Going Up with Dave Copeland and Neal Price

The wealth-management experts explain how their unique approach keeps clients coming back to Strategic Wealth Partners

Left: Dave Copeland. Right: Neal Price.

When they founded Strategic Wealth Partners in May 2008, principals Dave Copeland and Neal Price didn’t know the economic turmoil that would follow a few months later. The upside? Their unique “hands-on” consultative approach to financial planning actually works extremely well in crisis situations. As a result, the pair has built the firm to 300 client families with more than $900 million in total assets under advisement. They share how their takes on planning, investments, and reporting have led to a prized portfolio.

Risky Business 

The planning phase of wealth management sets successful firms apart from their peers. Some firms take a “one-size-fits-all” approach to clients, but Strategic Wealth Partners sees each client as an individual and tackles planning with a customized approach. 

Copeland: “Our planning process focuses on controlling risk, rather than return on investment, which really resonates with our clients. We also take our time, breaking down the process into more digestible pieces for our clients, who are busy people and don’t often have time to meet for prolonged periods to hammer out the details on a long-term plan.”

Price: “Our firm doesn’t provide what some would consider traditional financial planning. While we cover all areas of financial issues with our clients, we pride ourselves on targeted planning that’s very specific and responsive to our clients’ needs. This customization is key to our planning approach. We also take the quarterback role for clients, bringing in other advisers and experts as needed to help round out our clients’ overall financial picture.”

Strategic Investing 

When the 2008 crisis hit, Strategic Wealth Partners went through its client portfolios to gauge risk and suggest changes. The result? Very few clients made substantial changes because their investments were already solidly managed to moderate the risk. That’s the benefit of thoughtful investment.

Copeland: “We are very open-minded about our approach to investments. We look at both traditional and nontraditional strategies—such as tactical managers and fund-of-funds—because using alternative investment strategies helps to balance risk. In turn, we also conduct extensive searches to find managers who can offer a variety of investment opportunities to our clients.”

Price: “Clients are not hiring us because our approach builds assets quickly. Instead, we work with them to get them where they need to be with a reasonable amount of volatility.”

Copeland: “No client likes to lose money, so we approach investment strategies with the belief that we would rather sacrifice a little gain on the upside while seeking asset protection on the downside.”

A Solid Report 

Once the planning is done and the investments are made, comprehensive, detailed reporting keeps clients on track. Strategic Wealth Partners takes the worry out of clients’ financial lives by handling the day-to-day tracking of asset allocation and performance reporting as it relates to meeting client needs. 

Copeland: “Our service allows us to provide comprehensive asset reporting—we offer a detailed performance report of asset allocation. We can drill down to specific managers, or look at how any asset category performed over a wide variety of time frames. Clients also can view performance results online 24/7.”

Price: “We also can report on assets we don’t directly oversee, allowing us to give clients a true overview of their portfolio’s performance. For example, if a client has a work-based 401(k), we can monitor the results for the client and include its performance as part of their overall status report.”