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FAQ

Who are Strategic Clients?

Strategic’s clients often share several common characteristics including:

  • A passion for success as defined in each client’s own terms.
  • Busy schedules, full lives and comfort delegating investment/planning work.
  • An interest in staying engaged in the experience.
  • A belief that a trusted advisor should add value beyond just investment management.
  • A long-term, results driven perspective.
  • An appreciation for proactive communication and follow-up.

Strategic works with successful individuals, families and organizations with $1 million to $50 million in liquid assets (or the potential to get there) and an overall net worth of $5 million to $100 million.

How would you describe the culture at Strategic?

Like our clients, we are passionate about what we do and focused on doing it well.

The team at Strategic is guided by five core values, and every decision we recommend has the purpose of helping clients achieve their goals. We have fun along the way by building lifelong relationships with our clients and our teammates.

Client First | Teamwork | Respect | Excellence | Passion

We hear Confidence, Freedom and Results used to describe Strategic’s value proposition. What does that mean?

We have built a team and process meant to provide our clients with three elements essential to a good partnership:

  • Confidence in the Strategic team to which they have trusted so much.
  • Freedom to focus on their careers and/or passions in life.
  • Results needed to achieve personal goals.
What is the total value of assets under management and advisement?

Strategic Financial Services manages and advises on over $1 billion1 in assets for individuals, families and organizations throughout New York State and across the country.

1As of December 31, 2015. The assets included in this calculation includes assets of advisory client accounts, retail client accounts, and monitored client accounts. Advisory client accounts are accounts that Strategic provide continuous and ongoing management services. Retail accounts are accounts where an advisory representative serves as registered rep on the account and provides advice on an intermittent basis. Monitored client accounts are accounts that Strategic monitors and may provide investment and planning recommendations, but does not have trading authority over.
Who owns Strategic?

Strategic Financial Services is an independent, privately held and operated, 100% employee-owned organization. We believe that we are optimally positioned to advocate on behalf of our clients. As opposed to larger organizations with outside ownership, decision makers work directly with clients to ensure that the interests of all parties are aligned.

Strategic is a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA). What does that mean?

A Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) firm is in the business of giving advice about securities and registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

By law, we have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of our clients. This aspect of our business, while a ‘no-brainer’ on the surface, actually stands in stark contrast to the lower standard of “suitability” that still exists within much of the financial services industry.

How is Strategic compensated?

We charge a management fee based upon a percentage of the value of the assets that we manage.

For example, yearly pricing for a relationship with $1,000,000 in total assets would equate to 1.35% on the first $250,000 and .90% on the remaining $750,000. This would equal $10,125 per year. The management fee covers all aspects of the client relationship with Strategic, including investment and wealth management services.

In an industry notorious for opaque pricing structures and greed, our approach is to maximize the value received by our clients and to ensure that our clients understand what they are paying for our services.

Certain of Strategic’s advisors are also registered representatives of Cadaret, Grant & Co., a broker dealer.  When acting in such capacity they may receive a commission on the sale of a security or investment product.  Certain of Strategic’s advisors are also licensed insurance agents with various insurance companies.  When acting in such a capacity they may receive a commission for the sale of an insurance product.
Is Strategic both a Wealth and Investment Manager? What is the difference?

An investment manager focuses solely on investment strategy. A wealth manager takes a comprehensive approach to helping clients achieve their goals. Strategic is both.

We were founded in 1979 with the simple objective of providing the highest level of quality and service to our clients. From the start, we realized that a holistic understanding of the client’s situation and goals is the proper foundation for planning an investment strategy. This process includes a broad range of activities including but not limited to education, retirement, charitable and contingency planning. In addition, we work with outside advisors to coordinate tax and estate planning activities. Our work often goes beyond these fundamental planning activities and into very specific goal based work.

In short, Strategic was one of the industry’s first true wealth managers, well before the term became fashionable by the financial service industry at-large.

You mention that Strategic works with outside advisors. Why is that important?

At Strategic, we know where our strengths lie. Even more importantly, we also know where the experts on other critical matters reside.

A comprehensive estate and tax plan requires the work of a great team. At Strategic, we often coordinate the holistic planning process in partnership with existing advisors such as accountants and attorneys. We can also provide excellent recommendations in cases that require a new set of eyes.

