Objective Financial Counsel Helps Overwhelmed Investors

Old-style pensions went extinct long ago, leaving investors to pick up the slack with Roth IRAs, stocks, bonds, and other investment products. But how can the average person, consumed with work responsibilities, child-care, home maintenance and a hundred other day-to-day necessities, learn everything they need to know about financial planning to make the right decisions?

For the most part, they can’t.

“We’ve now required the average person to do all of their own investments and know everything about them because that’s the best way to keep from getting taken advantage of,” said Michael J. Ling, CFP®, partner of Berkeley, Inc. “It’s really nice to have all of these choices in the market, but if nobody’s educated, and they don’t understand it … they feel stupid. But they’re not stupid, they don’t do this for a living and they’ve never been taught it.”

Boi8357269 xxlse-based Berkeley, Inc., provides comprehensive financial planning and wealth management services to people who are ready to get help from a professional rather than go it alone. The firm requires a minimum of $250,000 for wealth management clients and charges .9 percent on asset management services with all planning included in the management fees. Those who only want financial planning — approximately 30 percent of new clients — are subject to different requirements, Ling said.

A lack of investor financial literacy poses risks to those people who want to handle their own planning. Not every investor needs a high-touch management service like Berkeley, but a professional advisor can create an effective defense against sudden market corrections which often panic inexperienced investors.

“When you get the most bang for your buck from your advisor is when the wheels fall off, when the market has a 30 percent drop,” said Ling.

Berkeley acts as a fiduciary, meaning that the firm is obligated to put clients’ interests before commissions or other financial considerations. Ling told “The Suit” that requiring financial professionals to act as fiduciaries could fix 80 percent of the industry’s problems. The Department of Labor’s new rule, which subjects financial professionals such as stockbrokers and insurance vendors to the fiduciary standard, is a step in the right direction despite critics’ insistence that it leaves the financial industry open to lawsuits, he added.

“I’ve been doing this for 25 years, we manage about $210 million, and I’ve never had a problem with that,” Ling said. “If you’re a fiduciary, you can be sued, for the most part, if you’re incompetent. If it’s going to be easier for litigants to sue [current non-fiduciaries] then maybe they want to think about how they’re doing business.”

Ling’s approach is to put clients first, and that means prioritizing their individual goals, developing customized solutions, and planning for long-term results.

“If investors are only looking for return, we’re not a good fit,” he said.

For more information see: www.berkeleyinc.com

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