Investors may have been on edge in recent months, but as of late September, only two of Louis Papa’s clients had called him with their concerns.
He attributes this to a proactive approach, a thorough understanding of each client and his process designed to remove clients’ emotional reactions often associated with investments.
Papa, formerly with Penn Liberty Bank in Wayne, Pa., and one of Bank Investment Consultant’s top bank advisors in the recent annual ranking, moved to Wharton Advisory Group.
“I want to take the day-to-day decision-making away from my clients. I want to keep them from making big investing mistakes, especially buying high and selling low, by pulling their hands away from their portfolios so they can’t hit any button and trigger a full liquidation,” he says.
But keeping his clients away from their portfolios doesn’t mean that they don’t have a role in their investments. On the contrary, they help Papa build the asset allocation models that he’ll use for their situation.
That process begins by assessing just how much risk each one is willing to take based on rigorous questionnaires and stress tests.
Papa also places a great deal of importance on maintaining complete transparency and constant communication with his clients, such that they “have told me that if I’m not back to them in an hour, they think that something happened to me.”
He’s able to maintain round-the-clock, uninterrupted communication with all of his clients, he says, because he only serves around 60.
“I run a fairly high risk/high reward business model in the sense that my top five or six clients make up a pretty significant share of my business,” he says. “That means that if I lose a client, I lose a lot of revenue, but the upside is that I know them all very well: I am in touch with what they need and who they are. They like it that way and that means they trust me.”
Having fewer clients also means that “I have a ton of time to spend with each one of them,” Papa says.
His conviction for third-party asset managers is another aspect of his approach that has not changed.
“They act as sole fiduciary on a portfolio, which is super important in making sure clients keep away from their portfolios and it’s also important with the Department of Labor regulation that’s coming up,” Papa says.
Papa takes this conviction a step further by investing all of his personal assets with the same third-party asset managers he uses for his clients. “If it is good enough for them, then it is good enough for me and my family,” he writes in an email.
Using third-party managers also means being able to offer clients a broad and diverse array of investment options. This is particularly important when dealing with younger segments of the population whose investment interests are equally broad and diversified, he says, so being able to find different kinds of investment solutions that are the best in breed is a key priority for Papa.
In addition to a weekly email and a monthly newsletter that he sends out to clients, Papa also makes sure he calls each client regularly and pays attention to the finer details of their lives, like birthdays and anniversaries.
“In my view, the biggest differentiator between advisors is how proactive and responsive you are to them and to their needs,” he says.
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