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Robert Newman on the personal side of financial planning

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With 20-plus years as a leader in the financial services industry, Robert Newman currently serves as managing partner of National Planning Corporation (NPC), a third-generation comprehensive financial planning firm founded in South Florida in 1951. Back in the day, Newman’s grandfather served as CEO, but coming back to Miami Beach where the young executive was born and raised wasn’t necessarily part of some grand plan. Newman, at least for a time, was a Wall Street guy. But witnessing the events of 9/11 changed everything for him. The MBA from the University of Miami talked to SFBW about knowing when it’s time to make a bold move—whether for your own mental health or in terms of financial strategy. 

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One day 19 years ago I was working downtown. I was the business analyst for a consulting firm and I got off at the subway at the Wall Street stop on Sept. 11. I watched what unfolded that day with my own eyes. I was on the ground looking up as the second plane crashed into the building. Four or five months before that, I’d interviewed at a firm in Tower Two on the 77th floor and when you look up where the plane penetrated the building, it was between the 77th and 93rd floors. 

That prompted a big change in my life. I decided it was time to be close to my family again. My wife’s from here. On Nov. 15, I said to my girlfriend, who is now my wife and mother of my daughters, “I’m moving back home. Let’s go.” I moved home and learned about what my father and grandfather had done with their careers. So I joined the firm and built my own practice.

If I could tell one story about making a dramatic difference in someone’s life, it had to do with a client who’d overextended themselves. Their lifestyle was outpacing what they were earning. They were very successful, making plenty of income, but spending every dollar. We call it lifestyle creep: As they made more money, they continued to spend more money. They were talking to me about retirement, but they were never going to catch up. They had bought way too much house, and financed too much of it. They wanted to know that they could get their finances under control and have less stress in their lives. Living above one’s means is fairly common down here in South Florida, with people trying to keep up with everybody else. It’s a flashier lifestyle down here—but people also want the best for their families. It’s about private schools as well as material possessions.

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These clients ended up selling their home and moving—this is a pretty dramatic thing for a client to do, but you show them the economics of their situation. You provide guidance and coaching and encourage them to be more disciplined. It’s about presenting the information in a way they’d never seen before. They had never looked at their entire financial picture on one organized platform. That’s what we present to people—enabling them to look at their financial picture—assets, liabilities, cash flow, what their risk management system looks like—from a 30,000-foot view. People tend to look at their situations in a very micro, piecemeal way. 

In terms of investing, you can put dollars into certain time horizon categories: There’s short-term, mid-term and long-term. You’re not necessarily going to expose short-term to the fluctuations of the market. If you’re looking to send your kid to college next year, or make a down payment for a house, you’re probably not going to stick that in Bitcoin or some risky proposition. If it’s long-term—like if you’re putting dollars away for the future and leave them alone—you obviously have a lot more runway and you have to stay the course and not react to the market. If it goes up, that makes everybody feel great. But it’s on paper. And if it goes down, it’s also on paper. But if you’re investing long-term, you have to stick to the strategy and what your risk tolerance and risk aversion is. We remind them of those fundamentals and we understand their personalities and what they’ve shared with us.

 

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky

Editor-in-Chief

BIOGRAPHY

Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.