Wealth management means so much more than merely managing the market these days. From financial adviors to curators for your collections, here are the pros you need to know now.
When it comes to Chicago art experts, few have more experience than Gary Metzner. The Sotheby’s senior vice president and Midwest office head has been with the iconic company for more than 25 years. A generalist in paintings, prints and sculptures from old masters to contemporary painting, Metzner has made frequent television appearances on shows like PBS’s Antiques Roadshow as well as HGTV’s At the Auction and The Appraisal Fair. The River North resident knows firsthand the incredible value of art, having been involved in the record $21.1 million sale of Kerry James Marshall’s "Past Times" for The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority in Chicago.
“One of my favorite clients used to say, ‘I make a lot of money in the stock market, but you can’t enjoy a stock certificate on the wall,’” says Metzner. And that’s the thing: Investing in art isn’t just about the rate of return: “It’s about the history, about the collectors who owned the works previously, and all the people that are involved in this business.” That said, the financial upside is there, he adds. “As the art market has shown consistent growth in recent decades— for both contemporary and modern art—there is an undeniable long-term opportunity with art as an asset.” Another reason to invest? “Particularly with contemporary art, collecting has the added benefit of supporting living artists and personally engaging with culture in a way that can have a lasting impact on communities—which is what makes our world all the more fascinating and inspiring.”
Metzner’s advice for newcomers to the art world? “It’s always less risky to choose an artist who not only has an established reputation but sells on the secondary market—meaning that if you were to resell the work in the future, there is already an established market for that artist.” Metzner explains that traditionally auctions have been reserved for works with a secondary market, but that’s no longer always the case, as gallery exhibitions have quickly sold out and works find their way to auction for the first time. “Buy what you can afford and do some homework,” Metzner advises. “Whether it is an auction house or gallery, there’s always someone always willing to give advice, which is the best way to learn.” Last but not least, says Metzner, “The most important thing to remember when collecting art is to buy what you love. Collecting art is a passion and should be reflective of that.”
From dynamically wealthy families to business owners and nonprofits, veteran wealth advisor Franco La Marca advises them all as a principal at Bernstein Private Wealth Management. The Andersonville resident passionately believes that wealth can be used as a force for positive change, is a proponent of socially responsible investing (SRI) and dedicates himself to helping his clients prioritize what really matters to them and then helps them leverage their wealth to make an impact on their family, community and nonprofits they hold near and dear.
When it comes to money management, working with an expert is key, says La Marca, noting, “Fear and emotion are the greatest destroyers of wealth. Behavioral psychologists studying investors’ behaviors noted that a 20% decline in the value of one’s portfolio creates a visceral reaction. At that moment, investors may become anxious, fearful, and may make emotional investment decisions leading to more mistakes that have real consequences for their portfolio’s total performance returns. Many investors are feeling that 20% hit right now. Working with a wealth manager establishes some guardrails. First, a wealth manager can help sift through the noise and help navigate the choppy markets by providing sound investment advice that is not influenced by fear and emotion. Second, when the markets get scary, a wealth manager can help you stay the course with confidence—even helping to identify opportunities in a volatile market.”
“Invest with intention,” La Marca urges. “Ask yourself, ‘What’s this money for?’ Often, investors fail to realize that it’s OK to have different accounts with different investment objectives. For example, you may have money dedicated to retirement that’s maybe 20 to 30 years away. How you invest in that portfolio with a long-term horizon should look very different than dollars set aside with the intended use a year or two away—maybe a down payment for a house or big vacation. If you’re planning on accessing dollars in the near term, be more conservative in how you invest it. If you have a longer-term horizon, it may make sense to invest in more return-seeking investments. Just remember, with higher returns comes a higher probability of losing your principal. That’s why more than one investment account makes sense. Many of my clients have both a short-term investment portfolio and a long-term investment portfolio. Working with a professional financial advisor can help dimension how much money you should be dedicating to your short-term bucket and your long-term bucket.”
