Mr. Ramirez knows about the generational influence. His company was founded by his father 27 years ago. Samuel A. Ramirez & Co. is one of the oldest and largest Hispanic-owned investment bankers in the country with more than $2 billion in assets directly under management.
The company's headquarters is in New York City, with several retail outlets nationwide. There is no minimum investment to open an account at the firm, although Mr. Ramirez indicates that the typical initial investment for wealth management services is between $750,000 and $2 million.
Because of the company's prominent role in underwriting securities, its products include new issues as well as more conventional commission and fee-based offerings. Ramirez's reputation was built around tax-free bonds, but these days the company covers the entire gamut of investment vehicles.
A Mountain of Opportunities
Financial education is important. Whether you subscribe to Mr. Ramirez's theory about near-term fiscal priorities or Ms. Rivera's suggestion that Hispanics have a tendency to favor hard assets like cash and real estate, time is likely to change that trend.
There are too many Hispanics in the workforce with pensions and 401(k) retirement plans that are tethered to Wall Street's fortunes. It won't be long before the stateside Hispanic mindset goes from preservation of capital to capital appreciation.
However, if you think that it's hard to find a fellow Hispanic willing to strike up a conversation about the stock market, it's even harder to find Hispanic-owned firms that cater to wealthy individuals.
"So are you out to interview all three of us," joked Matterhorn Capital's Juan Landa, when told about the premise of the article. He said it mostly in jest, but he's not far off the mark. There are only a handful of wealth management firms owned and operated by Hispanics.
Mr. Landa feels that the blame may fall on a lack of role models within the sector. "This is an industry that isn't generally talked about within the Hispanic community," he says.
There is no "Pedro Lynch" or "Juan Buffett."
Despite the ambassadorial efforts of organizations like the Toigo Foundation, established two decades ago by Robert Toigo to promote personal finance as a career and lifestyle choice for exceptional minority students, it is still an underserved vocation.
Mr. Landa's San Antonio-based firm specializes in singling out stocks and mutual funds for high-net-worth individuals. One of his partners hails from South Africa, so Mr. Landa's firm also keeps an eye out for attractive foreign stocks as well. Matterhorn currently has 42 clients, typically with an initial investment requirement of $750,000. Like Consultiva, Matterhorn's services are charged on a percentage basis. Mr. Landa's firm charges 1% of assets annually on the equity side and 0.3% on the fixed-income side.
In Sickness and in Wealth
Not every Hispanic-owned firm caters to high net-worth individuals. Prominent firms -- like San Diego's LM Capital, Chicago's Fortaleza, and Miami's Guzman & Co. -- service primarily institutional investors.
As a whole, this is a sector counting on the booming Hispanic community to grow. Even among Hispanic wealth management specialists, it's not as if their companies are attracting only their fellow Hispanics. Just a third of Matterhorn's clients are Hispanic. Just a quarter of Mr. Ramirez's accounts belong to Spanish-speaking investors, even though the company offers up its RamirezCo.com Web site in both languages.
Ultimately, they are all upbeat about the future. Recent market volatility hasn't changed that. As wealth managers go, they have the luxury to offset risk with sophisticated hedging strategies. Along with properly diversified portfolios, that strategy helps avoid any sector-specific meltdowns, like the real estate and mortgage lending fiascos of last year.
Like a fancy car or Jed Clampett's Beverly Hills mansion, having a wealth management specialist at your side is a welcome luxury. As for your lumpy mattress and what the winning numbers to tomorrow's lottery will be, you're on your own there.
Rick Munarriz is a personal finance columnist for HispanicBusiness.com">HispanicBusiness.com. He can be reached through Reportedly.com, where he discusses his latest articles.
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