From Agriculture to Assets

Daniel S. Miller, CFP® was raised on a farm and his values for helping people and working hard have helped him build a growing advisory firm.

In a recent essay for “Time Magazine” penned by billionaire Warren Buffet entitled, “The Optimists,” he states: “In the years of growth that certainly lie ahead, I have no doubt that America can both deliver riches to many and a decent life to all. We must not settle for less.”

And a “decent” and “fulfilling” life is something close to Dan Miller’s heart. As the co-owner and president of Miller Financial Group, Inc. in Red Oak, Iowa, Miller came from what some may consider a non-traditional background. Born and raised on a farm in Missouri, he says:

“I’ve always known and appreciated the value of hard work and doing the right thing for people.”

Miller acquired a degree in animal science and business which he utilized in various agricultural positions and in the banking field. In 2004, he was recruited into his current advisory firm and in 2013 he, along with his wife Denise, had the opportunity to buy the firm and expand it to where it is today. Miller Financial Group, Inc. today has office locations in Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri.

“We are a planning firm first, and everyone that works in our firm has the philosophy that we’re not going to make recommendations without really getting to know our clients,” he explains of his firm’s philosophy.

Miller says it is very important to our team that we learn about the client and to understand their full financial picture.

“We want to know as much about our clients’ goals and financial situation as we can before any recommendations are made,” he stresses.

Miller Financial Group, Inc. works with clients from all different walks of life, residing currently across 22 states. The firm has a minimum investment requirement where associate advisors will take on clients with no less than $100,000 and Miller personally taking on clients with no less than $250,000, something he says he may raise in the future due to the sheer size of their current client base.

The firm’s approach is to build around the planning process and risk management. As part of our process, Miller says his team asks their clients the following types of questions:

“What is the purpose of your investments, how soon will you need to utilize them, and what are your goals going forward? Also, how can we add value and enhance your financial picture? Investment recommendations and planning strategies are then designed around those goals and that’s how we customize [the plan for our clients],” he said.

Education is also a key component of that customization, and Miller encourages clients to ask questions to explore what their “pain points” are and how they may be able to help.

“I believe knowledge is power, and I feel that understanding one’s own financial picture is very important. We want to work with clients that are very well-informed,” Miller said, adding that the work we do is based around education with the desire that people will make decisions which will enhance their own financial situation.

When asked his thoughts on the DOL ruling and the fiduciary standard, Miller believes a fiduciary is someone who always acts in the best interest of another person, no matter how it affects them monetarily or otherwise. And when looking at how the Department of Labor has weighed in on the definition of a fiduciary, Miller says they overstepped their bounds and should not have been the entity to put in a fiduciary rule.

“FINRA or the SEC should have been the entity to write these new rules, not the DOL. Much of the required implementation is not realistic and burdensome for those of us already acting in a fiduciary capacity. I agree 100 percent with the spirit of the rule, but to have people who have never been out in the field, try to regulate the actions of others, is not realistic. You have to walk in our shoes before you try to govern us,” he explains.

Miller and his team are also strong believers in employing technology to enhance the client experience with their firm.

“Our process is fully collaborative, completed not for the client but with the client. We utilize interactive financial planning software, provide online access and use risk management and portfolio tools – we’re believers in the collaborative process,” he notes. He also adds that even though they are suitable for some, there are limits to the pure robo-applications seen in the marketplace today. “Robots aren’t human. For instance, they can’t meet with a grieving widow, or throw a retirement party for a client. Our profession is about much more than an algorithm based on a simple questionnaire. We’re about adding value to our client’s lives, not just about growing a balance on their investment statement.”

Over the years, Miller says one of his greatest successes has been seeing the growth of young people he has helped mentor. Also, about a year and a half ago, Miller published his 1st book: “Retirement Built to Last: Planning for When the Paychecks Stop.”

Looking back at his time with the firm, he does however, wish that they would have embraced the advisory and AUM model sooner. The predecessor to his firm was more interested in annuity and mutual fund accounts and didn’t embrace the AUM model as soon as some others.

“We changed that when we took over the firm. Unfortunately we still have a lot of those older, small accounts to service and they often don’t generate much revenue for the firm. Those accounts, are now handled by our associate advisors,” Miller said, adding that this is slowly correcting itself as minimums have been put in place.

Overall, Miller Financial Group, Inc. is a firm that looks to add value to the clients they serve, and to the lives of their employees that work as part of their team.

“Our goal is to continue to build a firm that is held in the highest regard and known for its’ honesty, integrity and doing what is right. If you don’t have those things in our business, then you are in the wrong industry,” Miller said.

For more information visit:

Daniel S. Miller is an investment adviser representative of, and securities and advisory services are offered through, USA Financial Securities Corp. Member FINRA/SIPC. A Registered Investment Advisor located at 6020 E Fulton St., Ada, MI 49301. Miller Financial Group is not affiliated with USA Financial Securities.

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