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This section includes a list of managers who chose to participate in and passed the rigorous survey testing of the National Association of Board Certified Advisory Practices. [read more]Wealth manager comments in this issue

Colleen Supran, principal, Bingham, Osborn & Scarborough, LLC

Charles Root, managing director, Double Eagle Financialpage 2

Steven Jenkins, senior vice president & director of trust services, Exchange Bank

Brian Pon, principal, Financial Connectionspage 3

James Burleson, Greenleaf & Burleson Wealth Management, LLC

Neil Hennessy, portfolio manager and chief investment officer, Hennessy Fundspage 4

Noah Jacobson, partner, Jacobson & Breen Wealth Strategies

Matt Delaney, partner, JDH Wealth Management

James Demmert, managing partner, Main Street Researchpage 5

Montgomery Taylor, founder, Montgomery Taylor & Company, LLC

John Whiting, partner, Moss Adams Wealth Advisors, LLC

Kelly Crane, chief investment officer, Napa Valley Wealth Managementpage 6

Greg Friedman, president, Private Ocean

Clark Jorgensen, senior portfolio manager, Private Wealth Partners, LLCpage 7

Michael Gradl, senior vice president of wealth management, Redwood Credit Union

Michael Schmitz, vice president of investments and COO, Schmitz Capital Partnerspage 8

Eric Aanes, president, Titus Wealth Management

Jon Mallon, UBS Financial Services, Inc.page 9

Tim Russell, managing partner, Valley Oak Wealth Management

Evan Oliver, principal, VERITY Wealth Advisors, LLC

Henry Pilger, chairman, senior wealth adviser, Vista Wealth Managementpage 10

Irv Rothenberg, principal, Wealth Management Consultants, LLC

Bruce Dzieza, CEO and partner, Willow Creek Financial Services, Inc.

Alice King, CEO, Wine Country Wealth Management, LLC

The Business Journal surveyed wealth management advisers across the North Bay on three questions related to the investment climate today and long term. The responses of nearly two dozen follow.

(Listed alphabetically by company name)Colleen Supran, principalBingham, Osborn & Scarborough, LLC1201 Vine St., Ste. 102, Healdsburg, 707-433-7300, www.bosinvest.com

Describe one significant challenge that you currently face as a wealth adviser.

[caption id="attachment_60355" align="alignleft" width="180"] Colleen Supran[/caption]

Fixed income is an important part of our clients’ portfolios; however, future bond performance may look very different from the above-average returns we experienced over the past 30 years. Interest rates are at very low levels and if rates rise in the future, bond prices will decline. Although we have been hearing predictions of higher interest rates for years, no one knows for sure when (or if) rates will rise. We address this uncertainty by using short- to intermediate-maturity bonds in client portfolios. These bonds tend to be more stable when interest rates change, steadying portfolio values when stock price volatility increases.

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

Interest rates (as measured by the 10-year U.S. Treasury) are near record lows and the Federal Reserve has vowed to keep yields low for the foreseeable future. Investors starved for yield are buying higher-risk securities that they may not understand or want to own if they could earn some interest on CDs or a money market account. To achieve high yields in this environment an investor must take on more risk. This is often an unacceptable tradeoff for the portion of a portfolio that should be invested in stable, low-risk assets.

What plot lines are you following as you look towards the future for investing?

We live in an uncertain world and investors will always have plenty to consider. As much as the world around us changes, we recognize that the plot line for the future is based on each client’s unique situation. Changes in a client’s work or family situation are often more meaningful inputs than the myriad of economic and global worries that are an inevitable part of the investment landscape. We spend a significant amount of time understanding individual risk tolerance and building portfolios that are customized to meet each investor’s needs.[poll id="33"]

This NBBJ Pulse Poll runs through Sept. 4, 2012.Charles Root, managing directorDouble Eagle Financial2300 Bethards Dr., Ste. R, PO Box 2790, Santa Rosa, 707-576-1313, www.double-eaglefinancial.com

Describe one significant challenge that you currently face as a wealth adviser.

[caption id="attachment_60356" align="alignleft" width="138"] Charles Root[/caption]

The major challenge is that too many clients watch the nightly news and see the overly negative news about the economy and everything in general. Rarely one sees any positive reinforcement to the changes that have been taking place and there have been many good ones that allow one to take advantage of business opportunities.

That said, businesses are concerned about costs and uncertainty, as well as future increase in taxes and healthcare costs.

With all these uncertainties, no one wants to make a move other than to hold on to their cash and resources.

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

Individual investors always make the same mistakes every cycle, which is one of the reasons the cycles are accentuated. They get impatient and sell at the worst critical part of the market and then wait until most of the recovery has taken place to buy back in. As a result they usually are out of phase with the market. Surveys have shown that individual investors have lower returns than professionals. One needs assurance by an expert adviser that will keep the investor calm in any kind of a market. Also, few investors or advisers for that matter know how to implement proper risk management when the market does start to go south.

What plot lines are you following as you look towards the future for investing?

