"A lot of advisors say they have a team," said Jeff Fishman, who heads JSF Financial in Los Angeles. "When you talk to them, you find out they have a bunch of people who came from wirehouses. We have a real team: people from different backgrounds who play different roles."
Apparently, Fishman's team is a winner, as the firm has around $500 million under management.
The team is led by Fishman himself, an attorney who focuses on taxes and estate planning. "My dad had been in the insurance business for more than 40 years," he said. "He has his own agency, and we work closely with him."
The other team members are all employees of JSF Financial. Another family member, Jeff's brother, Mordechai Fishman, has a Wall Street background and offers valuable expertise on employee stock options, according to Jeff Fishman.
"Another planner who works here is Don Peck, Gregory Peck's half-brother," Fishman said. "He's an engineer who spent years working at Disney, as an estimator. Now, in his mid-70s, he often works with senior clients. When they have questions about things like Medicare and Social Security, Don can answer because he's been there."
Another team member, Zev Fried, was a mortgage broker as well as a JSF client himself. "About five years ago," Fishman said, "I saw storm clouds over the housing market, so we brought Zev into the firm for his knowledge of real estate. If a client has a house bought for $800,000 with a $600,000 mortgage and a current value of $500,000 comes in and asks, 'What do I do?," Zev can provide the advice that's needed."
Olivier Cornet, a former money manager, has experience in institutional investing. "He's from France," Fishman said, "which provides a different perspective, now that everything is global. Our newest hire, who joined last year, is Nicole de Leon. She started as Mordechai's assistant and now she's a junior financial planner. Nicole is young, from the bookkeeping world, so she's very helpful with younger clients who need help managing their cash flow."
With this team approach, Fishman's practice has built up a large clientele in the entertainment world. Working with entertainers, he said, is similar in some ways to working with athletes as clients. "In both cases, they might have a narrow window for high earnings." Advisors need to urge cautious spending, ample investing, paying down debt, and other financial planning fundamentals.
"With athletes, at least, they usually realize that their peak earnings might not last long," Fishman said. "That's not always the case with entertainers. With them, you shouldn't be a skeptic about their talent but you need to introduce a dose of reality. I might say, 'I believe in you but there's a reason you came to me. In case the clouds gather and things don't go your way, you need to have your finances in order."