Since the 2008 financial crisis, many have chosen to forgo the financial services industry as a career. That’s not the case for Adam and Nicholas Rivera, who have opted to work with their father, Jose Rivera, managing director, wealth management with UBS Financial Services. The decision to join their father is helping the family business, the JMR Wealth Management Group, to continue to provide services to the next generation of clients.
Rivera attributes his sons’ career paths to his wife. “Ever since the boys were toddlers, when she talked about the future she would say, ‘When you become partners with dad . . .” he says.
JMR Wealth Management Group is truly a family operation. Rivera has been in business with his cousin, David Maldonado, for more than twenty years. After studying finance in college, Adam spent two years at JP Morgan as a sales assistant on the firm’s fixed-income trading desk before joining JMR five years ago. Nicholas worked in a variety of UBS home-office positions for two years after earning his finance degree. He then followed in his brother’s footsteps in the fall of 2017. Both have earned Certified Financial Planner licenses and, at their father’s urging, are pursuing other professional licenses.
With thirty-five years of experience, Rivera can teach his sons a great deal that isn’t found in textbooks. Among other topics, he stresses the importance of business ethics as well as the fiduciary responsibility financial advisors have toward their clients.
“I can teach what it takes to be successful in the real world,” Rivera points out. “Calling people, doing seminars, entertaining, and speaking in public are things that have helped me get to where I am.”
He is also preparing his sons for responding to market downturns and corrections, which they and many other younger financial professionals have never experienced. Last year, for example, the stock market experienced the least volatility of any year ever recorded, according to an article by Yahoo Finance on December 28, 2017. Although high-frequency trading and constantly updated digital news feeds can spark sharp, momentary fluctuations, Rivera keeps a chart of monthly performance from 2008 as a teaching tool.
“In 2008, we were down 6 percent one month, 5 percent, the next, down 8, down 16, month after month after month,” he says. “It was hell coming to work every day, but staying focused on personal service, diversification, and long-term planning is how you reassure clients during tough times like that.”
Rivera is able to provide that kind of advice and reassurance by having an intimate knowledge of his clients’ goals and having developed detailed financial plans that address their objectives. With that knowledge, he helps JMR clients determine the long-term steps needed to manage their assets.
“If someone comes to me with a chunk of money to invest just so they can ‘see what I can do,’ I’m not interested,” Rivera says. “When we take on a client, we always get a full picture of their current status and objectives so we can create an extensive and customized financial plan for them.”
To help prepare his sons for the business and to introduce them to JMR clients, Rivera involves them in calls and appointments and has them assume responsibility for presenting various topics. He says that clients initially ask for assurances they’ll be working primarily with him as the more experienced professional. Within six months, though, those concerns fade.
“Involving my sons early in the process shows clients how capable they are and makes them feel comfortable,” Rivera says. “Even with older clients who have their own children who will inherit their money, it’s a great way to introduce my kids to the next generation and ensure a very smooth transition.”
As he acts as a mentor to his sons, Rivera is very aware of how much the industry has evolved since his own career began. In fact, Adam and Nicholas are helping to implement UBS technology upgrades to the team’s day-to-day operations. Binders filled with paper printouts of daily portfolio performance have been retired in favor of electronic archives. Rivera still makes a point of reminding his sons of the days when he would drop a sales ticket into a suction tube and then have to wait for an execution notice to be sent back confirming the order.
“My success is going to be measured by how successful my kids are—not by what I’ve already accomplished,” Rivera says. “I believe the secret to growing your power is to give it away—and by empowering others, you grow your impact and your influence exponentially.”
When asked if working with his sons has changed any of his previous plans, Rivera does admit to one major adjustment. “My new goal is to retire sooner,” he says. “Seeing how Adam and Nicholas have developed gives me comfort in knowing that when I leave, clients will be in great hands.”
Photos by Timothy Grant
Off the Clock
As treasurer and head of the investment committee at the Jackie Robinson Foundation, he can indulge his passion for baseball. (He once tried out for the New York Mets.) As a member of the Hispanic Federation’s Finance and Investment Committee, he has participated in relief efforts for Puerto Rico, where many of his relatives still live. In fact, the Hispanic Federation helped coordinate US donation drives that have collected more than $15 million and millions of pounds of food, water, and other aid.