FaceOff: Steve Dziuk, Linde Murphy and the state of wealth management

FaceOff: Steve Dziuk, Linde Murphy and the state of wealth management

Writer: Jerrica DuBois 

2 min read May 2023 — Financial advising and wealth management are imperative when times are good, and some may argue, even more critical when times are bad. Although Texas as a whole has natural buffers, particularly as it is a business-friendly, tax-free state, residents are still wary of a possible economic downturn. Invest: sat down with Steve Dziuk, president of Mesquite Wealth Management, and Linde Murphy, president of M. E. Allison & Co., who shared their thoughts on cybersecurity, investor confidence and the future of financial advisory. 

What is your strategy for assessing data and cybersecurity risk?

Steve Dziuk: Cybersecurity and data integrity completely fall under compliance in our world. That is what I spend my time doing, making sure that we do not have issues like that. Mesquite is technically a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial. The latter is our parent company, so we fall under all of their technology and cybersecurity protocols, which are highly stringent. We do a considerable amount of training not only for our team but our clients throughout the year on what to do and what not to do, everything from the typical ways you get attacked — most of it is through emails —  to device management and quarterly meetings on technology topics.

Although it has not happened lately, every now and then a client will have an issue, a breach of some sort. Then they are calling us about their money and we instruct them on what they need to do and how the protocols work. Unfortunately, cybersecurity is a huge deal and it is just going to get worse moving forward.

Linde Murphy: There are always challenges in technology and there will always be risks. There is an inherent risk that we all face and the residual risk after tools and protections are introduced. One of our firm’s strengths is that we are involved with our regulators on the broker-dealer and municipal side, along with the SEC, so we’re aware of what is happening within the industry, what regulators require of investment firms and what other companies are doing that we may consider. Cybersecurity is challenging and will get tougher. The best we can do is stay up to date and secure to keep our firm and clients safe.

What are some of the aspects of corporate culture that help retain talent?

Dziuk: That is something we have spent a lot of time focusing on here. Our top core values are faith, family and honesty, in that order. We operate in our environment based on these three core tenets. As the CEO, I always tell my small team of 13 people that they are my work family. The part about honesty is highly fostered because it is essential for everyone to feel and know they can say what is on their minds. That has been a recruiting tool. That is why the last two people we recruited picked up their families and moved to San Antonio after interviewing with us. They said they moved for our values, our culture and the way we operate. That is why they are here and not at another firm, which speaks volumes about our company. 

What concerns are your clients bringing to the table?

Murphy: The big questions are: Is my money going to be there when I need it? Will I have enough? Will I have enough during retirement? Am I in the right investment for this market? These are just some of them. This market turbulence can make investors uneasy. They’re used to seeing 10 to 15% returns and when that plunges, they are fazed. We reeducate and remind investors that volatility is not necessarily a bad thing and can create opportunity.

How would you gauge investor confidence at present? 

Dziuk: That has changed quite a bit in a number of surveys. Investor and consumer sentiment is way down right now. Inflation, of course, is a huge concern on everybody’s mind. Rising interest rates work as a double-edged sword because it helps for savings rates but hurts for borrowing rates. Buying a home or a car is more expensive now with interest rates going up. That has definitely been on the forefront of a lot of people’s minds. The recent stock market volatility has also been a concern. That always creates opportunities and concerns. Depending on the investor’s time frame, it can certainly be more of a concern if you are retiring soon. Individuals coming up on retirement or in retirement are concerned about their portfolio valuations moving and where their income value comes from. 

What is the future of financial advisory? 

Murphy: Clients, prospective clients and people who don’t have financial advisers currently eventually want to talk to an adviser, particularly with market volatility. At first, they think they can do it themselves, especially with a long-term stable market. Once volatility, recession and market pullbacks emerge, it compels the need for an adviser. There are great opportunities for advisers presently because more people will desire an overall guide to assist them in staying on track. 

There are also opportunities with companies, retirees and some new rules and regulations that serve as guardrails when you roll over your money out of a company retirement plan, which is beneficial to investors. The middle generation, which has amassed wealth and is now in their 40s or 50s, is another great opportunity because they’re willing to involve an adviser to help balance future expenses, retirement plans and investments. 

For more information, visit: 

Mesquite Wealth Management 

E. Allison & Co.