Mark joined WHAM in January of 1998 when his weekly call in financial show "Money and More" first aired. The show ran for eleven years and became one of the stations highest rated programs. Recently Mark has returned to provide daily commentary and analysis on the WHAM afternoon news. His segment can be heard at 4:26pm Monday through Friday, with an extended appearance with Randy Gorbman on Thursdays.
Mark started his financial services career in 1986 with IDS/American Express. He is a Certified Fund Specialist and Certified Long Term Care Specialist with a Bachelor's Degree in Economics and Management from SUNY Geneseo. He has designed, authored, and presented retirement and long term care workshops for clients, corporations, and non-profit organizations such as Xerox, Kodak, Agway, and the United Way.
In 2007, Registered Rep magazine listed Mark among the Top 100 Independent Advisors in the country. He lives in Geneseo with his wife Susan and has four children. Mark is an avid fisherman and enjoys spending time at his family cottage in the Thousand Islands. Mark also collects Civil War and Underground Railroad memorabilia for a museum he keeps in the basement of the historic Henrietta office.
As professionals skilled in retirement planning, the partners of The Horizon Group have helped hundreds of people in the Rochester area since our founding in 1993. We specialize in helping clients invest and protect their retirement assets with a straightforward and down-to-earth approach through open and honest communication.
We are proud of being able to help clients make difficult decisions necessary for a successful retirement. We are dedicated to the highest level of professionalism and ethical standards in our practice, and we honor the individual circumstances facing each client.
When faced with providing income and security for a lifetime, retirees are comforted by our "Bucket Approach" and half-century of combined experience. Our formalized review process and frequent communication through newsletters, e-mail, and seminars provide our clients with peace of mind and keeps them focused on what is truly important.
Working with The Horizon Group affords our clients a level of service and unbiased advice that can be delivered only by a small independent practice. At the same time, our client accounts are offered the same FINRA and SIPC protections through our broker-dealer, Cadaret, Grant & Co., Inc., as they would be at a large brokerage house.
We take the time to understand all the questions and concerns our clients have about the future. Aiding them in dealing with these concerns often means going above and beyond the duties of the average financial planner, something we are always willing to do. Helping a child, buying a second home, or dealing with long term care are all issues we assist clients with regularly. At The Horizon Group, we know it's about the quality of your life, not just your portfolio.
The views expressed in Mark's commentaries are to be considered for informational and entertainment purposes only. Before making decisions based on any content in Mark's commentaries you should always consult your financial or tax professional.
The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of this station or of Clear Channel Communications, Inc.
Mark Congdon is a registered representative of Cadaret, Grant & Co., Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC.
As promised, I'm devoting the next few segments of my commentary to talk about those disastrous interactions with brokers and financial advisors. It’s far too common that people lose money from bad investments, bad advice, or even worse, outright fraud and theft.
Most people engage a financial advisor when faced with a large life event – after inheritance, a legal settlement, or at retirement. Usually, it's when large sums of money are involved. But before any investments are discussed you should check the background of anyone you're thinking of dealing with.
There are two basic types of financial advisors. Registered Investment Advisors typically help people for a fee and often maintain custody of customer’s cash and securities. Oversight is provided by the SEC and individual states. There are roughly 275,000 RIAs practicing today
Far more common are Registered Representatives, otherwise known as brokers. There are about 663,000 registered reps working for insurance companies, independent broker-dealers, and large wire houses like Merrill Lynch. FINRA is a self-regulatory organization that oversees all brokerage activity. They license representatives, track continuing education, and audit and monitor activities of all firms and their registered reps. If needed, they discipline or suspend representatives and arbitrate disputes between clients and their advisors.
After you determine if you're dealing with a broker or RIA, you should then perform a background check. FINRA makes this very easy if you're dealing with a broker. All you have to do is Google FINRA Brokercheck. With the correct spelling of your prospective broker’s name, you can select a detailed report that will give their entire employment history and a listing of all their nonbusiness related activities. Most important is a section entitled disclosure events. This lists all complaints, litigation, arbitrations, and regulatory infractions.
FINRA Brokercheck is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself. Look at these disclosure events very carefully. This is where the old adage “where there's smoke, there's fire” rings true. While even the best planners can have an occasional complaint, very few have multiple infractions. In the last five years, about 3.3% of all brokers received a single complaint. But less than a quarter of one percent had three or more complaints filed against them, and in that group you’ll find the overwhelming majority of bad eggs.
Step one of staying out of trouble is to know who you’re dealing with. Tomorrow I'll discuss what you should do if you really have been harmed by your advisor.