BACKED BY ONE OF THE WORLD’S PREEMINENT INVESTMENT INSTITUTIONS, THIS FINANCIAL VETERAN AND CONSUMMATE FAMILY MAN DISCUSSES HIS PERSONALIZED APPROACH TO FORWARDING HIS CLIENTS’ WEALTH
BY AMANDA McCOY • PHOTOS BY ALEX BARRETO
As a second-generation financial services professional with 27 years of experience in his armory, Financial Advisor Don Witkowski and his team work for some of the Garden State’s wealthiest families. C-suite executives, medical professionals, and other successful individuals travel to his Red Bank office for recommendations in retirement planning, alternative investments, and other areas of wealth management. After graduating from the University of Delaware in the early ‘90s, Witkowski spent the first two decades of his financial career as an advisor with Merrill Lynch, working alongside and learning from top pros in the Northeast before launching his own wealth management team in 2012. In 2017, the Witkowski Group joined the Morgan Stanley family.
“My father had a very successful 36-year career in the financial services industry so I was exposed to it from an early age,” noted Witkowski, who received his Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC) designation in 2007 from the College of Financial Planning. “After graduating from college I worked in several roles within the industry, supporting and learning from other successful financial advisors. My early intentions were always to work directly with individual investors and their families in achieving their financial goals.”
Helmed by Witkowski as Senior Vice President and Financial Advisor, the Witkowski Group at Morgan Stanley comprises a small but prolific team, including Glen P. Gill, Vice President and Financial Advisor, and Yon W. Siciliano, Senior Registered Associate. The Red Bank-based firm offers a vast array of investment tools and services, including portfolio management and financial planning
The team takes a holistic approach to wealth well-being and management. Clients won’t find a generic road map, no one-size-fits-all investment strategy. According to the finance pro, strong money management begins with a comprehensive understanding of his clients and their unique goals and financial situations.
“We are committed to building a relationship of trust in which we can work closely with our clients,” he said. “Most of our clients are referred to us and are looking for an advisor with whom they can establish a personal and meaningful relationship.”
Building this relationship is paramount, explained Witkowski, so to offer this elevated level of ongoing individualized attention, he keeps his client roster small.
“We as advisors are looking for the right type of clients to join our practice. As we consciously limit capacity regarding the total number of clients with whom we engage, we strive to deliver and maintain a very high level of ongoing client service and attention.”
He explained his process when meeting with a new client: “It all starts with a conversation. We want to know about past experiences both positive and negative so that we learn as much about you and your family as possible. We may talk or meet several times in an effort to complete a thorough and extensive review of your current investment portfolio before making any recommendations.”
Following several consultations, the team rigorously quantifies and stress-tests its recommendations to offer the client potential outcomes over the next five, ten, or 20-plus years. Once the strategies are implemented, the advisors continuously monitor the portfolio and communicate with the client, recommending adjustments as needed and coordinating with the client’s accountant or attorney when necessary.
“We are committed to building a relationship of trust in which we can work closely with our clients.
Since entering the financial trade, Witkowski has witnessed several shifts in the industry over the years, namely the way advisors are compensated. He has also seen a surge in the use of digital tools, further bolstered by the pandemic. But according to the advisor, Zoom calls will never eclipse in-person meetings, where Witkowski and his team can foster the personalized relationships that have long served as the groundwork for their clients’ potential financial growth. This team environment has also been a crucial enzyme for the group’s success
“Clients are looking for a deeper pool of talent and resources than a sole advisor can deliver,” said Witkowski. “And a world-class assistant is crucial. I believe we have both, and our clients confirm that regularly.”
The group also offers a complimentary second opinion service for friends, family members, and associates of their clients. The majority of new clientele comes from referrals, and Witkowski noted his biggest reward stems from working with the adult children of long-term clients.
“We spend more and more time speaking with the next generation of investors,” he said. “There is no greater compliment than the referral of a family member or close friend.”
Outside of the office, the married father of two who just celebrated his 25th wedding anniversary this past July – is fervently involved in his local Wall Township community and serves as a state-certified volunteer firefighter with South Wall Fire Rescue, responding to calls 24/7/365 when not in the office. He is also on the advisory board of his alma mater, the Lerner School of Business at the University of Delaware, and mentors three to four seniors each year. And the mentor’s most salient piece of advice for investors both young and old?
“Start now, and contribute regularly! It’s all about time in the market, not timing the market. And you are never too old to start. The best time to invest is whenever you have the money.”
The Witkowski Group at Morgan Stanley
Donald Witkowski, NMLS# 577904, Glen P. Gill, NMLS# 589458
20 Linden Place, Red Bank / 732.936.3330
Donald J. Witkowski (NMLS# 577904) is a Financial Advisor with the Wealth Management division of Morgan Stanley in Red Bank, NJ. The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, Member SIPC [www.sipc.org]. Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor engaged Industry Magazine to feature this profile in their magazine. Donald J. Witkowski may only transact business in states where he is registered or excluded or exempted from registration advisor.morganstanley.com/the-witkowski-group . Transacting business, follow-up and individualized responses involving either effecting or attempting to effect transactions in securities, or the rendering of personalized investment advice for compensation, will not be made to persons in states where Donald J. Witkowski is not registered or excluded or exempt from registration.