“Looking for deep value.” With Jason Hartman & Chris Kampitsis

For those looking for deep value, and have the willingness to stomach some turbulence, I find the big banks intriguing right now. They have great balance sheets, survived many stress tests post-2008 and have stock prices that have fallen significantly since the crisis. As a part of my series about “Investing During The Pandemic”, I […]

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For those looking for deep value, and have the willingness to stomach some turbulence, I find the big banks intriguing right now. They have great balance sheets, survived many stress tests post-2008 and have stock prices that have fallen significantly since the crisis.


As a part of my series about “Investing During The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Kampitsis of Barnum Financial Group.

Now in his 11th year as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional at Barnum Financial Group, Chris has built a vision of a providing a unique and holistic financial planning experience for clients through comprehensive analysis, straightforward action items and consistent communication to deliver long term results. With an entrepreneurial spirit, Chris enjoys working with closely held business owners on their personal and corporate planning. He holds a total of six designations that allow him to provide specialized advice to particular markets. Chris received a B.S. in business with a concentration in finance, magna cum laude, from Fordham University in New York.


Thank you for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the finance industry?

As a child growing up my parents went through a difficult divorce. My father was a business owner and my mother was a stay-at-home Mom. I experienced first-hand the financial turmoil this caused. My mother ended up having no choice but to sell our home and we moved around a lot as a result. I realized I could make an impact on others’ lives through the power of sound financial advice. And If I could change that story for even one family that would be a big win for me.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

Successful business owners are interesting people. They tend to trust their gut and find themselves to be a good judge of people. Very early in my career I inherited a small investment account from another planner at the firm and called and introduced myself to the client. I went to her home, it was about a two hour drive, to review it. I met with her and her husband who were third-generation family business owners. We spent the better part of ninety minutes getting to know each other. At the end of the meeting they said —
“We’ve made up our mind — we want to transfer all of our accounts and start working with you”. It wasn’t something I was remotely expecting — and it was a huge leap of faith on their part. We’ve been working together ever since. They benefited from that decision and I benefited from being a part of a larger team and firm that had the resources to provide them excellent service, experience and expertise in areas where I personally didn’t have it at the time.

I resolved then to pay it forward. In instances in my life where I come across someone young, hungry, just getting started, with a good head on their shoulders — I try to give back by giving them an opportunity.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

My team spends a lot of time in the financial literacy space — presenting webinars and workshops for groups, associations and primarily employees of large, Fortune 500 companies. We are working on a lot of unique content and differentiators in this space.

Corporate executives are tremendously busy and also incredibly focused — as a result — you can’t imagine how often there is a part of their financial world that may be neglected. They also value their family time a great deal and don’t want to spend their rare off-hours catching up on their personal finances. It is often a better use of their time to delegate. On the other hand they don’t always feel comfortable sitting down at a workshop with their direct reports and support staff. That’s a very natural feeling.

So reaching this underserved population on their terms is critical. Companies are starting to realize that when decision makers achieve personal financial harmony, they have better quality of life and I believe, potentially, a better-run company.

The same can be said for entrepreneurs and business owners. This segment of the population is most pressed for time and often most consumed with where they are spending their time. We are developing mechanisms for getting the right information to this group.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My mom held the family together without knowing the first thing about finances. She pushed me to focus on my education and my dreams. I admire her heroics a great deal. Her focus on the real priority in life — people and family — has directly translated to the way I advise families and help guide them towards their goals.

My partner Ben Soccodato was a true mentor to me when I started at Barnum Financial Group. He was a true role model in the way that he was and still is driven to make a difference in his client’s lives and to serve them best by constantly pursuing education and earning new designation. Our team could not be where it is today without the example he sets every day.

Let’s shift a bit to what is happening today in the broader world. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty and loneliness. From your experience, what are a few ideas that we can use to effectively offer support to our families and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

Stick to a schedule. Don’t let one day blend into the next. We all need a routine right now. Encourage people to exercise, whether it be a full-on at home workout or simply a walk around the block. Use technologies like facetime or zoom to stay in touch. Share your screen and have a chat, play a game or even watch a show together. Interaction makes all the difference in the world right now.

Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. As you know the stock market and the economy in general have become extremely volatile and uncertain. Many people “dollar cost average” and put aside a monthly sum into a long term savings plan for retirement, college, or a home purchase. If a loved one or a client came to you and said, “I have been saving and investing $500 every month in an S&P 500 index fund. Over the next few months until the dust settles, should I be doing something else with my money?”, what would you say to them?

