A little more than five years ago, Ross Gerber and I were sitting on Ipanema Beach in Brazil, enjoying the sunset and trying to make sense of the previous 16 months. Those days will be hard to forget. Markets tanked. Liquidity dried up. Investor nerves were frayed.
The government took extraordinary measures in an effort to give the teetering economy a lifeline. Our broker-dealer at the time, the vaunted AIG, was given a bailout, as were countless other financial firms. Other industry stalwarts, such as Merrill Lynch and Wachovia Securities, had to be rescued by larger, seemingly more secure players.
Through it all, though, Ross and I survived. In many ways, in fact, we prospered. But more importantly our clients did, too, thanks to a series of prudent investments and a conservative investment strategy. Still, it was clear that the industry had changed forever. The days of the big brokerage firms were done in our eyes, having lost credibility with millions of American investors.
This left a hole in the market, an opportunity for a new kind of investment firm with a vastly different approach. That’s how Gerber Kawasaki Wealth & Investment Management came to be. On June 1, 2010, Ross and I set out to disrupt the archaic and outdated financial services model and to create a new generation of advisors. We focused on the following:
• Independence: As investment advisors, we wanted the freedom to choose the best investment solutions for our clients, without any conflict of interest. Gerber Kawasaki does not have proprietary products, which allows our advisors to be truly objective in their assessment and investment recommendations. While most advisors will say they are free to choose whatever investments are best for their clients, they are typically affiliated with companies offering proprietary funds or insurance products, which creates a conflict of interest.
• Fiduciary responsibility: Being a fiduciary is at the core of what we do every day. Our clients are the lifeblood of our business and acting in their best interest at all times, adhering to the duties of loyalty and care, is something we take very seriously. This responsibility goes beyond simply being a broker, who is merely in the business of effecting transactions for others. Anyone can be a broker and such professionals don’t follow the same type of standards. But they typically don’t build the same type of client relationships either.
• No investment minimums: Gerber Kawasaki does not have investment minimums. This gives all investors an opportunity to set financial goals and build wealth over time. Our Wealth Building program was designed specifically to help young individuals and families do this. Moreover, to ensure that every one – no matter their income or level of investible assets – remains on the right track, each Gerber Kawasaki client will always have access to a qualified, experienced and professional advisor.
• Pilots, not flight attendants: It’s amazing how many so-called financial advisors today don’t manage money. Instead, they resort to computer models and/or farm out many of their client’s most important investment decisions to third-party providers, which only generates additional fees. We do it differently: Our investment advisors are trained to be pilots, not just flight attendants. Our investment selection committee meets once a week to discuss macro-economic trends and how they impact our holdings and/or create investment opportunities. That allows us to carefully design customized portfolios that are unique to each client.
• Innovative technology and communication: Gerber Kawasaki was a pioneer in using social media as a communication tool for clients. We not only believe this enhances our ability to communicate with our clients but it’s the manner in which they prefer. Whether you want to get timely market updates via Twitter or read original content in our newsletter, we have an option for you. Most recently, we created the My Money Page mobile app, which includes a host of functions that reflect the needs of everyday investors, including a budgeting tool, a net-worth calculator and a goals tracker that helps users understand and stay on target to meet retirement, savings or other financial-related goals. Most importantly, My Money Page enables an on-the-go, direct connection between clients and their Gerber Kawasaki advisor. If you haven’t downloaded our app, now is the time.
Gerber Kawasaki has come a long way since launching on June 1, 2010. We have over 3,000 household clients and manage over $350 million in assets. Our Facebook ‘likes’ are off the charts and the reviews on Yelp are among the most positive in the industry. And thanks to the great work of our CEO Ross Gerber, we have also become a recognized expert across other traditional media platforms. (Check out our In the News section for more information http://gkviewpoint.com.)
None of this would have been possible without the trust and loyalty of our clients . I want to thank you for entrusting Ross and me with your future. We do not take this responsibility lightly, and we are honored that you chose Gerber Kawasaki as your wealth and investment management firm.
Vice President and COO
Gerber Kawasaki Inc.