Five Questions With: Mark Rapoza

MARK RAPOZA, vice president of wealth management at Barrett & Co. in Providence, said the aging “baby boomer” generation presents both opportunities and challenges for the wealth-management industry. / COURTESY BARRETT & CO.

Mark Rapoza has been with Barrett & Co. in Providence since 1994. He is certified as a fund and income specialist by the Institute of Business & Finance. He also is an accredited investment fiduciary. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts in 1992.

PBN: Of the wealth-management and brokerage services offered by Barrett & Co., which presents the most opportunity for growth of your business model?

RAPOZA: Our methodology can be briefly summarized in four steps – financial planning, goal-based investing, financial-behavioral coaching and legacy planning. Each step builds upon the prior one, with financial planning being the foundation.

It is our core belief that real wealth can be defined as creating an income that one does not outlive and provides legacy to heirs. Hence, long-term equity investing is at the heart of what we do because, historically speaking at least, it is the only investment that accomplishes that goal.

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As a case in point, the S&P [Standard & Poor’s 500] index was at 100 in 1980; 38 years later it is at 2,850 – a roughly 28-fold increase during a time when the cost of living rose only three and a half times.

PBN: What sort of “disruptive technologies” is the wealth-management industry confronting?

RAPOZA: Every industry is being redefined by innovations such as blockchain, crowd sourcing, artificial intelligence, robotics, etc., and these technologies offer mankind enormous promise.

What will be the future of work? What does the increase in human longevity mean for my life, my work and my financial plan? What is the future of higher education for my children? The pace of innovation, we believe, is going to surprise many people in the next 10 years and we want to educate and advise our clients accordingly.

PBN: How can changing life expectancies influence wealth management?

RAPOZA: There will be 10,000 baby boomers entering retirement every day in the United States through 2029 when the last baby boomers born in 1964 turn 65. We believe longevity is the single biggest issue and opportunity our clients need to plan for. Our health care system today is focused primarily on “reactive” care rather than “preventative” care. With artificial intelligence, genomic sequencing and the like, we are about to enter an age of personalized and preventative care.

What does this mean from a financial-planning perspective? We believe it changes the entire conversation. When should you begin talking Social Security [payments] with respect to current longevity data? Does the client have proper legacy planning established to prepare for older age?

Our team is working tirelessly to address and provide guidance on these matters and it makes a real difference in people’s lives.

PBN: What would you say has been the most significant change in the wealth-management industry so far in this century?

RAPOZA: I would say the most significant change is the ability to offer more-detailed and -personalized advice. I can tell you that, generally speaking, the best advisory firms are emphasizing teams and bringing on very talented people with an eagerness to learn and adapt. There is simply more collaboration today amongst advisers and their teams. This is a terrific advancement.

At Barrett, we have an Investment Committee that meets monthly to both critique each other’s work and open new doors of possibility that didn’t exist 20 years ago and, frankly, it’s great for the financial advisers and the families they serve.

PBN: From a wealth-management perspective, has increasing income inequality in the U.S. been good or bad for business?

RAPOZA: As we move forward, I think there will be more occasions for equal opportunity. This is because exponential technologies will democratize and demonetize the cost of opportunity. Technology advancement is driving down cost and driving up opportunity.

I would recommend a great book I just finished for your readers called “The Third Pillar,” by Raghuram Rajan that ties together the need for capital, government and community to work together in solving existential challenges.

Scott Blake is a PBN staff writer. Email him at

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