Our game plan has few changes. We use an Offense plan and a Defense plan. We are now in the early stages of our Offense plan, that is to begin with serious money into the market when our charts give correct signals. During the period from May to October, the historical returns are minimal, so we are very cautious about putting large amounts into the market unless we have a strong signal to do so. We are always cautious unless we see strong signals for market bottoms.

As always our first rule is risk management, not to lose client money. Gain is secondary, since with small draw downs, one doesn’t need to get huge returns.

Steven Jenkins, senior vice president & director of trust servicesExchange Bank545 Fourth St., Santa Rosa, 707 524 3151, invest.exchangebank.com

Describe one significant challenge that you currently face as a wealth adviser.

[caption id="attachment_60357" align="alignleft" width="180"] Steven Jenkins[/caption]

A truism over my 31 years as a trust and investment adviser is that the most difficult day to invest in always now. With today’s historic low interest rates, many conservative investors simply are not getting the income needed to keep up with their expenses. Real returns after inflation are mostly negative. One result of the low yields in Certificates of Deposit, Treasury Bills and Notes, and high quality municipal and corporate bonds is that far too many investors have compounded their income and expense imbalance by taking on excessive investment risk to chase higher yields. In some situations, substituting high dividend stocks for bonds makes sense. However, in most cases, treating illiquid limited partnerships, private debt, and leveraged derivative securities as high quality bond substitutes is very dangerous. Creating a sustainable financial plan, while mitigating investment volatility, is our most important challenge in assisting our more conservative clients today.

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

Many individual investors appear to have extremely short memories. The record of active managers and market timers has long been proven to be disappointing on average. Nonetheless, the urge to find an investment guru who can predict the future remains strong with some investors. Of course, over any time period, one can identify market beating managers ex-post. But that is not the real issue. The issue is can an investor identify a manager who will beat the market ex-ante? The answer to that is probably not. When successful, that result is due more to luck than to skill. Investors should spend more time focusing on their goals, spending habits, risk management, and strategic allocation than jumping from one guru to the next.

What plot lines are you following as you look towards the future for investing?

The list of plot lines is long and deep: the fiscal cliff, the unemployment rate, housing prices, the Eurozone debt crisis, inflation, interest rates, and gridlock in Congress to name some obvious ones. The result of all these issues is uncertainty. How do investors, business owners, and parents make reasonable assumptions to build their strategic financial plans given all this uncertainty? Also, how do we keep our emotional reaction to short-term events from leading us astray? At Exchange Bank, our 122 years of institutional experience through times of relative clarity and uncertainty has shown that although the plot lines may be new, the careful analysis of facts over rumors, innuendo, and hype is remains the best approach to planning.Brian Pon, principalFinancial Connections21 Tamal Vista Blvd., Ste. 105, Corte Madera, 415-924-1091 , www.financialconnections.com

Describe one significant challenge that you currently face as a wealth adviser.

[caption id="attachment_60358" align="alignleft" width="180"] Brian Pon[/caption]

People know they need assistance managing their money and planning for their financial future, but they don’t know how to find a trust-worthy adviser. Sorting through all of the different people who call themselves financial advisers to find the ones who have experience and integrity can be confusing.

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

Here are two: We see people approaching retirement age who have not yet taken stock of all of the pieces of their financial future. They are unsure if they have saved enough to support their planned lifestyle in retirement.

We also see do-it-yourselfers who don’t really manage their investments. They may do research to pick stocks or funds, buy them, then leave their portfolio unattended for a long time. Some people even leave large amounts in money market funds – where they are actually losing value!

What plot lines are you following as you look towards the future for investing?

Given the uncertain economic and political climate, people are worried about extreme fluctuations in the value of their assets. We are constructing portfolios that seek to reduce volatility while participating in market upside.

James BurlesonGreenleaf & Burleson Wealth Management, LLC201 First St., Ste. 204, Petaluma, 707-283-0520, www.gbwealth.com

Describe one significant challenge that you currently face as a wealth adviser.

[caption id="attachment_60361" align="alignleft" width="180"] James Burleson[/caption]

Only two things in life are certain, death and taxes. A significant challenge we currently face as a wealth adviser is planning for these certainties. The challenge is caused by the uncertainty of the dramatic changes of the estate tax laws in 2013. In planning, we unfortunately have to plan on death as we look to minimize the effect of taxes on the generational transfer of our clients’ assets. With no action by Congress, the federal estate tax exemption is scheduled to revert back to $1 million dollars and the top tax rate will revert back to 55 percent. We are facing this challenge by examining the acceleration of gifting of the estate’s assets. Through 2012, clients may utilize the federal estate tax exemption of $5.12 million.

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

The main mistake we see from the individual investor is not adhering to a prudent investment strategy in times of stress in the market. Adhering to a prudent investment strategy becomes elusive in a world of continually streaming news and complex investment products. These forces overwhelm human emotion and lead many investors astray. A prudent investment approach is simple, effective, boring and difficult to maintain. The individual investor may be rational, but they are also emotional– meaning they are influenced by outside forces that bias their investment decisions.

What plot lines are you following as you look towards the future for investing?

