History of Apriem
WHO IS APRIEM?
Founded in 1998 by Harmon Kong and Mark Iwamoto, Apriem Advisors is an Orange County, California-based independent, registered investment advisor firm. We manage over $425 million in assets under management for approximately 350 families. True to our Latin-based namesake, we strive to provide our clients with the highest degree of service while handling all facets of their finances, helping them reach the goal of financial security and freedom. Our investment philosophy is far from “cookie cutter.” Our clients receive one-on-one advice and individualized, strategic planning from our wealth and portfolio managers. Our privately-owned firm is a boutique experience and offers customized personal service over and above what large corporate firms can offer.
THE APRIEM STORY
Success. Experience. Respect. Harmon Kong and Mark Iwamoto were fortunate to gain all of these after dedicating nearly a decade of wealth management to clients in large, corporate financial firms. So what would make these trusted advisors walk away from a stable, long-term and lucrative career? Kong points to a time when he was expected to manage over 500 household accounts while continuing to meet corporate expectations to add new top-tier clients to the firm. With such large volume for each manager, Kong notes there was no time to actually service his clients, let alone talk to each of them and intimately know their personal financial needs or goals. Due to the sheer volume of accounts, most were “managed” by a computer template that allowed firms to slot clients in a one-size-fits-all portfolio system. When Kong and Iwamoto noticed that the corporation’s agenda did not always line up with the client agenda, they wondered, “Who would we hire to manage our money and what would we expect in personal service?”
When the large firm implemented a “call center first” policy, Kong noticed wealth managers would no longer be the first point of contact to their own client. A customer service representative would answer questions based on company scripts and transfer clients only when needed. This meant that, even though Kong was gaining more clients, he actually had even less personal contact with them. There was little accountability and nearly nothing left that resembled personal quality service. Kong and Iwamoto knew there had to be a better way. It was this moment that marked the end of their careers with large, corporate financial institutions and the birth of Apriem.
THE APRIEM APPROACH
Apriem had a clear vision for a new private firm—it included excellence in service, integrity, and advice built on two important pillars: relationships and purpose. Clients come first, and each of our wealth and portfolio managers is dedicated to engaging clients and developing real, personal relationships with them.
It all starts on a human level—knowing our clients’ needs and goals, so that only then we can give a purpose to their individualized financial plan. We pride ourselves on being proactive in the investing space—not just reactive to the market. We allow ourselves a margin of time to properly service each of our 350 families. It is our purpose to manage our clients’ assets in such an efficient and effective way that they can get back to the most important business in life—family and friends.
In addition to our unique approach in servicing our clients, the way we manage, invest, and even structure our fees is fundamentally different than most large financial institutions. For years, these corporations have charged clients each time a transaction is made on their behalf inside a commissionable product. This structure only encourages advisors to continuously move the client’s money—whether it is in the best interest of the client or not.
Also, since the late ‘90s, it was on trend to not only charge the client a management fee each month, but also a financial planning fee. However, financial managers were just that, managers—not long-term strategic planners. They charged the clients twice, but only provided one service. Apriem recognized there was an extreme disconnect if you are managing money but do not understand the financial goals of a family. You cannot balance a portfolio without knowing the total picture, including other financials aspects of a family such as taxation, asset protection and estate planning. Apriem was an early adaptor in the field at combining the services of financial planning and investment management for one inclusive fee.
At Apriem, we do not sell financial products or gain commissions from investment transactions or the sale of investment products. With an unbiased position, we are in the business of planning and managing to create the best results for our clients. We built our firm as a fee based asset manager that includes the personalized planning. After all, how can you manage someone’s wealth without first knowing their goals and creating a solid plan? Apriem is not an advisory organization—we are a financial management firm first. Our management always encompasses a sound plan. We can address all aspects of financial planning including, but not limited to: life insurance, estate planning, long-term care, healthcare, charitable giving, asset protection, cash-flow analysis, risk management and more.
We also work with a “big picture” mentality when it comes to investing and diversifying our clients’ personalized portfolios. In addition to customized wealth management services, we also employ other targeted strategies when practicing investment management. These services include: Tactical Index Strategies, Dynamic Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) Strategy and Income Strategies.
