Wealth Protection

Financial planning Over adhoc Investment Advice Looking beyond stocks, bonds, and 401(k)

Today’s investors need more than piecemeal stock-by-stock advice and cookie-cutter asset allocations. Longer lifespans, long-term care, and an ever-lengthening list of investment products require a skilled financial planner to ask the right questions and guide investors.

We often run into prospective clients who are surprised at what we can do once they meet with us,” said Andy Schelitzche, CFP®, ChFC®, a partner in Manifest Wealth Management. “Most still view our industry as ‘I need somebody to help me invest this account,’ and once they realize how much more we can go into, or what other help they can get, they are pleasantly surprised – there’s not a lot of information out there explaining to clients what planners really do.

Manifest Wealth Management, based in Maple Grove, Minnesota, provides comprehensive, customized financial planning solutions to investors across the income spectrum. The firm offers estate, tax, investment, retirement, insurance, and other planning services, covering the areas clients need to consider to achieve the financial future they want. Opting to work with any “engaged” client who shares their values, the firm does not maintain a minimum to invest.

To help clients identify financial goals and manage expectations, Manifest Wealth Management starts with the big questions, and then hones in on which tools can provide the answers, Schelitzche told “Advisors Magazine” during a recent interview.

People often delay dealing with their finances, either because they feel intimidated by the industry’s penchant for jargon or the opaque, numbers-heavy explanations often thrown at them by advisors. Manifest Wealth Management works to break down financial decisions into comprehensible language so that clients can understand how their money is working for them. And while some clients may be more hands-on than others, Schelitzche puts education at the center of everyone’s financial plan.

“I think a lot of people end up coming to us because they may have some interest in investing or personal finance, and they want a professional they trust who is knowledgeable and can guide them,” Schelitzche said. “Our philosophy has been to tell clients upfront that we’ll give them as much, or as little, information as they want, but we want them to understand why we might make a recommendation or how something fits.”

Schelitzche has recently taken this focus on education to the community, speaking at high schools and small businesses. Few people receive a genuine personal finance education anymore, regardless of whether they went to high school, college, or even graduate school, he said. Most people even lack an awareness of basic financial tools like saving strategies, meaning that even relatively simple lessons can translate into significant results, Schelitzche said.

Financial planning revolves around education. But education can only go so far, and a trusted advisor who can make sense of shifting market conditions is indispensable. Manifest Wealth Management works with clients during turbulent times to ensure that investors make informed decisions with their money. In the era of automated financial tools often recalled “robo-advisors,” investors often can be left adrift when markets take a turn for the worse and news cycles blare constant negativity. Without a solid advisor, do-it-yourself investors can find themselves without a voice of reason at the worst time.

“If something goes wrong with the algorithm there’s not a lot of help there, you’re more or less on your own,” Schelitzche said. “Investing has a very big emotional component. What’s underrated about working with an advisor is that we can help put emotions in perspective, especially in times like this where we see the market dropping significantly. People make emotional decisions with their dollars and if you’re the only gatekeeper to your dollars … You can often make some bad decisions if left to your own devices.”

Manifest Wealth Management acts as a fiduciary for its clients, meaning investors’ best interests come before the bottom-line. Investors need a fiduciary advisor given that the sheer volume of products and options available can often overwhelm even the most knowledgeable lay person –and especially since all those choices can allow unscrupulous advisors to recommend investments that benefit themselves, not necessarily the client. A fiduciary advisor can help clients sort through their options in an unbiased manner.

“It’s an industry where trust is, I think, the most important factor, and finding a fiduciary who works on your behalf at all times is incredibly important,” Schelitzche said.

Clients need to approach a prospective advisor armed with the right questions, Schelitzche said. Foremost is to pin down how an advisor gets paid, which can usually be done by looking at which – and how many – products there are on offer. A wealth manager who keeps circling back to the same product, in every situation, might not be entirely aboveboard, and investors should be wary when the same idea gets repackaged over and over, he added. The right questions can help an investor sort a genuine fiduciary advisor from a sharp-talking, but less-than-honest, one.

Meeting PicAs a comprehensive financial planner, Schelitzche can offer a wide-range of tools for clients to meet their goals. The wealth management industry, he hopes, will move away from the sales mentality many advisors begin their careers with, and instead move toward a more genuine planning mindset. A broader mindset will benefit investors who may not realize how close they are to their financial dreams because their exposure to wealth management tools remains limited to stocks, bonds, or a 401(k), he said.

Some signs in the industry point toward positive change already, Schelitzche said.

“There is movement is away from being the investment advisor to the planner and to a professional that helps the clients in every aspect of their finances, rather than only in how they’re going to invest their IRA. The younger generation of advisors, they’re already starting to move in that direction.”

For more information on Manifest Wealth Management, visit: manifestplanning.com

Andy Schelitzche is a Financial Advisor offering Securities and Investment Advisory Services through Waddell & Reed, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC, and Federally Registered Investment Advisor. Waddell & Reed and Manifest Wealth Management are unaffiliated entities


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