I'm often intrigued by how outsiders view our area. What kind of companies want to move here? Do they see potential or peril? Do corporate leaders think it's a place where employees would want to live or just visit and go home with a tan?
That's why I looked forward to my conversation Friday with Wes Moss. The certified financial planner is so bullish on Tampa Bay that his Atlanta-based firm has put down roots.
Capital Investment Advisors dabbled in our area for about three years, assessing the likelihood of success in a market with its share of financial advisors, from boutique firms to industry heavyweights like Morgan Stanley and BNY Melon.
The firm liked what it saw. In December, it signed a long-term lease in Rocky Point, its first brick and mortar office outside Atlanta.
What's the attraction?
Moss pointed to the vibrant economy and steady stream of retirees, many of whom need financial advice. He also liked that investors here have what he calls a low-key "millionaire next door" attitude, much like the vibe he gets from clients in Atlanta.
"The people worked for it, quietly saving money and building wealth over the years," said Moss, a partner in the firm and the chief investment strategist. "It's refreshing."
Capital Investment Advisors is a mid-sized firm that manages about $2.2 billion in client assets. So far, the Tampa office oversees just $150 million, a pittance in the big leagues of the financial world. But almost $50 million has flowed in over the last three months, Moss said.
"We're seeing more growth in the Tampa area than in any of our other markets," he said. "And we expect the momentum to continue."
Moss said the firm tries to create more of a family feel than some of the Wall Street firms. He described it as "fewer giant marble slabs and not so intimidating."
The firm's typical client is about 60 years old, with at least $500,000, who wants a fairly conservative investment strategy. Moss said our area is rich in that demographic, and sees potential in Sarasota, Orlando and the Villages, too.
Moss wasn't nervous about opening a new office as talk of a recession heats up. He knows how hard Florida was hit by the last downturn, but he thinks the state and the Tampa Bay area are both in better shape to weather a few economic hits.
"The totality of the economic data is still no where near a recession," he said. "Growth slow down? Yes. But not even close to a recession in 2019."
To take some of the ups and down out of the markets, Moss' firm focuses on income investing. The approach relies less on stock appreciation and more on how much a company or investment pays in dividends or other cash flows.
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The general philosophy is to help clients create a low stress retirement. "Happy retirees is the goal," said Moss, author of You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think: The Five Money Secrets of the Happiest Retirees.
From his perch in Atlanta, Moss thinks Tampa Bay will be a good fit.
"It's warm and inviting, full of people who want to enjoy a laid back lifestyle," he said. "Tampa makes it easy to be a happy retiree."
Contact Graham Brink at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @GrahamBrink.