Top wealth advisor: ‘Most people need a coach’

By Mike Lewis
Jim Holzapfel, managing director and investment officer with Holzapfel Investment Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in Hagerstown, Md., was listed as one of four from Maryland in Forbes’ “Best-In-State Wealth Advisors.”

Four area names, all from Maryland, made the roster when Forbes released its list of “Best-In-State Wealth Advisors.”

Named to the list from this area were:

• No. 14: Larry Boggs, Wells Fargo Advisors, Cumberland

• No. 22: Betsy Pakenas, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, Frederick

• No. 29: Jim Holzapfel, Wells Fargo Advisors, Hagerstown

• No. 55: Nate Harris, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, Frederick

Holzapfel is managing director and investment officer with Holzapfel Investment Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in Hagerstown, Md. He’s not exactly a stranger to lists like these. He has earned numerous firm, industry and civic awards, including Outstanding Branch Manager and Professional Excellence awards. Consistently named by Barron’s as one of America’s top 1,200 financial advisors, he also has been recognized as a top advisor in the Winner’s Circle in “Research Magazine” and Top 100 Wirehouse Advisors by “Wealth Management.”

Holzapfel earned a degree from the University of Maryland School of Business and completed the three-year Securities Industry Institute at the Wharton School of Business. He joined Kidder, Peabody & Co., a predecessor firm to Wells Fargo Advisors, in 1971.

How did you get into the career of wealth management?

I always had an interest in the financial markets and was able to take some courses in college that furthered that interest. After graduation I was able to secure an interview with a high-quality New York-based investment firm that happened to have a branch office in Hagerstown. I feel very fortunate that I was hired and gained entry to this industry.


What question do clients ask most often?

“Given everything going on in the world, is this the right time to invest?”


What question do you wish they would ask more often?

“How can you help me reach my long-term financial goals?”


How have online sites changed the profession in the past several years?

By online, I assume you mean sites where people can make their own decisions and execute trades. I don’t feel individuals should be restricted to prevent this type of activity. However, we have witnessed many intelligent, successful people make serious errors with the “do-it-yourself” approach. Most people need a coach to help them with the complexities of proper long-term investing. We get bombarded with news 24 hours per day. Many thoughtful people make the mistake of interpreting the news of the day to alter their long-term plan.


Putting aside the ups and downs of market cycles, has your philosophy of wealth management changed through the years?

It has, as we now take a more holistic approach to financial planning for clients. We create plans that take into account all facets of a client’s financial well-being. Although we have always looked for solid long-term, quality oriented investments, our approach now focuses also on the big picture to ensure reaching financial goals.


What challenges and opportunities do you see coming in the next few years?

There have always been challenges to financial planning and management, and there always will be. Clients sometimes make decisions based on emotion, rather than on facts. It is our job to make sure our guidance keeps them on course. As new clients come to see us, we very often see portfolios that have not been properly diversified. This lack of diversification has limited their returns and provided too much volatility. We see this as an opportunity to help people better prepare for the unexpected.


Outside of work, what are your ambitions and aspirations?

We have been involved in community activities since the early 1970s. It is a way of giving back and trying to do a little something for the communities that we serve. My current involvement centers around the University System of Maryland and the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. Hagerstown has so many unique attributes that the majority of other small towns don’t have. I feel we need to perpetuate that uniqueness to ensure long-term growth for the community, as well as personal growth for those living here.