A founding principal of HBKS® Wealth Advisors, Christopher Sorce serves clients throughout the U.S. from his offices in Erie and Naples, Florida. As a senior financial advisor and principal of the firm, he directs a team of ten professionals, including five certified financial planners.
Chris began his career as a financial advisor in 1976, joining the firm in his hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania, where his father had been advising clients since 1950. He continued with the firm after its acquisition by American Express Financial Advisors and in 1983 became one of the first financial professionals in Pennsylvania to earn the designation of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™.
In 1986, he moved from Erie to Washington, D.C., to serve as managing principal of the D.C. American Express Financial Advisors office. It was there that he developed a passion for an objective, independent approach to advising his clients, free of the product bias typical of large institutional firms.
In 1994, Chris returned to Erie, where his brother Gregory Sorce, CFP®, MSFS, was also working with American Express Financial Services. Both had been ranked in the Top 100 of the nation’s 8,000 American Express financial advisors. The brothers purchased the historic Wright House in downtown Erie and began serving clients as Sorce Financial Group in January 1995. Five years later, they were approached by then Hill, Barth & King, now HBK CPAs & Consultants, to partner with the accounting firm to provide wealth management services.
Chris earned his B.A. degree from Boston University. He has served on numerous local and national community executive boards and professional associations over four decades.
How have advances in technology and the resulting easier access to informaiton changed how you work?
In our initial years at HBKS®, making changes to our clients’ portfolios meant doing everything manually, rebalancing allocations and buying and selling each position. It could take six months to implement our best thinking. As we grew, that just wasn’t acceptable. We do our best work sitting in front of our clients, understanding their problems and discussing solutions, but as we grew – more clients and more assets under managements – instead of spending 80 percent of our time with clients we were spending that 80 percent in front of a computer. So 10 years ago we spent a fortune on technology and now rebalancing and trading is done by a team of our people who can make as many as 10,000 trades in an afternoon. That frees up our advisors to do what we do best and like to do most, solve problems, develop portfolios, implement strategies, and otherwise help our clients with such things as avoiding estate taxes, saving for their kids’ educations and planning for their retirement.
Where do your good ideas for your clients come from?
Generally speaking, most people just want to know they’re OK. No matter how much or how little money they have, they want to know that they and their family are going to be OK. So I get my best ideas when I’m thinking about how we can motivate our clients to do what they need to do to be OK, and how we can help them with a solid, sensible plan that’s based on facts and logic, not emotion.
Twenty-five years ago, our business was driven by commissions, what was know as “transaction driven.” That’s how brokers and investment managers made money. It was like us, the sellers, versus them, the clients or buyers. When we became fiduciaries, that is Registered Investment Advisors, and weren’t paid that way any more, we were sitting on the same side of the table as our clients, focused on what was in their best interests. It made everything so much easier, so much better. We used to memorize sales pitches for the various mutual funds. Now we have a team of professionals doing due diligence on what a client model should look like and which managers in each of those slots are most appropriate to meet a client’s objectives.
What does it take to be successful in wealth management?
It’s like I tell my kids – The difference between winners and losers is that winners do things losers won’t do. They stay later, work harder, are more enthusiastic. Part of my success is outlasting everyone else. My keys are persistence, longevity and a good attitude.
What is most fulfilling about your work?
My job is to oversee our experienced professional team, people who now have between 10 and 30 years in our business. We manage more than $500 million dollars in assets. Building that team and amassing that kind of client base has been extremely fulfilling. You could say that I’ve built myself into a position of being obsolete, with so many good people around me. I guess I could go to the golf course, but I prefer to go to work everyday, meeting with clients and working to bring in new business so we can put our experience to work for more people.
“I get my best ideas when I’m thinking about how we can motivate our clients to do what they need to do to be OK, and how we can help them with a solid, sensible plan that’s based on facts and logic, not emotion.”