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VOL. 126 | NO. 230 | Thursday, November 24, 2011




Baltier Finds Pinnacle Doing Right for All Clients

By JOHN LINTNER

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Edward Jones & Co. LP was an attractive career opportunity to Kevin Baltier when he made the move 11 years ago to become a financial adviser.

BALTIER

(Photo: Lance Murphey)

His final decision came to him during his pre-employment interview with a financial adviser who took a minute to help a client while he waited.

When she got off the phone, he asked her how much she got paid to do that. The answer, “Nothing, but it was right for the client.”

Baltier’s paradigm shift started that day, and he took the position. More than a decade later, he found himself at the pinnacle of his profession, winning the 2011 International Association of Administrative Professionals Executive of the Year Award.

“We take care of very wealthy clients, and we take care of clients who have never invested,” Baltier said. “I still take care of clients who don’t have much investment experience, and I’m also very blessed to have very wealthy clients who trust me with their life savings today. I feel like Edward Jones allows me to do business with who I want to do business. They don’t tell me that certain clients don’t have enough money, like some of the other brokerage firms.”

As a certified financial planner, he advises his clients on almost every type of financial goal, from day-to-day spending and retirement planning to safeguarding how wealth is distributed posthumously by finding the right estate attorney to help write a will.

Baltier graduated from the University of Memphis in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and finance, and he received a certified financial planner certification in 2006.

Since the recession began, Baltier has faced the challenge of using his extensive background in finance to walk his clients through the bursting of the nation’s financial bubble. That included reassuring many of them that the important attributes of successful investing are not changing and they won’t for the foreseeable future.

“Diversification, buying quality investments, having the appropriate time horizon, and having patience and fortitude when the first through third doesn’t go as well as we expect – kind of the financial crisis aspect – we stick to quality investments with proven track records,” Baltier said. “During tough times, people actually appreciate the sound advice of an adviser more because it’s all relative. When things are going well for an extended period of time, you tend to take the advice you get for granted. And, then when times get tough, clients tend to appreciate the very hands-on approach. I can tell you at this point, my personal practice has never been stronger.

“That’s got to be related to something,” he said. “And, I personally think it’s related to the level of service that I and my two full-time assistants, senior branch office administrator Rita Jackson and branch office administrator Wendy Wilson, try to deliver to every client. It’s due to such success, that Edward Jones is currently looking to hire more advisers to join the 12,000 existing advisers, while many other companies are cutting back.”

The ongoing and dynamic goal of finding investment vehicles, and other ideas that can either protect the client or take advantage of the current state of the market is that which he pursues daily in his effort to help investors procure wealth – even when the economy tanks.

Additionally, there is a significant amount of pressure that comes with financial advising when, as seen lately, the market is extremely volatile and moving up and down. According to Baltier, sometimes managing emotions and expectations is just as important as the financial work at hand.

Three years ago, there was very little confidence in stocks and bonds, and U.S. government debt was one of the few remaining bonds holding value. As investments in the U.S and around the world lost value, many were jumping ship and buying U.S. bonds.

“What we determined is that was simply not a strategy that would pan out for the average investor,” Baltier said. “We have always maintained a significant cash reserve, for our clients anyway. An important part of managing money properly is to have an emergency reserve to count on. Then the likelihood is that you’re going to be able to weather most storms without having to sell when the market goes down significantly. My advice doesn’t change, and that is to follow the basic principles and look at the individual’s situation to determine how their funds and assets need to be allocated.”

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