Last week, I was honored to learn that I had again been ranked a top advisor in Colorado by Barron’s, America’s premier financial magazine. It’s the 10th time I’ve made this list, and I’m proud to say that my ranking improved in 2017, from number five on the list to number four.
What does it take to become a Barron’s Top Advisor? The magazine bases its rankings on what it calls “hard numbers,” based on data from over 4,000 of that nation’s most productive financial advisors. Those include an advisor’s assets under management and annual revenue, but also length of time in the business, client retention and philanthropic work. Barron’s also says it carefully checks the regulatory record of the advisors it ranks.
Top advisors receive these rankings individually, but they can’t do it without help. I’m blessed to work with an incredible team at M.J. Smith & Associates, with strengths that contribute mightily to our firm’s success. Tom Jacobsen, who became our Chief Operating Officer this year, has been with us for 10 years as our compliance watchdog, but his true passion is helping people achieve their life goals. Ask what gets him out of bed in the morning, and he’ll tell you about the retirement parties, graduations, and other celebrations he has attended for our clients. He loves those personal relationships, as do our financial consultants, McKenzie Ebbesen, CFP®, and Drew Harper, CFA®, CFP®. McKenzie, who often works with women in transition, became a parent for the first time last year. Her little girl, Faye, inspires her to see what’s possible for women of all ages. Drew, who loves numbers and data, gets excited when he can see how that translates to positive results for our clients. Our staff is a close-knit group, because we share a love of helping people and teaching them how to become good stewards of their wealth. As a result, our client retention rate has averaged 97 percent over the past five years – a factor considered by Barron’s as it developed its rankings this year.
Should You Be Impressed?
In our line of work, it’s common for advisors to use rankings and awards as proxies for credibility, competence, high ethical standards, and success on behalf of clients. Being associated with a major financial media outlet may be a wonderful marketing tool, but it doesn’t tell prospective clients the whole story. Similarly, awards and rankings shouldn’t be the only measure for choosing a financial advisor. A story last year by AdvisorHub demonstrated that bad actors do exist, and some of them even manage to receive honors right alongside their more honest counterparts. So, to use the words of the late President Reagan, savvy investors may do better to adopt a “trust, but verify” approach: Will the advisor act as a fiduciary, and will he or she commit to a fiduciary duty of care in writing? What will the advisor do to eliminate or mitigate potential conflicts of interest? How is the advisor paid, and does he or she receive compensation from any third parties? Finally, has the advisor faced disciplinary action from a regulator or professional body?
When you’ve verified those questions to your satisfaction, then consider the chemistry. Does the advisor seem trustworthy? Would you enjoy working with him or her for many years? As we’ve seen at M.J. Smith & Associates, many of our clients include us in their lives as if we were family, so it’s a big question: If you could choose a member of your family, would your advisor qualify?
Get to Know Us Better
If you’re looking for a financial advisory firm committed to placing your interests first, get to know M.J. Smith & Associates. We’ve been in business since 1983, and we’d be pleased to review your financial situation and answer your questions in a complimentary, no-obligation consultation. While it’s a privilege to receive honors like the one from Barron’s, our greatest privilege is serving our clients and championing their success. How can we help you?
Raymond James is not affiliated with Barron’s. Placement on the Barron's Top 1000 Advisors Ranking: Organized by State, is not indicative of future investment performance and may not be representative of individual clients' experience. Opinions expressed are those of Mark J. Smith and are not necessarily those of Raymond James. Third party links have been provided for informational purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website's users and/or members. Opinions expressed in these third-party articles are those
of the authors and are not necessarily those of Raymond James. Working with a financial professional, regardless of if they provide advice under a fiduciary standard of care or not, does not ensure a favorable outcome.