On July 26, 2013, R.W. Rogé & Company celebrated its 27th anniversary. During these past 27 years, I have learned through trial and error that what our clients really want is confidence, leadership, and an authentic relationship with their advisory firm.
Confidence comes when clients feel that we truly understand their needs. Those needs then get articulated in a plan that gives them a clearly visible path to their future.
Leadership comes in a relationship when we help our clients avoid making mistakes. Our clients often hear me say that emotion is the enemy of reason. So whether it’s a personal problem causing the emotional response or the global markets and politics causing concern, we always work to identify the emotions and work toward a rational conclusion, and only then do we make decisions.
There are relationships and then there are authentic relationships. While everyone talks about providing a relationship in our business, few understand what the difference is between a simple relationship and an authentic relationship. Rather than explaining what we do to provide an authentic relationship for our clients, I have asked our team to give me some examples in the form of client stories so that you can judge for yourself.
Below are the first two in a series of actual client stories that I believe represent the kind of the authentic relationships we have with our clients. With the exception of the client who is now deceased, we obtained permission to publish their story, but we have changed their names to protect their privacy. We plan on creating a series of these stories to demonstrate the real value that our firm adds to the lives of our clients.
Story #1. A Graceful and Peaceful End of Life
Ms. Pink—Client Since 2007
Ms. Pink became a client at the young age of 91. When Ron and I met her, she lived in a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) called Jefferson’s Ferry, where Ron’s dad also lives. Ms. Pink originally came from Brooklyn and moved with her sister to Jefferson’s Ferry after her husband passed away. As part of our interview process, we asked what her husband had done for a living, and she replied, “He was a ride maker.” Ron asked, “What is a ride maker?” We found out that her family had owned the Cyclone and the Steeple Chase in Coney Island. Her husband worked for her father repairing the rides for his entire adult life. She told us some great stories about her family and their involvement in the amusement park. It was great to sit and chat with her; she always had great stories to tell. Whenever I would visit, either to help her sort through her mail or pay her bills, I would always bring flowers. Ms. Pink loved flowers. When I would visit, we would have lunch at Jefferson’s Ferry, or she would make me a cup of tea and give me some of her favorite biscotti. Quite often, I would take her shopping at Walmart, where she would buy nail polish and other little things. We’d go for lunch at Carnival, a local Italian restaurant near her home. I would always comment on how lovely Ms. Pink looked. She always had her hair done and wore beautiful outfits and jewelry and pink nail polish.
Ms. Pink was a member of the Red Hat Society, which is a well-known social group for women. She called me one day after her Red Hat meeting and asked what I was doing for lunch. I replied that I wasn’t doing anything in particular. She asked if I would mind coming to pick her up for lunch . . . she wanted “pizza and a beer” and really good “Italian” pizza like they served at Carnival! So, off we went to the restaurant. Ms. Pink had bad arthritis and had a slight limp, but when we were going for pizza and beer, she would hop into my SUV as if there were not a problem in the world! After one of our luncheons, Ms. Pink asked me to help her do end of life planning. She had no children of her own but had many nieces and nephews. Ms. Pink did not want to burden them with the task of preparing for her funeral, and I told her I’d be happy to help her.
Our first stop was a meeting with an estate-planning attorney. Since she had such an extended family, she wanted to be sure everyone was included in the disposition of her estate. She also wanted to be sure that no one would need to make any medical decisions for her end of life care, so a health care proxy and durable powers of attorney were prepared. The next visit was an appointment at the funeral home to arrange her “celebration of life.” We did it, as Ms. Pink would put it, “her way.” We picked out a casket with a pink lining and pink flowers and tended to the rest of the details.
Sometime later, Ms. Pink had a bad fall from which she never recovered. She passed away, gracefully and peacefully, at the age of 95. I had promised her that I would make sure that upon her death the casket would be the one she had picked out with the pink lining. If it wasn’t, I was “ordered” by her to have it changed. Fortunately, it was the right one! Ron and I went to the service, and I spoke extensively with her nephew about her planning and her wishes not to burden the family during this time. I really enjoyed meeting all the family members that I had heard so much about over the years. She was loved by her nieces and nephews, and they were very grateful for what we did for her.
Whenever I see anything pink, I always think of her!
— Told by Rosanne Rogé, CSA, RFG, CFP®, Managing Director
Story #2. The “Retirement” Plan
Ms. Stone—client since 1995
Our initial meeting was held at Ms. Stone’s office in a really cool loft space in the SoHo section of New York City. Ms. Stone ran her own advertising agency. Ron and I met with her and her accountant who had referred her to us. Ms. Stone is a very attractive, dynamic, creative, and fun individual who wanted to plan for her future. At the meeting, we asked what her goals for her business and retirement were, as we always do with new clients who are still working. She said she wanted “to have fun” and not have to worry about money. We ran a few scenarios for her with different retirement dates. She became what we call an ideal client. She followed our advice about saving to achieve her goals. We would celebrate certain monetary achievements, for example, when her account exceeded a million dollars for the first time. As I got to know her better, Ms. Stone would call and we would just chat . . . about everything . . . the market, the world, her business, and “girl stuff.” As time went on, Ms. Stone became more and more disenchanted with the details and demands of running her own business. She “wanted out”! We revised her retirement plan for an earlier exit strategy about four years ago. She is now “retired” from the business and pursuing a second career in photography. When we speak, Ms. Stone always says she is “having fun.” She divides her time between New York City and Berlin, where she exhibits her photographs.
It is so rewarding to see a plan come to fruition after all this time and to see a client achieve their goals and pursue their passion.
— Told by Rosanne Rogé, CSA, RFG, CFP®, Managing Director
I hope these stories and those that follow will help you understand some of the things we do every day at R. W. Rogé & Company, Inc. Our work is about helping people to plan, achieve, and live the life they want. Our experience, systems, methods and processes allow us to deliver services that are Beyond Expectations®
If you or perhaps someone you know could use our services, please let us know. We would be happy to set up a complimentary initial meeting.
Clients who have referred family and friends tell us that they feel grateful knowing their referral helped that person improve their financial situation often beyond what they thought possible. Friends or family who previously were floundering financially are now facing the future with a new feeling of confidence, leadership, and an authentic relationship.
Ronald W. Rogé, MS, CFP®
Chairman & CEO
Plan. Achieve. Live® and Beyond Expectations® are registered service marks of R W. Rogé & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.