I have been asked this several times by clients and friends. I would say to them absolutely not — stay the course. The point of dollar cost averaging is to get an average of many prices. Avoiding buying lower prices or during more volatile periods defeats the purpose of trying to achieve a lower “average” price.

Eventually the economy will recover and rebound. Certain sectors, like travel and hospitality might be hurting for a while. But other sectors, like technology and healthcare, might do very well. If someone wanted to prepare today to take advantage of the future recovery, what would you suggest they do?

It’s all relative to time horizon. If your time horizon is long there might be some tremendous long term opportunity in underperforming sectors. I would focus less on sectors and more on quality. High quality companies with strong balance sheets, the ability to make strategic acquisitions, the wherewithal to continue to pay their dividend over the next year plus — these are the companies whose stocks have an opportunity to outperform.

I favor this approach a lot more than trying to ride the “hot hand” of a particular sector.

Are there sectors that provide exciting and lucrative investment opportunities today, specifically because of the volatility and uncertainty?

We are learning that technology has a lot of defensive properties along with its growth properties. This makes it very attractive, but I caution definitely not cheap by the traditional valuation metrics.

For those looking for deep value, and have the willingness to stomach some turbulence, I find the big banks intriguing right now. They have great balance sheets, survived many stress tests post-2008 and have stock prices that have fallen significantly since the crisis.

That being said — for most investors — purchasing a simple index fund might prove both exciting and lucrative, specifically because of the volatility and uncertainty the majority of the market is experiencing. If you believe the entire economy will be in better shape three years from now — you might be better off riding the wave rather than trying to out-run the wave

Are there alternative investments that you think more people should look more deeply at?

I think people should take a closer look at “limited-pay” cash value whole life policies. These are the types of policies you fund over a contractually guaranteed period of time (such as 10 years). They provide guaranteed minimum growth, the expectation of dividends, the obvious benefit of life insurance and you can add riders related to disability and long term care all in a single policy.

I think this is worth a second look because the point of an alternative asset is to hopefully be uncorrelated. In other words — its performance doesn’t go up and down as the market does.

One thing I want to emphasize: alternatives should not replace equities. They should complement them.

If a person in their thirties and forties came to you today and said that they have $10,000 that they want to put away today for a long term investment what would you advise them to do with it?

I would ask them first do they have an emergency fund, and is it properly funded? According to AARP, 53% of investors don’t have a cash cushion. Assuming that base is truly covered, I would encourage them to invest in a total market index fund. I would also consider blending that with an active growth manager whose fund has a long-term track record of outperformance. Contrary to popular media opinion — there are a many incredibly successful active managers.

Ok, thank you! Here is a more general finance question. You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive essentials for smart investing what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?

Save into the 401k and get the full company match — At least put enough into the 401k to get that and do not leave free money on the table!

Save 10% of your net pay check into savings — Do not be part of the 53% without a cash cushion. Keep doing this until you have 6 months of essential expenses saved

Setup a Periodic Investment Plan — Once you hit that emergency savings goal, get invested. A balanced fund is probably the way to go here — especially since you’ll probably want to save for something like a home down payment or even starting a business — not just a distant retirement.

Buy a Two Bedroom Condo — You can typically sublet a condo when you outgrow it, and two bedrooms are much more attractive than one bed rooms because single people, couples and families might all consider utilizing the space.

Get Your Life and Disability Insurance Early — There is no more valuable asset then our health. Everyone wants the boring insurance stuff after their health has changed. Get it out of the way at the affordable rates that come with youth and then never look back.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My grandmother was the original financial guru. She came here from Greece after her island was occupied in world war 2. She learned great English, worked her way into corporate America with no education, and retired with the “gold watch” and pension. She even volunteered for many years as an auxiliary police officer for the NYPD. She used to say — “It’s not what you earn — it’s what you keep.” We are reminded of that mentality now more than ever. Whether our income is thirty thousand, three hundred thousand or three million — as a country we are not taking personal responsibility and saving like we should.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I don’t know anything about movements. But I do know if you aren’t inspired to give back right now — and to help first responders, at-risk individuals, those out of work, food banks, etc. you’re missing a tremendous opportunity to have an impact. Don’t let this moment pass without have contributed to making a difference in the life of someone who needs it.

Right now is the time.

Thank you for the interview. We wish you only continued success!

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