The House Always Wins—The Family Office Debunks Misinformation Trending in The Big Bank Game

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The family office continues myth-busting in the ongoing game of Big Banks vs. Investors. As in Las Vegas, on Canary Wharf or Wall Street—the house always wins.

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Is it my imagination, or does every week bring news of another financial scandal? No, it’s not my imagination.
Joe Nocera, New York Times Op-Ed

Can investors find large banks that will act on their behalf, perhaps as a fiduciary, such as a family office? While the question may seem ludicrous given the almost daily headlines concerning multi-national banks, it’s worth asking—why do consumers continue to rely on these institutions?

According to Alison Frankel of Reuters, “A 161-page ruling late Friday by the federal judge overseeing private litigation stemming from manipulation of the benchmark London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) has devastated investor claims that they were the victims of artificially suppressed Libor rates.”

So, while over a dozen banks have openly admitted to participating in collective rate-setting and collusion, U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald must interpret the letter of the law – which means that this collection of large banks won’t be subject to anti-trust claims…even though they’ve openly admitted to the practices.

In the U.S., the vestiges of the mortgage crisis, inflamed by big banks’ participation, has left a lasting mark on both the American economy and national consciousness. Let’s not forget money laundering! The Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations featured the following article on their website: HSBC Exposed U.S. Financial System to Money Laundering, Drug, & Terrorist Financing Risks And it’s no picnic in other countries.

Unfortunately such occurrences are not rare incidents—beyond the pale behavior may be the new normal.

“It’s critically important that your financial advisors, no matter where they are, will be working for you, on your team, 100% of the time,” says Steven Abernathy, Chairman and co-founder of the Abernathy Group II Family Office. “Unfortunately, recourse for investors who have experienced financial wrong doing at the hands of a bank, broker, or other service provider, such as a salesperson, is an indirect, lengthy, and expensive process. Furthermore, the actionable steps are neither widely known nor obvious—so many customers are silent believing the old adage, you can’t fight City Hall.”

What can savvy consumers do?

“If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 1,000 times,” says Brian Luster, co-founder and CEO of the Abernathy Group II Family Office, “only work with professional investors! If they have a substantially lower income than you do, why are they permitted to make vital financial decisions on your behalf?”

While it may seem like consumers cannot avoid dealing with “Wall Street” or mega-institutions such as multi-national banks, there are steps investors can take to protect themselves. Ask questions, do research, and verify a wealth manager’s expertise now to avoid pain later.

Abernathy and Luster make the following recommendations to prospective clients—and to the general public:

  •     Seek out vetted professionals who possess at least a decade of experience and an audited track record--not just a lofty title. Seeing the record of the investor’s work over time, audited by an independent accounting firm, allows for an objective assessment of their work to make an informed decision.
  •     Once it’s clear who the wealth manager is, determine who his or her clients are. If clients’ wealth profiles are dissimilar, or, if there seems to be an over-eagerness to work with everyone, this could reveal inexperience, lack of fiduciary responsibility, or other red flags.
  •     Ask if the advisor works alone, or, if he or she works in an integrative fashion to communicate with tax, legal, and other professionals involved in an investor’s overall wealth picture. When advisors don’t coordinate their work, it may mean a much higher price tag for the investor due to duplicative investments, excessive fees, higher taxes, and decisions which are not integrated with the family's other investments already in place. Integration, clearly defined written goals and objectives to be met by all parties, avoids these issues.

Want to learn more? Contact us.

About The Abernathy Group II Family Office:
Steven Abernathy and Brian Luster co-founded The Abernathy Group II Family Office and the country's first Physician Family Office (PFO). The Abernathy Group Family Office sells no products, receives no commissions, and is independent, employee-owned, and governed by its Advisory Board comprised entirely of thought-leading professionals. They are regular contributors to several publications and blogs including The Huffington Post.

The information contained in this press release is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly. The Abernathy Group II does not hold itself out as a legal or tax adviser. If you wish to receive a legal opinion or tax advice on the matter(s) in this report please contact our offices and we will refer you to an appropriate legal practitioner.

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