Grace Simmons is like a family member and a friend to client and colleagues, say her superiors — and one that can be counted on. “Grace is very easy to like, and can often be heard laughing on the phone with clients as well as broker/dealer personnel. They not only feel confident that she can resolve any predicaments that may arise in a faster-than-expected manner, they receive the added bonus of having a friend to talk to,” says Andrew Rosenberg, senior partner at Andrew Stuart Asset Management Group, Inc., an independent firm in Coral Springs, Fla., affiliated with NFP Securities.
Simmons doesn't wait for clients to call her. Everyday she makes about 15 to 20 calls to clients to keep them informed and updated on their accounts, which is just one of the important roles Simmons has as director of operations at ASAM Group. Simmons works with another sales assistant to support four financial advisors with a total of 450 clients, and $250 million in assets under management. In fact, when it comes to clients, Simmons handles almost all of their needs — except for investment recommendations. “We're very proactive with our clients,” Simmons says.
At weekly status meetings, Simmons and her entire team meet to go over what kinds of deadlines will come up, or changes will occur in individual client portfolios, whether it's the lease expiring on the client's car, or preparations for the client's annual meeting. “I think the feeling clients get about our company is based on what Grace is able to provide for them. She is their hand holder, and I think she sets the tone,” says Stuart Horowitz, a senior partner at Andrew Stuart Asset Management Group. “The fact that clients can reach her so often, and that she is so responsive is what makes them feel so comfortable. Sometimes with financial advisors, they're either on the phone, or they're in meetings, or they can't be reached; they're not as accessible.”
It doesn't hurt that Simmons has a lot of experience in the business, and has her series 7 and 66 licenses. Before joining the ASAM Group, she worked as an assistant at Merrill Lynch for 20 years. In 2005, she decided she needed a change, and made the switch to NFP. She hasn't looked back. “I've learned a tremendous amount since I've been here,” she says.
Simmons' ability to communicate with people extends to her colleagues, and her personal life as well. “She recognizes every team member's birthday, and bakes a favorite cake for them on their special day,” says Rosenberg. She has also been a foster parent, and is very involved in charitable organizations in her community, he adds. “All of the employees at ASAM Group love Grace like a family member.”