FINANCIAL ADVISOR SUCCESS STORIES
After Doug Bolles finished an academic career that included Bowdoin College and the New England School of Banking at Williams College, he went to work in the financial industry at a firm in Maine. But eight years ago, Bolles made a career change and moved to Texas to be closer to his wife’s side of the family.
It is this emphasis on family and family values that he has brought to a successful career in wealth management. It is one that has seen the investment group he heads grow from $200 million to more than $700 million using a wealth management approach that emphasizes asset-class investing and a focused process for discovering his clients’ most important financial needs and values—and then building portfolios around them.
When Bolles decided to move, he performed his due diligence in Texas and interviewed with numerous area banks. The bank that was seen by most others as the benchmark in the region was Tyler, Texas-based Southside Bank, which has assets of approximately $2.2 billion and operates 44 community-banking facilities. Working with Southside became Bolles’ focus. He persuaded the company that he could help them increase their wealth management market share, and by the time he was ready to move to Texas with his family, Southside had made him an offer.
Bolles accepted, knowing that Southside Bank had the prestige and market position that would make it a launching pad for wealth management success. Today, Bolles and his group support 450 client accounts, including foundations, corporations, families and individuals.
Over the past eight years, Bolles has placed Southside at the forefront of the new financial advisory paradigm, shifting the bank from a trust model to a wealth management model. "Being a person driven by family values and by a desire to help others provide effectively for their families, I wanted to build a business that had these same characteristics as its focus," Bolles explains. "Southside has let me create a practice that supports what is most important to the individual client, especially when it comes to a focus on philanthropy and providing family-oriented resources."
"We have chosen to utilize a values-based wealth management business model to deliver a complete wealth management experience to our clients," he adds. "This business and service delivery model represents both the highest value for our clients and the most profitable strategy for us over the long term."
The evidence that this approach is working is the extraordinary client retention rate (essentially 100 percent) and the long-term relationships that have resulted.
The group that Bolles chose to support him in developing his wealth management business model is CEG Worldwide. The firm is a leader in wealth management, providing research, consulting and training that unite leading authorities in the financial services industry with state-of-the-art research methodologies and analysis. The result is a uniquely powerful insight into what makes wealth management firms highly successful. Key to CEG Worldwide’s success is the client discovery process that it has developed. This process allows clients and advisors to work collaboratively to identify clients’ underlying values, goals and objectives. Unlike past financial advisory paradigms, which included investment-driven approaches and product-oriented financial planning, wealth management seeks to emphasize the holistic well-being of the individual over simple performance or a set of products.
"Our operative idea, developed with CEG Worldwide," Bolles explains, "is that the process must truly begin with the client, and not the investment strategy. Client satisfaction is about meeting client needs and expectations, not generic performance numbers. Wealth for wealth’s sake is without purpose. It is wealth that benefits the client and helps him or her realize life goals that constitutes a meaningful formula. That’s what we’ve created."
Another big piece of the puzzle for Bolles is the asset-class investing approach that he offers clients based on the global expertise of Austin-based Dimensional Fund Advisors. Bolles explains that DFA utilizes a model of investing based not on speculation but on the science of capital markets. DFA’s mission is to deliver the performance of capital markets and to increase returns through state-of-the-art portfolio design and trading.
This asset-class investing approach blazes a trail between traditional active management and traditional passive investing. As its name implies, it is focused on investing in well-defined asset classes of capital markets, not on individual stocks or arbitrary indexes. It steers clear of the requirement to accurately predict the future that is inherent in active management, and it avoids the mechanical lockstep tracking-error fixation of index funds.
Southside is able to customize this investment approach to the individual needs of each client, ensuring that the client’s needs—not a pre-packaged investment solution—drive the process. "By combining our own internal strengths with the expertise added by CEG Worldwide and DFA," Bolles points out, "we think we have built an optimal business model when it comes to service, integrity, efficiency and cost. The challenges that we’ve encountered in the recent past have only reaffirmed our point of view in this regard and, we hope, in our clients’ view as well."
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