Richard Bloom’s first memory of the stock market was when he was a young child. He would hear his grandfather talking about buying shares of GE. “I didn’t know what it meant, and actually thought he owned the whole company! Eventually he taught me what it really meant to buy and own a piece of a company. As a way to educate myself and my siblings, he asked us to pick a company we liked and agreed to buy us each 10 shares of that company.”
Of course, as any kid would do, Bloom chose Toys R Us! “As this was the pre-internet era, he bought us graph paper and taught us how to look up the ticker in the newspaper each day and chart the price of the stock,” said Bloom. It was his first introduction to investing, “but more importantly, it was a great learning experience and bonding opportunity with my grandfather.”
This early introduction ignited a desire in Bloom many years later to study finance in college. From his career’s start nearly 15 years ago, he has worked with the same team, The MayerGelwarg Group at Morgan Stanley. His two partners, each with over three decades experience have taught him that what makes a great advisor is not only helping clients develop sound financial plans, but doing so at the highest level of service.
Today, the part of Bloom’s job that he loves the most is the deep lasting relationships that he has built with his clients. “My job is not only to ensure they are taking the right steps toward financial security, but to assure and reassure so they can handle the emotional side of investing in the markets,” he explained. “This entails asking very specific individualized questions during a first and second meeting to understand how the client views the world and what impact that will have on their emotional fortitude during the inevitable ups and downs we will experience together.
“From the moment I meet a prospective new client, it is my responsibility to demonstrate financial acumen and understanding of their unique needs,” Bloom continued. “Knowing my clients seek out and trust my guidance is incredibly rewarding.
Since the pandemic, Bloom has interacted with many individuals within and outside of the industry who wonder how he and his clients are handling the stress and uncertainty. While acknowledging the increased demand in terms of time and energy, Bloom has also found it to be one of the most fulfilling moments of his career. “Now more than ever, clients and potential clients are razor focused on the importance of having an experienced financial advisor. I continually remind my clients of the plan in place to ensure their short-term needs will be met under any market conditions without jeopardizing their long-term financial goals. And most importantly, if/when there are changes to their personal situation, we can make any necessary adjustments needed. While we cannot control the markets, we have complete control over the decisions we make together.”
Discipline as Key to Success
Bloom emphasized that although there are virtually no barriers to investing in the markets on your own, a great deal of discipline is required to be successful in the long run. “Investors must develop a strategic asset allocation and stick to it; they have to rebalance across asset classes including selling outperforming investments; they also must understand the tax ramifications of each trade because at the end of the day, it’s not about what you make, but what you keep.”
If any one thing frustrates Bloom, its hearing of investors who panic and sell out of the markets at the lows and miss the inevitable rebounds. During his local “Wine and Wealth” seminars at Le Jardin in Chappaqua, Bloom has maximized the opportunity to educate numerous members of the community. “These are fun, low-key social and educational events where I team up with one of our portfolio managers to present on different investing topics,” he said. “My goal is for all attendees to walk away with a few investment concepts that they can use to prevent themselves from making financially detrimental mistakes.”
Bloom and his partners also practice what they preach. “We make it a focal point of our business not to invest our clients’ assets in anything we ourselves or our families are not invested in. Most financial advisors cannot say that,” he stated. “Our asset allocation, or the mix of stocks and bonds, may differ but the portfolios we utilize for various asset classes are the same. We do this to eliminate any conflicts of interest and our clients take comfort in knowing that we are invested alongside them.”
Bloom is proud to call Westchester home, a perfect choice to establish roots personally and professionally. His wife Marisa grew up in Chappaqua. Bloom, originally from the Philadelphia suburbs, originally thought he would move back there. “However, I quickly learned that once I married a New York girl, I’d be here for life. And now I absolutely love it.
He said his kids love spending time at Gedney Park, and always look forward to the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival and the Armonk Cider and Donuts Festival. His family visits the local farmers markets every weekend as well. “We make it a priority to shop at and support local businesses. We couldn’t be happier living up here.”
But no matter how grounded one might feel in the community, Bloom understands how ‘unsettling’ the markets can be right now, and the feeling of uncertainty that comes along with it. “The markets also tend to operate in the exact opposite way of how we live our lives and are hardwired to think,” said Bloom.
“In the very short term, people generally know what is going to happen to
them–what their schedule is going to be tomorrow or next week or next month. Where we will be in 10 years has a much wider range of outcomes and very little certainty.
The ‘Long Term’ Mindset Advantage
“The markets, on the other hand, have much more certainty in the long run while there can be extreme volatility in the short term. Understanding this helps alleviate my concerns for what is happening in the world right now. No doubt we are experiencing sea-level changes in our country and society; however, when you look back in history, changes are always taking place with industries being disrupted. Being able to take advantage of these changes, block out the noise, and stick to your long-term plan through it all provides you with the best chances of success.”
A recent article by Bloom in this press discusses strategies to help investors remain focused during turbulent times, even when it can be hard to think clearly. (https://www.theinsidepress.com/staying-focused-in-turbulent-times/)
Most meaningful for Bloom has been growing with his clients and witnessing wonderful things that happen to them in their lives. What he has found is that many times those great things do not have anything to do with wealth. That thinking has accorded Bloom perspective. “There are three simple rules I try to live by: First, be a good person and respect others. Second, surround yourself with people you like and can learn from. And lastly, don’t ever sweat the small stuff, including a bad day in the markets!
To reach Bloom, write to Richard.Bloom@morganstanley.com