By Camille Gillies

Edward Jones may have left the building – but not the area! After 18 years, the familiar Edward Jones financial services office fronting Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. in the City Plaza at Tampa Palms shopping center has relocated to the Windfair Professional Center, across BBD from the new Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel.

A Financial advisor William Morales and longtime branch office administrator Nancy Carazo continue to assist New Tampa clients and manage daily office operations at the new location.

“We thought this was a good time to move,” explains Morales, who joined the firm in 2008. “When I took over the Tampa Palms office a few years ago, I had initially planned on opening a branch in Wesley Chapel, so this is working out just as I had hoped.”

Morales and Carazo, who both live in Wesley Chapel’s nearby Meadow Pointe community, moved to the new office park in June. Morales explains that Edward Jones prefers to locate its offices throughout the community rather than centralizing them in a large downtown office building.

“We feel we can serve our clients better if we are part of the community where we all live and work,” he says.

Although Edward Jones branches are independent and small – only two employees staff each office – they are not franchises. All 11,000 branches throughout the U.S. and Canada are held by Edward Jones, which is headquartered in St. Louis, MO.

“The Edward Jones business model allows me to really get to know my clients, and they appreciate that level of personal service,” Morales remarks. “If I know them and their situation, I can make recommendations based on their own individual needs. Having an office in the community makes it convenient to do business with us, and it helps us establish those important relationships.”

Morales adds that a snapshot of his clients would reveal half retirees and half working families. With the chief objective of reaching his clients’ financial goals, he works directly with them on everything from college savings strategies to retirement planning.

“There is no cost to be an Edward Jones client,” Morales stresses, adding that, as a financial advisor, his goal is to find solutions and match clients with the proper investments. “We see ourselves as copilots, trying to help people navigate their finances.”

One local resident who feels well served by Morales and Carazo is Ann Fabel of Thonotosassa, who has been an Edward Jones client since the early 1990s and has worked with Morales since he joined the company in 2008 and with Carazo for the past 18 years.

“They are wonderful people,” Fabel says. “William is dedicated and seems to really like what he’s doing, and I think he is grounded in the community. Nancy is just great, the constant in the office all these years.”

Fabel says it is rarely necessary for her to go into the office, but she enjoys dropping in to visit with Carazo.

“And, with the rocky economy we’ve had the last four or five years,” she adds, “I like to go in and sit down with William and review my options. Edward Jones is a very solid, conservative company that watches out for its clients and gives good, sound financial advice. I highly recommend them.”

In a good or bad economy, it’s always wise to seek financial advice. Unfortunately, many people allow the news of the day to affect their decisions and Morales says that’s a big mistake.

“We adapt and tweak our advice for the long term, not based on trends or current situations, especially political ones,” Morales explains. “At any given time, something is going on in the world that could impact your finances: the European financial crisis, Hurricane Sandy, the presidential election, etc. Things are always changing and that’s why it’s important to look past the headlines and stay focused on your long-term financial goals.”

Edward Jones embraces a philosophy of keeping your emotions out of investing. For example, lagging consumer confidence might tempt you to keep your money in short-term investments, but historically, at times when consumer confidence has been low, stock prices also were low, and future returns ultimately tended to be higher.

Despite volatile markets, the firm stresses the importance of staying invested during both the ups, and the downs of the market. Perhaps the soundness of this strategy is best illustrated by reviewing the market’s performance over the past few years: In March 2009, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had fallen to about 6,500 (from more than 14,000 in 2007). But, throughout much of the second half of 2012, the Dow has hovered near the 13,000 mark – a 100-percent gain in a little over three years.

In addition to equity investments, such as stocks, Morales offers his expertise regarding annuities, retirement plans, estate considerations, education savings, fixed income investments such as bonds and certificates of deposit, individual retirement accounts, life insurance, mutual funds, and saving, spending and borrowing solutions.

“If my clients are working with CPAs on tax planning or with attorneys on estate planning, I partner with them so that we can all arrive at the best financial strategy for each of them,” Morales emphasizes.

To qualify as an Edward Jones financial advisor, Morales says you must pass an 18-month to two-year training program, and that’s not easy to achieve.

“There are more than 100,000 applicants a year at Edward Jones and of them, only 3,000 applicants are accepted into the program. And, about half of those that do get in, end up getting cut (from the program). So, only about one percent of applicants actually get approved. We definitely have the best-trained and most qualified people, and that’s a big part of why we always rank ahead of the competition in customer satisfaction.”

Before joining Edward Jones, Morales was president of a mortgage company in New Tampa and served six years in the U.S. Army Ordinance Corps. He spent four years stationed in and around Kuwait. Originally from New York City, his family moved to Tampa and he was a graduate of Chamberlain High in North Tampa. He says he has never wanted to settle anywhere else. He and his wife, Mandy, have two teenage daughters and have lived in Wesley Chapel since 1998.

To start off your new year on the right financial foot, call William Morales at the Edward Jones office in Wesley Chapel at 991-7034, email or stop by the office at 2748 Windguard Circle, Suite 101 (in the office plaza behind The Hungry Greek).

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