Top Financial Advisers 2012

Need help navigating today's economy? We found 13 Main Line experts perfectly suited for this bumpy ride through the recession.



PICK AN ADVISER
Frederick Hubler Jr., Creative Capital Wealth Management, Phoenixville page 2
Denise Wine, Connelly Wealth Management of Wells Fargo Advisors, Newtown Square page 3
Dirk Stribrny, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Berwyn page 4
Joseph Murray, First Financial Group, Bala Cynwyd page 5
Rachel R. Cohen, Cohen & Sutcliffe Group, West Conshohocken page 6
Irvin Rosenzweig, Rosenzweig & Associates Wealth Management Group, Wayne page 7
Andrew Nehrbas, Janney Montgomery Scott, Bryn Mawr page 8
Patti Brennan, Key Financial Group, West Chester page 9
Richard Stevens, Mill Creek Capital Advisors, Conshohocken page 10
Norman Nelson, Raymond James and Associates, Bala Cynwyd page 11
Steve Manley, GFM Advisory Group, West Chester page 12
Erik Strid, Strid Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, Berwyn page 13
Tim Flatley, Sterling Investment Advisors, Berwyn page 14

Editor's Note: In the following profiles, "AUM" refers to assets under management.
 

 

Photo by Jared CastaldiFrederick Hubler Jr.

Creative Capital Wealth Management, 1220 Valley Forge Road, Suite 3, Phoenixville;
(610) 560-2003, ccwmg.com


Average AUM per client: $500,000+
Average number of clients per adviser: Fewer than 100
Specialties of note: Alternative investments, retirement-income management, professional athletes and business owners.

“Football players aren’t known for how they save,” says Frederick Hubler Jr. “There tends to be two types: those who hardly make enough and those who make more than they’ll ever need.”

Hubler should know. In 2008, he was accepted into the NFL Players Association’s highly competitive financial advisers program. Hubler was one of 450 applicants selected from a pool of 55,000. And after three years, he’s still with the program, which has since stopped taking applications. 

Part of what Hubler does for clients is to help identify what’s really important to them. “It’s never just about money,” he says. “You have to have something more to drive for than that.”
 

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Denise Wine

Photo by Jared Castaldi

Connelly Wealth Management of Wells Fargo Advisors, 2093 Dutton Mill Road, Newtown Square; (610) 993-9200, connelly.wfadv.com

Average AUM per client: $2 million
Average number of clients per adviser: 100
Specialties of note: Estate and investment planning, charitable foundation investment advice and administration, trust planning and administration, executive compensation.

After 20 years in marketing, Denise Wine decided to parlay her experience into a new career as a financial adviser. And while she doesn’t cater exclusively to women, she does find great satisfaction in helping them. “Women tend to defer to their partner when it comes to finances, and they become disengaged in the process,” says Wine. “Then, when there’s a life event like death, divorce or remarriage, they’re at a distinct disadvantage because they’re disengaged. They need to have a plan.”
 

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Dirk Stribrny

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney,
 899 Cassatt Road, Suite 100, Berwyn; (610) 408-1900, fa.smithbarney.com/stribrnygroup

Average AUM per client: $1 million

Average number of clients per adviser: 125

Specialties of note: Comprehensive financial planning, investment portfolio management, retirement and estate planning, wealth preservation.

Dirk Stribrny wasted no time diving into a career in finance. As an undergrad at Syracuse University in New York, he interned at a regional brokerage firm. He’s been hooked ever since. “I love my job,” he says. “My work has brought some wonderful people my way.”

Hired by Merrill Lynch right out of school in 1991, Stribrny stayed on for nine years, becoming a certified financial planner. These days, he specializes in portfolio management. “Our clients are typically very busy in their profession,” says Stribrny. “We provide them a single source for advice on portfolio management, reducing their taxes, planning for their estates and making smart investment decisions.”
 

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Photo by Jared CastaldiJoseph Murray

First Financial Group, 2 Bala Plaza, Ninth Floor, Bala Cynwyd; thefirstfinancialgroup.com,
(610) 766-3026

Average AUM per client: $1 million

Average number of clients per adviser: Fewer than 50

Specialties of note: Estate planning retirement planning, business succession strategies, investment analysis.

Think you don’t have to worry about estate planning because you don’t have a large enough estate to be taxed? Joe Murray wants you to know you’re wrong. “The upper-level dollar limit is a moving target,” he says. “We don’t know what it’s going to be next week, let alone five years from now. An estate plan should be put together as soon as you start having assets.”

And a sound structure should be in place before any discussions about financial products. “People need to have a complete set of coherent legal documents in play,” he says. “We work with the attorney to make sure the structural component is done properly first.”
 

