Active investment management’s weekly magazine for fee-based advisors

Guiding families along their financial journey

by | Nov 16, 2016 | Advisor Interviews

Divam Mehta • Glen Allen, VA
Mehta Financial Group, LLC • INVEST Financial Corporation
Read full biography below

v12-i07-advisor-mehta-1-350pxProactive Advisor Magazine: Divam, talk about your focus on the Indian community as a target segment.

I was born in India and was 5 years old when our family arrived in the United States. My practice focuses largely on families in similar circumstances—first- or second-generation Indian immigrants who are in the United States to seek educational and employment opportunities to build better lives for their families.

It is especially important for these clients to have a financial and investment plan that they can understand and execute. Many times, this group does not have a full grasp of U.S. tax regulations or how the investment landscape works. I want to provide an appropriate plan built to meet their needs and guide them in tracking their progress over time. I liken this to a journey, and every trip needs a roadmap.

Client education is a very important part of my practice. There is a lot of misinformation on the internet, or information that is slanted toward a specific point of view. I conduct a great deal of outreach in the Indian community through seminars that promote financial awareness. I also work on a pro bono basis with young people to help them plan for and fund their college education.

I also work with the Indian community in a variety of other ways, from involvement with the local Hindu temple to actively working as a volunteer for community events. My overall philosophy is to help the community in any way that I can. As our community grows and prospers, that will be personally rewarding in and of itself and, also, ultimately help my practice to grow.

Explain your overall investment philosophy in working with clients.

I founded our firm with the goal of assisting our clients, whether they are individuals, families, businesses, estates, or large institutions, in every aspect of their financial journey. The journey of achieving financial stability and growth can be difficult and time-consuming if one tries to manage it alone.

“We are there to help clients every step of the way on their financial journey.”

With that in mind, our aim is to help our clients improve their long-term financial success while providing a process that is easy for them to understand and implement. We recognize that our clients are the final decision-makers, so the educational component is critical. Everyone deserves an opportunity to be a sound and informed investor. We believe our customized strategies enhance and conserve our clients’ wealth by delivering a sophisticated level of research and personalized service. I take great pride in breaking down sophisticated concepts so they can be readily understood.

Proper research and due diligence is critical to any prudent investment decision. Our team of professionals constructs financial solutions based on client goals and needs. We want to make our investment recommendations oriented toward the long term. Our strategies are founded in ongoing quantitative and qualitative analysis. They are time-tested strategies across market cycles and monitored continuously. We can offer broad diversification for our client portfolios by analyzing various asset classes, capital markets, countries, regions, sectors, styles, and holding periods.

Do you have a specific planning process you follow with clients?

We provide a wide range of services, including retirement planning, estate planning, risk management, cash flow analysis, wealth and investment management, education planning, and other consulting services.

Every client has a different combination of priorities depending on their life and family circumstances, so we recommend developing a comprehensive financial plan. This provides the basis for making informed financial decisions and usually consists of six steps:

  1. Reviewing an individual’s or family’s detailed personal financial situation, past and present, to help identify critical financial objectives.
  2. Working to establish client priorities for the future—protection needs, education costs, retirement planning, and investment planning, for example.
  3. Determining the degree of risk a client is comfortable with when it comes to their assets and investments. This risk profile or assessment is then balanced against both the need and the desire for clients to see asset growth over time.
  4. Identify the resources a client will need to meet their goals and outline a systematic program designed to enable them to meet specific future objectives.
  5. Offer solutions for reaching goals through recommendations of the types of financial products and investments that are suitable to a client’s specific needs.
  6. Monitor progress over time and update plan recommendations as needed. This should be a living process that can change as a family’s or individual’s circumstances change. Mid-course corrections might also be needed based on the market environment.

As I work through the process with clients, I am very concerned with helping them to manage risk. My approach tends to lean toward the conservative side. That influences my investment philosophy and how I view clients’ money, regardless of their age or affluence. Obviously, we take all factors into account when we construct financial plans and portfolios. But I want risk management to be near the top of the priority list. My clients tend to understand and appreciate that. We have similar backgrounds and have all worked hard to establish ourselves in our careers and in supporting our families.

How does your varied background in financial services affect what you are trying to achieve when building client portfolios?

My background has been very helpful, including my portfolio research experience and the more client-facing responsibilities I have had working with affluent clients. Part of my overall practice philosophy is trying to incorporate the tools and strategies of a high-net-worth planning and investment model for clients who are more likely to be everyday middle-class families.

In my opinion, they also deserve to have access to sophisticated investment thinking and recommendations. Many of my clients are still in the accumulation phase of their lives, and I believe that given their longer time horizons, applying a sound, risk-managed approach to their portfolios can have a dramatic impact versus an unmanaged and more passive buy-and-hold approach.

v12-i07-advisor-mehta-4-350pxHowever, I am currently working with hundreds of clients or client families. Each circumstance is different. One client might be a recently married 28-year-old technology professional on a fast career track, and another might be an older small-business owner with college-age children. We want to help clients plan for every stage of their lives, customizing their financial plan and investment approach to meet their specific needs.

I am a strong believer in an overall actively managed investment approach. We take each client through a thorough risk-assessment process, create an investment plan, and then construct the individualized portfolio approach that we think will work best for them. It might be a blend of active and passive strategies, or it could be more heavily tilted toward one or the other.

In the final analysis, we are constantly monitoring the external market environment. We are looking at the asset classes being used for client portfolios, their allocation levels, and how the portfolio is working from a holistic perspective. If market conditions look to be turning very negative, we might recommend going to a 100% cash allocation. So, in that sense, even if a portfolio is a blend of active and passive investment vehicles, it is effectively being actively managed through allocation weightings to the various asset classes or sectors.

Where appropriate, we also can employ alternative asset classes and noncorrelated investments, so what we do is very different from a classic asset-allocation model. Ultimately, the most important consideration is constructing a client-specific portfolio that will help them meet their long-term financial objectives. I always tell new clients that the first step of the journey toward financial success is the most important one. We are there to help clients every step of the way on their financial journey.

v12-i07-bio-mehta-300pxDivam Mehta is the founder of Mehta Financial Group, LLC, located in Glen Allen, Virginia. He has a varied and extensive background in the financial-services industry, including experience as a research analyst with a multinational Wall Street firm, a member of the personal asset management division at a large bank, and a portfolio manager for a wealth management and investment advisory firm. Mr. Mehta says these experiences have helped provide “a deep understanding of the technical skills for building and managing client portfolios.”

After graduating from Florida State University, where he earned bachelor’s degrees in economics and classics, Mr. Mehta went on to earn an MBA in finance and investment analysis from the University of Tampa. He also holds a Certificate in Investment Banking and International Macroeconomic Investing from the Swiss Finance School of Business. Mr. Mehta has attained the professional designations of Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC).

Mr. Mehta was included in Investment News’ 2016 “40 Under 40” financial advisor feature and has been profiled in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He has been a member of the Million Dollar Round Table and INVEST’s Executive Club. Mr. Mehta has been quoted in several national publications and has been a guest speaker and panelist at industry events.

Mr. Mehta and his wife reside in the Richmond area. He is actively involved in his Indian community. He also participates in programs to promote financial awareness within the Indian community and assists local parents with their children’s college application/financial-aid process.

Disclosure: Divam Mehta is a registered representative of INVEST Financial Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC. INVEST and its affiliated insurance agencies offer securities, advisory services, and certain insurance products and are not affiliated with Mehta Financial Group, LLC.

Photography by Chris Winton-Stahle