Michael Greenberg has handled his own investments ever since he was a kid researching how to put his paper route earnings to work in the stock market. With decades of experience plotting his own course, he’s comfortable maintaining an aggressive, equities-focused portfolio, even as he nears retirement age. Michael is 55 now but has had enough assets to retire since his 40s and isn’t worried about how he’ll support himself in the years ahead.
Michael is the very model of a self-directed investor. However, this doesn’t mean he always goes it alone. As a Schwab client for more than two decades, Michael has come to value his relationship with Nate Cicotello, his Schwab Financial Consultant based in Lone Tree, Colo. The two talk over the phone at least once a quarter, and meet in person once a year for a portfolio checkup.
“Nate encourages me to re-engage on a regular basis and helps me stay on track with my investments and financial planning,” Michael says. “He serves as my conscience, reminding me that I have some work to do.”
A relationship built on trust
Many investors turn to a financial professional to help them come up with a plan for a specific goal like buying a home, paying for college or saving for retirement. But the relationship needn’t end there.
Schwab Financial Consultants like Nate can provide regular check-ins to help make sure clients stay on track as they work to achieve their long-term goals. But even as Nate runs the numbers to gain a clearer picture of his clients’ finances, he’s also getting to know them as people.
“Every investor is different, and it’s part of my job to understand how my clients’ needs and expectations inform their individual approaches to investing,” Nate says. “Understanding leads to trust, and trust is an essential part of any successful relationship.”
“This is especially true when markets get rocky or periods of uncertainty arise. Investors who can discuss investing ideas with a trusted professional are less likely to be swayed by what’s going on around them,” he says.
Michael appreciates being able to bounce investment ideas off Nate. He may be largely self-directed, but Michael says he still relies on Nate to “bring me back to the table.”
“Nate understands my personal investing goals and encourages me to stick with my approach, even if it’s more aggressive than what is typically recommended for someone my age,” Michael says.
A fresh perspective
Recently, Michael was thinking about investing in a certain company and wanted to free up some resources to cover the cost. He identified an account that he thought wasn’t delivering the returns necessary to meet his goals, but before executing any trades he thought it would be best to double-check with Nate.
After considering Michael’s proposal, Nate emailed him some initial thoughts and the two met a few days later to discuss them. Upon reviewing the account in question, Nate suggested they assess its performance using some different benchmarks. As it turned out, the account was actually doing better than Michael had realized and he decided to keep his investments as they were.
“Nate’s biggest value to me is that he’s there when I need him,” Michael says.
Keeping it in the family
Even with their retirement taken care of, Michael and his wife, Beth, continue to prioritize their investing.
“I’ve built enough wealth that I don’t feel the need to worry too much about depletion,” Michael says. “I continue to invest aggressively because I’m not really investing for myself anymore—I’m investing for my children and grandchildren.”
As part of this process, Michael has been working to instill an appreciation for investing and financial planning in his daughters, 8-year-old Alexandra and 11-year-old Madeline. This is actually something of a family tradition. When he was a young boy, Michael and his father would sit together poring over the stock prices in the newspaper and in research reports.
“The girls can read stock charts pretty well, better than most adults I know,” Michael says.
The girls aren’t shy about sharing their financial knowledge with their classmates. Representatives from Schwab’s Lone Tree office recently visited Madeline’s school to talk about the time value of money and the importance of saving for the future. They did an exercise with Madeline’s sixth-grade class on needs versus wants, and they were thrilled when Madeline noted that she was saving her money to buy stocks.
Michael has also passed along another part of his investing life: his relationship with Schwab.
“We opened custodial accounts for them at Schwab shortly after they were born,” he says.
Alexandra and Madeline make their own deposits when they visit a Schwab branch. They love signing the backs of checks and filling out deposit slips. When the family is out shopping or in the car, it is not unusual for them to talk about which stock they want to buy next.
But again, the relationship isn’t limited to mere transactions. Last summer, Michael and his family attended a Schwab client-appreciation event at a nearby museum. While they were there, Michael got a chance to catch up with Nate—and Michael’s girls had a chance to run around with Nate’s daughters.