Montebello consulting firm helps retirees navigate uncertain post-recession markets

BY MICHAEL RICONDA

Montebello Mansion, home of the corporate headquarters of Gary Goldberg Financial Services
Montebello Mansion, home of the corporate headquarters of Gary
Goldberg Financial Services

MONTEBELLO – Situated in a sprawling residential area across from Suffern Middle School, the Montebello Mansion stands as a scenic landmark in an otherwise plain town. The character of other opulent houses in the neighborhood would suggest a wealthy Rocklander enjoying the breathing room of a massive home.

However, appearances can deceive. Inside, Gary Goldberg and his associates have built a business on promoting the financial well-being of Rockland’s aging population.

Founded in 1972 by Goldberg, the firm began as a full-service brokerage firm. Ten years ago, its founder consulted with executive committee members Oliver Pursche, Bill Krivicich and Richard Kersting and decided to shift from the original model to a full-service advisory firm.

Christopher Hanly, an investment consultant with Goldberg Financial, explained the firm’s business model now focuses on comprehensive investment management services for “mass affluent investors” who have between $100,000 and $3 million in assets. Most often, those assets are retirement savings.

“What’s unique about our firm is that all of the dollars that we manage are managed by our strategic investment committee,” Hanly said. “Our committee has five members to it and combined they have close to 140 years of investment management experience.”

According to Hanly, Rockland had no such services for mass affluent investors before the firm targeted that particular niche market. Now the firm offers about 15 model portfolios which include services for mutual funds, individual stocks, and annuity portfolios.

Consultants with Goldberg Financial are “very proactive” with emerging market trends, according to Hanly. Clients are usually ushered into the service with a needs-based analysis dubbed the “Montebello Process” which outlines short, medium, and long-term strategies and manages risk by buffering clients at every step of the process.

Portfolios are often tailored and managed in conjunction with recent trends and are always designed to fit the unique financial needs of retirees. Artificially low interest rates, which have prevailed for several years, often mean items such as managed mutual funds and high-quality dividend-paying stocks in the health and tech sectors are now more appealing than fixed income products, especially for aging investors who need income replacement as a substitute for guaranteed pensions.

“Everything is managed on what we call a risk-adjusted basis, meaning that the majority of our clients have already made their money” “They have already built up a nest egg. They’re not interested in us hitting home runs for them or speculating. It’s all about slow and steady wins the race.”

In the medium-term, liquidity is often a key to bolstering confidence with the capacity for quick use of funds. At the same time, those same funds can be invested for the purpose of safe, modest growth, providing a more balanced option than mere savings.

Long-term investments often involve substitutes for pensions such as variable annuities. Newer programs also have legacy value, an advantage over traditional pensions which do not always allow retirees to pass savings on to friends and family in the event of their passing.

During the economic crisis such tactics became critical. “Since the lows of 2009, the markets have recovered very, very nicely, so as long as you did not necessarily act emotionally during that financial crisis in 2008 and you sort of held onto your bearings, you did make the money back that you could have lost during that time and then some,” Hanly said.

While Goldberg’s investment committee believes the current recovery has legs, they also recognize that many investors remain cautious, piling up cash but reaping no reward for its safekeeping. Now Hanly says the firm’s decision to shield portfolios from future downturns by raising extra contingency funds is beginning to restore retiree’s faith in the market.

Aside from personalized plans, Goldberg also offers an array of other advisory services. About 20 educational seminars are held on a monthly basis, incorporating retirement planning tips with input from estate planning attorneys whose strategies often allow a natural link between retirement and legacy funds. Gary Goldberg also hosts “Money Matters,” a weekly radio program broadcast every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12 noon on WOR 710AM.