Marc Furgang Goes the Extra Mile'
March 31, 2003
When I hear that, I know I've done my job. I have served the New York region as a mutual fund and separately managed accounts wholesaler for Lord Abbett for more than three years, and I love my job. My clients are financial advisers at Merrill Lynch, Salomon Smith Barney and several regional brokerage firms and their end investors.
Service, follow-up and support. That is my mantra. Rather than try to pitch the "hot dot" to my customers, I provide them with the tools that will help grow their business. To maintain a competitive edge, I work long hours. That work has borne fruit. The total number of assets in my territory has increased by more than 300% since 1999 when I first arrived at Lord Abbett.
In the past three years. I have conducted over 258 seminars and hosted more than 146 client-appreciation dinners. I'm out with financial advisers four nights a week, discussing investment strategies, the convexities of a yield curve - and how to grow their business. (Fortunately, I have an incredibly understanding wife.)
There is a common misconception that seminars are not effective in the New York area. I beg to differ. I feel so strongly that seminars are useful that I created a seven-step program on how to put a seminar together. The program, which is six weeks in length, teaches the adviser how to attract a high-net-worth audience, what lists to use and how to present oneself in the most effective manner.
Growing up in Suffern, New York, I really got interested in the financial industry when a parent of one of my junior high school classmates invited our class to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. I knew then that finance is where I wanted to work.
After I earned my Bachelor of Science degree from Ithaca, I started working toward my goal. Bucking the family trend of becoming an attorney, I sought a career in sales. This was the time when most young men with a college degree headed to Wall Street looking for work. At this point, I felt that I really didn't know enough about sales in the financial markets. So I took a job at an import-export company and attended Baruch and earned an MBA.
The import-export job served me well as a training ground in sales, but it was not my true calling. I was fortunate enough to know people in the mutual fund business who recommended me for a job at Goldman Sachs. At Goldman, I worked as an internal salesman and my career really took off. After two years, I was promoted to become an external salesman, covering the New York metropolitan area.
At Goldman, I worked with a wholesaler who taught me how to manage a territory and build a relationship with an adviser. He was a tremendous influence on me.
Right around the time Goldman went public and its investment philosophy was shifting toward technology, I left for Lord Abbett. One of the allures of working for this firm is that it's a partnership. On top of that, it has an impeccable record of doing well by its clients, serving investors for more than 73 years. The firm has never owned a technology fund. In fact, it doesn't invest in sector funds at all. The firm believes that it would not be in the best interest of the investor.
Diversification and asset allocation are at the very core of our investment philosophy. There's always a point in time when more assets flow to one area. But it's never the right thing to do for the client. It's never the right thing to tell your client to put all his or her money in bonds, even though it may be the hot product right now. Just like it wasn't the right thing to invest all of your money in technology. The one thing the market has taught everyone is that you can't just have one thing; you need the asset allocation approach.
Lord Abbett believes in hitting singles. It has never tried for the home run, and that's what so great about the firm. Swinging for the fences is not going to build a relationship with the client. The average shareholder in our Affiliated Fund holds it for at least 15 years, and it has beaten the S&P 500 Index over the one-, three-, five-, 10-, 20- and 50-year periods - proof that this philosophy works.
My goal is to see my clients succeed. I want to form a partnership with my clients. I want my clients to say that I helped them get that corner office.
My commitment to service is something that was instilled in me at a very young age. My father, who runs his own law firm, led by example. His care and concern for his family and clients taught me how to foster relationships with people.
Work harder than everybody else and build lasting relationships - that's the Marc Furgang way.
Written with Kevin Burke
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