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Same Advice, Smaller Client – How One Firm Pursues The Next Generation

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Kevin Norris, president of wealth management, Univest Bank and Trust Co., was featured on RIA Central

January 10, 2017
By Nicole Coulter, RIA Central

Most financial advisors are looking for the million-dollar client.

But Kevin Norris, president of Girard Partners in King of Prussia, Penn., believes technology has made it just as easy to serve the smaller client with a fraction of the assets – at the same price.

Girard Partners, part of Univest Wealth Management , has created a new robo-service to provide asset management and financial planning in a cost-effective way to younger investors who want the same advice as their more well-heeled older cohorts.

The service complements its high-end wealth management services.

“There’s an awful lot of opportunity in the mass market,” Girard says. “People with less than $500,000. How do we service them and still make money?”

Girard Partners offers a managed money portfolio at 1% intended for clients with $50,000 to $100,000, to provide diversification and quarterly rebalancing. “It’s not customizable, but we provide the same discretionary (investment) strategies as we do for our million-dollar clients,” he says.

Norris believes this is an excellent opportunity for the firm to segment its business assets and reach out to younger people without swamping its service capacity. A computer program manages the rebalancing and client contact.

“We have a software package that goes through every account and has the model to make the appropriate adjustments, keeping people on track. Every quarter every account gets the appropriate adjustments. Rebalancing is imperative to long-term returns,” Norris says.

While more expensive than pure robo advisors, Norris says service sets his platform apart. “Our firm is committed to client contact. We don’t want to hear from a client haven’t spoken to in two years.

It’s never going to happen here. Investment management is a commodity. The only thing that separates us is our service.”

Norris says they encourage clients to call with questions as market conditions change and they will get proactive calls from the firm on a regular basis.

“You have to leverage the technology you have in your platform,” he says. “We leverage portfolio management and CRM systems. A new client comes in. They get scheduled for a review. We set up a recurrent task to call them in three months.”

Will smaller clients balk at the 1% price tag – especially when there are cheaper robo platforms? Norris says advisors should not feel pressured to discount their fees. “If you discount your price, you discount value. But don’t charge a premium. We can still make money at 1%. Not as much as the million-dollar on relative basis. But we can build rapport with client that most advisors aren’t looking for. We have a service we can make money at. And it provides (small clients with access to an advisor.”

With an average account size of approximately $75,000, Girard Partners had attracted nearly $50 million in assets to its new platform in its first year.

Girard Partners currently manages roughly $770 million with six advisors and two advisor associates. Norris believes that his firms’ position within a community bank organization provides an attractive platform for a wide range of clients, including the smaller client in the new program.

“(Univest) offers mortgage lending, and business insurance. We can become the one-stop shop.

We know some of these clients are going to come into money at some point in time. A parent will die, someone will inherit, 401(k)s will roll over, and this increases chances they’re going to come to us.”

Norris sums up his value proposition to the smaller net worth client: “We provide ongoing service, and focus on what the client values, not on what they’re worth.”

View the original article at: http://riacentral.com/2017/01/10/same-advice-smaller-client-how-one-firm-pursues-the-next-generation/

Investments offered by Girard Partners, a Univest Wealth Management Firm, are not FDIC insured, are not a deposit of or bank guaranteed, and are subject to risks, including loss of principal amount invested.

Univest Bank and Trust Co. is Member FDIC.

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