When it comes to vetting and selecting trusted custodians for our clients’ portfolios, Apriem completes annual due diligence to ensure we work alongside innovative companies who share a philosophy that lines up with Apriem. With this in mind, our primary third-party custodian is Charles Schwab. Charles Schwab is a long-time leader in the field of investing and leading-edge technologies; more importantly, the organization’s philosophy in client service and investing is fully aligned with that of Apriem. Apriem is also part of the Charles Schwab Advisor Network (SAN) program, which includes approximately 200 prescreened preferred companies representing about 4% of their registered investment advisory firms. Apriem has been invited every year for the last decade to be part of this exclusive program and regularly receives client referrals from Schwab.
ALL IN THE APRIEM FAMILY
At Apriem, we operate as a family. Most of our managers and advisors have been with our firm for more than a decade. We also manage our own families’ assets—parents, siblings, kids, friends, and our own. An oddity at most large financial institutions, we have skin in the game and invest in the same places we advise our clients to invest. It is our promise to you that we will never recommend an investment that we would not make ourselves. We are proud to be a product of our very own product—and we share that success with our clients.
As a part of our “extended family,” we bring in only the most trusted and vetted outside professionals to work with our clients when appropriate. We believe in a collaborative work environment to deliver optimal results to our clients. Professionals we work with on a daily basis include attorneys, CPAs, and insurance agents. If there is a piece of our clients’ portfolios that requires outside professional care, we bring those experts in (or work with our clients’ existing professionals) and build the best team to give our clients optimal solutions and results.
Our clients are of the utmost importance to us. Whether your portfolio contains $100,000 or $1,000,000, we have a personalized plan for you. Most financial firms with a long successful history typically raise their minimum investment requirement over time. Apriem initially operated with a $1 million account minimum. However, in congruence with our family values, we made the deliberate decision to lower our minimum so we could help more people. We strategically segment our clients into the following tiers:
Investment Management: This is a segment of the market that we believe typically gets ignored and priced-out when it comes to investing. This is a client with a minimum of $100,000 to invest and our focus is on growing this investment and growing with the client. We see this sector of the population as our next generation of investors and we believe they deserve quality investment strategy.
Wealth Management: This client has at least $1 million in investable assets and a net worth usually between $5 million and $10 million. Here we focus on asset-allocation and value strategies.
Private Client: This client has at least $5 million or more in investable assets and a net worth of over $10 million.
APRIEM INVESTING IN A VOLITALE MARKET
No matter where our clients fall within the tiers of income and assets, it’s important to note that all our planning strategies are completely individualized. We have processes to protect our clients from a volatile market—which is the new normal in which we live. Today, many client investment decisions are driven by emotions which could be dangerous to one’s portfolio performance. Trades and changes happen rapidly on a global scale, from a click on a computer or swipe on a phone. One core strategy we employ is a Tactical Index Strategy. We pour our time and resources into analyzing the markets and evaluating trends and patterns—essentially taking the emotion out of investing. No one plan is the same as the other. We look at our clients’ finances as a whole, listen to their goals and needs, recognize what kind of market we are in, and advise properly.
APRIEM AND THE WOW INITIATIVE
Over the years our passion for serving and educating all investors has grown and expanded into important new ventures. This is evident in our newest program: Women of Wisdom (WOW). After gathering feedback from clients over many years, our wealth managers identified that women—including those who were widowed, divorced, or independently investing—want to be more involved and empowered when it comes to their finances. We value this newfound demographic coming to us for counsel and decided to turn it into an event. Every month, we hold WOW luncheons and meetings to help educate and empower women to make sound financial decisions in every stage of life. Our events cover everything from Investing 101 tips, loss, healthcare, estate planning, taxes, social security and more. Women have unique stories and investment needs, and our WOW program is designed to address them. For a complete list of upcoming WOW events, visit apriem.com/women-of-wisdom.
For more information on Apriem Advisors, our team, our personal strategies, or to become a valued client, connect with us at www.apriem.com or call 888-253-0288. We look forward to hearing your unique needs.
 Apriem fee shares with Charles Schwab Advisor Network (SAN) program for any referrals received through the SAN program.