Financial Literacy

Educate, Educate, Educate... and Then Advise

Be an educator first; be a financial advisor second.

That is the mantra of Larry Welder, owner of Granite Financial Solutions, LLC, with offices located in Iowa and Georgia and GFS Financial Solutions, LLC in Texas.

His philosophy of educating first, works since more than two-thirds of Americans cannot pass a basic financial literacy test. According to the annual National Capability Study produced by the FINRA Foundation, American financial literacy continues to decline significantly since the 2008 Great Recession despite the numerous economic lessons it so painfully presented to investors. In 2009, 42 percent of Americans tested could pass a basic financial literacy test. By 2016, that number dropped to 37 percent.

“We promote financial literacy for all ages,” Welder said. “I found out early on in my career in financial services that while meeting with clients, the conversation always leads back to the discussion that they do not feel they have the necessary financial education needed to meet life’s challenges.”

Skills such as creating a budget, preparing a basic tax return, or understanding the principle of compound interest are ones Welder discovers many clients do not have when they come to his practice.

While most people – especially Millennials – no longer have traditional checkbooks, he notes, the skill of being able to track and verify expenses versus income each month remains important for overall financial health. And, yet, many Americans are incapable of performing this task that should be completed on a monthly basis.

Granite Financial Solutions designed a financial literacy curriculum that Welder presents to college students. The curriculum was developed at the urging of his client, Dr. Cormac T. O’Sullivan, Program Director for the Nurse Anesthesia program at the University of Iowa. He doesn’t use the platform to promote his firm’s services, but instead views it as community service and hopefully a wake-up call for attendees that financial education is just as important as training in other subjects. Ideally, he would like to see financial education beginning as early as preschool.

“Children can – and should – learn the basics of money and how to use it. We cannot start too young,” Welder said, adding that much of his own financial education began later in life.

He spent the first half of his career as a general commercial contractor building churches, hospitals and schools. His undergraduate degree in civil engineering served him well in that venue and he not only understood, but regularly used, many numeric concepts. But not many of the financial ones. He was just as lost as some of his incoming clients are today, regarding retirement planning, investment options, saving for his children’s college, etc.

For Welder, his financial education began after meeting his wife, Karen Welder whom has always worked in the financial services industry. Today, the two work side-by-side at Granite helping clients work towards securing their financial futures.

bp 109 070 mm 8x10 b“It is one of the main reasons I bought in to this business,” he said. “In my days when I was a contractor, I was that uninformed investor not knowing what to do or what decisions to make. I hated being that uninformed investor, getting no help from my 401k company advisor. So when I started meeting with clients, I wanted to make sure they became educated clients. We take great pride in providing financial literacy for our clients.”

Today, he focuses on working with medical clients, both military and civilian, many of which are young families. Most often, he does not charge them a planning fee, as he is uncomfortable asking for payment, while at the same time advising the client to put more money away to help meet their financial goals.

“They do not have thousands of dollars to invest – especially when they start out,” Welder said. “Yet they need financial advice. When I meet with them, I see on their faces that they are thankful they have someone such as us to sit in front of and get the answers and strategies they need to make their plans reality.”

Comprehensive planning is his approach. He sees that too much of the financial services industry remains more focused on transactional planning – the selling of products as answers to financial challenges – versus all-inclusive planning that considers how various products such as 401K plans, insurances such as disability, life and long-term care, and investments in retirement plans work better together rather than separately.

It all comes back to the concept of education. Welder believes focusing on client education regarding the strategies his firm uses to help secure their financial future and how the products chosen can work towards achieving their goals is the foundation for his firm’s success. He believes a more educated client is more likely to implement suggested strategies and remain on track.

In the end, it is the client’s success that drives Welder.

“In the construction industry, it certainly was nice to see a completed building,” Welder said. “But what I have found in the financial services industry working with families and individuals to see them reach out and accomplish their goals is much more rewarding.”

Learn more about Granite Financial Solutions, LLC, online at

Securities (and investment advisory services) are offered solely through Ameritas Investment Corp. (AIC). Member FINRA/SIPC. AIC, Granite Financial Solutions, LLC, GFS Financial Solutions, LLC, and Advisors Magazine are not affiliated. Additional products and services may be available through Larry Welder, Granite Financial Solutions, LLC, or GFS Financial Solutions, LLC that are not offered through AIC. Representatives of AIC do not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your tax advisor or attorney regarding your situation. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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