Investing & Economy

Curating Uniqueness in the Wealth Management Industry

Helping clients with specialized services

In the relationship between financial advisors and their clients, just about every major aspect of the client’s life should be discussed to help them plan for a sound financial future. These include conversations about goals for the family, risk tolerance for investing, specific insurance needs, and dreams for retirement. But, there’s another aspect of life to plan for – as much as clients may not want to think about it – advisors must discuss what happens in the event of a client’s death.

Research shows that only 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have prepared a will, according to a 2017 survey by Caring.com, an online resource for caregivers of aging family members.

No matter their age, new clients of Meyers Financial Services Inc., should be prepared to talk about what steps they've taken, if any, to have their affairs in order in case they pass away or become incapacitated or incapable of making their own life decisions. Firm founder and Certified Financial Planner™ Lillian Meyers insists upon it.

Meyers stresses the importance of creating wills and healthcare directives for people starting at age 18. And, in addition to the standard protocol of will writing, she offers some not-so-obvious guidance for her clients. For instance, she suggests people include pertinent data such as user names and passwords for social media platforms when preparing wills.

“We've got all these social media accounts and they have to be closed down should something happen, and you've got to give the rights to people to do that. It's very important to write this down because it's very hard to undo – your accounts can't be closed accept by you, and it's a long process to close them.”

And, Meyers makes another point to consider – actually for some, it could be thousands of points – the accrued points on credit cards. What happens to those in the event of the cardholder’s passing? Meyers suggests contacting the credit card company to inquire about assigning a beneficiary to the account.

“A lot of people don't realize these things,” she said. “I talk to people about them and make sure that they understand that this is very important when your life is no longer here – you need to make sure that whatever assets you own get divided in the right places and go to the people you want them to go to.”

Standing out in Wealth Management Crowd
Some people with entrepreneurial aspirations tend to be independent. Lillian Meyers fits that bill. After working for a national banking institution for six years, she knew she wanted to go out on her own. She gravitated towards bookkeeping, tax preparation, and tax planning.

LilliaMeyers 740x400Then, in 1989, she received an unassuming, yet, intriguing postcard in the mail with information on becoming an independent investment advisor. She investigated further and chose to point her career in that direction.

Through the years, Meyers has earned various designations and certifications, including that of Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) because she wanted to “take care of clients in a better way,” she said. To her that meant addressing the five components of financial planning: investment portfolios; risk management; tax planning and preparation; retirement planning; and estate planning.

“As a Certified Financial Planner, I have a fiduciary responsibility to clients, and I decided that it was time to move away from a broker/dealer and become an Investment Advisory firm to really understand and help people for their changing lifestyles,” Meyers said, explaining her 2016 decision.

That same year, she began to write a book, “Wealthy, Healthy Money and Your Financial Long Game.” The following year was full of milestones – her book was published, she became a full independent wealth manager, and registered her company with the state of California as Meyers Financial Services, Inc.

There is another facet to Meyer’s experience that helps her stand out in the financial planning industry – she is also a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA®). She works with divorcing or divorced couples to assist them in identifying and dividing assets and examining potential issues that may rise as a result both now and in the future.

“We analyze their asset values and analyze potential future values in the assets of a divorce. We also calculate how much alimony would be distributed as well as child support – and that's based on the different states,” said Meyers, who is a licensed CDFA® in California. “I answer a lot of the questions that were not being addressed when people were selling their stocks or assets and were often surprised to hear, ‘Oh, by the way, you owe this much.’ So, I knew that I could provide my clients with help.”

Rounding out Meyers’ unique experience is that she is a fiduciary in two areas. First, as a CFP®, it is her responsibility to put her clients’ needs and best interests above all else – that is, act as a fiduciary – at all times. She is also an Enrolled Agent providing expert tax guidance and fulfilling a fiduciary responsibility is mandatory. In this role, she helps clients to establish entities, corporations, and trust and estate tax returns.

“I have an in-depth idea of what the tax consequences are to the estates,” she said. “State tax laws have changed several times through the years to pay for wars or other things that we needed to pay for – whenever the government needs revenue, there's always changes.”

Part of the role of an investment advisor means that Meyers has an understanding of what is stated in the prospectus of an investment product, yet, she uses everyday language to explain it to her clients.

“When I hand over a prospectus, I explain it to them – I explain what it means. It is my job as an investment advisor to make sure that I understand that contract that I'm presenting to clients and that they understand what this means for them as well,” she said. “Transparency is extremely important to me.”

In the area of fee disclosers in employer retirement plans, Meyers doesn't think the industry is doing enough to explain “the real cost of their 401(k).”

“We're not holding other people accountable for that,” she said. “I see people making decisions all the time thinking that they're getting a better deal, they just don't understand the costs internally that they're paying.”

LM quote550x400As a fee-based wealth management firm, Meyers Financial Services provides monthly invoices to show clients their fees.

“The costs are right up front, they know exactly what they are paying to our firm. I don't think that's happening out there at all. I don't think people know what they’re paying for things,” she said, adding that she often asks people what they are paying the financial professionals they work with and they don’t have an answer. “It's all hidden, it's not transparent and it definitely needs to be.”

Adding to client confusion is the array of job titles of people offering financial services. These include financial advisor, financial planner, investment advisor representative, investment representatives, certified financial planners – and there are others. Meyers is calling upon the industry to limit the number of names that can be used by financial professionals.
“There are too many names for what we do, I think it needs to be restricted and that way people won't be confused about who does what,” she said. “The financial industry needs to define what the differences are and what each role is.”

Since building client relationships on trust is the foundation of Meyers Financial Services’ philosophy, educating clients is the core of the firm's process.

“It's important that clients understand and be able to make decisions about their money and their life. We work to prepare, protect, and prosper so we need to ensure that they feel that there is no wrong questions to ask – all questions are important,” said Meyers. “It's all about trust and relationship, and they need to feel good about the fact that they're working with us.”

For more information visit: www.meyersfinancial.com

 

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