The latest Forbes ranking of the country’s top investment advisors now includes two Delaware women who say that working as a team is a key to their success for clients.
CW Wealth Management Group at UBS advisors Caroline Chahalis and Ginger Ward are among a small group of Delawareans to make this year’s Forbes list, which was developed through a rigorous process of in-person interviews, review of assets under management and compliance records and assessment of “impact on clients’ lives.” The wealth advisors on Forbes 2020 list manage more than $4 trillion in assets.
Chahalis and Ward credit their complementary skills, experiences and styles for their effective partnership currently managing $250 million in client assets.
“One of the things happening in the industry is that teams have become more common, partly because in order to really service clients well, you need a lot of different skills,” said Ward.
“Our skills are very different. And our interests are very different. And the people who connect with us are very different. So having a partnership allows us all to play to our strengths.”
Chahalis says the team’s combination of “micro and macro” perspective – both on the market and their clients’ lives and needs – as well as their diverse mix of technical experience and training – makes for a comprehensive approach to financial planning that has earned long-term loyalty and results.
“I’ve had some clients for 30 years,” said Chahalis. “We’ve ended up working with multiple generations, grandparents and parents and the grandchildren, helping them save and plan for their different needs – be it paying for college or planning for retirement – at every stage of life.”
Chahalis and Ward first connected while working at another firm, and they decided to make their partnership official when Ward moved to Delaware 10 years ago. Unique to the Forbes ranking, the UBS advisors technically started their partnership with zero funds under management. Since then, their average client portfolio grew from $750,000 to “$4 or 5 million” they said, adding 10 to 15% in new client funds each year.
The duo has a combined 50-plus years of financial service industry experience across individual retirement, asset management, financial planning, insurance planning and 401k plans. They work with both individual and family clients as well as small business owners and nonprofits.
But Ward says the personal touch, as much as their professional acumen, is what makes the most difference.
“Clients are more like family and friends to us, this isn’t just a business relationship,” she says. “That makes the work so fulfilling – we are very hands-on.”
Ward says the kind of financial advice they are asked to provide can sometimes be quite practical.
“I was having lunch with a client recently who asked me about selling their car … now that’s not usually something you ask your financial advisor!”
Chahalis says being a woman can sometimes offer an important perspective. “We understand the need to listen, to understand the hopes and concerns of moms, daughters – friends. This is ultimately a relationship business and building and earning trust is essential.”
Both Chahalis and Ward are deeply involved in the local community. Chahalis grew up in North Wilmington’s Fairfax neighborhood and attended Brandywine High School. She’s been active with the Rotary Club of Wilmington including serving as treasurer and is the organization’s current investment chair. She has also served on the Investor’s Cabinet for the YWCA of Wilmington and has served on the Board of Directors for Girls, Inc.
Ward, who grew up in Alabama, whose education includes a master’s degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and spent time as a social worker, is treasurer for the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation and is a member of the Mary Campbell Center Foundation board. She has also served on the boards of the Fund for Women, the Delaware Center for Justice and the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art. She has been recognized by the Fund for Women with its “Driving Force Award” for her work in fundraising for the organization and with its “First Founder Award”.
Chahalis and Ward also partnered to co-chair the Girl Scouts Women of Distinction Awards for several years.
Regardless of any national recognition, Chahalis and Ward say the greatest reward is helping clients through life’s challenges and opportunities.
“People come to us and say ‘I don’t know what to do,’ or sometimes they’re in a mess,” explains Ward. “Sometimes they’re going through a divorce. Sometimes they are a family with three children going to college and they are worried if they are ever going to be able to retire. Well, that couple just booked an Alaskan cruise for their 60th birthday. So those are the stories that really matter.”
“The best thing about this industry is that we get to build lasting, meaningful relationships with our clients and with the community,” said Ward.
“And we care about what happens to both, and that is what makes us a “team of choice” in Delaware.”
This article is presented through an advertising partnership with the CW Wealth Management Group at UBS Financial Services