Passive investing is a hot topic in today’s investment world. How does strategic approach the portfolio management process?

Within an overall framework of Quality, Value and Diversification, we remain flexible across the spectrum of management styles from active to passive with an eye on capturing what we believe to be the best aspects of each approach. Learn more

You mention the importance of diversification. How are client portfolios constructed?

Strategic’s investment approach helps to ensure proper diversification in a cost-effective, simple and transparent manner. The Core portfolio is complemented by diversifying assets in order to achieve these objectives on behalf of our clients.

Capital Growth

  • Strategic Core Equities: The flagship Equity Income and Growth strategies are a portfolio of high-quality, attractively valued mid/large capitalization stocks managed in house by the Strategic team.
    • A selection of exchange-traded funds covering the non-core segments of the market completes the long-term growth portion of the portfolio.

Capital Income

  • Strategic Core Fixed Income: A selection of high-quality, short to intermediate-term corporate and government bonds is managed in-house by the Strategic Team.
    • A selection of mutual funds and exchange-traded funds covering the non-core segments of the market completes the fixed income portfolio.
How is the research team structured and how are decisions made?

The Strategic investment team leverages a deep bench of professionals in a team setting to ensure a disciplined and repeatable decision making process.

What tools are available to support the decision making process?

Strategic has research coverage on an institutional basis similar to large investment firms. We are not an investment “assembly line” utilizing the work of others. Our boutique nature enables us to perform high quality, independent, fundamental research in-house. In doing so, we take complete ownership of our decisions and ensure a cost effective approach for our clients.

Do you hold and manage client assets?

As a matter of policy and practice, SFS does not accept or maintain custody of client assets.  It is firm policy not to accept, hold, directly or indirectly, client funds or securities, or have any authority to obtain possession of them, with the sole exceptions of direct debiting of advisory fees and forwarding client checks for deposit. Strategic Financial Services, Inc. will not intentionally take custody of client cash or securities.

This separation of advisory services from the custody of assets allows for a system of checks and balances with respect to the accounting of the assets in the client’s account. Some of the most notable financial frauds perpetuated in history have been enabled by the lack of this basic safety mechanism.

Describe your approach to ongoing client servicing and account maintenance.

Strategic supports you throughout this all-encompassing lifelong journey by a specialized team of professionals who know you well. Clear communication, superior solutions, unsurpassed support and a distinctly personal experience are Strategic’s building blocks in establishing lifelong, meaningful relationships on the path to a Strategic financial future.

Can I do this myself? a.k.a Why do I need a financial advisor?

Solid investment strategy isn’t rocket science. But even so, most people don’t do it nearly as well on their own. Our clients delegate this essential task so that they can focus on their career and/or passions. But let’s say you have what it takes to stay the course with basic investing. There are still numerous ways we can add substantial value, including:

  • Assessing your existing investments to let you know of any concerns, such as hidden costs or inefficient activities.
  • Suggest and explain appropriate, more cost-effective alternatives.
  • Refine how and where your assets are allocated to create a risk/reward profile that makes sense for you.
  • Maintain or update your allocations as the market and your goals evolve.
  • Intelligently divide your investments between your taxable and tax-sheltered accounts to minimize the damaging impact of taxes across your portfolio.
  • Coordinate your investment activities within the context of your overall wealth management needs, including insurance, estate planning, charitable intents and other related concerns.
  • Provide ongoing counsel and education as new opportunities or new challenges arise.
  • Protect you against yourself. Human nature dictates that biases creep into investment decisions to the detriment of long-term return potential.
What is the next step in establishing a relationship with Strategic?

The process begins with what we call the “The Discovery Moment”. We explore your vision for your ideal life, your financial commitments, and how you view—and experience—risk.

If, after The Discovery Moment, we all agree that there is a good fit, our client service team will follow-up to help you gather, track-down and organize your financial statements and necessary documents. From there, the team will begin to craft a plan that ensures your portfolio and entire financial picture is aligned with your personal values and your vision for an ideal life. Once both parties are in complete alignment with the path forward, our client service team will begin the account transfer process.