Features June 2017 On The Cover Special Section

UBS Financial Services: Paving the Road to Financial Success

Written By: Chris Eversole

UBS Financial Services Team: Mike Carr, Jeffrey Hogue, Kirk Ruth, Jeff Rizzo, Tina McCann, Kristin Beckerink, Lindy Crews, Ashley Waddington, Liz Lazo.

UBS Financial Services Inc., part of the largest wealth management firm in the world, has been developing a new office in Greater Gainesville over the past two years. In May, the firm moved into its new permanent office located at 4313 NW 8th Avenue. The new location signifies big changes for the wealth management company and for the Greater Gainesville community.

“This location at the intersection of 8th Avenue and 43rd Street will make us more visible and accessible, and the expanded space will enable us to grow the office in terms of employees and clients.  Additionally, clients and prospective clients will know where we are and that we are here to stay,” said Michael C. Carr, the Branch Office Manager and a Senior Vice President of Wealth Management at UBS. 

The office offers something unique to the market – bringing the resources of Swiss-based UBS AG, the largest wealth management firm in the world, with a team of highly experienced advisors and associates who each have worked and served the Gainesville and surrounding communities for an average of 20 plus years.

“The President of UBS Wealth Management Americas, Tom Naratil, says it best, ‘We want to play big and feel small,’” Carr stated. “What he means by that is we can compete with any firm in the world in the Wealth Management space but also have the feel of a small firm in terms of decision making at the local market level.  Consequently, we can make the best decisions for our clients and employees, here in our own back yard.  As a manager, I have never had the freedom to make the big decisions that I am able to make today.”

Carr, with 20 years of experience as a Financial Advisor and 12 years of managerial experience, leads one of two teams in the office, Carr & Associates. Consisting of himself and his two associates, Tina McCann and Ashley Waddington, the three have a combined 67 years of financial service experience, the majority of which has been in Greater Gainesville. 

Kirk Ruth and Jeffrey Hogue, both Senior Vice Presidents and Wealth Managers, along with Jeffrey Rizzo, Financial Advisor, make up the leadership of UBS’s latter team – Ruth, Hogue & Associates.

“While we opened the UBS office in Gainesville a year and a half ago, we are excited about our new location.  Other than existing clients, many people didn’t know UBS had a presence in Gainesville.  With our new, highly visible office, that will change,” stated Ruth.

Tina, Mike and Ashley make up the team Carr & Associates.

“Our team is dedicated to providing a disciplined and balanced approach – helping clients manage their wealth to help them achieve their goals while considering their individual comfort level with risk,” Hogue said. “We weigh the clients’ interest in building and preserving wealth along with providing a sustainable income.”

Both teams have extensive experience in the financial services industry, primarily in the Gainesville market. “We know our clients very well, and we pride ourselves on taking an individualized approach with each of them,” Ruth said.

For Carr & Associates and Ruth, Hogue & Associates, their wealth management expertise allows them to serve clients comprehensively. “As people approach retirement, many of them are not well-versed in our world,” said Rizzo of Ruth, Hogue & Associates. “We help them look years ahead so they can breathe easier for years to come.”

Breathing easy is something that can certainly be difficult in this economic climate of uncertainty, but when it comes to these UBS teams, they’ve seen it all and most importantly, they’ve gotten their clients through it all.

“The business has changed so much over the years,” Carr said.  “In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s everyone was fixated on buying individual stocks and expected to hit a grand slam with every purchase. Expectations were so unrealistic.”

“Then we went through 2008 and 2009, where everyone was hit hard as there were virtually no asset classes that didn’t lose value, with the exception of cash,” explained Carr.

“Clients became scared and paralyzed.  As hard as it was, our job was to keep our clients invested and not retreat to cash after such a violent pullback.  Many of our clients today were with us then. They have told us many times how they appreciated our guidance and support through the worst of times as well as keeping them fully invested so that they were able to recoup those losses as the market recovered.”

“Today, most of those clients are well ahead of where they were back then, but still maintain a cautious outlook.  Many now share the same position of accepting moderate returns in line with their reduced/moderate risk allocation. The goal is wealth preservation first and foremost, with growth second,” stated Carr.

According to Carr, the vast majority of their clients are in professionally managed, discretionary portfolios. “This strategy insures proper management, proper allocation and typically less risk that what we saw before the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009,” said Carr.

In addition to his longtime core client group consisting of local professionals, retirees and entrepreneurs, Carr also serves Major League Baseball players and NCAA football coaches across the country. 

“Our local clients are the lifeblood of our business.  Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to branch out into the niches we’ve created.  While we have a diverse client base, they all need professionals they can trust to give them great advice in any and all areas of their financial lives,” said Carr.

