The Power of a Complete Network

Forr advisor Paula Strzyzewski, doing a favor for a friend turned into a yearlong process that would, in time, assist a future client, enlist the help of an experienced but untapped network and double the size of her practice.

“A friend’s family wanted an extra set of ears in conversations

with the attorney and bank trustee regarding the

trust for her (recently widowed) mother-in-law,” Paula


Even though the mother-in-law was not a client of Paula’s at that time, she obliged the family’s request by asking questions in the meeting and providing the family with feedback on the situation. A nurse for 20 years before becoming a financial advisor, Paula is no stranger to listening to the needs of others and finding a solution for them.

“The bank never contacted the client on a personal level,”
Paula said about the large bank that had been managing the trust.
“There was no personal touch.”


That lack of interaction and accessibility created one of the main obstacles, since the widow had never managed her own finances, and the trust which had been set up to take care of her needs was not paying out on some of the essentials it was designed to cover. In time, the family asked Paula to manage some other assets, and a conversation with her Branch Manager Arthur Cooper led Paula to realize she had resources through their broker-dealer Securities America and its parent company Ladenburg Thalmann to help this client as more than just an advocate at meetings as originally anticipated. Cooper introduced Paula to Mark Dreschler at Premier Trust, also a subsidiary of Ladenburg Thalmann. The situation was not out of the normfor Mark and his team, and the experience they offered quickly became a valuable resource for Paula in this process. After reviewing the trust, Mark made his first of two trips to meet with the family in the early spring Because Premier Trust is not competing with the advisor for clients, the roles are clearly defined with Premier administering the trust, while the advisor manages the funds. For many clients this can be a relief if the advisor is also managing other assets for them, giving them a single contact point for their finances.


In conversations about the trust, Arthur Cooper also suggested Paula work with Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management (LTAM) to review the portfolio for the client. LTAM’s experience assisting advisors by creating customized portfolios would come in to play here despite the unusually long length of the process, which stretched out for approximately a year.

The extended duration of the process required the team at LTAM to draft multiple iterations of the portfolio to stay in line with their investment views and work to provide the best outcome for the client. The account managers at LTAM consistently worked to balance keeping fees down while generating the highest income for her risk management tolerance.


“We produced a diversified portfolio, which lowered the overall risk, while still providing the same level of income the client was accustomed to receiving,” said Joei Paribello,

marketing associate at Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management. Access to additional resources such as LTAMoffers lets advisors provide high net worth clients with a customized portfolio truly tailored to their needs. Account managers structure each portfolio based on what works for that specific client, getting down to a level of detail that might exceed the advisor’s traditional experience.

Although the process took nearly a year, the personal interaction and professionalism from everyone on Paula’s newly formed team made the family confident in removing the bank from control of the trust and moving forward with the customized portfolio option proposed by Paula and LTAM.


“The client needed someone responsive,” Mark said.

“There are no big committees here to make decisions

on changes, so the answers are much faster – often the

same day.”


Paula noted clear differences between the family’s interactions with Premier Trust and LTAM compared to the bank. The positive feedback extended beyond the family, including a comment from the CPA firm Paula uses for trust taxes, which noted they had never had a trustee come in and interact with them the way Premier did. When the family was ready to switch in December, Mark Dreschler and Marsha Walters, a trust officer, returned to get the forms filed and the trust under Paula’s management. The size of this trust was nearly equal to Paula’s current assets under management, so the family’s decision to move the trust to her care doubled the size of her practice. While this process jumpstarted with her branch manager’s suggestion that Premier look at the trust, Paula’s commitment to this client never let up. In the span of a year, Strzyzewski called upon a previously untapped network of resources to help the widow and her family. Her dedication to ensure the client receives funds from the trust as intended to cover her expenses was bolstered by the support she received along the way. Paula’s own process working with financial professionals peaked her interest in the industry and led her to leave health care and enter the profession in 2003.


“My focus skewed from physical health to financial

health,” she said. “It is still the whole person that is important,

now it’s just how money fits in there.”


Throughout her entire career, whether as a nurse, in hospital management or as a financial advisor, Paula hasbeen dedicated to helping the wellness of others. She attributes this to her attention to detail and the listening and planning it takes to build relationships. What started out as a favor to help a friend lasted longer than originally thought with an outcome no one could have imagined. Today, Paula is still assisting that client, and as a result of her hard work and dedication, the guidance from Arthur Cooper and the partnerships with Premier Trust and LTAM, she has doubled the size of her practice. Although to some that may be reason enough to stop, Paula looks forward to helping others in her growing practice and actively participating in Securities America’s  Next Level program. Click here to learn more.