Financial Planners Focus on Long-Term Goals

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Heightened volatility in the markets due to tariffs, trade wars and interest-rate increases has some people worried about how their investments will be affected.

But those who have a financial planner can rest assured knowing their investments and financial plans are secure, as financial planners mitigate this instability by planning for the long term and not acting on knee-jerk reactions.

“There’s always something happening in the market and it’s always affecting our clients’ plans,” says Andrew Moyer, partner with W3 Wealth Management in Warren. “But the fact of the matter is oftentimes a lot less than people may realize.”

Financial planners from W3, Iron Gate Wealth Advisers in Poland, HBKS Wealth Advisers in Canfield and the New Castle office of Janney Montgomery Scott – interviewed for this story – help their clients understand what is going on in the markets and plan for volatility.

Among the wealth management services the firms offer are retirement planning, estate and trust services, asset management services, investment services and insurance services. Most financial planners also work closely with a client’s accountant and attorney when sharing tax or legal documents.

Moyer from W3 finds that the majority of clients first come to him when they are facing something in life that could affect their finances, whether it be a change of jobs, loss of a loved one or concerns with the market.

Among the common goals Moyer sees are getting their finances in order, saving for retirement, getting out of debt and paying for their children’s college education.

“We dig into that and try to help people find the quickest way so they can move forward to reach their goals,” Moyer says. “They come to us throwing up their hands saying, ‘How am I going to deal with this?’ That’s when we roll up our sleeves and look at everything they have and come up with a plan.”

Unlike some financial planning firms, W3 doesn’t require those seeking its services to have a certain amount of assets. “We’ve been able to be nimble enough to not require that,” says Ryan Glinn, financial adviser at W3. “We work with everyone from retirees, business owners, medical professionals, state employees and teachers, as well as millennials who are just concerned about student loans.”

Glinn sees student loan debt as a “real problem today.”

He helps young professionals manage their student loan debt and plan for the future by finding a balance, creating a budget and understanding their inflows and outflows of cash.

When Glinn sits down with his client they decide together, “How much should we be throwing at the student loans? How much can we save? And what are the goals for the money that we’re saving?” Glinn says. “Is it just for a short-term emergency fund or am I looking at putting a down payment on a home?”

Based on what the goal is for each individual, Glinn works with the client to help him decide where the best place to save money is without ignoring the student loan debt.

“Much like a doctor wouldn’t prescribe a medication without diagnosing the problem, that’s how we approach financial planning,” he says. “We want to start where the client is and understand where they’re at, what their goals are, where they want to be. From there we’re going to lay out a specific action plan to address their goals.”

When Josh Petrusko from Iron Gate Wealth Advisers first meets with a client he takes a similar approach.

“We do full-service wealth management,” says Petrusko, managing director. “Since we’re working out of an accounting firm, we provide tax advice, portfolio design and all broker services.”

Getting a client started usually takes four meetings. At the first meeting Petrusko likes to look over last year’s tax return and any investment statements that the client brings in.

“We try to figure out what type of financial plan you’re looking for – whether it’s for retirement or if you want to leave money for children – and then figure out what lifestyle you want to have,” says Petrusko.

From there, Petrusko meets with clients quarterly to make sure they stay on path and to make changes as needed.

One of the most common concerns clients have is whether they’ve saved enough for retirement. Petrusko suggests planning on using 4% of their retirement savings annually.

“If you haven’t saved properly you have to increase the equity portion of the portfolio or save more,” he says. “It’s an ongoing planning session with our clients because things change.”

At Janney Montgomery Scott, branch manager Shawn Sauerwein meets with some of his clients once a month and others once a year to make sure everything is going smoothly.

The meetings can become uncomfortable if clients don’t want to meet at least once a year, he says. Someone may think they can retire at 62, but really they won’t be able to retire until 65 or 70.

“Two of the big things are either they’re not saving enough or they’re spending too much,” he says. “One of those two things can easily change the plan.”

A problem that can occur after retirement is if a client is overspending from the plan, causing it not to be as effective.

“So when someone comes in once a year, we do an updated plan,” Sauerwein says. “It’s constant planning to make sure everything stays aligned.”

The financial planning firm works with small business owners, business professionals, blue-collar workers and families with no minimum dollar amount required for its services.

The services start with a financial plan before adding such things as management of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, life insurance and account programs.

For HBKS Wealth Advisers, a majority of its planners have the Certified Financial Planner designation, which gives them a holistic approach when looking at plans and requires continuing education each year.

“We try to look at the entire picture so if I make a decision in one aspect of the plan it doesn’t counteract what we did on the other side of the equation,” says Rich Morrow, principal and senior financial adviser.

HBKS Wealth Advisers is the financial planning service arm of HBK CPAs & Consultants.

One of the biggest concerns when it comes to estate planning for Morrow’s clients is who should receive their assets, when should they receive them and how to protect heirs from making bad decisions.

“It’s easy to pass on assets but if you pass them on to an individual, then that person has complete access to those dollars,” Morrow says. “If you put them in a trust, you can restrict assets by distributing assets every year or when they hit certain ages.”

For trusts, Morrow says it’s common to only pass a third of the assets at a time to an heir. For example, the heir may receive assets at ages 20, 30 and 35.

“Hopefully if they made a bad decision at 20 with the money, they won’t make it again at 30 or 35,” he says.

Another conversation that can be discussed when setting up a trust is to make sure that after a spouse dies, the surviving spouse is taken care of.

“Making the plan solidified prior to the death of the asset holder is key because it’s difficult to make decisions during emotional times,” Morrow says.

When it comes to planning for a business owner, the expectations are the same but more variables are involved.

“Most of their net worth is tied into the company,” Morrow says. “And then you get into succession planning. How are you going to monetize that asset? And who’s buying?”

HBKS can plan for these events ahead of time so there are no surprises when a business owner wants to retire.

“We build a plan based on certain assumptions that we try to project based on what could happen or may happen, and make sure there’s no big surprises down the road,” Morrow says. “It’s the confidence that comes from the plan and the comfort of knowing it could work.”

Pictured: Andrew Moyer, partner; and Ryan Glinn, financial adviser at W3 Wealth Management in Warren.

WATCH 3 MINUTES WITH: Andrew Moyer, W3 Wealth Management

WATCH 3 MINUTES WITH: Ryan Glinn, W3 Wealth Management

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