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Looking forward, giving back

by Feb 20, 2014Advisor Interviews

Looking forward, giving back

by Feb 20, 2014Advisor Interviews

John Bussa • Southfield, MI
Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp.

John Bussa has a very compelling biography, from his tour of duty across the Middle East in the U.S. Air Force security forces to his deep involvement in a wide range of charitable endeavors, most focusing on underserved children.

Not to mention his very successful career as an investment advisor representative with Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp., where he provides his clients with comprehensive financial planning.

Bussa spent four years with the United States Air Force traveling through Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey as a security specialist, where he had the unique experience of immersing himself in foreign cultures and interacting with highly diverse groups of people.

In 2006, Bussa was recognized as a Distinguished Volunteer by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. His efforts are wide-ranging when it comes to volunteer efforts, including involvement with the University of Michigan Business Alumni Board of Governors and three different nonprofits that focus largely on helping disadvantaged and developmentally impaired children and their families to lead fuller and more productive lives. He feels he is blessed to be able to give back to society as much as possible.

John Bussa carries this attitude of commitment and striving for excellence into his business career, where he views his primary mission as “an advocate to help people toward meeting their long-term financial needs.” The words of his company’s decades-old guiding philosophy, “Serve first, last, and always,” are more than just an occasionally inspirational slogan.

But his attitude is hardly anchored in the past, as Bussa embraces a very forward-looking operating philosophy for his many clients and believes strongly in active asset management.

“I have always known that clients feel we should do more than just watch their money,” says Bussa, “This means putting in place a total financial plan that does far more than perhaps look at a portfolio on a quarterly basis.”

“Too often, relying on formulas for asset allocation can be a bit like driving while looking through the rear-view mirror.”

Bussa takes particular and deep interest in the investment side of his clients’ total financial plans. He says that while he is a “mathematically-based steward of wealth,” there is much more to it than that. “Too often, relying on formulas for asset allocation can be a bit like driving while looking through the rear-view mirror. We want to make sure we have our eyes on the road and are constantly looking at the overall economic and financial environment.”

It begins with a thorough understanding of each of his clients’ risk profiles, and recognition that perhaps emotion is the toughest hurdle for anyone to overcome when their financial future is at stake. “When I first started in the business, I might have been guilty, like many, of ‘checking off boxes’ to get at a client risk profile, but I quickly learned to drill down and truly understand clients’ emotional makeup and risk tolerance and how those fit within their overall financial objectives.”

Bussa looks to a wide variety of third-party asset managers for actively managed strategies. He says, “We may use managers who can be making changes daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly, whatever is appropriate for the current environment and their specific strategy. We want to work with managers who can capture the vast majority of up markets and avoid dramatic losses during downturns, or better yet, profit during down markets through inverse strategies. We are looking for repeatable business models and strategies from our active managers.”

Identifying those managers is only half the battle, however, as communication with clients, especially during times of market stress, is equally important, says Bussa.

“As stewards of those strategies, we need to do an excellent job of informing clients why we are making portfolio changes, what those changes are, and how they may be beneficial. I have many, many points of contact throughout the year with clients who value what an actively managed approach can bring to their portfolio. While a period such as 2008-2009 was difficult and challenging for everyone, the key for us was maintaining open lines of communication and helping especially with the emotional side of the equation.”

Bussa employs a large universe of strategic alternatives for his clients’ total financial-planning needs, including more traditional equity asset-allocation models, highly tactical equity strategies, non-traded REITs, equity-indexed annuities, and alternative asset classes such as commodities.

He says, “The current environment, while largely positive from an equity perspective, has its own distinct set of challenges. Many of the correlations of the past regarding asset classes have evolved and changed, and we want to work with managers who understand that. Equity markets around the globe, for example, are more highly correlated than ever, and that has to be factored into diversification models. There is a constant need for advisors and asset managers to evolve as the environment changes and to employ active tools with maximum flexibility.”

Bussa concludes, “2013 was a very positive year for our business and our clients. Performance was strong virtually across the board. Referrals from clients and by other professionals led to positive growth in our business, which now has over $100 million in assets under management. We feel confident that our active management programs and commitment to serving clients at all times will lead toward further success in just about any investment environment.”


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Disclosure: John Bussa is a registered representative of Lincoln Financial Advisors, Corp. Securities and investment advisory services offered through Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp., a broker-dealer, registered investment advisor and an insurance agency. Insurance offered through Lincoln affiliates and other fine companies. Lincoln Financial Group is the marketing name for Lincoln National Corporation and its affiliates.

Photography by Darrel Ellis


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