In early February, when the Dow Jones industrial average suffered sharp losses, financial advisers rushed to the phones to warn investors that blips in the market happen. Jonathan S. Kuttin, owner and CEO of Kuttin-Metis Wealth Management in Melville, used it as an opportunity to tell clients it was a good time to buy, since stocks were "on sale."
"A mentor once told me a great financial adviser has the heart of a social worker, mind of a capitalist," he said.
He started Kuttin-Metis in 1994 and in 2002 gambled on overstaffing for concierge-style client service. "I think by doing that, it's come back to us in spades. Without satisfied clients, you really don't have anything," Kuttin said. He was named one of Barron's Top 100 Independent Financial Advisors, based in part on client satisfaction surveys.
Kuttin-Metis works closely with more than 40 accounting firms and their clients. The father of four sons, Kuttin, 41, coaches lacrosse and is part owner of The Athlete Zone in St. James, a facility for athletic training and charitable events that is currently fundraising for a local boy with brain cancer.
How do you manage client expectations during a market downturn like we saw recently?
I call it "helping our clients to become emotionally competent." Most investors struggle to get the same average returns that the markets do, and that's because they react based on how they feel as opposed to reacting based on common sense and being rational . . . We try to take our clients away from the day-to-day happenings in the market, and focus on where we need to go long-term.
Do your phones ring off the hook on days when the Dow is down 250 points, or do you have clients trained to weather these small ups and downs?
We've got very, very long-term relationships with our clients, and we do a great job of expectation-setting up front. We're not getting any panicking calls. As long as you've got the right asset allocation model in place, the reality of the situation is, it's just a blip.
Are Long Islanders' expectations for wealth building -- or just saving for retirement -- realistic?
A lot of Long Islanders are very, very unprepared for their retirement, and people don't realize we have inflation at typically 3.5 percent, and we have to pay taxes on our income. A big part of what we do is to help Long Islanders take a snapshot of where they stand today and project out into the future with variables like inflation, taxes and reasonable rates of return, and get to a point where they can become financially independent.
What's the most common financial mistake you see clients making?
A lot of Americans and Long Islanders just don't plan. They [put] a couple of dollars into their 401(k) plan and hope for the best.
Would a retirement savings of $1 million be enough?
A million dollars put away for retirement reasonably will only produce somewhere in the neighborhood of $40,000 per year of dependable income for a typical retirement.
Name: Jonathan S. Kuttin, owner and CEO, Kuttin-Metis Wealth Management in Melville
What it does: A private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.
Employees: 32 full time (27 on Long Island); 5 part time
Revenue: $7.625 million