Features

William R. Todd – Harborview Advisors

Financial expertise, objectivity harbored here

William R. Todd looks out the window of his eighth-floor office in downtown Portland, Maine, beckoning a visitor to admire the panoramic view of church steeples, brick warehouses rehabbed for modern use and the harbor where pleasure craft are safely moored for the winter among lobster boats that never rest.

Come spring, there will be gulls laying eggs on the ledge below the large windows of Harborview Advisors, and, soon after, fledgling chicks providing Todd with an amusing glance from the computer screen and telephone.

It’s an office environment a lot of executives would appreciate as well as one that leaves a most favorable impression on the firm’s steadily growing clientele. Still, there were some risks in setting up shop here in 2014, the most desirable professional space fetching premium prices in Maine’s business and cultural hub. The risks duly weighed, Todd and his partners opted to lease that sprawling office in the building known as One City Center.

After just four years, the aptly named firm is managing $150 million in investment assets and providing all the services of a Registered Investment Advisor that one would expect on Wall Street, which is where Todd and his colleagues would rather not be.

Not when they can do business in the very livable Portland area. And keep it on a much more personal level, which Todd and his colleagues prefer.

People and profits

“It’s an awesome responsibility to have someone trust you with managing their money,” says Todd, who serves as Harborview’s president and chief investment officer. “There aren’t many firms that take as much of an interest in their clients as we do.”

Should those clients not know what they’re really looking for, Todd or one of the other wealth managers—Daryl Strong, Harry Krigman, Philip Cawley, Norm Levesque and Sean Hussey—will take the time to essentially give them a primer on stocks, public and corporate bonds, annuities, derivatives, mutual funds, securities and whatever other investment assets might suit the client’s interests. It’s the client’s decision, of course, but he or she will be fully informed.

Cash flow, net worth, debt, assets—all those are factored into structuring an account, with the means provided for the holder to track its progress. Todd and his partners remain available for calls and meetings, and regularly rebalance portfolios to keep them in line with a client’s risk profile.

The needs can be many. A young person may need a creative way to repay a college loan or a parent may want to start putting money aside for that purpose. A couple may be buying a home or making farsighted contributions to their retirement. A business owner may need the kind of financial planning to get him or her by through good times and bad. And any client’s priorities may be ever-changing.

Bank not on banks

Better not depend upon banks for investment returns, Todd reminds. Sure, those accounts are FDIC insured, but the holder has got to tie up money for years just to be eligible for a “high-yield” CD that’s returning much less than half of what banks were paying in the early- and mid-2000s. Even with a marginal increase in the prime, no one can envision that era coming back anytime soon.

“The only way to meet your goals is to take some risk,” Todd says, adding that while banks may be too big to fail, the same doesn’t hold true for their depositors. “Not reckless risk, a very calculated risk. And we pride ourselves in structuring those risks to offer the best chance at achieving investment objectives.”

When Todd displays an investment pyramid—the common way for an advisor to illustrate the risk/return process—the base level represents the lower-risk fixed income securities while the top is the higher risk, higher returning equities. But at least where Harborview is concerned, something very critical underscores that base—the objective and agnostic approach to which the firm is so committed.

“The loudest voice in the room is not necessarily the most reasoned,” Todd likes to say. “You can’t always go by the herd mentality.”

Balancing acts as needed

While each client’s investment plan is customized, it’s not set in stone. It may be advisable to rebalance to its original form whenever significant variations develop between current and initial allocations. Today’s investment world may seem especially precarious, and Todd and his colleagues pride themselves on keeping a pulse on a myriad of variables.

It’s the approach that Todd has followed in his more than two decades in the investment world, starting on Wall Street, and now as boss of Harborview Advisors.

And is he ever glad to share his knowledge.

Talk to Todd—as Vision did—at MJ’s Wine Bar on the bottom floor of One City Center, and he’ll give you a crash course on a Norwegian Sovereign Fund. He’ll share his insight on the euro, exchange-traded funds and even cryptocurrencies.

But while finance is as much passion as profession for the married father of two college-age daughters, the ever energetic Todd still finds other outlets for his creative nature.

He and a friendly local restaurateur, Dan Muise, have designed a line of ceramic flatware that replaces regular utensils with a combination teaspoon-tablespoon and fork that, according to the Portland Press Herald, can pick up a pea as easily as it can be plunged into a porterhouse. Interestingly, it has been picked up as a tasting and saucing spoon by the preeminent chef wares company JB Prince in Manhattan.

Not too much risk went into that utensil. So far the rewards have been limited.

But he’s got far more important matters on his plate, such as the short- and long-term interests of Harborview’s growing clientele.

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