"Empathy, trust and client comfort with investments define a good private banker"
MAPFRE Gestión Patrimonial, MAPFRE's unit dedicated to financial advice, received an award in "Citywire Private Banking Awards 2022" that were awarded last November 3. Specifically, in one of the individual categories by Lluis Saltó Jordana, MGP's financial advisor in Barcelona, who received the award for "Best Banker of the East". In addition, MGP was a finalist in the categories of "Best Investment Proposal" and "Agent Network of the Year". Redacción MAPFRE wanted to interview the winner, Lluis Saltó, for whom "empathy" is one of the key qualities a good private banker should have:
1) What has this recognition meant to you?
This award is very satisfying on a personal level as it is recognizes my long career in the world of finance. We live in a world where information is just a click away. In this context, it’s essential to be able to count on the help of a financial professional who has experience and adequate training and who the client feels comfortable placing their trust in. They are the three most important qualities that every private banker must possess.
2) Tell us a little about your professional career, when you started at MAPFRE and what the Group has given you throughout this time.
My professional career has always been related to the world of finance. I’ve worked in banking in a securities agency, and for more than four years now, in MAPFRE Asset Management, which is experiencing spectacular growth. The company provides a wide range of solutions that respond to all of our customers’ financial needs, whatever their profile. In turn, we have at our disposal a wonderful human capital team comprising excellent colleagues who are always willing to go the extra mile. Among these experts are Daniel Sancho and Ismael García, and their team, who have been awarded numerous times for their great work and good results.
3) What do you think are the keys to offering good financial advice to our clients?
One of the fundamental qualities need to be able to give good financial advice is empathy, to be able to consider the financial needs of each client on their own, to be able to understand their degree of risk aversion and their investment goals. Having all of that crystal clear means the financial professional is in a position to make good on their obligation to present you with the most beneficial solution that matches your circumstances.
Taking on responsibility to advise a person, a company or a family group on how to best manage, protect and grow their assets is built on mutual trust. This is achieved by having a clear vocation for customer service and extensive knowledge, as well as keeping up to date with all the latest financial and tax developments in the sector.
The comfort of the client and the agent with the investments made is a key element in generating the much-needed peace of mind in our sector.
4) In the current environment, replete with uncertainty, what role does a financial advisor play?
The circumstances of both clients and investments are always in a state of flux. It’s essential that there is close contact with the advisor, so as to adapt the portfolio in line with the client’s life stages (completing their education, buying a first home, raising a family, professional consolidation and retirement). It’s also worth mentioning the importance of the client's investment experience and their previous investments. That gives us a good insight into how they manage their savings. A fluid communication allows you to make those decisions that best fit their real objectives.
Another significant aspect is the psychological factor. Market volatility is the great enemy of our emotions. Behavioral biases or a lack of previous experience can trigger erroneous decision-making. How to focus the market movements will help us to continue with the established plan. At this point, I always like to highlight the example of Peter Lynch, who managed the Magellan fund between 1977 and 1990, producing an average annualized return of 29.2%. Even so, a good number of the participants in this fund suffered losses due to their own behavior, lack of patience and going in and out at the wrong time as they tried in vain to outsmart the market movements.
5) What role do environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors play in giving investment and financial advice
In recent years, socially responsible investment has gained enormous prominence. The main reason is the collective awareness between the investor and the investment company, and the shared objective of positively impacting ethical, sustainable and responsible projects. I believe that applying ESG factors in investments is key, as it leads to sustainable and competitive companies in the long term. In this context, the role of investment fund managers is notable, who have greatly improved their communication systems and adapted information brochures so they reflect clearly the degree of socially responsible impact of their investment vehicle.
6) Finally, what forecasts would you make for the medium term? Do you have any recommendations for investors and savers?
We need to bear in mind that we’re dealing with an exceptional moment in which both the main fixed income and equities indices are showing negative returns for the year to date. If we close out the year like this, it’ll be only the fourth time since 1929 that this has happened. Against that backdrop, patience is essential in terms of making the most appropriate decisions.
As far as fixed income goes, given the current situation of rising rates, a very attractive scenario emerges for the most conservative investor, where they’ll be able to get a better return on their savings.
As for equities, the severe corrections experienced this year present an opportunity to take advantage of some very attractive valuations.
In both cases, time is undoubtedly the saver's best ally. Analyzing the historical context, it’s clear that moments like the present have provided extraordinary investment opportunities throughout history. It’s essential to maintain a well-diversified portfolio, as long as it’s aligned with what the leading fund managers in the market are doing. Periodic contribution is a great investment strategy for times like these as it maximizes the final return and smoothes out the total volatility of the portfolio.
Lastly, and regarding a forecast for the sector, I believe that advances in technology are making it easier for us to enjoy greater flexibility and versatility in client communication and portfolio management. In the future, the key to the success of financial advisory services will be correctly calibrating the combination of technology, experience and the human touch.