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Fiduciary Christopher T. Ruggiero doesn’t believe in trying to make a quick buck for a client; he focuses on creating and implementing a long-term plan based on a client’s specific financial goals and objectives. Here, he provides a guide to establishing a portfolio of investments for success—even if you have very little money to start, save, or invest.


ROBERT IRVINE MAGAZINE:You’re a Fiduciary. Can you explain the difference between a fiduciary and an advisor or broker?

CHRISTOPHER T. RUGGIERO: Investment Advisor Representative (IAR) is a fiduciary held and bound to do what is in the best interest of the client, to make the most prudent choice given the clients objectives. Advisors get paid an annual fee or percentage, which is usually based on the amount of assets that are being managed. A Fiduciary (IAR) is not paid commissions on trades in the portfolio.

When you take on the role of fiduciary, you must act in a prudent manner given the clients risk tolerance. Brokers and advisors that are not licensed as a fiduciary (IAR) have an incentive to place multiple transactions which generate and earn multiple commissions every time a trade is placed. As a Fiduciary, our goal and priorities are always focused on what is in the best interest for the client… with no other incentive. Our mission is to develop a roadmap to their financial destination and if we hit detours along the way we reroute the plan to stay on course.

RI: There’s been a lot of volatility post-Covid, especially in crypto and NFTs. Do you see an opportunity to scoop those things up cheaply at this point or do you avoid them?

CTR: I’ve been in the business over 20 years, I have 9 securities licenses and 2 insurance licenses, and I am familiar with a lot of different products available in the market. The reason I bring that up is because Crypto is fairly new to the market the last few years and lacks the governing. We focus on equities, publicly traded companies and we stick to what we know, which is the US market, fixed income bonds, and things like that. We believe in a long-term approach in the market and look at investing that you need at least 3-5 years to allow your money to work in equities.

Throughout the history of the stock market, it has shown that the market rewards patience. You cannot time the market; it’s about time in the market. When Covid hit, March 2020, the Dow dropped below 19,000. We saw some big swinging days of over 1,000 points. You had a lot of people staying home, found some interest in the stock market, what followed was a wave of new investors dipping their toes in. People saw some gains in a short period of time and thought this was a way to make a quick buck. With apps like Robinhood, you had a lot of people jumping in blind and that contributed to the swings. What we did was put our clients in the best position to weather those swings and come out on top in the long run.

RI: So many people living paycheck to paycheck think they can’t afford to save; they need the cash badly. What do you say to them?

CTR: When it comes to saving generally, start small. If you’re getting paid weekly, trying to put away a big chunk every week—only to then have to take it out—you’re not doing yourself any favors. It’s to your benefit to pay yourself first. Put something small away, just like you’re paying a bill. You’ve got to put your money to work for you, no matter how little it is. Because when interest compounds over time, it can add up – For pre-tax IRA’s and qualified accounts it’s money you would have had to pay on taxes on upfront that you now have working for you, and it adds up over time. Your distributions will be taxed, but you can wind up with a very nice nest-egg or chunk of change in retirement that otherwise would have been hard for you to save or plan for.

Ruggiero investments Executive Vice President Christopher T. Ruggiero, right, and his brother,
President Thomas W. Ruggiero, walk outside the company’s office in Port Jefferson, NY. The company was founded by their father, CEO Thomas A. Ruggiero, whose vast experience includes time with
companies like JP Morgan Chase and Citibank.

RI: What’s the difference between investing and trading?

CTR: Investing is knowing that it’s going to take some time and to choose positions that can yield growth or value over time. Trading is moving in and out of a position in a short period of time. In a day trading situation, you’re back to cash at the end of each day. When you’re investing, you can’t completely ignore volatility or wild swings, but if you’re in a good position, meaning you’re invested in healthy companies that are providing real value, you don’t need to overly concern yourself with the big swings.

RI: Why don’t we teach basic financial literacy in high school?

CTR: That’s a good question I don’t know, but that’s what I’m working on now with the school district. I’m on the advisory board for the local school district and financial literacy is a big concern of mine. We want to get kids to understand how to balance a checking account, and how to understand and build credit; we all were taught don’t get a credit card too young because you’ll get into trouble, but establishing credit the right way early on can put you at an advantage by the time you are in your early to mid 20’s… so the real solution is it should be used in a responsible way. It’s another teaching tool. Additionally, the power of investing early on. Putting money to work in the market instead of spending it on expensive clothes or going out partying and how it will benefit you by investing it.

RI: A final piece of advice?

CTR: It’s never too late and it’s never too little to start saving and responsibly investing. In contrast, it’s never too early to buy a life insurance policy and begin estate planning to make sure your loved ones are taken care of. You can start by calling a financial advisor. Of course you can always call me.

Christopher T. Ruggiero is the Executive Vice President of Ruggiero Investments, a Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) firm. Email him at christopher@ruggieroinvestments.com or call 800-777-4726. Learn more at: ruggieroinvestments.com.

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