OCEAN CITY – In the year
2000, wealth advisor Christine Selzer was just starting out in the business and
could have never foreseen how volatile the market would be in the coming years.
After all of the obstacles thrown her way by the stock market, Selzer is
happily celebrating 10 years in the wealth advising business.
Though she is currently
employed at Merrill Lynch, Selzer originally went to work at the Edward Jones
firm, some time after receiving her master’s degree from Johns Hopkins
University in marketing and finance. “I had to build my business from scratch,”
Eventually she moved
over to Merrill Lynch in 2006, and went in to business with her husband, Brian.
Between the two of them, they work with 175 families.
“We have really great
wealth management tools at Merrill Lynch,” says Selzer.
Having the proper tools
and a “platform to manage money” makes helping her clients much easier, Selzer
With the recent
financial depression and the stock market constantly subject to change,
Selzer’s advice to clients is more important than ever. Though she admits the
advice she gives today is slightly different than the advice given a decade
ago, due to both her many years of experience, and the current situation
Selzer has two vital
pieces of advice for both her clients and the public: “live within your means,
and don’t overreact”.
As a wealth management
advisor, Selzer deals mainly with those planning to retire in the near future
or those who have already retired. She makes sure her clients don’t outlive
their money by managing money “very conservatively”.
Selzer describes her
clientele as being in the “distribution” phase of investment, when “people have
to be smart about their spending”. The “accumulation” phase of investment comes
first, where Selzer advises people to avoid debt and focus on getting money in
to their 401K.
As a wealth management
advisor, Selzer makes it a point to help people stay on track.
“It’s not an easy road,”
Selzer says, “but it’s fulfilling”.
In these tough economic
times, Selzer knows that it is not just retirees struggling with money. In
addition to constantly striving to educate her clients with newsletters and
writing a column in this newspaper to help educate the public, she also teaches
a personal finance course at Salisbury University.
Twice a week per
semester for over a year, Selzer educates about 60 students about the dangers
of debt, the fundamentals of loans and other important factors in primary
“I value their opinion,”
Selzer says of her students. “It helps me as a [wealth] advisor”.
education helps Selzer to see the future of the community, as well as provides
a valuable insight in to the future of the market. By polling her students
about the launch of such products as the IPad and about what they are buying at
Christmas time, she learns as much from them as they are learning from her.
“I can learn as much
from a 20-year-old as a 60-year-old,” Selzer said.
Education is something
Selzer values, both as a professor, as a mother, and for herself.
“I am diligent about
educating myself,” she says.
In 2008 she became a
certified financial planner, and though it required around two years of
rigorous study it was worth it to her because it made her a better advisor.
Selzer also makes it her
duty to be a “steward to the community”, by doing a lot of community service
and having fundraisers. She adds, “[our] clients are our biggest advocates for
Though Selzer has
learned a lot in the last 10 years of being a wealth management advisor, she
admits that it hasn’t always been easy.
Amidst issues and events
in her personal life, since 2000 her career has been witness to Sept. 11, 2001,
“the bottom of the market in 2003”, and despite the several years of smooth
sailing in between, she admits things have been rather tough since 2007.
The most recent obstacle
did not deal with the stock market, but rather the Merrill Lynch office burning
down on Route 50. The displacement has been difficult, but she and her
colleagues have found temporary quarters at other company offices. When Selzer,
the office manager, drove by her office the other day, she saw that “the
bulldozer… was right in [her] office”.
Regardless of the
difficult times, Selzer still feels an extreme sense of duty to her clients,
many of whom in their old age have lost a spouse. By giving them a sense of
financial security, she helps them both as a support system and as an advisor.
“I know I can help these
people,” says Selzer, who, after 10 (not always easy) years in business, is
still looking forward to many more.