For Katherine Lintz, CFP, a simple introductory breakfast meeting with a potential client or employee frequently turns into a three-hour, in-depth, getting-to-know-each-other session.
Lintz is a financial advisor who won't cut corners when it comes to finding out if a person is the proper fit for her St. Louis firm, Financial Management Partners (FMP), which caters to high-net-worth families. She wants to grow, but growth is not the ultimate goal like it is at other financial organizations. FMP turns away as many clients as it accepts.
That is not the only thing that sets the firm apart from its peers. In addition to an institutional-grade investment platform, the firm places a high value on the education of its clients and employees and even has a teacher on staff.
Because of these unusual attributes, FMP has a loyal clientele that has helped the firm grow from $250 million in assets under management in 2000 to more than $3 billion today. Those assets are primarily attributable to 70 high-net-worth families who hire FMP not only to set out a financial plan but to act as a family office-managing every aspect of financial life the family desires.
Lintz attributes her firm's success to collaborative solutions that others might avoid.
"There are many excellent firms that serve the high-net-worth market," she explains, "but our sales process is slow and thoughtful. We gather a great deal of information to assess the gaps in the services, communication, costs and efficiencies that our clients have. Then we build a unique solution using the best of FMP and the best of the other professionals that serve the family."
FMP's primary competitors-banks and brokerage houses with ultra-high-net-worth practices and multifamily office divisions-focus on aggregating assets under management in a closed system, Lintz says.
"We are truly an open network with only one purpose-to provide the best result for the client. If that means using JPMorgan for municipal bonds, Bank of America for airplane loans, private partnerships for real estate, low-cost index funds for large-cap equities and great talent around the world for concentrated equity management to complement the index funds, then that is what we make happen," she says. "We feel our current and potential clients see the differences very quickly and appreciate the objective and unbiased delivery of a service model."
Lintz started her career at Chase Manhattan Bank in New York City in 1978 during the beginnings of the financial planning industry. She was one of the first 200 people in the nation to earn a CFP designation. At Chase, she developed her appreciation for education and created a financial educational program for Chase customers. She taught individuals how to invest and worked with employers to do outreach to employees to determine what services they needed to offer.
"It was an unusual program at the time, targeting those with $100,000 to a few hundred thousand in investments," Lintz says.