Helping Hand: Stratos Wealth Partners’ advisers protect portfolios

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski


The COVID-19 pandemic closed most businesses in the country more than two years ago. Although the stock market has proven to be very resilient through this, it has not been without incredible volatility. This has caused a high degree of anxiety as many people are watching their stock portfolios have large swings in value daily.

“Sometimes, in times like this, we need to help save people from themselves,” says Grant Ulrick, partner and wealth adviser at the Scottsdale offices of Stratos Wealth Partners.

“What this means is many times people will want to sell low (in a panic), and buy high (in euphoria), the opposite of what they should be doing.”

Finding ways to survive — and even thrive — during difficult times is the goal that drives Ulrick and his Stratos Wealth Partners team. Jeff Concepcion started Stratos at the peak of the financial crisis in 2009, and Ulrick joined five years ago after weathering several dramatic ups and downs.

Ulrick got his start in the financial industry as a catastrophe adjuster for his self-owned insurance company, a job that required him to travel to disaster sites assessing property damage clams. Ulrick says his catastrophe training prepared him well for times like these.

“The most important thing you can do is stay in constant contact with your clients to either reassure them or make changes where necessary,” he says.

Lately, Ulrick has spent a lot of his time reassuring clients that the current economic crisis may not be impacting their portfolios as much as they fear.

“I’ve been through several recessions and several booms in the market,” Ulrick says. “And my experience has taught me that there are things we can control, beyond the things we can’t control. There are processes we go through as we attempt to reduce risk in portfolios and other ways to potentially maximize gains.”

After running his own insurance company for more than seven years around Springfield, Massachusetts, and Glastonbury, Connecticut, Ulrick worked for Prudential Financial. Later, he served as vice president of investments for Wells Fargo Advisors, where he worked for 15 years in the Meriden and Danbury, Connecticut offices.

“Recently I’ve had a few people tell me they think this is the end of the world and they should cash in,” Ulrick says.

“I remind them that if this is the end, their money means nothing. If it’s not the end, they will likely need more money due to the runaway inflation we are currently seeing.”

In the last few years, Stratos Wealth Partners grew its Scottsdale team, adding a new adviser. Previously employed by AmTrust Bank, John Nilson joined in August 2021.

Victoria Bieler came on board as an insurance specialist in the Fairfield, Connecticut, office the same time. She joined the staff from The Barnum Financial Group, bringing her insurance expertise in areas such as life, health, disability and property and casualty insurance.

June 2020 saw the addition of Amanda Badillo in Danbury, Connecticut, as a customer service representative. She assists clients and advisers in all aspects of the business.

“We are also grateful to be able to have retained our other key employees — Holly Wheway in Danbury, Connecticut, and Monty ‘Tyler’ Dobbins in the Scottsdale office,” he says.

One of the most popular segments is retirement planning. With the growing number of baby boomers, one can see why getting it right is so important.

This demographic is growing in the Valley, so there is a growing need to serve these people. Some of the many risks faced by retirees is the risk of running out of money. This can happen because of several factors, including stock market risk, individual security risk, inflation, pandemics, health care costs and sequence of returns.

The sequence of return risk is one of the least discussed of these. This occurs when people take money out of their portfolio to live on and they experience a loss in the markets in the beginning of this cycle.

It can be very difficult to get back to where they were while withdrawals are happening.

“This is one of the reasons we work very closely with clients to help maximize their lifetime income by showing how to maximize social security benefits, showing them ways to reduce IRMAA penalties with Medicare, planned giving to help reduce taxation, charitable remainder trusts, and helping clients plan their income to cover their base needs,” he says.

“All of these strategies can help reduce the risk of a poor sequence of returns.”

As for his own business, the 2021 five-star wealth manager and award-winning adviser remains upbeat.

“One of the good things about our business is that when the markets are good, everybody is happy and no one wants to leave their adviser,” he says. “But when the markets are bad like this, then they start talking to their friends about ‘Well, how are you doing? Who is your adviser?’”

That is when Ulrick’s attention to his clients translates into valuable word of mouth. “These are the times I usually get a lot of referrals. “I hold onto my clients by constantly keeping in contact with them. I like to make sure I sit down in front of them at least once every quarter and talk more frequently on the phone.”

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information purposes only and are not intended to provide any specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referred to is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.

The economic forecasts set forth in this material may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.

The information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal adviser.

Securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/ SIPC. Investment advice offered through Stratos Wealth Partners Ltd., a registered investment adviser and separate entity from LPL financial.

Five-star wealth manager award based on 10 objective criteria associated with providing quality services to clients such as credentials, experience, and assets under management among other factors. Wealth managers do not pay a fee to be considered or placed on the final list of 2021 five-star wealth managers.

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