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Friday, September 15, 2017

What Advisors Want - Jeff Fishman

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

Jeff Fishman is founder of Los Angeles-based JSF Financial, an RIA (aligned with Fidelity for custody and with Mid-Atlantic Capital Group for its broker-dealer) that offers "all levels of personal financial planning." They specialize in supporting the "behind-the-camera" people in the entertainment industry, and they even have one advisor who works with 401(k) plans.

The JSF team includes six client-facing planners, five people in portfolio management, in-house compliance, and more. They work with nearly $1 billion in client assets.

Fishman has four requests for asset managers who want to work with JSF and its clients: watch out for "rearview mirror investing"; watch out for tax efficiency; think holistically when it comes to speakers and other value adds; and keep your product updates focused on the things that matter.

Avoid Pushing "Rearview Mirror Investing"

Too often, Fishman says, investors chase performance, looking to the funds on top of their categories right now. He doesn't want fund firms to just come to him pitching their currently high-flying funds.

"Firms are forced to only really talk about funds and products that have performed well," Fishman says, and it's usually in asset classes that are hot right now, too. "There's way too much dependence and reliance on rearview mirror investing."

He wants to hear about strong investment strategies, even if they're currently out of favor.

Be Tax Sensitive

Fishman describes this as an "ongoing issue" for FAs and their clients. He wishes more mutual fund PMs would take advantage of opportunities to realize tax losses when need be (and even later buy those fallen stocks back if they like them longterm).

"It really makes a big different to total return to clients and investors," Fishman says, and not enough asset managers are thinking about it.

Think Holistically About Value-Adds

Client events featuring investment-oriented speakers are a tough sell, Fishman says. He jokes that even if he got former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke to come speak about the markets, only if a handful of clients would show; but if he brings a client who is the party planner to the stars, dozens of clients turn up.

"Try to figure out how you can help us," Fishman says. "Transcend the investment side.

"Clients," he adds, "don't want to hear experts talk about the markets." They say that's why they hire Fishman and his team to figure out that stuff and keep track of it.

There is an exception, though: when the market is not doing well.

"The only time everybody shows up for investment symposiums and presentations is when everything's going to hell," Fishman says.

Only Send His PMs the Important Update

The JSF investment team wants fundsters to share important fund updates, like PM changes, big tax hits, or god forbid a Wells notice. And they want to hear about new strategies and new share classes. But that's it.

"We don't need updates on how the funds are doing" performance-wise, Fishman says. "We don't need thank-you calls. You don't need to show up with a box of donuts, and you don't need to send me a flashlight in the mail." 

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