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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A typical day at Greylock Investment Group may mean a member wanting to buy 100 shares of a $10 stock or advising a client who is on a fixed income and has $6 million in assets.It’s that type of gamut that has helped the division of the $1 billion Greylock Federal Credit Union to recently surpass the $50 million in asset mark and manage 400 member accounts. Greylock Investment Group’s services include financial planning, retirement planning, investment management, mutual funds, annuities and portfolio management. Securities and insurance products are offered through LPL Financial.Mike Fazio, senior vice president, was hired in November 2007 to oversee Greylock Investment, bringing extensive management experience from his senior roles at a regional bank, Merrill Lynch and a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs. At the time, the division was a “one-man show,” only offering annuities and mutual funds, Fazio recalled. One of his first goals was expanding the investment group’s network referral system and reintroducing investment services and portfolio management to employees at the credit union’s 11 branches. This model was a flip-flop of what Fazio had seen during his banking days.“I left the bank because I wanted to go to an institution where we could help the clients regardless of their means,” Fazio said. “Someone with $500 for their child’s 529 plan is just as important as someone with a $5 million trust account.”To build business, brokerage services, financial planning and discretionary management services were added to Greylock Investment’s lineup. Fazio turned to the credit union’s well-positioned branch network for cross-selling opportunities. When he left the banking world, many of Fazio’s clients followed him to the credit union. Today, the bulk of new relationships come from employee referrals and Fazio’s existing clients. Greylock FCU has a high service-per-household ratio, but the ongoing goal is to round out traditional products and services with investments and insurance, said John Bissell, senior vice president.Currently, there are three financial advisers available to members with plans to hire a fourth one this year, Fazio said. The newest staffer is Brian Astorino, who previously worked at Merrill Lynch for eight years in various roles, including as financial adviser. Fazio said one of Astorino’s objectives will be to develop long-term financial strategies that are unique to each client and consistent with their investment goals and risk tolerance.Meanwhile, Bissell said there is a big push this year within Greylock FCU to get the investment group even more “in total sync with the branches.” The credit union has a large business banking unit with 2,000 accounts and plans are in place to link investment and insurance services with those members, he added.The turmoil within the investment realm has a death grip on financial services markets, leaving members concerned with the uncertainty of it all, Fazio has noticed. Rather than predicting how the markets will shake out, he prefers a more proactive approach. For their part, the vast majority of his clients were exposed to bonds, which fared relatively well in 2008, he pointed out.“It was easy to talk about what could go wrong with the economy,” Fazio said of his initiation at Greylock Investment before the downturn. “I had that conversation with every new client. So, the clients were well-versed before they entered the market.”Still, Fazio has noticed members wanting a lot more hand holding. Others are just unsure of what their next move should be. Asset allocation typically comes in the first part of a client meeting followed by risk tolerance and diversification depending on the circumstance. Advisers are making a lot of touch-base calls to ask if a member’s job or housing situation has changed. With Astorino aboard, Greylock Investment is on tap to host more investment education seminars.The country’s economic fallout has brought more business to Greylock, Bissell said. The investment group competes locally with three well-established banks, Merrill Lynch, A.G. Edwards and an independent trust firm. Most are looking for clients with large account balances-at least six figures, he said. Some of the bigger names, like Merrill, are closing down some of their offices, which has opened up opportunities for Greylock Investment. The impact can be seen in other parts of the credit union with increases in mortgage and auto loan applications as banks clamp down on credit and lending, Bissell said.“I know it may sound boring, but it’s all about service and consistency,” Fazio said. “It’s never about performance or fees. We try to treat [members] better than they expect we would. It’s about continuing to build a level of trust. An investment group is only as good as the people in it.”–[email protected]

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