Built to Last
Terry L. Jue and Christy H. Neill of Ameriprise Financial work to create customized financial plans designed to put clients’ long-term financial goals within reach
by Bill Donahue

Given a well-constructed foundation, even the tallest buildings can withstand the brunt of the elements and the forces of time and pressure. Terry L. Jue and Christy H. Neill know a thing or two about the lasting effects of a strong foundation. Instead of bricks and mortar, however, they use a carefully architected base of choice investments, wealth preservation strategies and retirement planning tools to put their clients on a path to financial well-being.

“People constantly take me aside and ask me questions like, ‘What stocks should I buy right now?’ but achieving one’s goals in matters of financial success isn’t that simple,” says Jue, a financial advisor with Ameriprise Financial in Philadelphia. “Basing one’s financial success on the picking of stocks isn’t much more than an educated version of gambling. That’s why I always start with the foundation—understanding what their goals are and then turning that into an actual game plan that puts numbers behind each of those goals.

“Investments are a key part of that,” he continues, “but what happens if a spouse passes away prematurely or something else unexpected happens? Will you have enough liquidity to get you through it? When I meet with a client, we’ll talk about cash reserves, protection planning and retirement planning, and the decisions that follow will have a huge impact on their financial future. Once we determine all that, then we figure out where to best invest their assets. That comes last.”

Jue gained an interest in the stock market and other aspects of finance at a young age. In fact, he initially thought his path would lead him to a career in investment banking. All that changed when scouts from a financial advisory firm came recruiting at Oberlin College of Arts and Sciences in Oberlin, Ohio, where he was majoring in economics. He was immediately intrigued by the idea of having a positive, lasting impact on the lives of individual investors. That firm turned out to be American Express Financial Advisors, which in 2005 became known as Ameriprise Financial.

Neill, also a financial advisor with Ameriprise, is the product of hardworking parents who run a successful business enterprise. She began down the road toward becoming a money-minded entrepreneur by studying at Widener University. Fortuitously, Widener became the first college in the nation to offer a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner major to undergraduate students while she was enrolled there.

“To me, this is not just a job; it’s an obligation to help as many people as I can, because I know their success will impact our overall economy,” says Neill, who has since earned Chartered Financial Consultant, Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM and Certified Fund Specialist financial designations, in addition to the CFP® designation. “I started interning [at Ameriprise] in 2002, and I’ve been working for the company ever since. I feel completely supported and educated with new tools and technology here, but I can also sit down with my clients like a regular person and provide a very personal experience.”

Ameriprise Financial is a prime example of the results that stem from having a solid foundation. The company traces its roots to 1894, when entrepreneur John Tappan founded an investment syndicate with a singular vision: to help Americans achieve their financial dreams and feel confident about the future. Ameriprise has since grown into the nation’s largest financial planning company and a leading global financial institution, with more than $800 billion in assets under management and administration.

“As independent advisors backed by a large firm, it’s an ideal situation,” says Jue, who has earned financial designations including CFP®, Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM and Registered Financial Consultant. “I make my decisions based on what I think is best for each client, but I also have some of the best financial planning resources in the industry and access to institutional information that’s not readily available to the general public. In our Philadelphia office, we have several advisors who work together informally as a team. We share intellectual resources, discuss strategies and bounce ideas off each other. Our clients’ success is tied to ours, and vice versa.”

Jue and Neill, whose headquarters used to be based out of Conshohocken, moved to a new office in Two Commerce Square in Philadelphia last year. Together, they have collaborated on a number of client-specific projects. The advisors work with clients of all types and backgrounds. This includes everyone from “super achieving” individuals under the age of 45 who have discretionary income to direct toward their future investment goals, to pre-retirees who have put their children through college and now have more dollars to put toward their retirement, and from those who are in retirement and looking to generate sufficient income, to affluent individuals who wish to pass on their estate so others can pursue their dreams and desires. In addition, Neill specializes in family finances, including helping members of “the sandwich generation,” meaning those who are in the position of having to care for aging parents while at the same time still helping their adult children find their way in the world.

In addition to offering their expertise in investments, retirement planning and wealth preservation, Jue and Neill provide clients with strategies for everything from tax planning and retirement plan distribution to insurance, education planning and executive compensation and benefits. Regardless of the need, the advisors strive to meet with their clients at least once every six months. Quarterly or even more frequent meetings are encouraged to address unexpected events that might arise to affect one’s lifestyle and financial picture.

“For most people, there’s going to be a gap between where they are and where they want to be in their financial lives,” adds Neill. “Our job is to make sure they have a smart, safe place to come for help when they need it. A lot of times people think they can do a plan once and it’s over, but life is always changing, which is why we do ongoing financial planning. I take a look at all the key pieces of a client’s finances to help them make everyday decisions: their insurance policies, their benefits at work, maybe some of the things they would rather not address. I see myself as their ‘financial quarterback,’ or their primary financial mentor.

“In the accumulation years,” she continues, “it’s easy to put money into an investment, but they also need to have a strategic income distribution strategy and have a ‘safety bucket’ in case they need cash to supplement their income over the course of several years. It’s a lot easier to save, but you also want to make sure you have enough to descend the mountain you’ve climbed.”

No matter the situation, Ameriprise financial advisors aim to provide the “financial road map,” as Jue calls it, to help put the client in a position to realize the dreams they have spent a lifetime building.

“As advisors, our role is to filter through the overload of information out there and make sense of it so we can help our clients make informed decisions,” he says. “When you combine that with the expertise and experience of our organization, someone like me can filter the noise and take the emotion out of the equation so the client can get back to focusing on what’s most important in their lives.”

Ameriprise Financial
Two Commerce Square
2001 Market Street, 40th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Terry L. Jue, CFP®, CRPC®, RFC®
215-789-4961 | Terry.L.Jue@ampf.com

Christy H. Neill, CFP®, CFS®, ChFC®, CRPC®
215-789-4952 | Christy.H.Neill@ampf.com

Photography by Alison Dunlap