One of the major investing plot lines we are following is the impending U.S. “fiscal cliff” - $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts that will occur on Jan. 1, 2013 and the approach to the federal debt ceiling limits in mid-February 2013. These two events are leading to a perfect storm for financial chaos and lead us to our investment dilemma, policy risk. It is not our expectation Congress will not act, yet inaction or short-term policy decisions only mute the ability of businesses to make long-term decisions. Another policy issue that affects our practice is the uncertainty of the dividend tax rate. The current preliminary budget calls for a dividend tax rate above 40% for high earners compared to a 15% tax rate today. The policy impact of higher dividend taxes may not have the effect many believe because the high dividend yield stocks are mostly in defensive sectors and do not carry a notable price to earnings premium. It is rare that the policy makers hold such a large hand over the markets, yet that is the reality for 2013.Neil Hennessy, portfolio manager and chief investment officerHennessy Funds7250 Redwood Blvd., Ste. 200, Novato, 415-899-1555, www.hennessyfunds.com

Describe one significant challenge that you currently face as a wealth adviser.

[caption id="attachment_60360" align="alignleft" width="180"] Neil Hennessy[/caption]

Uncertainty. When I say "uncertainty" -- we have to come to grips, and businesses have to get clarity coming from Washington on three major issues--taxes, health care and regulations. Until business gets that clarity coming from Washington, whatever way it goes, I don't think you're going to see any meaningful hiring happen. Companies are doing very well and reporting all-time high profits, but they won't start hiring until they know what's coming down from regulations. Until we get some clarity, this economy is going to be flat. Which isn't bad, don't get me wrong -- companies are still making a lot of money, they're paying dividends, and that's a good for the stock market. There's no cost to defer ... if your competitors aren't expanding, why should you?

What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate?

The biggest mistake individual investors are making is that they're putting their money in the fixed income products. You start to look at what's going to happen … do you think interest rates are going to be higher or lower in the next five years? They're going to be higher. Interest rates go up, bonds go down. Interest rates go down, bonds go up. Where they should be putting their money into is real high-quality, dividend paying stocks.

What plot lines are you following as you look towards the future for investing?

If you take those three issues and then you look at the election coming up in November, never have I seen such a clear-cut race, where you have one side completely opposite of the other side. It's going to be an election on where this country is going to go. Are we going to go the Europe way, or are we going to go the United States way that has fostered business and entrepreneurship?

Noah Jacobson, partnerJacobson & Breen Wealth Strategies201 Keller St., Petaluma, 707-763-0354, www.jacobsonbreen.com

Describe one significant challenge that you currently face as a wealth adviser.

[caption id="attachment_60362" align="alignleft" width="180"] Noah Jacobson[/caption]

>Keeping clients focused on reaching their goals & desires and avoiding knee jerk reactions based on short lived and large quantities of negative news media

>What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate

>Believing that the current economic climate will always be the “norm.

>What plot lines are you following as you look towards the future for investing

>We are closely following the variables that influence our clients real return, which include:Changes in interest ratesInflationTaxesCorporate profit

>Real return is the investment return minus inflation and taxes and all of these variables with the exception of corporate profits that are at historic lows. Going forward we have to account for an increase in interest rates, inflation and taxes which could have a negative impact on our clients real return.Matt Delaney, partnerJDH Wealth Management187 Concourse Blvd., Santa Rosa, 707-542-1110, www.jdhwealth.co

>Describe one significant challenge that you currently face as a wealth adviser

>One of the biggest challenges that I face as a wealth adviser is dealing with products that aren't in a investors best interest. Many prospective clients will come in with the idea that variable annuities, hedge funds and other high risk products will help them accomplish their financial goals. We live in a society that bombards us with so many products that you simply "can't live without". My job is to sit down with people to walk them through the fine print and the pros and cons of these products and explain why investors are typically far better off without these type of investment vehicles. This is often a big challenge to overcome as an adviser

>What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate

>Many investors react to the daily financial climate irrespective of their long term goals.  Their behavior is often very difficult to control.  Facebook is a great example of this. People bought Facebook without determining if it makes sense given their overall risk profile.  It was "guaranteed" to make money.  You "cant go wrong."  This was a move driven by greed.  Investors do this over and over throughout their investment lifetime and cause significant damage thinking that "this time is different."  Think back to 2008 when the markets were sliding quickly.  People got out of the markets and went to cash, gold, etc, thinking that they were making a wise move.  Unfortunately, they took the loss, got out and them missed the upswing in 2009.  Rinse and repeat.  This is very common for individual investors

>What plot lines are you following as you look towards the future for investing

>Forget plot lines. Investors need to focus more on their appetite for risk and how much risk they actually have to take. The equity markets carry significant risk that many people are not mentally prepared for to show up. I would argue that too may investors are taking more risk than they need. The prudent withdrawal rate states that you can withdraw 4 percent from a portfolio without impacting the principal over a 30-year period. With a $2 million portfolio, 4 percent would be $80,000 per year in cash flow. If this plus social security is enough money to live on, there is no reason to take more risk than possibly 40 percent equities and 60 percent fixed income yet I see too often that investors have too much allocated to equities. The future of investing will continue to have a global concentration. Investors need to stop making irrational decisions simply because they feel that "this time is different."James Demmert, managing partnerMain Street Research30 Liberty Ship Way, 3rd fl., Sausalito, 800-357-3863. www.ms-research.co