Carr and his associates take a full-service, individualized approach to their clients’ financial needs.  Whether it’s their income needs in retirement, their risk profile, how much of a legacy they want to leave to family and charities or how long they want to work. Every client situation is different, which is why they provide a custom, comprehensive plan that meets their client’s current as well as future financial goals.

“It’s not just financial planning, it’s Goals-Based financial planning,” said Carr. 

Liz, Lindy, Jeff, Kristin, Kirk and Jeffrey make up the team Ruth, Hogue & Associates.

Mike Carr

Mike Carr moved his family from Sarasota to Gainesville 20 years ago to begin his wealth management career. He managed the office of his previous firm for approximately 10 years and returned to that role over the last year and a half at UBS.

“Today’s wealth advisors are more dynamic than yesterday’s stock brokers,” Carr said. “It used to be that you were constantly answering the phone to talk to clients about single stock trades,” he said. “Today, our daily discussions with our clients are much more ‘goals based’ and holistic which allows us to help them make decisions that are in line with their long-term strategies.”

Carr and his team help his clients with all aspects of their finances. That includes college planning for children and grandchildren and making decisions about real estate, retirement planning and estate planning.

“There are a lot of moving parts. We want to be involved with every important financial decision our clients make. That is why the relationships with our clients work so well. They know they have a team they can trust to help them make sound choices that will allow them to meet and hopefully exceed all of their financial goals,” he said. “In most cases our clients are like family since we have worked with them for many years. They know if there is a question regarding their finances, we are the trusted group of professionals ready to provide the advice and guidance they need.”

Carr resides in Gainesville with his wife Carrie. They have 3 children, Trey who is a senior at FSU, a daughter Natalie who leaves this August to begin her freshman year at Auburn University and Cannon a rising 8th grader at Oak Hall. Carr is active in University City Church of Christ and he supports the Ronald McDonald House, Partnership for Strong Families, Alachua Conservation Trust, the Gainesville Chapter of the Coastal Conservative Association, as well as other community organizations. 

Kirk Ruth    

Kirk Ruth started his career in corporate finance in 1987 and became a financial advisor in 1994. He sees his role as a financial advisor much like that of a psychologist.     

“You really have to understand the client completely. Understand their fears as well as their goals in order to create a financial plan that is right for them,” Ruth said. “Pre-printed risk questionnaires and scoring systems with canned portfolios may be fine for some people, but in the end your portfolio has to be right for you individually, not for a class of people who may look like you.” 

Specifically, Ruth’s core clientele consists of health care professionals, retired individuals and business owners, in addition to his endowment and foundation clients.

“Clients transitioning into retirement can have a difficult time with the change. They’ve worked for years and passionately saved for retirement,” Ruth said. 

“One day you finally make the transition and it hits them – the employment income has stopped and their nest egg must now sustain their lifestyle for decades. Many people have a difficult time with the stress this can create when the market has its hiccups. They need to have a realistic plan in place that has the potential to meet their goals, while also allowing them to sleep at night,” stated Ruth.

With Ruth, the personalization starts at the first meeting. “I want to know what retirement means for you. Do you want to work part time, pursue hobbies or other passions, spend time with the grandkids, travel, or all of the above?”

Initial meetings for him consist of 10 percent talking and 90 percent listening to the client. “I cannot provide appropriate advice for clients if I don’t really know them,” he said. The second meeting is where Ruth presents his observations and offers options for their consideration.

Clients have many decisions to make, including ones about estate planning and philanthropy. “Providing for family members with special needs is a huge consideration today,” Ruth said.

He also determines the level of service that each client wants. “Some people say, ‘I don’t have the time or interest to be actively involved in managing my accounts while others want to take a very active role and are looking for me to be a sounding board for ideas.”

Ruth, who coached his son Hunter in baseball when Hunter was young, bowed out when he entered high school. “He no longer needed my advice” he said laughing. 

“The level of instruction he requires is beyond what I can provide, so just like the markets, ‘know what you don’t know’ and find a professional.”

Hunter, a pitcher, earned a scholarship with the Florida Gators and will attend UF this fall. His daughter Delaney recently completed her sophomore year at the University of South Carolina.

Jeffrey Hogue

Hogue of Ruth, Hogue & Associates is a Certified Financial Planner.® Hogue said that his years of banking and investing experience along with the rigorous training required to earn the CFP® designation helps him see all aspects of a client’s financial life and bring everything together. 

After earning his Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Florida, he worked as a commercial and private banker from 1993 until 2000, when he decided to expand his career to become a wealth manager and financial planner.

Hogue specializes in working with business owners, professionals and retirees and enjoys serving multiple generations of many families. “I enjoy having relationships with the grandparents to the grandkids,” he said. “It is fulfilling to help a family pass along their passions and values as well as providing a framework for leaving a financial legacy to their loved ones.”