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Photo by Jared CastaldiRachel R. Cohen

Cohen & Sutcliffe Group, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, One Tower Bridge, 100 Front St., Suite 600, West Conshohocken; (610) 260-7385, morganstanley.com/fa/cohensutcliffe

Average AUM per client: $1.01 million
Average number of clients per adviser: 90
Specialties of note: Retirement planning, investment management, comprehensive wealth management, risk management, women’s financial needs, divorce.

As a vice president at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Rachel Cohen has made high-net-worth female business owners, professionals and executives a priority. “Women often approach their financial affairs with a lack of confidence,” says Cohen. “I want to help them feel secure and educated.”

Especially when times get tough. “Many women face these needs when they’re going through a divorce,” says Cohen. “So, if they remarry, they’ll be in a more powerful position in their financial lives.”

Cohen serves on the board of the Forum of Executive Women in Philadelphia, and she recognizes the importance of a support system. “By women partnering with each other and educating each other in all areas, we all will succeed,” she says.
 

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Irvin Rosenzweig

Photo by Jared Castaldi

Rosenzweig & Associates Wealth Management Group, WFG Investments, 480 E. Swedesford Road, Suite 120, Wayne;
(610) 627-5921, rzwealth.com


Average AUM per client: $975,000
Average number of clients per adviser: 60
Specialties of note: Comprehensive wealth management, executive services, retirement planning and services, wealth preservation/insurance.

If you think a background as a restaurateur wouldn’t translate to wealth management, think again. At 21, Irvin Rosenzweig left a highly successful restaurant in St. Paul, Minn., to tackle the field of finance and wealth management—though not without initial trepidation. “It was difficult to go from a situation where I had full control of what was going on around me to a corporate setting that’s bureaucratic in nature. I had to keep pushing the envelope to keep the pace up,” he says.

Now, with more than 25 years of financial experience to his credit, Rosenzweig excels in assets management for those saving for retirement or developing a charitable giving strategy and making other crucial life plans. “Our theme is to educate people and make them aware of their opportunities,” he says. “We don’t tell them what to do; we try to educate them. Ignorance isn’t bliss.”
 

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Photo by Jared CastaldiAndrew Nehrbas

Janney Montgomery Scott, 40 Morris Ave., Suite 200, Bryn Mawr; (610) 526-7230, nehrbasgroup.com

Average AUM per client: $872,222

Average number of clients per adviser: 200
Specialties of note: Asset allocation management, comprehensive wealth management, financial planning, investment management, risk management.

Like grandfather, like grandson. Ultimately, it’s what drew a young Andrew Nehrbas to his chosen career in 1975. Law school was another option, but it wasn’t to be. “I love helping family and friends ensure their financial futures,” says Nehrbas. “I like resolving complicated problems for my clients and advising them on long-term solutions.”

As former president of the Merion Cricket Club and a board member for several local charities, Nehrbas knows a thing or two about honesty, philanthropy and sound financial advice. “The key is developing relationships,” he says. “Building trust is rule No. 1.”
 

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Patti Brennan

Key Financial Group, 1560 McDaniel Drive, West Chester; (610) 429-9050, keyfinancialinc.com

Average AUM per client: $1-$3 million

Average number of clients per adviser: 45

Specialties of note: Strategic asset allocation, retirement income planning, constructive cash-flow management, income and estate tax planning.

When Patti Brennan considers the “red zone,” she’s not thinking of football—though there is a measure of risk and calculation whizzing through her mind. It’s her way of summing up the five years before and after retirement, along with the financial decisions made during that time. “If the strategies you employ during this time determine whether you get a touchdown or not, doesn’t it make sense to get the best coach you can?” she poses. “That’s where a great adviser can make the difference.”

Any decisions made in the red zone should account for births, deaths, stock-market fluctuations, and a variety of life’s other inevitable bits. “The key is finding out how you can be totally prepared,” says Brennan, “so when these things change, your life doesn’t have to.”
 

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Richard Stevens

Mill Creek Capital Advisors, Eight Tower Bridge, 161 Washington St., Suite 1500, Conshohocken;
(610) 941-7700, millcreekcap.com


Average AUM per client: $11,600,000
Average number of clients per adviser: 25
Specialties of note: Investment strategy, asset allocation, manager due diligence, alternative investments, financial planning.

Richard Stevens started out his career as a tax attorney. “Back then, there really wasn’t a comprehensive financial planning industry like there is today,” he says.