>Describe one significant challenge that you currently face as a wealth adviser

>[caption id="attachment_60363" align="alignleft" width="180"] James Demmert[/caption

>

>One of the most common and significant challenges we face as a wealth adviser is getting clients to understand the dynamics of risk and return as it relates to their specific circumstances. When we are first introduced to a new client we often find that they have no real idea of what rate of return they need to achieve to reach their goals. Whether they be goals of eventual retirement, making their money last their lifetime or gifting assets to the next generation. Usually their investment portfolio is either too risky or not risky enough. Once these clients go through our exercise of wealth planning they then understand exactly what rate of return they require to meet their goals -- at which point we can adjust their investment portfolio to be in line with the rate of return

>What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate

>The biggest mistake we see individual investors make is an underestimation of risk. Most importantly, we find investors very unsophisticated when it comes to managing the risk of their investments. For instance if your investments decline by 50 percent as many investors experienced in 2008, it takes a 100 percent return to get even! Going backup 100 percent can take many years and can be detrimental if you are taking withdrawals during that time. We use a proprietary process called Active Risk Management that is intended to reduce the risk of catastrophic loss and it has worked well for our clients during the past 5 years when markets have declined significantly

>What plot lines are you following as you look towards the future for investing

>We are global investors and invest in individual securities so we use a number of plot lines to forecast and position our portfolios. The first is a macro look at the global economy and its state of growth (or lack of). Second, we study sectors of the economy such as healthcare, technology or financials in search of those sectors and industries that are poised for success. Lastly, we conduct extensive research to find great companies that have an edge on their competition and have strong fundamentals. Companies like Apple, Whole Foods, Diageo (British) or ASML (Dutch) are good examples of companies in which we invest

>Montgomery Taylor, founderMontgomery Taylor & Company, LLC2880 Cleveland Ave., Ste. 2, Santa Rosa, 707-576-8700, www.TaxWiseAdvisor.co

>Describe one significant challenge that you currently face as a wealth adviser

>[caption id="attachment_60364" align="alignleft" width="180"] Montgomery Taylor[/caption

>

>Our challenge centers on our ability to see potential retirees—before they retire. My suggestion is: Don’t retire…until you’ve checked off the items on my financial bucket list! (You can see this list in my new book: Before It’s Too Late: Retirement & Estate Solutions, available for sale on Amazon via www.TaxWiseAdvisor.com ) It’s important because there are some critical things to do before you leave your job. Once you retire you may lose some pension options, mortgage refinancing opportunities, social security optimization choices, etc. People need to do comprehensive, integrated financial planning with a multi-disciplinary team approach

> What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate

>The single biggest mistake I see people making financially is that they use tunnel vision, looking at each investment choice individually, without considering how it integrates into their over-all financial situation. They make investment decisions, retirement decisions, property title decisions, etc., without understanding the consequences. After 30 years of helping people solve financial difficulties, many of them after a death occurred I prefer people look at it from a holistic point of view, which unfortunately is not widely available by financial service providers. I believe that people need to know all the best choices and why they’re the best choices for them -- not just what some financial institution is pushing this week

> What plot lines are you following as you look towards the future for investing

>My approach to wealth management goes way beyond stock market investment strategies. Stock market investing is only one component in our multi-disciplinary team approach and what we call Wealth Integration Review. However, to answer the question about the future of investing…I believe the days of ‘buy-and-hold’ are gone. Our global economy is very fragile and we should not leave any significant wealth in place without a proper “exit strategy.” In our office, we use an approach that actively responds to economic changes and utilizes a disciplined methodology.John Whiting, PartnerMoss Adams Wealth Advisors, LLC3700 Old Redwood Hwy., Ste. 200, Santa Rosa, 707 535-4167, www.mossadamswealthadvisors.co

>Describe one significant challenge that you currently face as a wealth adviser

>[caption id="attachment_60365" align="alignleft" width="180"] John Whiting[/caption

>

>During times of volatility, investors are challenged to maintain an establish asset allocation that is consistent with their long term objectives. The 24/7 news cycle that amplifies every economic issue, perpetuates the fear that “this time, it’s different” causing investors to abandon their target allocation in favor of “safety”

>We’ve found that because our clients have a personalized financial plan that identifies all of their goals, both short and long term, they are better able to avoid the trap of trying to time the market. Trying to time when to be in the market and when to be out is extremely challenging. There may be some folks out there that have been successful in doing so. In my 20 plus years, I haven’t met any of them. History demonstrates that investors are rewarded for time in the market, not timing the market

>What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate

>For many investors, when markets fluctuate as we’ve seen during the past four years they tend to pull back and stop adding to their investment portfolios. Savvy investors recognize that when markets move downward the regular and ongoing contributions they make simply buy more shares of the investments they are purchasing. As we work with clients, we educate them on the importance of one of Warren Buffet’s famous adages, “Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful.” Conceptually, it makes great sense. In practice, it’s much more difficult. Our client’s have found that adhering to a target asset allocation makes the process of determining when to rebalance less of an emotional decision and more of a disciplined process. Any time we can help our clients remove emotions from the investment process we have helped them move closer to achieving their goals

