Five Questions With: Gary Friedmann

Gary Friedmann is a vice president and portfolio manager for Rockland Trust’s Investment Management Group. In addition to serving clients out of the Providence office, he is a voting member of the Investment Policy Committee and assists in the coverage of the financial and consumer discretionary sectors. 

Friedmann graduated from the State University of New York at Albany with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with a concentration in finance. He is a chartered financial analyst charterholder and has also received his designation as a certified financial planner. He sits on the board of trustees for the Fund for UCAP and was past president of the Providence Society of Financial Analysts and Financial Planning Association of Rhode Island.

PBN: Since you arrived at Rockland Trust, the Investment Management Group’s assets under management have increased from $1.6 billion to $3.5 billion. Why do you think that is?

FRIEDMANN: Our growth has primarily been driven by our strong investment results and a focus on our client relationships. We believe protecting and building wealth over time is achieved by adopting a holistic wealth-management program focused on minimizing downside risk through broad diversification.

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In addition to the institutionally based investment solution that we provide our clients, they appreciate our ability to provide them with a comprehensive financial plan including a review on any existing insurance policies or future insurance needs.

PBN: In the Providence Region, assets under management are now $790 million, an increase from $455 million in July 2011. How is your team so effective?

FRIEDMANN: The primary reason for this growth is due to the trusted relationships that we have forged with other professionals within the marketplace. We have worked hard to build brand awareness and we are recognized by many of these professionals as one of the premier solutions for wealth management in the greater Providence marketplace.

PBN: After gaining consistently throughout 2017, equities have been quite volatile through the early part of this year, and are roughly at the same levels they were at the beginning of the year. What are you telling your clients about the investment environment today?

FRIEDMANN: Many investors became complacent after the relatively calm market environment that we experienced in 2017. At the end of January 2018 the stock market ended a 15-month run of positive monthly gains. In addition, there were only eight trading days in 2017 when the stock market moved more than 1 percent intraday. In the first quarter of 2018 we experienced 26 of these days, which is more in line with what we might normally expect.

At Rockland Trust, we spend a great deal of time working with our clients to ensure that their asset allocation is consistent with the goals and objectives they are looking to achieve. We encourage them to not pay too much attention to the short-term movements in the markets and focus on what they are looking to accomplish in the longer term.

PBN: You attribute your success to the team you have assembled. How do you get them all “invested” in the team’s success?

FRIEDMANN: It all starts at the top with David Smith, managing director, chief investment officer, of our Investment Management Group. David has built a team with tremendous talent and a desire to grow the investment-management business and this carries through to the Providence investment office. Every member of the team is encouraged to seek out new and innovative ways to help our clients and make their experience a positive one.

PBN: As baby boomers retire, are you seeing more of them come in for investment advice? Should more of them be contacting advisers at this time of their lives?

FRIEDMANN: We certainly are seeing a good amount of baby boomers that are transitioning from full-time work to retirement. Transitioning to retirement can be a major emotional and financial adjustment for clients. We are frequently counseling them on how to allocate their portfolios to achieve their retirement spending goals and also preserve enough money to support them for a long life.

We can provide cash flow projections to help manage their spending expectations and minimize taxation. Other common topics of conversation are how to manage health care expenses, when to take Social Security to optimize the benefits, long-term care planning, and estate taxation and division.

While it’s never too late to start, we do encourage clients to start the financial planning process earlier so that they can confidently transition to retirement.

Mark S. Murphy is the editor of Providence Business News.