Offering a personal touch to financial advice – Star News Group


BUSINESS — If you take a trip through rural Farmingdale, you’re met with lucid, peacefulness uncharacteristic of a typical New Jersey drive. Horse pastures and wide open skies guide you down winding roads as farmland and forestry shape the scene around you.

Like many rural places in the country, Farmingdale is the antithesis of the busy, loud, squared off cityscapes of New York and Philadelphia where finance deals the deck. But in the quiet fields of Farmingdale, if you travel deep enough, lives a homage to that metropolitan wonderland; a financial advisor.

Sitting above his garage on Casino Drive, Dennis O’Brien works to bring a personal touch to the world of financial advising.

Mr. O’Brien is the president of Coastal Financial Advisors, Inc., a financial planning and investment management company offering personal financial planning, tax consultation, investment counseling, and asset management. The fee-only advisor earns his income strictly by charging a fee for his service, which could be an hourly-rate, a retainer fee, or a percentage of investments under management.

Fee-only advisors do not work for a commission or sell an industry product, allowing them to provide an impartial opinion.

Mr. O’Brien has been a fiduciary for over 15 years, providing advice to clients and answering to questions specific to their needs and life status. What separates him from other financial advisors is his rank as fiduciary.

“We put our clients first and our interests are in the clients,” he said. But what makes him stand out among other financial advisors in the area or corporate America?

“I don’t get paid on the products that are sold. Because I do not sell products I don’t work for a bank or insurance company or also broker-dealer. I’m registered as a registered investment advisor and by the Securities Act of 1934, we’re required to work act as a fiduciary and as a fiduciary we we have no conflicts of interest.”

But it’s not just his work as an impartial, product-free advisor that sets he and Coast Financial Advisors apart. Mr. O’Brien has acquired a unique set of skills over his lifetime in more than one industry that all lend consult to his financial expertise.

Mr. O’Brien came over from the telecom industry. Out of college, where he earned an undergraduate in economics, a masters in project management, and another in technology management, he worked for AT&T Labs where he “merged the IT and telecom departments to start working with a lot more telecom type products.” He also was on the “ground-floor” of a new form of communication, known today as Voice Over IP (VoIP).

“The way I view these problems [clients have] are a little bit project management-oriented because I practiced comprehensive advising which is kind of all encompassing of the whole financial picture. I view it a little bit like project management like where I’m taking on a project and just working through it on a timeline to reach the end goals of what the clients need. So I work with them along the way and we have intermediate steps where we meet and we talk about different issues and intermediate goals and work forward to reach later goals.”

Another uncommon characteristic for Mr. O’Brien’s line of work is that he’s a one-man-operation.

“It’s nice to get out of corporate America and I would not want to go back that environment. It is nice that it’s small because I manage it and I can work with people in different ways. It’s not hard and rigid.”

The human touch Mr. O’Brien gives at Coastal Financial is the reason why he sees clients of all ages, classes, and statuses come to him for advice.

“I have clients- younger clients, your age- that come to me- single, married, new child- that have questions and I can work with them. I don’t have to tell my clients that you know if they call up that they have to have a half a million or a million dollars of assets to come and talk to me.”

All he sees as a requirement to work with him is the willingness to pick up the phone and call.

“I’ve always felt that if they’re smart enough to call me up, then I’m gonna work with them. However they define that.”

For more information or if you would like to contact Coast Financial Advisors, Inc., visit or call (732) 683-2330.

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