>What plot lines are you following as you look towards the future for investing

>Smart investors recognize that going forward, muted returns are more likely than historical long term returns. As a regular course of our work with clients we‘ve modeled more conservative returns in our client’ financial plans. We would much rather propose scenarios that assume a more conservative return in the plan and know that the plan works under the set of assumptions. If the returns are better than modeled, great, the client is better off than we anticipated. This approach resonates with our clients and allows everyone to sleep better at night.Kelly Crane, chief investment officerNapa Valley Wealth Management1127 Pope St., Ste. 101, St. Helena, 888-883-3222, www.napavalleywealthmanagement.co

>Describe one significant challenge that you currently face as a wealth adviser

>We're in a unique economic and market environment for our generation, and many investors are feeling fear from the frequent changes and uncertainty. Even when their current course of action is not working as they would like, they are frozen—unable or unwilling to make the changes necessary to move forward. Our mission is to help them overcome these fears, by reducing their risk and identifying opportunities (which exist in most every type of market) to help achieve their long-term goals

>What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate

>The primary mistake individual investors are making is not taking action. Plenty of studies have shown that making financial, especially investment, choices according to emotion leads one to lackluster performance. In today’s environment you need to be proactive and tactical in creating a personalized financial plan and implementing a well thought-out investment strategy. Replace fear with disciplined, proactive action

>What plot lines are you following as you look towards the future for investing

>Given the global, economic, and market environment we are in, we expect continued uncertainty. This makes risk management vastly more important than it has been in the past. Many investors are experiencing flat or negative returns, because they are not using a tactical approach to manage risk in an uncertain environment. Our strategies are designed to potentially reduce risk and avoid loss in uncertain market conditions, which means your returns are potentially more stable and predictable over time

>Kelly F. Crane, Registered Principal of, and securities and some investment advisory services are offered through, Financial Network Investment Corporation, Member SIPC. Napa Valley Wealth Management is not affiliated with Financial Network

>Greg Friedman, presidentPrivate Ocean750 Lindaro St., Ste. 130, San Rafael, 415-526-2900, www.privateocean.co

>Describe one significant challenge that you currently face as a wealth adviser

>[caption id="attachment_60366" align="alignleft" width="180"] Greg Friedman[/caption

>

>A significant challenge for wealth managers at this time is the ongoing and unprecedented global uncertainty, along with media-fueled concerns that come in any election year. The “noise” in the current environment tends to make it harder to help clients achieve their goals

> What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate

>The biggest mistake we see is an investor inappropriately giving up on a long-term investment strategy in favor of short-term vehicles that they perceive will offer them safety

> What plot lines are you following as you look towards the future for investing

>The plot lines we follow are first and foremost – invest for the long-term. We also believe it is essential to stay current on the latest thinking around investment strategies (e.g., liquid hedge funds) and other strategies designed to minimize portfolio risk.Clark Jorgensen, senior portfolio managerPrivate Wealth Partners, LLC80 E. Sir Francis Drake Blvd., 4th fl., Larkspur, 415-461-3850, www.pwpart.co

>Describe one significant challenge that you currently face as a wealth adviser

>[caption id="attachment_60367" align="alignleft" width="180"] Clark Jorgensen[/caption

>

>Achieving required returns in a low return environment without increasing the risk profile of the portfolio is challenging. At Private Wealth Partners we attempt to overcome this hurdle by being thoughtful and creative in our risk-taking with our clients’ assets

>What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate

>Individual investors tend to place too much focus on the constant financial news cycle. The informational "noise" associated with most of this does not help make good long-term investment decisions

>What plot lines are you following as you look towards the future for investing

>The level of government intervention in the capital markets is something no current investor has seen before. With global markets more connected than ever, the consequences of these decisions have a greater impact on investment outcomes than they have in the past. Here at Private Wealth Partners we are mindful of these changes and we factor them in to our investment decision-making process

>Michael Gradl, senior vice president of wealth managementRedwood Credit Union3033 Cleveland Ave., Ste. 100, Santa Rosa, 800-479-7928, www.redwoodcu.or

>Describe one significant challenge that you currently face as a wealth adviser

>[caption id="attachment_60368" align="alignleft" width="180"] Michael Gradl[/caption

>

>With all of the economic issues of the past few years, it’s often a challenge to help people to see beyond the “news of the day” and look at the longer term. Many people respond emotionally to current events, which can affect their decisions – especially when it comes to financial matters. It’s important to remember the economic environment is changing constantly, which plays a role in short-term portfolio performance, but usually has far less impact on the long-term perspective

>Some sources encourage a do-it-yourself approach to avoid fees or other costs, but there is significant value in working with a knowledgeable professional adviser who can assist you in creating a plan that best fits your unique needs, and help you diversify your investments for a well-balanced strategy

>What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate

>Many people are focusing too much on keeping it safe and keeping it liquid. We’re in a time where returns on the more traditional investments such as CDs, Treasuries and money markets are not keeping up with the inflation rate, so the long-term outlook isn’t favorable for these vehicles. People should be open to exploring other available options that will allow their money to work harder for them

