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Case Study: A Story of Partnership

Dale Koblenzer
Dale Koblenzer

"Are you happy doing your charitable giving over a 1-800 number?"

A rather unconventional question from a financial manager, it was one of the first Dale Koblenzer of Merrill Lynch asked of his client, a local executive.

The man had a donor-advised fund at a nation-wide financial services firm, but that firm was based hundreds of miles away from the community and nonprofits he loved. "It just didn't make sense," Dale said.

What did make sense was bringing his financial and charitable investing back to Akron, where he lived, worked and raised his family.

By partnering with Akron Community Foundation, Dale was able to provide the same one-stop charitable and financial shop as that national firm, and without the assets leaving his book.

A new community foundation policy allows people establishing donor-advised funds of $250,000 or more to suggest their own financial manager to oversee the investments.

It was an attractive proposition to Dale and his client alike.

"Sometimes I'll have a 20-30 year relationship with a client, and I'll have a strong trust built with them," he said. "Working with Akron Community Foundation keeps that relationship alive. It's a nice triangle of services: the client's money, my investment advisement, and the community foundation's charitable expertise."

Through meetings with Akron Community Foundation staff, Dale said his client has gleaned valuable insight into how to best use his charitable dollars, dollars Dale has worked so hard to protect and grow. They are meetings his client never had with his national financial management firm.

Dale said that's a big reason why local is better. "People want direct involvement, they want to sit down, talk to me, talk to the community foundation and know what's going on in the community," he said. "We live in a results-driven society, so if my client can see the effects of his investment – see it, visit it and touch it – that creates a much stronger connection:" between the client and his charity and also his or her advisor.

The Akron Community Foundation connection is one Dale believes every advisor should take advantage of.

"It's going to raise their level with clients," he said. "People want their giving to be meaningful and they want it to last forever. They want to teach their children to follow in their footsteps. By working with Akron Community Foundation, I can ensure my clients' charity lives on with future generations of family members," family members who, through his relationship with the fund, often become Dale's clients, too. "It's a win all around," he said.

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