Along for the Journey
The advisors of The Doylestown Private Wealth Group work to help clients achieve their dreams
by Mark D. Marotta

Anticipating a future environment with potentially lower returns on investments, The Doylestown Private Wealth Group recognizes the importance of limiting clients’ expenses and exposure to risk, while providing them with comprehensive financial planning services.

An affiliate of Ameriprise Financial Services, the group has a team of five financial advisors, including Ari Spectorman and Matthew Frank, who are senior partners, as well as a trader/financial analyst and two customer service coordinators.

In the early 1980s, Spectorman earned a B.A. in psychology and sociology from the State University of New York, Buffalo, but he wanted to become a chef. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, he co-owned a Manhattan restaurant for a number of years. Because of his awareness of how financial markets work, Spectorman recalls, he found himself dispensing financial advice to many of his friends, family members, colleagues and customers. When he and his partner sold the restaurant and moved to their country home in Bucks County, Spectorman realized he needed to reinvent himself, so he interviewed with Ameriprise Financial Services’ predecessor.

“It was a good fit,” Spectorman adds. “I was unconsciously competent at this stuff. I gathered a lot of clients and assets very quickly, and I achieved my CFP (Certified Financial Planner) designation in record time.”

Now, with 19 years of experience as a financial advisor, Spectorman also has received CIMA (Certified Investment Management Analyst) and ChFC (Chartered Financial Consultant) designations. The Philadelphia Business Journal has recognized him as a top wealth advisor, and Ameriprise Financial Services has hired him over the years to speak at national conferences.

Frank, meanwhile, started his career as a commodities trader and was a member of several exchanges, such as the Kansas City Board of Trade and COMEX, over the course of the 1980s. “It was very intense, but it wasn’t really what I wanted to be doing. I wanted to be doing something different that was more about helping people,” Frank recalls. After a short time as special assistant for the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, he joined the company that would become Ameriprise Financial Services.

“It was a great fit, because I had a financial background. I understood markets, but now I could sort of reinvent myself and … do more of what was really in line with my personality,” says Frank, who holds a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC) certification. He adds that he and Spectorman worked together informally for a number of years, sharing staff and ideas, before eventually making their partnership official.

“The Doylestown Private Wealth Group is a name that we came up with, that we thought resonated with the community and suggested who we are and what we do,” Spectorman says. He describes the group’s affiliation with Ameriprise Financial Services as giving clients “the best of both worlds.”  While broker-dealer employees “sell the products and services that the ‘mother ship’ gives them to go out to market with,” Spectorman says, “we are considered, in the financial services industry, on an independent platform. … I’m more objective, and I can sell products and services from pretty much any company.” In turn, he explains, Ameriprise Financial Services serves as the custodian providing oversight for regulatory compliance.

Spectorman says The Doylestown Private Wealth Group’s clients are primarily affluent and high-net-worth households and individuals, and some own small or medium-sized businesses. He adds that the clients are “very geographically dispersed,” coming from as far away as California, because “we really leverage technology” that makes long-distance meetings possible.

Clients typically engage the group “at key decision points or transition points in life,” Spectorman says. “They’re trying to get, most importantly, a trusted, objective third party to advise them on any aspect of their financial life. They’re looking for high-quality asset management [and] financial planning.”

Frank’s focus is on retirement planning, with clients, such as pharmaceutical executives, typically working for large firms.

“They want to know when they can retire, or what kind of lifestyle they can have. Or they’ve just retired or lost their job; or they’re in retirement, and want to make sure they don’t run out of money, and want to make sure they leave a legacy for their kids, charities or schools,” Frank says. “We coordinate with the legal team, or the attorney, that the client has. … We’re like the quarterback. We make sure everything is put together in a comprehensive fashion.”

“We always take a holistic approach to understanding everything about our clients’ financial lives,” Spectorman adds, calling The Doylestown Private Wealth Group a “repository” of clients’ “data, and goals and dreams and aspirations.”

Both he and Frank agree that a client’s financial plan is not static or inert. It is, in Frank’s words, “a dynamic ongoing process.”

“We’re on the journey with you, and we’re constantly having checkpoints to see where we are on that journey, so there’s no plan that’s ever done and finished,” says Spectorman. Under a “seasonal advice model,” he adds, meetings with clients are held periodically throughout the year to review a particular aspect of their finances, such as goal tracking, asset allocation, insurance and estate planning, and tax planning.

Spectorman says The Doylestown Private Wealth Group has a “fiduciary standard of care” to its clients. “When we have fee-based managed accounts and advice relationships, where you pay for advice, we must act in your best interest,” he explains. “I have no incentive to give you one financial product or service versus another.”

A “deep bench” of objective research from Ameriprise, as well as from third parties, is available to The Doylestown Private Wealth Group, and its fees are similar to, or lower than, those of firms “who only offer asset-management services,” Spectorman says.

“Costs matter in investing, and it’s really important to make sure that clients are paying as little as they can for asset management,” he adds. So, because of their relatively lower internal costs, exchange-traded funds are selected over mutual funds, wherever possible.

Spectorman says the group follows a “disciplined, model-based” approach to asset management. “We don’t believe that stock-picking adds value over time,” he explains. “Investors are better served through low-cost, index-type products.” Also, tax-reduction strategies might, for instance, include determining whether clients should take capital gains or losses, Spectorman says.

Currently, he adds, stocks, bonds and other investment vehicles are expensive relative to earnings. “In that environment, investors have to be very careful that they have the right asset allocation,” Spectorman says. “We should at least be looking for the asset classes that are somewhat less expensive.” With the U.S. stock market valuations being “on the very lofty side,” compared to Europe and Asia, he suggests that “investors might be better served overweighting foreign stocks.”

Spectorman adds, “Expenses, both of what we charge for advice, and the internal expenses of any financial product, are of paramount importance,” while clients also should be protected from risk.

“The thing that really motivates me is helping people,” Frank says. “We get particular fulfilment and satisfaction when a client’s on track, when they have a comfortable retirement. … That’s why we do what we do.”
The Doylestown Private Wealth Group
48 West Oakland Ave.
Doylestown, PA 18901
267-893-6920 |

Photograph by Kim Billingsley