>We’re also finding that many people don’t have a long-term plan for retirement. Planning is essential, and starting early can drastically increase the growth potential of your financial plan. Time is one of the fundamental elements of investing

>What plot lines are you following as you look towards the future for investing

>From a financial professional’s perspective, here are a few factors I consider, looking toward the future

>Interest rate movement. If interest rates stay the same or decrease (which there’s not much room to do), they will not keep pace with inflation, and investors will need to look outside traditional savings vehicles for options that will better meet their changing income needs. If interest rates increase – particularly if it happens rapidly – investors of what now appear to be “safe” investments of fixed income instruments such as bonds may suffer erosion of their original principal. This scenario may also be a sign of rapidly rising inflation

>Emerging markets. Emerging international markets such as China and Brazil may offer significant potential for investment growth, but professional advisers and investors alike will need to examine and balance this growth potential against the level of risk and volatility that may also be inherent by investing into these regions

>Keeping focus toward building retirement income. A most common and pressing goal for investors is to create a plan that will provide a consistent, predictable income stream upon retirement. Dabbling in the stock market and modestly saving into a retirement account will not ensure a comfortable retirement lifestyle. Just as with building a house, an organized plan needs to be in place that provides a solid foundation in order to succeed over the long-term

>Creating a solid plan includes all the steps I mentioned previously:Focus on the long-termWork with a knowledgeable investment adviser to create a personalized planExplore non-traditional optionsTake advantage of time – begin planning and investing earl

>Remember, if you don’t have a road map, you’re depending upon luck to get you to your destination.Michael Schmitz, vice president of investments and COOSchmitz Capital Partners655 Redwood Hwy., Ste. 109, Mill Valley, 415-381-9076, www.schmitzcapital.co

>Describe one significant challenge that you currently face as a wealth adviser

>[caption id="attachment_60369" align="alignleft" width="180"] Michael Schmitz[/caption

>

>One significant challenge is keeping clients focused on the long-term objectives of their portfolios given the slowing domestic economic environment, depressed housing market, stubbornly high unemployment, financial market volatility and headwinds overseas (Europe)

>What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate

>From our vantage point, the current financial climate is truly one gigantic exercise in behavioral finance. Risk carries a “recency effect” (i.e. investors’ most recent investment experiences are often what they expect to happen in the future). In the investment world, this often turns out to be precisely the wrong thing to do. The ‘Great Recession” left some investors so cautious they remained firmly rooted on the sidelines, leaving them exposed to opportunity risk. Others were lulled into the notion that the economy recovered and reverted back into strategies that may have overexposed them to risk. The bottom line is that emotional decisions can be costly

>What plot lines are you following as you look towards the future for investing

>We believe that investors should avoid the “volatility trap” and stick to their long-term plan. However, "sticking to the plan" does not necessarily have to mean "buy and hold". It includes active management and having an allocation strategy based upon "black swan" or unanticipated market events. It includes constant evaluation and sector reallocations to help take advantage of, or protect against, prevailing market conditions. It can also mean searching for tax-loss harvesting opportunities and alternative investment vehicles that can help hedge against deteriorating market conditions. In a climate like this it is crucial to understand the relationship and tradeoffs between risk and return and, most importantly, the investors’ own ability, willingness and need to accept market risk

>Eric Aanes, presidentTitus Wealth Management700 Larkspur Landing Cir., Ste. 109, Larkspur, 415-461-4800, www.tituswealth.co

>Describe one significant challenge that you currently face as a wealth adviser

>[caption id="attachment_60370" align="alignleft" width="180"] Eric Aanes[/caption

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>One of the most significant challenges I face as a wealth adviser is customization. Titus Wealth Management provides customized portfolios for each client. This means we don't have a few models that everyone invests in the exact same way. This approach is very time consuming for our firm to monitor and make adjustments. Although, we feel that we owe clients the customized approach since they are entrusting their life savings with our firm. This in turn limits the number of relationships our firm has and creates a closer connection to our clients financial and personal lives

>What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate

>The two major mistakes I see from new clients that come to us are they do not review and make changes to their portfolio or they trade to often and do themselves harm

>What plot lines are you following as you look towards the future for investing

>We are starting to take a more global approach to investing and looking to continue with investments domestically that pay dividends. We start with a solid roadmap that is realistic, attainable and sustainable in the long run.Jon MallonUBS Financial Services, Inc.100 B St., Ste. 300, Santa Rosa, 707-535-2961, www.ubs.co

>Describe one significant challenge that you currently face as a wealth adviser

>[caption id="attachment_60371" align="alignleft" width="180"] Jon Mallon[/caption

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>One of the biggest challenges we currently face as financial advisers, given the heightened market volatility and recent economic downturns, is to consistently stay ahead of the curve, ascertain sustainable trends, and identify the most compelling and appropriate investments for our clients. We work closely with our clients to develop a disciplined investment plan based on their needs and help them stick with the plan. We regularly discuss their objectives, communicate the strategy, and most importantly, help them maintain their focus on achieving their long tern goals