An oenophile’s oenophile, Mike Widmaier of Chicago Wine Consulting is a 20-year-plus veteran of the industry and has a deep background in wine retail, distribution sales and auction houses. With specialties in private wine cellar management, wine appraisals and wine cellar evaluations, Widmaier— who owns CWC with his wife, Paula—boasts Level II WSET (Wine and Spirits Education Trust) certification and is also a certified sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers. Together, he and Paula have 50 years of experience, which is on full display at their Gleview storefront, Chicago.Wine (chicago.wine). “All the wines and spirits you see in our store represent wineries, importers and suppliers that we have each worked with at some point in our careers,” notes Widmaier. “Everything in our store is here for a reason.”
Investing in wine is no short-term endeavor, warns Widmaier. “The days of buying 1982 Chateau Lafite on futures for $25 per bottle and it now being worth $3K to $4K per bottle based on the bottle’s provenance are long gone,” he explains. "The very best wines from France’s Burgundy, Bordeaux and Champagne continue to be released at new higher prices almost every year because of short vintages and global demand,” he adds, and “new releases from these regions are now commanding the same if not higher prices than the wines from the great vintages.” One of the keys to getting started in building a collection worthy of the investment? Working with an expert who can guide you as you build up your cellar. “We offer wine cellar management and act as a wine concierge or wine butler for most clients,” says Widmaier. “In addition, both Paula and myself are part of the ISA (International Society of Appraisers) so we can do ISA- and USPAP-compliant wine appraisals for our clients for IRS gift tax and estate purposes, and also for insurance and insurance claims.”
For a patient collector, an investment in wine can pay off handsomely—in enjoyment as well as in the accrual of a valuable asset. Sums up Widmaier (who cites 2019 and 2020 Burgundies as his current wines of choice), “When people commonly talk about [wine as an asset or investment], I think back to all the long-term wine collectors/ enthusiasts that I’ve worked with that have significant collections that are a huge asset for them. They simply didn’t spend a million dollars at once to have this asset; it’s a lifelong passion that results in that collector buying a case, six bottles or even three bottles of an extremely rare wine that they want to enjoy throughout the wine’s life. Doing that for years, serious collectors wind up having 500 bottles that then transform into 1,000 bottles, then 2,000, 4,000 or even 10,000-plus bottles in their collection that end up being a huge asset and investment.”
Full-service marina and yacht dealership Spring Brook Marina has been a go-to source for premium watercraft since 1962, and current president and industry veteran Kyle Stenzel is carrying on the Chicago area-based outfit’s legacy with pride. From buying and selling to servicing, storage and maintenance, Stenzel and his team of experts aim to be a one-stop shop for yachting enthusiasts. “Our mission is to grow the boating community,” says Stenzel. ”Whether it’s through education, activities, adventures, trip planning and obviously acquisition, we handle every single thing a boater needs to make their experience amazing.”
Why buy a luxury watercraft? Unlike cars or other fine goods, a yacht is not an investment in the traditional sense, says Stenzel, “but a watercraft is an exceptional investment in personal happiness and well-being. Not everything a successful person does has to make them money. Some things have to make them happy, and that is what we offer through boating. We offer them a way to unplug, disconnect and spend that quality time on the water with their loved ones in a way that they will never forget, and to me, that is priceless.”
There’s no time like the present to take the plunge into yacht ownership, says Stenzel. “A saying I love is, ‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time is right now.’” Stenzel also notes some of the exciting innovations coming in the industry, adding to the excitement of ownership. “From joystick operation to gyro stabilization, boating has changed so much in the last 10 years. Companies like Raymarine are getting close on self-docking, and that is where I feel we get to quickly. Docking is the most stressful part of boating, and if that becomes easier then the boating community will also grow. The other big thing already happening is hybrid or electric power plants. Making yachting more efficient and affordable would be huge for our industry.”
Photography by: FROM TOP: PHOTO BY GIORGIO TROVATO/UNSPLASH; PHOTO BY BRUNO CANTUÁRIA/PEXELS; PHOTO BY TOBIAS TULLIUS/UNSPLASH