I love when people ask me about what I do as a wealth manager and why I do it. The conversation always comes around to two of the most important people in my life: my parents. Everything I do for my clients and for my business is inspired and informed by them and their lessons. I learned first-hand from my mom and dad how hard work and perseverance can help a family achieve great financial success and the freedom to live a prosperous life. However, their experiences also taught me how quickly life’s curveballs can decimate everything that a family has built and looked forward to.
I grew up in Puerto Rico, where my mother was the top Realtor on the island (she owned a very successful real estate firm and co-authored the island's first book on real estate law, Real Estate Laws and Practices in Puerto Rico). My father owned his own successful business importing and exporting construction material throughout the Caribbean. As entrepreneurs, they each worked hard and sacrificed much to build companies they could be proud of. I saw how rewarding it was for them to run their companies by their own rules, and how it allowed them to give their clients the best service they possibly could. I also saw how all that effort paid off in terms of the financial freedom and the many opportunities we enjoyed as a family.
Unfortunately, that financial stability and comfort was threatened in 1997. I had just graduated from the University of North Carolina with a double degree in Economics and Financial Management and was about to enter my first year at Tulane Law School. My mother had recently sold her company and retired at the age of 50 and my father, who was just 56, was getting set to join her. Their retirement plans included travelling the world to celebrate all their years of hard work. Then, my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and told he had just six months to live. Health issues from earlier in his life meant that his insurance coverage was limited—and so my parents were forced to use approximately $1 million of their retirement assets to pay for my father’s medical care.
I immediately put law school on hold and returned home to be with my family, which ended up being one the best decisions I have ever made. When my father died later that year, my mother was devastated, both emotionally and financially. Her best friend was gone, her nest egg was severely depleted, and she was worried about her future. To make matters worse, by the time she began trying to put her life back together, her stockbroker had already invested much of her money in high-flying dot-com stocks that were about to come crashing down.
It’s impossible to see people you love go through that kind of experience and not be affected by it. I couldn’t help thinking how terrible an outcome it was that two people who had worked so hard their whole lives had their futures taken from them. Certainly, not all the financial hardships they faced in the wake of my father’s illness could have been avoided. But with smart planning, many of them could have been—and that would have made a big difference in my parents’ financial and emotional well-being during the most challenging time of their lives.
At that point, I decided to go to work instead of pursuing law school. I took a job as a broker at a branch of a large national brokerage firm. But almost immediately, I didn’t like what I saw. The brokers who had integrity and who tried to do right by their clients were undervalued by the firm’s managers. I realized that the top brokers weren’t celebrated for helping investors achieve their goals—they were celebrated for selling high-commission products to their clients, regardless of how appropriate those products were.
Remembering the care and attention that my parents had paid to their clients, I decided I needed to work for a company that valued integrity and putting clients first—one that would focus on making sure that investors avoided the type of ordeal my mother had gone through.
When I couldn’t find such a company, I seized on the entrepreneurial spirit that I learned from my parents and built my own. In 2002, I founded the firm that would become Mariaca Wealth Management, LLC. Every night since then, I have been able to lay my head down knowing I have done my best to provide my clients with the highest degrees of competency and integrity.
Today, Mariaca Wealth Management, LLC. serves our clients in a holistic way – a comprehensive approach that considers all facets of a client’s financial -and even non-financial life - so that we can fully understand each client’s situation, goals and objectives, and systematically and continuously uncover and address issues and opportunities. This means going beyond investing in order to pay close attention to advanced financial concerns such as wealth protection, wealth transfer, and charitable gifting.
As I’ve seen through the experiences of my parents and others, it’s often issues that arise in these areas that can literally make or break a family’s successful financial future. By coordinating investments with these other advanced areas and ensuring there is harmony throughout, my clients enjoy financial peace of mind knowing they are pursuing a path toward financial comfort, independence and stability.
I invite you to learn more about Mariaca Wealth Management, LLC. —and see how we can help guide you, your family, and the people you care about most to a lifetime of financial and personal fulfillment.
Sergio MariacaFounder and PresidentMariaca Wealth Management, LLC.