NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Clients visiting the wealth management office of Lassus Wherley on 1 Academy Street are more likely to be greeted by a couple of friendly, housebroken dogs than they are cold office corridors adorned with plastic plants.
Lassus Wherley fosters an atmosphere of welcoming friendliness because they insist that their priorities are invested in more than just stocks and bonds.
“We have two dogs that come to work with us every day,” said Deborah Rivosa, the Director of Business Development and part of the executive team at Lassus Wherley. “We have a very different office environment.”
To the financial advisors at Lassus Wherley, the big picture includes much more than the performance of tomorrow’s Dow Jones Industrial Average.
“Our vision is that, to us, it’s a long-term relationship (with clients) and future generations. We’re not here just to gather assets; we’re expecting it to be a long-term relationship,” Rivosa said. “We look beyond investments into all aspects of wealth.” “We believe having a financial advisor is about working with people who focus on really getting to know you, understanding who you are, helping you define your goals not just your finances, and assisting you in figuring out the solutions that work for you, ” Rivosa said.
“Whereas a lot of planners say it’s important to work with the second generation or with the other spouse, we (actually) do it.”
Lassus Wherley was founded in 1985 by Diahann Lassus and Clare Wherley. At the time, fee-only financial advisors were much less common than planners who either work on commission or other less transparent forms of compensation tied to the stocks and funds their clients buy or sell.
“Our firm does not accept sales commissions of any type for the financial services that we recommend for our clients,” the homepage of Lassus Wherley’s website states. “Our clients pay us directly, and in return, they receive our objective advice, untainted by the commissions and quotas that drive most investment brokers and advisors.”
The informal setting at Lassus Wherley’s New Providence office (the firm also has a location in Bonita Springs, Fla.) is a reflection of the more personal approach the company aims to take with its clients.
“I was a client first before I came to work for (Lassus Wherley),” Rivosa said. “They care about people, and it shows.”
Rivosa mentioned a recent encounter with a senior couple with a special needs adult child. She also recalled a recent visit from an elderly man who had wandered from the assisted-care facility where he resides who drove 15 miles to the office confused, but insistent that he could drive back home.
“One of our employees drove him home, and the man’s son was so appreciative. We have a business, but it is a business of helping people,” Rivosa said. “We’re interested in people who truly need our help. We do a lot of pro bono work and we have a number of client’s children’s accounts.”
That personal approach and a long-term vision about what’s best for their clients were factors in how Lassus Wherley handled the economic crisis of 2008-’09, one from which many citizens would say we have yet to completely emerge.
“We’re not market-timers,” Rivosa said. “We are dedicated to asset allocation. We’ve talked people off of cliffs. We strongly discouraged people from going to all cash in 2008, and the market is now seeing the progress we’re making.”
In March 2009, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had plummeted from above 14,000 to below 6,500 in less than a year’s time. Now it is hovering near 15,000.
“The market is responding, and slow growth is actually better than rapid growth,” Rivosa said. “People are tired of being so negative and they want to start living again. Retailers are telling me this. They’re tired of just holding back because things have been bleak for so long.”
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