>What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate

>The most common mistakes that we see individual investors make occur at different ends of the risk spectrum. For example, in the current low interest rate environment, we see some investors reaching for yield to maintain a level of income. However, they may not be fully considering the added potential risk with longer maturity bonds or less creditworthy issuers in their fixed income portfolios, and / or high dividend yields without contemplating the underlying fundamentals of the companies

>At the same time, other individuals, disillusioned by the market volatility have decided not to invest in the markets and may not fully recognize the negative impact that inflation can have on the purchasing power of their portfolio in the long run, or the opportunity cost of not participating in potential investment opportunities

>What plot lines are you following as you look towards the future for investing

>Looking toward the future, we see several long tern trends shaping our overall investment strategy including

>1. U.S. stocks will likely outperform bond

>2. We will likely see inflation trend higher over time which will make it more important to be selective with investments, especially long maturity fixed income investments. Regarding equity investments, we believe companies with pricing power will be in a better position to maintain margins and profitability in the face of rising costs

>3. An appropriate allocation to select alternative investment managers will likely produce uncorrelated returns that can lessen the overall volatility of one's investment portfolio

>Tim Russell, managing partnerValley Oak Wealth Management2 Ranch Drive, Novato, 415-898-4439, www.valleyoakwm.co

>Describe one significant challenge that you currently face as a wealth adviser

>In today’s economic environment where 10-year Treasury yields tend to remain below 2%, it has been difficult to provide our clients with the income that they are used to. In turn, we have focused our attention on high-quality, dividend paying stocks, and other income producing alternative investments. Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT’s), Business Development Companies (BDC’s), and Unit Investment Trusts (UIT’s) have all been great resources to meet our clients need for income

>What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate

>Individual investors have commonly made the mistake of keeping all of their assets invested while others have the tendency to avoid risk at all cost by keeping their assets entirely in cash. Using an appropriate mixture of technical and fundamental analysis can help investors avoid this common mistake

>What plot lines are you following as you look towards the future for investing

>We are actively monitoring the U.S. recovery, the European crisis, China’s productivity, and all other major market driving factors. Specifically, we are watching the Federal Reserve and the release of any possible easing action. We also focus our attention on other economic indicators such as unemployment and housing numbers. As we are stuck in a range bound, headline driven market, we find it important to focus on global economic analysis and stay informed about world events.Evan Oliver, principalVERITY Wealth Advisors, LLC1505 Bridgeway, Ste. 208, Sausalito, 415-561-3340, www.veritywealth.co

>Describe one significant challenge that you currently face as a wealth adviser

>[caption id="attachment_60372" align="alignleft" width="180"] Evan Oliver[/caption

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>Today’s worrisome markets have made it increasingly difficult to keep clients’ attention focused on the long-term nature of investing towards an ultimate goal. Though this has always been a difficult endeavor, concerns over catching a “falling knife” have peaked risk-aversion

>What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate

>Today’s treacherous markets are providing investors with myriad new ways to make even more mistakes, primarily in the pursuit of new, untested and expensive financial products pumped out supposedly in the name of financial innovation

>What plot lines are you following as you look towards the future for investing

>One particularly entertaining (at least to finance geeks) debate taking place right now is the “death of equities” shot across the bow a few weeks back by Bill Gross and the subsequent rebuttal by several prominent managers. How could brilliant people have such polar differences of opinion on the same subject? It appears that in today’s market the best estimates of future returns are now nothing more than opinions that depend upon which side of a philosophical divide one resides. Scary!Henry Pilger, chairman, senior wealth adviserVista Wealth Management110 Stony Point Rd., Ste. 210, Santa Rosa, 415-477-8600, www.vistawealth.co

>Describe one significant challenge that you currently face as a wealth adviser

>[caption id="attachment_60373" align="alignleft" width="180"] Henry Pilger[/caption

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>Since we take a long-term perspective with regard to investment markets, the biggest challenge we face at this point is the uncertainty with the estate tax law. Our clients want to make substantial gifts, but not necessarily all at once. With current law escalating tax rates back to 55 percent next year, from the current 35 percent, and with the exemption amount dropping back to $1 million (from $5 million), the changes are dramatic, and frankly much too great for anyone to realistically plan for. This is especially true for families that have adequate wealth to see them comfortably through their retirement years, but aren't sure if they have enough to help the rest of their family in these lean times

> What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate

>When we first talk to most individual investors, and before they become our clients, the overwhelming issue we've seen is that their portfolios are stuck at having tremendous amounts of cash. Many are still so nervous about the short-term volatility of the stock market and the low interest rate environment of the bond market, that they have much of their accounts in money market or bank accounts that are paying very low (if any) interest. Yet, inflation marches on. We humans are built for reacting quickly to changing events, but unfortunately, that does not make for a good investor. A good investor takes a long-term view and invests accordingly. Think Warren Buffett holding companies for decades or, for that matter, most homeowners who hold their homes for many years and see nice appreciation. Homeowners hold their property because it is hard to sell, and they need a place to live. The appreciation is a nice byproduct. Investors in stock and bond markets need to have the same frame of mind. Not that we live in our stocks and bonds, but that holding them for long time periods, through up and down markets, should eventually pay off. The evidence for this long-term appreciation from looking at the broad markets is there

