Wescott Financial Advisory Group: Taking a Holistic Approach
For affluent families, entrepreneurs, professionals and executives, Wescott Financial Advisory Group delivers highly personalized services. “We take a holistic approach to serving our clients that goes beyond investment management,” says Scott Poulin, managing director, client development in the firm’s Miami office. “Being able to offer a combination of financial planning, wealth management and trust company services is a powerful trifecta for our clients.”
|Scott Poulin, Joseph Nader, Grant Rawdin, |
Catherine Seeber and Richard Gotterer
Wescott is a fee-only investment advisory and wealth management firm with $2.1 billion in assets under management with an average of about $4.2 million per client. “As a fee-only firm, we are not compensated by any products or services, allowing us to be objective in advising our clients,” says Poulin.
The firm’s investment philosophy is based on a tax sensitive and opportunistic multi-manager approach that includes both passive and actively managed funds. “This approach allows Wescott to control risk while creating portfolios with a combination of complementary styles, diversifications and enhanced returns,” Poulin says.
Founded in 1987 by CEO Grant Rawdin, who had a tax and business practice at the national law firm Duane Morris LLP, Wescott is ranked in the top 25 of Barron’s “Top 100 Independent Financial Advisors.” In addition, its Investment Research Group was named to Financial Advisor magazine’s “All-Star Research Manager Team.” Rawdin says, “We are passionate about our business and the industry in which we operate. We have a long tradition of excellence to which we remain firmly committed.”
Today, Wescott has over 30 professionals in offices in Philadelphia, San Francisco, Miami and Boca Raton, of which eight staffers are based between the two South Florida locations. “Our founder recognized the potential here when he opened our offices 16 years ago,” says Joseph Nader, managing director of the Miami office and senior financial advisor. “Many firms come down I-95 and pack up and go home after a year or so. But we put down roots here and have steadily built our team.”
The Wescott professionals have an extensive list of designations and varied professional backgrounds. The team includes certified financial planners (CFPs), attorneys, and professionals with insurance licenses, tax certifications and other designations.
“Our senior advisors have 20-plus years of experience along with their professional training,” says Nader, who worked in private wealth management and Latin American finance prior to joining Wescott. Fluent in Spanish, he served high-net-worth individuals at internationally known private banks and as CIO/CFO at a large family office for one of Miami’s most prominent Latin American families as well as a large, local trust company.
Poulin has been working with affluent clients in the South Florida market since 1987. He launched a large advisory trust company in 1997, and grew it to $1.3 billion in assets under management, and also worked for a leading private bank before joining Wescott five years ago. He now focuses on meeting with prospective clients and implementing the firm’s wealth management strategies and services.
Another key member of the team is Richard Gotterer, managing director and senior financial advisor, who was chief investment officer and senior vice president at Gibraltar Private Bank & Trust before joining Wescott. He is frequently quoted in the Wall Street Journal and other financial publications as an expert on fixed income markets.
“One reason Wescott is consistently ranked as one of the top wealth advisory firms in the nation is due to the breadth of knowledge of our South Florida team,” says Poulin.
A Diverse Clientele
In South Florida, Wescott services a diverse clientele of high-net-worth individuals, families, trusts, foundations, pension plans and institutions. “Some individual clients have inherited wealth, while others have earned or created it through their own efforts,” Nader says. “In many cases, we take a multigenerational approach, working with the matriarch and patriarch of the family, as well as their children and grandchildren to identify the issues in managing and preserving that wealth while leaving a lasting legacy.”
Nader adds that Wescott serves a number of clients and families from Latin America. “We find that our team’s familiarity with other cultures, languages and business practices is very conducive to servicing international clients,” he adds. “As a boutique financial advisory and management practice, we stay in close contact and communicate frequently with international clients.”
In Boca Raton, Wescott’s client base consists primarily of U.S. residents, including executives, entrepreneurs and retirees from a wide range of professional backgrounds. “I have noticed that our Boca clients are often interested in new investment products,” Nader says. “But in both markets, our clients appreciate Wescott’s long-term approach to investment management. We’re not trying to hit big home runs, but produce lots of singles and doubles through the years.”
Poulin notes that Wescott also has a strong appeal to successful entrepreneurs. “Compared with the major institutions, we are like David vs. Goliath, and that’s a role to which they can relate,” he says.
“Many entrepreneurs contact us after going through a full or partial liquidity event, as they make plans for those proceeds. We’ve also seen an increase in referrals from private equity firms and commercial bankers who are involved in these types of transactions.
Poulin adds that Wescott offers “the best of both worlds:” a high level of client service along with a sophisticated investment platform. “Our robust technology allows clients to see and understand all their investments — not just those managed by Wescott. That’s a powerful tool for family offices and other types of clients.”
Poulin also points to the firm’s commitment to service, including responding quickly when clients have questions or want immediate advice on a financial issue.
Working with Attorneys
As appropriate for a financial advisory firm founded by an attorney, Wescott’s team works closely with South Florida attorneys, CPAs and other professionals to support their clients. For example, if a Wescott client wants to develop an estate plan, Nader will refer the work to an attorney with the background and experience to meet that client’s needs. Likewise, if an international client needs help with immigration documents, the firm will outsource those services.
In addition, Wescott’s client base includes a significant number of South Florida attorneys and accountants with high incomes. “We want those professionals to experience the same high level of service that their clients receive,” says Poulin.
For instance, Wescott can help structure cash balance pension plans that allow professionals to make much larger retirement contributions than can be done with 401(k) plans. “Another benefit is that funds in these cash balance plans are protected from creditors,” he says. ‘If you make a significant income and don’t have a cash balance pension plan, you may want to revisit your options.”
Looking ahead, Nader says Wescott will continue to cultivate relationships with attorneys, accountants and bankers as it develops its presence in Florida. “Our firm is in growth mode, and we are always looking for talented professionals,” he says. “We expect Wescott to continue to be a national leader in providing sophisticated wealth management services to our Florida clientele.”