I look at all of the websites my company builds. Geier Financial Group drew me in and I called Tom Geier.
Tom, 57, told me his brother, Joe, started the firm 15 years ago.
Joe Geier is a CPA and Tom is a CPA/PFS, which is the AICPA's credential for a Personal Financial Specialist--which in some ways is actually better than a CFP designation.
Joe started the advisory firm 15 years ago and Tom joined about 11 years ago.
"Joe and I had always talked about working together and we took the opportunity when it came up," says Tom, who quit his job as a corporate VP of finance to work as an advisor.
I'm a sucker when it comes to family businesses. What caught my attention about the Geier brothers is that these two guys are doing a few things right.
The website that I looked at is for Geier Financial's newly founded mutual fund company, Geier Funds.
I noticed right away that the writing on the site is clear and concise. You just don't see good writing like that too often on advisor websites. (The copy unfortunately was not written by our writers, but was a team effort at Geier.) Bravo!
The site is one of Advisor Products Designer Websites, which costs just $1,500 to build. Geier got its money's worth by thinking through the information architecture of the site, organizing the site's structure logically. Kudos to Geier's marketing staffer, Melissa Jordan.
What really made me curious is that Geier has an advisory firm in addition to the mutual fund, and the advisory firm has a track record that can be advertised by the mutual fund. Few advisory firms have mutual fund. I'd guess that one in 500 advisory firms start a fund. So that makes Geier pretty unusual. It's about as rare to find an advisory firm with a track record, and Geier is also has a track record, and its performance is impressive.
The track record is GIPS® compliant. GIPS is short for Global Investment Performance Standards, a set of standards for reporting investment performance established by the CFA Institute.
It's wise for an advisory firm to maintain a track record that can be used in advertising, especially if you think you might want day start a mutual fund. While the up-front cost and hassle of establishing an accounting system to report portfolio returns properly are not trivial, the benefits can be significant. Geier is a good example of that.
From the start of 2002 through September 30, 2010, Geier's Strategic Capital Preservation Composite, which represents all of the performance on all fee-paying assets managed by Geier, showed an annualized return net of expenses of 6%.
The fund is actively managed using technical analysis and fundamental research, says Tom Geier, its portfolio manager. He uses a trend following strategy. As a flexible fund, GAMTX allocates its investments primarily among stocks, bonds, ETFs, REITs, and other investments that are selected mainly for their long-term growth potential. It's marketed as a conservative growth, absolute return fund.
In addition to the mutual fund, Geier Financial's advisory firm is actually two businesses. One on side of the company is a family office catering to athletes, mostly baseball players, like former Baltimore Orioles great Cal Ripken and Yankee first basemen and Baltimore-native Mark Teixeira, as well as other ultra-high–net-worth individuals. That part of the firm manages money for about 15 clients and provides full-service financial planning including bill paying.
The other part of the advisory firm, according to Tom Geier, consists of about 130 clients who are friends and relatives of the Geiers and Geier Financial's clients. Geier Financial has 15 employees, four of whom are advisors. In January, The Baltimore Sun published a flattering story about the firm.
I asked Tom Geier what his firm's minimum is and whether he and his brother should be working with the 130 smaller clients when working with UHNWi's in family office is more profitable and scalable. "They're friends and family," he says. "You can't say no to them."
Tom Geier says Geier Financial manages $150 million, and about $30 million of it is in the mutual fund. The smaller clients not getting family office services have been moved into the mutual fund, which Tom Geier says has reduced their fees.
Interesting advisory firm.