A Higher Level
Apex Financial Advisors deliver an unparalleled level of care, as well as peace of mind, to high-net-worth families
by Michelle Garling

How do families with significant investment assets handle today’s complex financial and tax environments, not to mention the stresses of everyday life? Apex Financial Advisors has designed a service model that meets virtually all these needs of its high-net-worth families. 

Apex’s focus is on the three pillars of a healthy lifestyle—financial, physical and mental. By coupling traditional full-service financial planning services (investment management, tax advice, estate planning, retirement planning) with more specialized personal services, Apex has created a family office environment to help clients ultimately make their lives more productive and less stressful. 

Robert A. Connell, CEO of Apex Financial Advisors, speaks of the firm’s unique approach to handling its clients’ needs. “Apex delivers an unparalleled level of personal care to clients,” he says. “If we can help reduce stress in our clients’ lives—knowing their assets are being safeguarded with their best interests in mind—then we are successful in contributing to their peace of mind and a healthier lifestyle.”

Providing clients with this peace of mind applies to more than just financial matters, as the firm also employs a psychiatric nurse practitioner to assist clients dealing with issues such as the loss of a family member, divorce, depression and other mental-health issues. “A fully healthy lifestyle cannot be possible without a healthy mind,” says Connell, “and our goal is to set a positive foundation for our clients.”  

Fiduciary Standard
As an independent Registered Investment Advisor, Apex is registered with the Federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and is subject to regular audits. The firm has a legal responsibility to act only in clients’ best interests. As such, Apex is compensated strictly by fees; it does not receive commissions of any kind or compensation from outside investment sources. Typically the large brokerage firms charge both fees and commissions, which can present a conflict of interest. Investors might want to review their portfolio to see what the real charges are and how their broker is compensated.

Apex is agnostic when it comes to investments. “We will choose whatever investment vehicle makes sense and is best for our client,” says Connell.

Wealth Preservation and Growth
Slow and steady wins the race. This is the approach that Apex takes when investing client assets—not that investing is a race, but rather that “steady returns are the reward of continuous effort,” says Connell. Apex’s conservative approach seeks to reduce risk through asset diversification. Utilizing a strategic approach to allocating assets among several asset classes, Apex’s universal goal for all client portfolios is steady, positive returns each year. Each portfolio is individually constructed and adjusted based on each client’s personalized investment plan and goals.

Asset classes currently utilized by Apex for their clients include equity, fixed income and alternative investments such as commodities, futures, and limited partnerships—of course, this all depends on a client’s risk tolerance and comfort level. Apex is proactive in allocating a percentage to uncorrelated assets, which are independent of the stock market. The firm gives significant energy and attention to managing assets in accordance with the values and principles that are embraced by the client. It is through this thorough management and execution that Apex is able to extend to clients this added value.

Looking forward, not backward, is how Apex is able to develop effective and efficient portfolios and provide returns to its clients. To assist in this execution, the firm uses proprietary analytical software, which has been developed and refined over many years by the CEO. With this powerhouse, the firm is able to systematically evaluate and effectively manage a client’s entire portfolio.

This benefit of directly managing investments allows Apex to be proactive in terms of asset allocation and tax planning while reducing extraneous investment costs. “We manage investments, taxes, philanthropic giving, trusts and legal matters and effectively transfer wealth across multiple generations,” says Stuart Caplan, director of portfolio management. Unlike most money managers, Apex is able to adjust specific investments as well as asset allocations as often as needed.

When implementing an investment plan, investments with the lowest cost expenses are utilized, assisting in contributing to higher returns for clients. Lower costs associated with investments means higher returns, which ultimately mean more assets are available to be passed on to heirs.

Trust and Estate Planning
Preserving and transferring wealth to the future generations is a common interest among Apex’s clients. This is why the partners of Apex go beyond investment management and help create strategies that maximize what is passed onto heirs and minimizes what gets paid to Uncle Sam. Utilizing such complex techniques as generation-skipping trusts, family limited partnerships, qualified personal residence trusts and irrevocable life insurance trusts, Apex is able to minimize estate and gift taxes.

“We are constantly communicating with our clients, and their accountants and attorneys to make sure we are all on the same page in terms of tax projections, gifting and other wealth-transfer strategies,” says William F. Davis, executive vice president. “We are the ones driving the process, making sure all aspects are considered, accounted for and, most importantly, consistent with our clients’ intentions.”

In addition, Apex partners with a national trust company to offer corporate trust services for those families who desire multigenerational wealth management and governance—without the hassles and impersonal nature of dealing with a big bank. “Our relationship with National Advisors Trust Co. offers our clients the benefit of multigenerational estate planning with the help of a corporate trustee to help guide decisions now and well into the future” says Davis. “This takes wealth planning to the next level for our clients and their heirs.”

Outside of the Office
Apex is also active in the local community, including, organizing and participating in the Yardley Harvest Day Auto Show. Apex presented proceeds of this event to the borough of Yardley to assist in preserving open space. The members of the Apex team volunteer their time to many other local organizations and charities and hold several board positions as well. These include local churches, community service groups, charitable organizations, dog rescue organizations and youth athletic organizations.

Looking Ahead
Apex is currently building its new corporate headquarters on Main Street in Yardley Borough. The 6,500-square-foot building will be the first completely newly constructed building on Yardley Borough’s Main Street in decades.

The firm is looking forward to this new location and a projected move-in date of mid-2014. They will be hosting a grand-opening reception for all its clients and friends.

For more information or to contact Apex Financial Advisors, visit its website at www.afa-inc.com, e-mail advice@afa-inc.com or call 215-493-1900.

Photograph by Rob Hall