As mentioned in our last newsletter, Nico Letschert will share with you his thoughts on the Noesis vision, value statement and mission as well as our recent Company Summit.
He will also take us through the history of the firm and how we have evolved into the wealth management and family office company we are proud to be today.
Noesis History – the First Leg of the Stool
Noesis Capital Management is a spin-off from a brokerage firm I started in Florida in 1984. At the time our daughter Jaclyn was a few months old. Now an adult and parent, she helped edit this newsletter. The brokerage company was doing well, but I didn’t like my own business model. Revenues came from commissions on transactions. The brokers were selling products, and the old story on Wall Street was and continues to be today: if two out of three make money, that’s pretty good. My brokerage firm and the brokers did well, the clients less so. This didn’t feel good, so I decided to start a new firm with the idea that we should put our clients’ interests first.
Noesis Capital Management is a Registered Investment Advisor, or RIA. At the time we registered in the mid-90’s this was a fairly new model in the industry. Very few truly independent wealth advisors existed in the United States. Most had ties to a bank, a broker/dealer or brokerage house like the one I previously had, and this could inherently lead to conflicts of interest.
By contrast, an RIA is designed to do what is best for clients and their families by having a more clear understanding of their goals – a key principle that motivated the founding of Noesis Capital Management.
The Second Leg
At the same time that we chose to make the move to become an RIA firm, several companies were rising to prominence as something more than just discount brokerage houses. They became independent custodians. What this meant to our first clients was that not only would they get unbiased advice from the professionals at Noesis, but they would also have their assets held in their own name at an independent third party company which by definition ensured that there would be no conflicts of interest. These firms to this day lead the industry in custody services with over a trillion dollars held for individual clients at thousands of RIA firms across the country. These custodians offer security and safety of your assets, complete transparency and best execution without any conflicts with respect to product or fees, all of which fully align to the way we feel it is best to serve our clients.
The Third Leg
Just before setting up Noesis Capital Management as an RIA, I became a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certificant. The College for Financial Planning educated me on the six steps to the financial planning process:
1) Establishing and defining the client-planner relationship
2) Gathering client data including goals
3) Analyzing and evaluating the client’s current financial status
4) Developing and presenting recommendations and/or alternatives
5) Implementing the recommendations
6) Monitoring the recommendations
While studying for the CFP® exam I realized that we should be disciplined in our approach in helping and supporting families. At this time, the third guiding principal became clear in my mind and Noesis was born.
In order to become more familiar with prospective clients, we go through a process of discovery which can be lengthy. The first step is the initial meeting with the client and potentially several family members. We want to learn who you are and what your concerns are, and we want you to learn who Noesis is. It is about understanding each other and working together, solving problems and meeting lifestyle goals. We want to simplify and organize your portfolios, grow your assets and produce income to support your lifestyle in a tax friendly, risk managed, disciplined investment approach with constant communication. The ultimate goal is to meet your family’s expectations. While it is unrealistic to expect to outperform the indices every year, our lifelong investing approach ensures we are in the best position to meet your expectations. As we noted on the April 15, 2016 newsletter “When our objectives are to meet our personal financial goals as opposed to outperform the market, mistakes can be avoided… (and) we receive the income we need to live the lifestyle we want.” After getting to know each other, both parties should ask themselves the critical question: Do we feel comfortable partnering together? If the answer is positive, we can enter into a long-lasting and solid relationship.
The Fiduciary Rule
We wrote about this last year, and you may have read elsewhere about the discussions in Washington D.C. about the Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule. Fiduciary duty basically means that Noesis has to do what is right for you and your family and disclose conflicts of interest and fees/expenses charged. No hidden fees or soft dollar arrangements. The RIA model, as well as the Ethical Standards dictated by the College of Financial Planning and the CFA Institute, requires its members to live by these rules. The non-trust banks and brokers, however, have been lobbying against implementation of these rules, and the new administration delayed them for further review. I mention this because 20+ years ago I was convinced that we should have fiduciary responsibility. Doing the best we can to serve our clients is our culture. The Noesis team wakes up in the morning with a purpose. We want to build a relationship of trust, helping you and your family to meet your life-long goals. It is a better business model – and this is repeatedly reinforced when satisfied clients add funds to their portfolios and often refer family members and friends.
Twenty plus years later, Noesis today (2017)
Jerry Spitzberg (founding partner) and I started Noesis in its present form. Jerry is a CPA and holds the Chartered Financial Analyst® designation, and I am a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certificant. Now our staff has grown to 15 with seven different nationalities. Ten of us are located in Boca Raton, three in other parts of the United States, and one each in Europe and Latin America. We are very proud of the quality of our staff and their multiple professional qualifications.
We have made great headway in these years, not only in assets under management, but also in the maturity and depth of the organization. Our clients have helped us with that, and we are proud and at the same time humbled by the friendships we have made and the support you have given us.
In spite of this headway, we can always do better. This is why we organized our company summit. The theme of this meeting was “Collaboration.” We brought everyone together to discuss how we can learn from each other and work better as a professional team to deliver on the Noesis Vision Statement:
“To Be the Most Trusted Advisor Providing Financial Peace of Mind.”
We asked ourselves how we can improve our overall performance and collaborate with you and your family. All of you have different objectives and financial needs, circumstances in life changes, requiring adjustment to investment decisions over time. We want to be part of the discussions to help make those sometimes difficult decisions.
We finished the summit celebrating the Chinese New Year with traditional New Year’s cuisine. We left feeling reenergized and even more committed to solving your individual and family’s financial concerns as they come up in the future.
Noesis staff and families gathered for a traditional Chinese New Year celebration during our annual summit.
Noesis tomorrow and the next 20+ years
Our number one priority will always be you. We are here to provide personal, trusted financial advice and execute the plan to achieve your goals. Please keep asking your questions, even if they are not related to finance or markets. The better we know each other, the better we can support you.
Noesis clients were born and/or live in 31 countries in diverse places as America, Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe. Noesis staff travels all over the world to attend seminars and conferences and visit clients. We learn a lot from all of you, and it enriches our understanding of the risk and opportunities in the world.
I mentioned the RIA model: knowing clients’ life-long goals, having an independent custodian and a disciplined execution of your plan to meet your objectives. The RIA model is not well known outside the United States. With very little transparency, conflicts of interest and high (hidden) fees, many foreign investors don’t know there is an alternative to the bank/broker business model.
Noesis’ bold goal is to introduce the RIA model to the world.
We enjoy working with multi-generational family businesses. Often their values and long-term vision is aligned with ours. Noesis is an independent family business and we will be there to serve you and the next generation. Our goal is to provide you with financial freedom and peace of mind.
Please click on the two links below for the Noesis team picture and biographies which clearly illustrate our multi-cultural, gender balanced and age spectrum staff. All different, but working together for you.
Form ADV is available upon request