president and CEO of Select Asset Management & Trust
Q: Who is your firm's average client?
A: Our average client is the senior executive of a private or public company. We have a minimum (relationship) of $10 million, and our services are based around servicing that niche market — senior executives of public and private companies, nonprofit institutions and private foundations located in the Mid-Atlantic region, mostly Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. We also have clients in Florida, Kentucky and Utah.
What qualities should high-net-worth individuals be looking for in a trust company?
One thing is integrity and competence in risk management. There are many talented individuals in our industry, but one of the most important characteristics now, particularly after the financial crisis, is integrity.
The chartered financial analyst designation in our industry is very recognized (to show those people) have skills to manage assets, but also it really focuses on promoting a comprehensive code of ethics and standards of professional conduct.
How do you obtain that designation? Why is it important?
The CFA program is a rigorous investment curriculum that centers on investment analysis and wealth planning. The CFA charter is awarded to those candidates that pass three levels of six-hour exams that are offered in test centers at the same time around the world.
Completing the program takes most candidates between three and five years. To earn a CFA charter, you must successfully complete the exams, pledge to adhere to the CFA code of ethics and standards of professional conduct, and have four years of qualified investment work experience.
Select Asset Management & Trust has grown quite a bit since its founding in 1996. Describe that growth and what has contributed to it.
It was founded in 1996 by Rocco Ortenzio as the Ortenzio family office. In 2000, we started managing other family wealth, and in 2001, we became a registered investment adviser by the SEC.
In 2005, we transitioned to a private trust company, because that really propelled our growth and demonstrated we can protect and grow wealth. It also allows us to become a trustee and instill long-lasting relationships with our clients, because we have trustee powers. A registered investment adviser does not allow you to serve as trustee in family trust accounts.
We have consistent investment returns coupled with wealth preservation. Additionally, we designed and implemented a customized, educational program for next-generation clients to teach financial literacy and learn how to become good stewards of family wealth.
How has the role of an asset manager changed in the years since you entered the field?
I think the asset-management role has become much more quantitative. You need to have the skills that can protect capital in extremely volatile capital markets like we've experienced in the past five years.
I think it's important to bring some history to interest rate cycles, stock market cycles and currency cycles, and understand those relationships change over time and position portfolios accordingly.
How have economic conditions affected the investment choices being made by your clients in recent years?
I think one important characteristic with investment choices is traditional diversification is not as effective. As globalization is taking place, the correlations of many risk assets are rising.
You have to understand, from a diversification standpoint, you need other assets to diversify your portfolio, not just U.S. stocks, international stocks and emerging stocks. They will all fall at the same time, so you need to construct a portfolio with different asset classes that give you protection in this volatility.
Joseph V. Guerrisi and his wife, Michelle, live in the Harrisburg area with their two children, Natalie and Jack. He is a graduate of Bishop McDevitt High School.
He is an active volunteer with the Harrisburg Diocese Catholic Youth Organization and assists in curriculum development for a business school.