Acing the Financial ‘Pillow’ Test

Your clients’ retirement security should not be keeping them up at night

GRANITE BAY, Calif., June 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — “I want my clients to lay their heads down on their pillows and not worry about what their financial future will bring in the morning,” says Jeff Mitchell, CEO and Founder of Monolith Financial Group in Granite Bay, California. After more than 22 years working in the financial industry, Mitchell says it’s his ability to help his clients sleep at night, worry-free from the turmoil in the market that keeps him getting up in the morning.

Ensuring that his clients don’t have to worry about money for the rest of their lives is no easy feat, especially during a span of time economists call “the lost decade” and after the market crashes of 2001 and 2008. These challenges cannot be overcome with a one-size-fits-all plan, although that is exactly what many financial planners offer. Mitchell says, “If you’re alive and have money, you fit their ‘plan’! That’s how a lot of advisors work. Everyone who comes into their offices walks out with the same plan.” Monolith Financial Group, however, believes that plans should be as unique as each of its clients.

Mitchell recommends that retirees look for “an adviser who is open to everything out there, who can get access to all of the amazing products.” Mitchell is securities-licensed, which means he doesn’t have to limit the scope of his offerings and can choose from hundreds of products and investments to find the best fit for his clients. His company provides insurance services, securities, mutual funds, stocks, bonds and first deeds, in addition to income and estate planning.

Financial planning off-the-shelf?

“Most advisers have a set of products they constantly use, and their decisions are not about the client, they’re about the planner’s goals. I want everything that I do with my clients to be about their goals and dreams, so I listen 10 times more than I talk,” says Mitchell. However, the most important part of his process isn’t the products, but developing a trust-based relationship with his clients. To do this, Mitchell believes in complete transparency.

Ensuring that his clients don't have to worry about money for the rest of their lives is no easy feat, especially during a span of time economists call "the lost decade" and after the market crashes of 2001 and 2008

Not only is Mitchell happy to tell his clients when he makes commissions and what fees are attached to any given product, he calls the companies that provide the products – with his clients on the line – so clients can hear the product details explained directly from the source. “It’s all about complete disclosure,” says Mitchell. “I’ve never once had a client come into my office who knew everything about the Variable Insurance products that they’ve bought – and that’s sad.”

“The clients should have a better understanding of the products used in our industry,” he continues. Usually, when a retiree agrees to buy a product, the broker will hand over a 100-page prospectus and tell the client that the answers to their questions are “in there somewhere,” says Mitchell. By calling the companies, Mitchell’s clients get the truth straight from the source, rather than filtered through a broker. Then Mitchell takes a piece of paper and writes down what happens if the account in question goes up, and what will happen if it goes down.

Although he thinks products should come with explicit warning labels, Mitchell says there are many excellent options out there. “There are products that give 6 percent guaranteed growth as profit every year if you use it as a pension – it pays out over a lifetime for you and your spouse. And there’s long term care insurance, which is affordable when you’re younger. And there are products out there like life insurance and annuities which provide for long term care. There are a lot of avenues out there,” he says.

Over more than two decades of navigating these roads, he is always prepared with alternate routes if roadblocks should occur. But the secret to his success is open and honest communication. “You dig really deep down to the core of somebody when you’re trying to plan like this for them. At least, you should,” says Mitchell. One of the compliments he gets from his clients is “you really seem to care.” He says, “Yes, I definitely do.”

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