>What plot lines are you following as you look towards the future for investing

>As we attempt to do with all of our clients, we like to focus on their overall personal financial goals, taking a long-term view, and making efficient plans for short-term goals. We don't attempt to make tactical changes to our portfolios, because the research shows again and again that very few people can consistently beat the markets, and that it is impossible to determine ahead of time who will may have that ability. Therefore, we implement portfolios that are always fully invested, that are low-cost, and that are run as tax-efficiently as possible. This is an approach that continues to grow in popularity

>Irv Rothenberg, principalWealth Management Consultants, LLC3550 Round Barn Blvd., Ste. 212, Santa Rosa, 707-542-3600, www.wealthmc.co

>Describe one significant challenge that you currently face as a wealth adviser

>[caption id="attachment_60374" align="alignleft" width="180"] Irv Rothenberg[/caption

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>Perhaps our most significant challenge involves the global financial crisis and the effect it’s having on our clients. It’s normal to feel like you have to do something when the situation looks bleak, but in many cases, the best thing our clients can do is avoid reacting to noise about the crisis. Panicked reactions to market events tend to do more harm than good. There are a ton of forecasts right now, so there is a growing chance that at least one of them will be right. Helping clients sort through them is a challenge

>What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate

>Many investors see the low interest rates offered by CDs, Treasuries and other forms of fixed income and want to jump into riskier offerings in hopes of finding higher yields. The problem is that these higher-yielding investments are riskier and likely won’t provide a safe haven if markets go south. They’re more likely to drop along with the stock portion of the portfolio. If the expected return isn’t high enough, you should consider allocating more to stocks, not taking more risk with your bonds

>The rough markets we experienced a few years ago also have investors nervous about investing in stocks. They tend to stick to lower-returning bonds, or they don’t diversify into riskier asset classes like international stocks. Investors who don’t take enough risk because they’re staying in bonds may not end up reaching their financial goals. Those who don’t diversify could be missing out on better performance (and better chances of reaching their goals) when those riskier asset classes provide higher returns

>What plot lines are you following as you look towards the future for investing

>The biggest stories we’re watching for our clients involve the continued high levels of mortgage foreclosures, Congress’s upcoming discussions of raising the debt ceiling and the impact of the nation’s deficit on our country’s finances. Our major concern is helping our clients manage their fears about investing, and making sure they are comfortable with the risk they are taking. We also want to help them see the effect major events have (or don’t have) on their financial future. We do this by staying engaged with our clients and integrating all aspects of their financial lives into their planning. In that way, we look at future events a little differently than most other firms.Bruce Dzieza, CEO and partnerWillow Creek Financial Services, Inc.825 Gravenstein Hwy. N., Ste. 5, Sebastopol, 707-829-1146, www.wcfsinc.co

>Describe one significant challenge that you currently face as a wealth adviser

>[caption id="attachment_60375" align="alignleft" width="180"] Bruce Dzieza[/caption

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>Fear. Investors are fearful of an economic breakdown, political turmoil in the U.S. and Europe, and that they won’t be able to live the lives they planned on. We can help combat this fear in our clients by putting context to their personal situation with a financial plan

>What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate

>Too many investors continue to let their emotions run their investments decisions. We see investors reacting to every bit of negative news and ignoring positive news. We encourage clients to remain focused on their ultimate goals and not allow the day in and day out market gyrations influence their financial decisions

>What plot lines are you following as you look towards the future for investing

>We will continue to live in a volatile investing environment. Getting used to it is difficult, but necessary for investors. Keeping globally diversified, having clients keep enough cash on hand to weather down markets, and remembering to buy when others sell and sell when others buy.Alice King, CEOWine Country Wealth Management, LLC809 Broadway, Sonoma, 707-933-1549, www.winecountrywealthmanagement.co

>Describe one significant challenge that you currently face as a wealth adviser

>[caption id="attachment_60376" align="alignleft" width="180"] Alice King[/caption

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>A big challenge in the current economic environment is counseling the clients who still feel “shell shocked” even though the stock market has essentially recovered since 2008. We are focused more on client education so as to engage the rational sides of their brains and coach them to make good financial decisions, while empathizing with their emotions concerning the economic “roller coaster” of the past few years

>What mistakes do you see individual investors making in the current financial climate

>Some have a tendency to become paralyzed and hesitant to make decisions, because the volatility in the stock market (and the protracted real estate recovery) has them second guessing themselves. We see our role as being their objective “sounding boards” and encouraging them to take a long term view as opposed to reacting to the doom and gloom in the media

>What plot lines are you following as you look towards the future for investing

>We continue to keep a close eye on all the many factors that affect our clients’ abilities to reach their financial goals, especially their lifestyle in retirement. Of course, this goes beyond how their portfolios are invested, as there are many other variable to consider such as future income tax rates’ likelihood to increase, Congressional flip flopping on estate taxes (making advanced planning a challenge), rising costs of uninsured medical expenses and long term care (with many long term care insurers getting out of the business).