There are a lot of financial advisors out there, so how can you tell that […]
As part of the vetting process, I insist on holding one-on-one interviews with every individual advisor before they join Wealthramp. During these sessions, I learn a lot about the advisor – not only in terms of their expertise, education and experience, but also what they’re passionate about, and their unique approach they take to helping their clients. It’s part of what I believe makes an advisor truly outstanding.
We’re kicking off Advisors in the Spotlight so I can share some of what I’ve learned about our exceptional advisors.
Pam Krueger: You founded your own practice in New York City. Is that where you grew up?
Deva Panambur: I grew up in India and was raised in a middle-class family. We had enough money, but we always had to budget. It was my mom who took over the family’s savings and planning. At a very young age, I saw how valuable my mom’s planning and budgeting were to our family, and that was really where my interest in finance began.
Pam: And yet you started your career as an engineer?
Deva: Yes, I worked for a year as a material sciences engineer. Then I went on to earn my MBA in finance at Thunderbird School of Business at Arizona State. I really wanted a career in finance because I have a strong desire to make a real difference in people’s lives, and I can see the impact that planning and investing can make.
Pam: But then you moved to New York and didn’t open your own advisory practice back then? Why Not?
Deva: When I came to New York, it was in 1999, right before the big dot com crash… and remember the Y2K scare? So I started, working as a risk management specialist for institutions.
Pam: What does that mean?
Deva: It means I was working on an asset management team where I made sure those (mostly) large institutions were investing their billions of dollars with the proper “‘guardrails” in place. We were always testing the “what can go wrong” scenarios. I created the guardrails to measure the real risk others may not see. That helped the institution protect and grow those assets. We also made sure our clients were not putting too much at stake, which is an important part of what I offer my individual clients today.
Pam: So you stayed in New York. But how did you transition from institutional asset (and risk) management for billions of dollars, to helping individuals plan and invest their personal life savings?
Deva: Now I have 20 years experience. And some of what drove that decision back then is the tremendous empathy for people who want to build wealth. I went out on my own and founded my own registered advisory firm 11 years ago. Now I’m helping people stress-test their own investment portfolios and cash flows because, again, I saw firsthand how much of an impact excellent planning and wealth management can have on someone’s life.
Pam: Why fee-only, Deva? You didn’t take the more common route of working as a “sales rep” for a brokerage firm or insurance company that offers big commission payouts and no fiduciary accountability. Why?
Deva: That’s simple. Because I believe the industry has benefitted advisors more than the clients. I am the happiest I’ve ever been in my life because I am totally independent and can help people protect and grow their wealth. I have my CFA credential, which means I am qualified to analyze stocks and evaluate investment portfolios. But I also earned my CFP (for planning) because we need to look at the whole, complete picture. You simply can’t provide investment or portfolio advice without comprehensive, detailed, tax-focused financial planning because you’re missing the context...
Pam: Is there any unique approach you take to helping clients that you can share with me?
Deva: Clients are always really happy when I suggest we include their own children (or grandchildren) in our meetings. Just before I took this call with you, Pam, I was on with a client and her granddaughter who is 24. She’s just getting into the job market, and I guided her through her 401(k) and Roth IRA. We talked about how she can get her future plans on track. It’s not just about investments, taxes and money. Ultimately, I want my clients to feel they are totally independent, mentally and financially.
It’s a valuable relationship, and I take my fiduciary role seriously.
Pam: Where will I find you when you’re not at the office or working?
Deva: When I’m not working I’m probably either golfing or running by the river on a beautiful bike path that runs alongside the Hudsonjust south of Hoboken, NJ.
Pam: Anything else?
Deva: I would want everyone to feel welcome and feel comfortable reaching out to me to ask me about whatever is on their mind. There’s never a charge, and it helps us get to know each other.
Finding the right financial advisor can be challenging. Let Wealthramp help you find the right advisor who will help you with your personal financial needs and situation.