PHOENIX--Bernie Madoff’s shocking fraud, the escalating hostilities in the Middle East and the looming threat of hyperinflation are all big-picture issues weighing heavily on the minds of investors regardless of age these days.
But for a pair of seasoned investors who served as panelists at the "What Else is Keeping Your CEO Up at Night" session here at the OneVoice 2011: The Financial Services Institute Broker-Dealer Conference, none of those macroeconomic and sociopolitical concerns mean nearly as much as getting their advisor on the phone in times of crisis or being taken seriously when they feel their nest eggs are in jeopardy.
"The market did very well for me for a very long time," said Dennis Eckerd, a self-described "skeptical" investor who has worked with the same financial advisor for 15 years and has managed to retire at 58 years of age. "But in the past few years, it went south pretty fast. It seemed all the effort we put in wasn't going to make much of a difference. Everything we had seemed to lose value.
At what Eckerd called the "trough of the bad news," he fired off a "tersely worded" email to longtime advisor, essentially pleading for both guidance and some sort of plausible explanation for the massive hit to his portfolio.
"First she called me and I was surprised that she set up a conference call with a fund manager from Goldman Sachs," he said.
While the explanation did little to placate him or restore his confidence in his investment strategy, he was heartened by the fact that his advisor took the extra step of bringing in a fund manager to at least listen and offer up some advice for future investments.
"I still had reservations, but I appreciated being taken seriously," Eckherd said, adding that he "doesn’t trust large investment places too much" following the high-profile financial shenanigans that plagued Wall Street intermittently throughout the past decade.
Keith Volk, a 62-year-old panelist, an admitted "casual" investor still works in IT staffing and has remained faithful to his financial advisor for the past decade.
With total assets valued at roughly $1.5 million, Volk entrusts most of his investments to his longtime advisory but still keeps some cash on the side to invest via an AmeriTrade account.
"What keeps me up at night is whether or not I have the right asset allocation," he said. "I actually came to know my advisor from a radio ad and over the years have established a personal relationship that gives me the confidence to invest despite what's going on in the world."
Volk, who confessed to going bust in the 1980s when get got "snookered into" plunging far too much of his money into gold options that never panned.
That experience convinced him to take a find an advisor to help him better discern between being an investor and a gambler.
"I just wish I knew when my croak date was," he joked. "If I knew that, I'd have a better idea of when to retire."
"Right now, it's like a mirage on the highway. I can see it out there but I just can't seem to get there."