Stevens was hired by the Vanguard Group to run its high-net-worth division. But he longed to create a firm of his own, ultimately partnering with Joshua Gross to form Mill Creek Capital Advisors. “We wanted to start a firm that truly was looking out for the best interest of the client,” he says.

With $2.1 billion currently under management, Stevens and his partner were fortunate to have several hundred million dollars as a starting point. “We were able to get buying power,” he says. “If our clients  need private equity or hedge funds, we can go into the marketplace and actually attract the best managers.”
 

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Norman Nelson

Raymond James and Associates, 401 City Ave.,
Suite 700, Bala Cynwyd; (610) 668-1402, raymondjames.com/philadelphiapa


Average AUM per client: $695,000
Average number of clients per adviser: 250
Specialties of note: Retirement planning, financial planning, risk management, portfolio management, comprehensive wealth management.

Risk and discretion aren’t your typical pairing, but tactical managers like Norman Nelson know how to marry the two. Asset protection in a down market is a top priority, and Nelson and his team have an armory of strategic-planning expertise to handle any situation

“My business is over 90-percent discretionary, which means people entrust me by providing me power of attorney to make decisions on their behalf,” says Nelson. “I’m a tactical manager. I adjust asset allocation as needed to change the risk in an account.”

With the Main Line’s higher-than-average net worth and its glut of educated investors, Nelson rarely has a dull day in the office. “I understand human psychology, economic cycles and finance history,” he says. “With this perspective, I’m able to make prudent decisions on behalf of my clients.”
 

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Steve Manley

GFM Advisory Group, Janney Montgomery Scott, 200 N. High St., Suite 201, West Chester;
(610) 436-6063, jmsonlinefc.com/gfmgroup



Average AUM per client: $750,000

Average number of clients per adviser: 90
Specialties of note: Income-based portfolio management, wealth preservation/insurance, 401(k) plans for midsized companies.

For Steve Manley, it’s all about trust. “We consider a prospective client’s accountant to be their most trusted adviser,” says the GFM Advisory Group vice president, who specializes in wealth management. “A referral from them really is taken with great responsibility.”

Manley typically deals with clients who are more interested in holding on to their assets and decreasing their income than growing their total return over time. “Preservation of capital and a consistent income stream have become paramount for high-net-worth investors and their finances,” he says.

Manley and partners Mert Gilbert and Michael Fetrow prefer the more personalized experience of a smaller, regional firm like Janney. “We deliver a custom financial plan on the front end,” says Manley. “Clients are looking for buckets of guaranteed income. That’s what we help them achieve.”
 

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Erik Strid

Strid Wealth Management Group
 of Wells Fargo Advisors, 1000 Chesterbrook Blvd., Suite 103, Berwyn; (610) 648-8923, gostrid.com

Average AUM per client: $1.5 million
Average number of clients per adviser: 75
Specialties of note: Cashflow, estate and special-needs planning, comprehensive financial planning, investment management.

For Erik Strid, a starstruck summer in New York turned out to be career defining. The celebrity in question was Alan “Ace” Greenberg, former chairman of the executive committee at Bear Stearns. As an intern on Wall Street, Strid sat just a few desks away from Greenberg. He got “knocked around a bit” by the pros, but he also witnessed his possible future. Now partnered with his father, Strid specializes in cashflow planning, which is proving to be particularly relevant in today’s economy.

“Lifespans are getting longer, and inflation will continue to increase,” says Strid. “We help clients look at the analytics to determine if they have enough to do what they want to do, and how they should be investing.”

Strid also focuses on special-needs planning, helping clients prepare and manage their finances while taking care of a family member who requires additional medical assistance and financial consideration. “We’re helping people drill down their necessities—no matter what happens,” he says.
 

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Tim Flatley

Sterling Investment Advisors, 1055 Westlakes Drive, Suite 150, Berwyn; (610) 560-0400, sterling-advisors.com

Average AUM per client: $1 million+
Average number of clients per adviser: 35
Specialties of note: Independent wealth advising, stock selection, financial planning and organization, estate planning and management.

Tim Flatley has built his firm around the needs of the entrepreneur. “More and more people are starting their own businesses,” says Sterling Investment Advisors’ president and CEO. “New companies are the way out of our current economic climate.”

Flatley is active in the business community, chairing the Mid-Atlantic Angel Group Fund of Philadelphia, which invests in early-stage companies. His team at Sterling facilitates vital steps in the planning phase for entrepreneurs, including Web-based systems that centralize business interests, investment accounts, assets and liabilities. Flatley also assists with implementing asset-allocation processes that help business owners determine how much of their hard-earned wealth ought to be put at risk. “We want to see our clients be as successful as they can be,” he says.
 

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