November 2018

WestView Investment Advisors: Stepping into your financial shoes

Author: Linda S. Hopkins | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

A man walks into a financial advisor’s office… It’s not a joke; there is no punch line. But this is about the time when most people begin to squirm. It’s natural to feel anxious when discussing money, but Roy and Pat Sokolowski, founders of WestView Investment Advisors, have found the solution by stepping into their clients’ financial shoes and sitting on the same side of the table.

Roy, who began his career with 12 years in the brokerage business prior to forming his independent financial advisory firm in 1998, said the way the company is structured was a reaction to things he didn’t feel good about. “It isn’t that any model is inherently bad, but there is a lot of cloudiness in the industry,” he said.

Knowing the difference
One of the primary differences in WestView’s approach to financial planning and investment management is the transparency regarding their fees. Professional investment advice isn’t free, but the way the Sokolowskis get paid is fully disclosed and transparent: hourly for planning time, and fee-based portfolio management, which is a percentage of the assets they have been entrusted to manage. No tricks, no surprises, no commission-based sales.

As Registered Investment Advisors operating under fiduciary standards, the Sokolowskis also have a legal and ethical obligation to make recommendations that are in the client’s best interest, explained Pat, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ who is responsible for the detailed planning necessary to offer the appropriate advice. “The planning forms the nucleus,” she said. “If a client desires management, then Roy and I work together to make sure the goals established in the plan get accomplished in the execution.”

“When I open the computer and look at their portfolio, I’m really trying to step into the client’s shoes by doing what I think they would do if they knew what I know. It is all about their goals, how much risk they want to take, their tax bracket, what state they live in … all of those things filter through my consciousness.” Roy said.

Roy also differs in his management style by using individual stocks and bonds. “Our portfolios are primarily the real thing. We don’t tend to use funds very much; we don’t outsource it to another manager. We’re one of the few who still do real bonds. I kiddingly say that I’m sort of a dinosaur that way, but for many people, that is particularly appealing,” he said, citing the definable nature of maturity and income stream from bonds.

Unlike many other financial advisory firms, you don’t need a half million or more dollars to walk in the door. WestView is able to help young professionals who are just getting started. In addition, Pat offers a free consultation where she can sometimes answer a few simple questions and point the client in the right direction.

The Sokolowskis agree the payoff far exceeds their paycheck. “It’s really rewarding to help people with their financial goals, because it’s not just financial, it’s personal,” Pat said. “We help people at many of life’s transition points, whether it’s new marriages, children, college, divorce, death, student loan debt—all those things. We’re there for them.”

“We’ve made a good living at it, but I feel good at the end of the day, because we’ve done it the right way,” Roy said. “You can make money, but to be fulfilled in how you’re doing it adds another layer of satisfaction.”

The Sokolowskis have been married 40 years and have two children. They selected Hilton Head Island as their vacation and retirement destination, buying property in 2012 and moving here permanently from Burlington, Vermont in October 2017.

Their son Robert and daughter-in-law Jennifer have joined them in the local business, while five non-family members continue operations in Vermont. Their daughter Katie is a freelance floral designer in Brooklyn, New York.

WestView Investment Advisors is an independent, client-focused firm serving families and small businesses. Their office is located at 1 Corpus Christi Place, Suite 106, Hilton Head Island. For more information or to make an appointment, visit https://westviewhhi.com or call (843)271-6088.

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