Morningstar Advisor - February/March 2012 - (Page 12)

Advisor Profile Analytical and Independent By Kate Stalter Jerry Slusiewicz depends on his own analysis and risk-management philosophy to keep client portfolios in order. In his teenage years, Jerry Slusiewicz recognized the need for a better approach to managing clients’ money. Slusiewicz, the founder of Pacific Financial Planners in Laguna Hills, Calif., has a vivid memory of accompanying his father, a General Motors employee, to a meeting with a stock broker. At the time, Slusiewicz was a Michigan high school student. He recalls the broker recommending that his father average down in a stock that had already lost half its value. “Well, my dad did it, and I still remember: That company went to zero. It went completely bankrupt. That hit me, as a kid,” he says. Today, Slusiewicz manages $80 million for clients, using investing strategies to grow capital, protect capital, provide income when it’s needed, and manage risk. The Stock Bug After a short stint at GM, he made his move— to California. After arriving in Los Angeles in the mid-1980s, he didn’t immediately go into the brokerage business, instead opening a car wash with a college friend using some of his profits from investing. That lasted about 18 months, and then Slusiewicz’s finance career began. He joined a penny stock brokerage, then an institutional sales firm, and joined Shearson Lehman Hutton in 1989. Early in his tenure, a more experienced broker began teaching him technical analysis, and technical analysis appealed to Slusiewicz’s engineering-trained mind and his sense of independence. “I was beginning to understand the importance of figuring things out for myself, rather than being a normal broker and doing what Wall Street tells you,” he says. In particular, he bristled at the idea of putting clients into investments because the brokerage’s analysts gave it favorable coverage. He soon became a portfolio manager at Shearson. “I could pick among 300 or 400 different stocks and choose my own, and use stop-losses,” he says. The use of stop-loss orders led Slusiewicz to an intense focus on risk management, which is an emphasis at his practice today. After working at Union Bank and later at Wachovia, Slusiewicz opened Pacific Financial Planners in 2004. Many Pacific clients are retirees who want Slusiewicz’s help managing investments for their children and grandchildren as well. “I deal with Mom and Pop,” he says, “not just the ultrawealthy.” Actively Adding Value His portfolios have three flavors: growth, ballast, and income; the emphasis varies by client. He spends up-front time on the planning process, but Slusiewicz believes that he adds the most value by actively managing client investments. “The growth side of my business is money management, and that’s where I spend the preponderance of my time,” he says. “I care about my clients, and that’s where I can help them the most.” This emphasis leads directly to Slusiewicz’s philosophy of risk management. “When the market risks are higher, I want to lower the risk for my clients, especially someone who’s now retired,” he explains. “I don’t want to make that call and say, ‘Mr. Jones, I’ve got some bad news. The market went down 40%, and you’re going to have to go back to work.’ ” Slusiewicz prefers to concentrate equity holdings in client portfolios, limiting his choices to 13–15 stocks. While many advisors prefer certain fund families, Slusiewicz remains fluid, using the investments most appropriate for the client and the market conditions. Slusiewicz began tracking stocks in the local newspaper while he was in high school, but his interest in the market took hold in college. He studied engineering at Kettering University (the former General Motors Institute) but was intrigued by a friend’s successful stock trades. A chemistry professor allowed him to pursue independent study on the stock market, which only heightened his interest. He took a job with GM after graduation, though he already was unsure about pursuing engineering. 12 Morningstar Advisor February/March 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Morningstar Advisor - February/March 2012

Morningstar Advisor - February/March 2012
Letter From the Editor
Make a Difference Stories, Not Debates
How Concerned Are You About Europe?
Analytical and Independent
What to Ask When a Fund Manager Leaves
Past, Present, Future
Have Financials Gotten Cheap Enough?
Four Picks for the Present
Investment Briefs
Tactical Funds Miss Their Chance
Specialty Retail: Ad Hoc Opportunity
How Europe Is Making Its Crisis Worse
Impact on U.S. Economy Will Be Minimal
European Banks: Bargains or Value Traps?
Don’t Count the Euro Out Yet
Europe on the Brink
GoodHaven Realizes Its Vision
How Index Trading Increases Market Vulnerability
Nonlisted REITS: Handle With Care
Safety Picks for the Many Moods of Mr. Market
On the Prowl for Large- Blend Index-Beaters
Our Favorite Mutual Funds
50 Most Popular ETFs
Undervalued Stocks With Wide Moats
The Math That Matters

Morningstar Advisor - February/March 2012