are seeing reduced returns in the coming years, and it’s important that advisors recognize this as it will impact financial plans and how we build portfolios going forward.

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