Do you recall the 1980’s Smith Barney ads on television? The late actor John Houseman assured viewers, “They make money the old fashioned way. They earn it.” The ads conveyed a sense of conservative, careful investing and although Smith Barney is gone, most investors still want honest, sound advice from a person they know and trust.F
For this article Strictly Business spoke with two North Country investment firms — Long Run Wealth Advisors, LLC of Lake Placid and Raymond James Financial Services of Plattsburgh.
Long Run Wealth Advisors was formed in December 2015 when Charlie Cowan — a long-established advisor in the region — partnered with Kevin Brady, a Saranac Lake native who had returned to the area after 20 years on Wall Street.
Cowan, with an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, had built his business over the course of 30 years with such industry giants as Paine Webber, Raymond James, and A.G. Edwards. Brady — with a Bachelor’s degree in International Business from Penn State University, as well as Chartered Financial Analyst and Certified Financial Planner designations — worked in high-level roles with Deutsche Asset Management, Lehman Brothers and Nomura Securities.
Both Cowan and Brady, with considerable experience in both the retail advisory arena and the institutional investing space, have seen — and been able to leverage for their clients — significant evolutions in financial technology, a trend that shows no sign of abating.
“We find technology to be a critical component to provide a highend offering to clients in the North Country,” Brady began. “We have tools that allow us to compete with the most sophisticated offerings while providing a local presence and the ability for clients to keep their assets in the community, with advisors who are grounded here.
“We use technology in all aspects of our business currently,” he continued. “This includes using electronic document signatures to onboard new clients, sending existing clients reports via a file-sharing service and providing real-time access to view accounts via both desktop and smartphone applications. Technology allows us to manage client accounts more efficiently as we can automate a significant number of the day-today functions that are required. This includes researching investments, analyzing new portfolio strategies, trading and performance reporting.”
Added Cowan, “We provide a full-service approach, including tax, retirement, estate and college planning, and insurance, in addition to providing services related to budgeting and cashflow analysis. These additional services add significant value to our clients, and the technological infrastructure underpinning these offerings translates to efficient and impactful client experiences.”
Acknowledging that the Covid-19 crisis has presented a challenge, Brady said, “This is a time when clients are especially concerned about the volatility of their investments. Our response has been to increase the amount of communication with clients during these unpredictable times, while at the same time limiting client access to the office for the first several months of the pandemic. We’ve moved about 75% of our interaction to phone or virtual meetings to limit the number of people in the office.”
Long Run Wealth, LLC
Charles Cowan and Kevin Brady, Partners
55 Old Barn Road, Suite 206
Lake Placid, NY. 12946
Raymond James Financial Services is managed by Jonathan Schneiderman, a Certified Financial Planner and a 30 year veteran of the investing business who has managed the RJ’s Plattsburgh office since 2004. He recalled the financial technology of the late 1980’s, especially the Questron, a primitive, slow computer and the squawk box which blared out stock news and market data. “Think of it as a Flintstones’ version of Twitter,” he said. Spreadsheets that could do lots of calculations rapidly were a welcome advance, as was retirement software that considers a number of factors and …”provides eye opening clarity to our clients as to their overall financial fitness.”
Schneiderman explained, “The technology that has had the biggest impact on my practice is electronic document generation and execution.” Using it he is able to create documents, send them to clients for an electronic signature and process them quickly.
As our conversation moved to a discussion of the Corona virus impact, Schneiderman observed,” The crisis has necessitated my adoption of some new technologies. I frequently conduct Zoom meetings with clients, vendors and our corporate offices. While working from home used to be an occasional convenience for me and my associates, it is now, perhaps, a life saver. Thanks to all of the great technologies of the day, doing so is as easy as working from the office.”
Raymond James Financial Services
43 Durkee Street
Plattsburgh, NY. 12901