PITTSFIELD — Access is everything.
Across the country, barriers to cultural equity and success are being torn down, making more attainable the opportunities that formerly had been afforded only to the few.
The same holds true for being able to save and plan for the future, whether it’s yours, your children or a cause you care about.
Park Square Financial Advisors of Raymond James, a multigenerational team of financial advisors and client-support staff in downtown Pittsfield, uses its diversity and expertise to help guide your financial plan toward the goals you want to reach.
And even though the partnership itself is comprised of three individuals, it enjoys the global reach and backing of Raymond James, which manages over a trillion dollars in client assets. That means Park Square can provide a comprehensive suite of financial services, everything from financial planning and socially conscious and sustainable investments, to estate and educational planning, charitable giving and trusts, and corporate retirement plans.
Paul Fortini, financial advisor and branch manager of Park Square, says the partnership he established with fellow advisor David Rice several years ago was built on accessibility for people who live and work in the Berkshires.
“We work with people of all ages and financial levels. Some advisor teams have account minimums. We don’t believe in that,” notes Rice.
The team’s broad client base includes individuals, couples, families and retirees, as well as business owners, nonprofit agencies and foundations, with each client’s plan and services tailored and customized for their specific needs and goals.
“We know our clients intimately. Every portfolio is tailored to that individual or family,” says Rice. “Yes, we work under Raymond James, but who we really work for is our clients. That’s everything.”
Once you become a client of Park Square, the experience is truly all about you: the Park Square team will speak and meet with you regularly to discuss the state of your portfolio and to rebalance it, if need be, and they’ll also meet with you at least annually for a scheduled update to your financial plan.
Coleman says he and the team are just a phone call or email away, at all times, and all is confidential.
“Clients will always have a human being on the other line,” says Coleman. All clients have access to the whole team, so there’s always continuity when discussing your portfolio.
Lifelong Berkshirites and seasoned advisors, Fortini and Rice use an array of financial products to help you reach your goals, using modeling and experience to help make for a more predictable financial future. They share a passion for economics, the former a University of Massachusetts at Amherst graduate and the latter a Bates College alum. Marc Coleman, out-of-town talent whom they recruited from the Metro Philadelphia area with assistance from the Dulye Leadership Experience to be their client service associate, earned his degree at Syracuse University, where he studied finance, was a former athlete and standout student.
Fortini started the branch for Raymond James in 2008 in the middle of the great financial crisis, the timing of which proved opportune. Rice came aboard in 2016, and at that point, the partnership was formed and the name Park Square Financial Advisors was adopted.
Fortini says that the team’s work with your investments isn’t “to beat a particular benchmark, like the Dow Jones or the S&P 500. It’s really to connect your life goals with your portfolio, and your comfort with risk, where you are in your life cycle.”
The Eagle recently sat down with Fortini, Rice and Coleman to find out how their four-plus decades in financial services can be put to work for you.
Q: What’s the onboarding experience like for new Park Square clients?
Marc Coleman: It starts even before the person becomes a client, as the client relationship on our team is of the utmost importance. A potential client might come to us in many different and unique situations: recently married and starting a new family, pre-retirement, starting a new business or a loved one recently passed away and they’re going to receive an inheritance. These situations can be exciting or difficult. For starters, we try not to make a stressful situation worse. In finance, there’s a ton of documents, and a lot of time, clients aren’t sure where to go or what to do. That’s where I come in. One of the benefits of having someone like myself on your team is that, anytime you reach out, you’re going to speak to someone informed on your financial situation. David and Paul always keep me informed regarding different strategies or a life event that’s occurred. When a client calls, I’m never in the dark. I can give them valuable information, and they feel like they haven’t wasted their time. New clients can also feel confident that all their information is secure. If we’re sharing information via email, which we had to do more of during COVID, we have a program that encrypts our correspondence and data. We’ve taken those extra precautions for you.
Q: Berkshire County is loaded with boomers and seniors on fixed incomes. What kinds of services can you offer to these folks?
Paul Fortini: I’m squarely in the boomer camp, so I’m the perfect one to ask. It plays into another strength of Raymond James and Park Square: As a firm, we’re product neutral. We have the ability to offer numerous positions suitable for investors with fixed incomes. We have the flexibility to use dividend paying stocks, funds, annuity contracts and other programs, having no constraints about how we fulfill our clients’ needs from an income standpoint. We can go anywhere to find the best opportunity, while all the while managing the risk for our clients. Furthermore, our technology allows us to use sophisticated software programs to reduce the decision-making process to a mathematical conclusion and solve for the optimal answer, thus removing the emotional component often faced by clients.
Q: What’s the difference between a Park Square experience and that of other local and national brokerage firms?
PF: Raymond James has grown substantially in the almost 14 years I have been here, but has always maintained the culture of a closely held, tightly knit organization. As a corporate practice, the firm shies away from manufacturing in-house, proprietary products. We opt instead to use and leverage the huge brain trust in the industry to locate and filter through quality product offerings, which, in turn, we make available to our clients.
Also, unlike some other Wall Street firms, Raymond James is not owned by any other large financial institution, like a bank or insurance company. Instead, we have a subsidiary bank and a trust company so that we, too, can provide those traditional banking and insurance services. The real focus at Park Square and Raymond James has been and always will be the client/advisor relationship. The firm derives roughly 70 percent of its annual revenue from this approach, and it clearly has worked well. Another unique business practice that is put into writing is the Raymond James “Client Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.” It helps to clearly define what it will be like working with a Raymond James advisor.
Significantly, our team offers a variety of perspectives on the advisory business because of the differences in ages and experience of the partners. That varied perspective gives us insight into solving the challenges and meeting the objectives of a very broad, diverse client base.
Q: What are some of the common questions you get asked, and what are your clients’ biggest concerns these days?
David Rice: Our planning practice focuses on the subjects that are most important to our clients. For example, the media and the news drive a lot of our client questions. The coronavirus and economic crisis were on everyone’s mind, whether or not to stick with the market. It’s not very different from other crises we’ve dealt with in the past. Fortunately, they don’t come around that often, but when they do, we’ve gone through tumultuous events before. They’re always unique, but they have common considerations.
Some of the other common questions that clients ask: Am I saving enough for college? Am I saving enough for retirement? Will I be able to stop working when I want? When should I take Social Security? How much can we use safely from our savings during retirement? Is now a good time to invest?
Prospective clients also want to know, do I have enough to justify working with a financial advisor? Is there a minimum? Is it too late to get started? Will it cost me too much versus what I can do on my own? These are all questions we’re always happy to address with clients.
To learn more about Park Square Financial Advisors of Raymond James, visit the team online at psfinancialadvisors.com or call 413-236-5612 to make an appointment to meet virtually or at its offices at 7 North St., Suite 201. You can also subscribe to their e-newsletter, Around the Square, featuring original content and exclusive insight into subjects of interest from local guest commentators.