He also helps clients who want to leave a legacy through charitable giving, and promotes philanthropy by serving on the Professional Advisory Board of the Community Foundation of North Central Florida.

“I enjoy helping and serving our clients – making a positive impact in their lives each day,” he said.

Hogue also draws upon knowledge and years of experience by working with business owners and professionals including advising them on retirement planning programs. By being able to understand both the personal and corporate needs he can guide clients toward strategies that can benefit both the employer and employee. 

“It is a real win-win for both,” he says, “by providing a benefit and educating others on the importance of saving and investing in their future.”

Hogue has served the community by supporting and volunteering with Haven Hospice, and as a member of the executive board of the North Central Florida Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He also is a member of Anthem Church and the Gainesville Quarterback Club. He feels strongly about making a difference and states that having grown-up in Gainesville and benefitting from all it has offered him and his family, he feels it is important to give back to this hometown community and to help others.

Jeff Rizzo

Jeff Rizzo specializes in helping people who are retiring from jobs in education and government plan their retirement finances. Rizzo stated that most of his clients are interested in taking only a moderate amount of risk and are looking for a relatively safe return on their money.

“They want to hit singles and doubles every year, not swing for the fences,” he said.

“They are facing the reality that they no longer will have their income from work, and my job is to help them develop an income stream for the rest of their life that replaces their salary.”

Rizzo suggests that clients plan to have enough money until they are at least age 90. “We want to make sure that they don’t outlive their money.”

He advises clients to not over-react to changes in the stock market. “It’s not wise to sell all your investments and go to cash,” he said. “It’s important to stay the course and not react emotionally to market shifts.”

Rizzo is also a member of Anthem Church and currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Gainesville Quarterback Club.

UBS: Our Full-Service Approach

The UBS Gainesville office includes five support staff all of whom are crucial in the office’s full-service approach, including coordinating periodic reviews of client portfolios and financial plans as well as updating any changes to client investment and retirement goals and objectives.

Tina McCann, a Senior Registered Associate, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource Management from the University of South Florida and is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® with 31 years of experience in the financial industry.  She obtained her securities license in 2002.  Her primary role with Carr & Associates is as the Relationship Manager for the team.

“It is a wonderful benefit that UBS has fewer levels of management than most financial services companies,” McCann said.  “We have the authority to make decisions locally that are in the best interest of our clients, which results in a better overall client experience.”

A Florida native and Gainesville resident for the past 19 years, she attends Westside Baptist Church and volunteers with Haven Hospice Alliance and supports Partnership for Strong Families as well as other local community organizations. 

Ashley Waddington, a Senior Client Service Associate who supports Carr, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from the University of Florida and is a Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist® with 8 years of industry experience.  Her role includes preparing presentations for clients and handling client service requests.  She also serves as the assistant to the manager which involves several administrative functions including coordinating the recent move to the new office.

Waddington also serves as a Guardian ad Litem for children, coordinates volunteer efforts for the office and volunteers with the Partnership for Strong Families and Trinity United Methodist Church’s Finance Committee and children’s department. 

Lindy Crews is the Senior Registered Associate with Ruth, Hogue, having worked in the industry since 1993. She obtained her securities license in 1997 and became a Chartered Financial Consultant® and Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor. ®  Crews is active in the Estate Planning Counsel, having served as both President and Vice President.  Crews is a life-long resident of Gainesville having raised two grown daughters with her husband, Garry.

“I feel like I make a difference in the lives of our clients by helping them with every detail of their financial picture. UBS and the team both allow me to take on that role which makes every day new and challenging,” said Crews.

Elizabeth (Liz) Lazo was raised in South Florida and started in the financial services industry in 1997. In her free time, Lazo pursues her artistic passions in jewelry and design, and recently had her work published in Jewelry Affair magazine. Lazo’s Cuban ancestry and fluency in Spanish add another dimension to the Ruth Hogue Team. She currently lives in High Springs with her husband, JC.

Kristin Beckerink is a 2006 graduate of the University of Florida with a major in linguistics.  She began her career in the financial industry in 2004 while still pursuing her education.  Beckerink joined the team in 2014, and is also a native of Gainesville residing with her husband David and their son Brian in High Springs.

“Today, our daily discussions with our clients are much more ‘goals based’ and holistic which allows us to help them make decisions that are in line with their long-term strategies.”

“While we opened the UBS office in Gainesville a year and a half ago, we are excited about our new location. Other than existing clients, many people didn’t know UBS had a presence in Gainesville. With our new, highly visible office, that will change”

Chris Eversole has been a keen observer of business, government and culture in the Greater Gainesville Area while living here over the past two decades. His experience includes work with the University of Florida and Alachua County Government. He also has been a journalist and public relations professional in the Tampa Bay and Sarasota-Bradenton areas, as well as in Michigan, Ohio and New York.

Photography by John Sloan

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