Addressing the personalized needs of every client
Addressing the personalized needs of every client
Our core mission is to understand each client’s personal situation and their long-term financial goals. We help them develop, implement, and monitor a financial strategy designed to address their unique perspective and circumstances.
I aim to simplify my clients’ lives and develop a relationship with them that is interactive, educational, and supportive. I tell clients that I don’t want them to think of me as working for them—rather, that I am going to work diligently with them, following the standards of fiduciary responsibility. One attribute I look for in clients is the willingness to embrace a partnership in developing a sound financial plan. If so, I am certain we will have a successful relationship. After 13 years of positioning our services on that basis, and a strong client retention rate, I believe it is a philosophy that serves clients and our firm well.
Another important component of our firm’s operating philosophy is helping clients address any element of their financial-planning needs. I am licensed to help clients to that end. While I have the CRPC designation and a focus on retirement planning, I take great pride in being able to address client concerns across the financial spectrum.
When I don’t have the specific expertise to address an area, I can call on an extensive network of specialists. For example, we have access to professionals in long-term care, life insurance, Social Security, and educational funding—as well as relationships with attorneys and CPAs. If a client has specific questions in these areas, I might be able to answer most at a highly proficient level. When that is not enough, we will consult with our experts to find the answer or request an in-depth analysis of the client’s needs.
My father is an attorney, and my mother is the general manager of his law firm. I was influenced by their perspective of trying to help anyone with a need for sound legal advice. I feel the same way when it comes to financial guidance. I have clients from varied backgrounds with a large range of assets and income levels. I do not have an account minimum, and I serve some clients pro bono. Could I drop some of my clients and increase high-value money? Of course. But that’s not how I practice. Is it harder that way? Yes. But in the long run, I do believe that’s the right thing to do.
Most of our clients are ready to think about retirement planning or already retired. My average client is in their 50s or 60s and about 20% are between the ages of 35 and 45. I work with younger individuals as referrals come up. Generational planning is important to me and to the families I work with. If a client asks me to help a family member, I’m going to do so enthusiastically.
Our planning process is not set in stone. It is dictated by a client’s financial situation and what best fits their specific needs and comfort level. When I first got into the business, a lot of my training involved scripted meetings. I quickly realized that I could do scripts, or I could treat people as individuals and actually listen. For some clients, the process might take just a few meetings and move rapidly; for others, it might take several months to complete. For all clients, there is never a “final” financial plan. We meet regularly to review their progress, understand any changes in their lives, and consider appropriate adjustments.
The first meeting with a client is very important. I tell them, “My goal is to get to know you and for you to get to know me and how I practice. If you don’t like the way I work or are not comfortable with our process, nothing else matters.” Assuming we proceed, which is almost always the case, we next review their current financial situation, personal and retirement accounts, and future income streams and liabilities. We discuss their employment situation and family dynamics, and we start the process of understanding their current and future financial goals.
We work collaboratively to prioritize their needs and wants, usually into three stages. In general, stage one would be ensuring their current accounts are in good order and recommending possible shifts in types of accounts or how they are funded. The client might be doing many things right already, but the one thing they are not doing efficiently or suitably could have a huge impact. Stage two is the core accumulation and distribution planning. Our proprietary software lets us build a retirement income timeline, identify future income gaps, and develop tax-efficient strategic recommendations to bridge those gaps. We emphasize risk-managed asset growth and preservation. Stage three involves planning for areas such as college funding, long-term care, life insurance, charitable giving, and their estate or legacy goals. These can be complex and interrelated areas, and we take great care in educating clients on the pros and cons of different approaches. Throughout the planning process, I want clients to thoroughly understand the rationale for each element of their customized financial plan.
Our firm’s investment philosophy is easy to state, but it takes hard work and diligence to implement. We are independent and free to recommend the financial solutions that best suit our clients’ needs from a range of investment providers. Our clients’ objectives drive all investment decisions.
We are not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom in our approach to investing and preserving wealth. I have often heard clients say, “I’ve never heard about this strategy.” We take pride in continually educating ourselves on the sophisticated investment solutions that are available, meeting often with third-party investment providers and conducting research. The investment industry has changed significantly over the past 25 years, and it is imperative to stay on top of the latest developments and product and service offerings.
