For Ken Schapiro, president and founder of Condor Capital Management, the wealth management industry has always been frustratingly opaque.
“My father’s friend Alf, then a large producer in the life insurance business, encouraged me to visit his friends in financial planning and wealth management to survey their businesses and understand what it was they were doing for people,” Ken said. “And, roughly 30 years ago, this business was much different. It was filled with high-commission brokers and a lack of transparency. So, when I returned, I said: ‘Alf, what everybody is doing is not what we want to do. I think that the wave of the future is fee-only financial planning; when you charge a fee, you have no incentive to buy, trade, or sell unless it is in the client’s best interest. So, we are going to charge low fees and report our performance to people.’”
He went on to help found Condor, now based in Martinsville, NJ, at the age of 23, after receiving his graduate degree from the University of Colorado in 1988.
Today, Condor is over 30 years old and its diverse staff manages more than $1 billion in assets for its clients. Employees at Condor are encouraged to work together to give each client the best possible experience. Clients are not limited to one advisor; every advisor takes calls, whether or not they are the service person the client is accustomed to speaking with. To help facilitate this, Condor has an Employee Stock Ownership plan in place so that everyone has an interest in the success of the company and its clients.
Although there is a client asset minimum of $250,000, the average client net worth is $1 million or more. The clientele skews younger than the national average, and approximately one-third comes from out of state. Clients are offered a gamut of complimentary, comprehensive financial planning. This can include retirement planning, life event planning, estate planning, tax planning, insurance evaluation and risk management, and educational planning.
Ken’s priorities lie in his clients’ and employees’ best interests. To construct the most diversified and optimized portfolios, Condor follows one of seven in-house strategies, focusing primarily on efficient, low-cost funds.
“We still have a model where we pick stocks, so we do some active, too, but the important piece is that we’re not pigeonholed into one scenario or one strategy,” says Ken. “How someone is invested depends on the specific client first, then on our expectations of the economy.”
Outside of Condor, Ken has stayed young at heart through his recreational activities, which include tennis and skiing. More specifically, “heli-skiing” has long been a favorite of his. To do so, Ken takes a helicopter, rather than the usual ski lift, to remote mountains for off-trail skiing. Condor’s young staff, with ages averaging in the low 30s, has also inspired Ken’s youthful outlook, and the company’s dedication to growth, collaboration, and technology.