Another core principle is that each client portfolio is customized; we take nothing for granted. I may have a 70-year-old client with a strong appetite for risk or a 30-year-old who cannot bear the thought of any losses in their account. Each client’s investment plan is built to accommodate their goals, risk profile, time horizon, and personal preferences. I provide guidance and perspective, but each client must understand and agree to the rationale for every element of their investment plan.
I think both active and passive investments have merits. It comes back to the individual client: their objectives, level of sophistication, concern for risk management, and comfort level. I believe in helping clients take emotion out of the investment decision-making process. Whether they are in a portfolio heavily weighted to risk-managed active strategies or an allocation that is more passively oriented, I believe that growth over the long term will be achieved by allowing strategies to work as they are intended to over full market cycles.
A final point is how I work with third-party investment providers. Great strides have been made in the construction of risk-managed strategies that aim to provide downside protection while seeking growth in favorable market environments. These strategies, covering different asset classes, can be quite suitable for our retirement clients. I always look at investment firms with the perspective of determining what they do best, and we use multiple managers across our client base.
Daniel Weiss, CRPC, is the co-founder of W Financial Advisors, a full-service financial advisory firm located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with a second office in Florida. Mr. Weiss says he emphasizes “highly customized and integrated financial guidance.”
Mr. Weiss grew up in the Philadelphia area and has two brothers. His father is an attorney, and his mother is general manager of the law firm. Mr. Weiss says his parents provided valuable life lessons to him, including, “the importance of reputation and doing the right thing by those who place trust in you.”
Mr. Weiss was a talented high school athlete and was recruited for track, football, and soccer. He attended Syracuse University, where he was a placekicker for the football team. He also was a varsity track athlete and captain of the men’s club soccer team. Mr. Weiss earned several academic awards and was director of a program that provided mentorship to inner-city students. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in finance and entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises from the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University.
Mr. Weiss entered the financial-services industry in 2009, working as an independent financial advisor for a large national firm. He says that experience was beneficial in terms of training and developing the skills to establish a growing roster of clients. Mr. Weiss and an advisor partner established their own branch in 2014. In 2020, he co-founded W Financial Advisors with his brother Alec. Mr. Weiss has earned the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC) designation.
Mr. Weiss and his wife have three children and reside in the Philadelphia suburbs. Mr. Weiss enjoys traveling with his family and many fitness activities. He has been on the board of directors of the Kaiserman JCC since 2020 and a volunteer soccer coach for the JCC Maccabi Games since 2010. He is also a current member of the Syracuse University Alumni Club.
Disclosure: Securities and advisory services offered through registered representatives of Cetera Advisor Networks LLC (doing insurance business in CA as CFGAN Insurance Agency LLC), member FINRA/SIPC, a broker-dealer and a registered investment advisor. Cetera is under separate ownership from any other named entity. Branch phone number: 610-304-5551.
Photography by Michael Branscom
New this week:
Prioritizing clients’ financial-planning needs
Daniel Weiss, CRPC, is the co-founder of W Financial Advisors, a full-service financial advisory firm located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with a second office in Florida. Mr. Weiss has more than a decade of experience in the financial-services industry and says his firm emphasizes “highly customized and integrated financial guidance.”
He says his firm’s planning process is “not set in stone”; rather, it is “dictated by a client’s financial situation and what best fits their specific needs and comfort level.” Mr. Weiss says an important early step is setting priorities for each client’s customized planning process. In general, client planning needs are addressed in three stages, as follows:
“In general, stage one would involve ensuring their current accounts are in good order and recommending possible shifts in types of accounts or how they are funded. The client might be doing many things right already, but the one thing they are not doing efficiently or suitably could have a huge impact.
“Stage two is the core accumulation and distribution planning. Our proprietary software lets us to build a retirement income timeline, identify future income gaps, and develop tax-efficient strategic recommendations to bridge those gaps. We emphasize risk-managed asset growth and preservation.
“Stage three involves planning for areas such as college funding, long-term care, life insurance, charitable giving, and their estate or legacy goals. These can be complex and interrelated areas, and we take great care in educating clients on the pros and cons of different approaches.”