Special Promotional: Managing your money and assessing your risk
Planning for your financial future
Private Banking Officer/AVP Iliana Tcherneva joined Starion Bank in 2015. A family-owned community bank with 15 locations in the Midwest, Starion opened its first branch in Middleton and has been serving Dane County for more than a decade, now with branches in Sun Prairie and Monona. Tcherneva says much of the bank’s success can be attributed to its core values of honest, ethical behavior; strong community focus; and innovation and excellence. “That translates into quality service for our customers and community,” she says.
Starion Bank began offering private banking in 2007 and expanded the department to Madison in 2015. “Private banking delivers unique banking benefits tailored to the individual needs of executives, business owners and other professionals to help meet their financial needs and objectives,” Tcherneva says.
Tcherneva characterizes private banking customers as busy people who use technology to simplify their financial lives. “This is accomplished through a variety of tools including online and mobile banking, mobile check deposit and online bill pay,” she says. “Tech-savvy customers–particularly entrepreneurs and millennials–expect these types of conveniences to run their business or increasingly-busy personal lives. However, they also rely on the trusted relationship and experience of their private banker. The human touch is something computers can’t factor in and is the perfect complement to Starion’s technology.” Tcherneva notes that organizing and managing financial affairs can be a challenge for anyone, but especially for people who lead busy lives and have more complicated financial needs. “Those who are in high-profile positions–physicians, attorneys, entrepreneurs and other professionals–often juggle time-consuming work schedules, community involvement and personal lives, leaving little time for financial management,” she says. “That’s where partnering with a Starion Bank private banker can be highly beneficial.”
According to Tcherneva, a private banking relationship begins with a conversation between the client and the private banker. The discussion is guided by the client’s goals, values and objectives. Consultation is the largest role the banker plays: clients describe what they want and Tcherneva uses her experience to advise them and set the wheels in motion. In each situation, she assembles a team of Starion specialists who are dedicated to helping her deliver customized banking solutions.
“Because of this relationship between the client and private banker, clients receive the services they need and are better prepared to meet their goals, while gaining more freedom to concentrate on what’s important to them–family, business, community and other passions,” she says.
Tcherneva says the most satisfying part of her job is helping clients make informed, solid financial decisions. “I love the puzzles my clients give me–there is challenge, there is creativity, and there is responsibility,” she explains. “I enjoy taking a methodical, precise approach to evaluating their financial plans while delivering outstanding service. I’m honored to have clients who trust me, and I always strive to exceed their expectations.”
Tcherneva notes that competition in her field can be a challenge. “Madison has many banks people can choose from, and many offer similar products,” she says. “Starion Bank offers the products and services clients need along with the high-touch personal service they desire.”
Summit Financial Advisor Mark Gernetzke offers personalized financial services for Summit Credit Union’s members. “We help our members with specific needs, such as investing, retirement planning or setting up college funds,” he says. Gernetzke also provides comprehensive wealth management services to help members define, develop and achieve their personal and financial goals.
“I encourage members to take immediate, concrete steps to manage their financial lives by creating a ‘roadmap,’ driven by their unique priorities,” he says. Gernetzke also reviews members’ investment portfolios to assess financial risk. “While we can’t control the stock market, we can control how its volatility affects retirement savings,” he says. “We can recommend ways to manage risk through different investment strategies.”
With a diverse client base, Summit Financial Advisors does not have account minimums to qualify for their services. “At our institution, everyone has access to financial guidance and education,” Gernetzke says. “Regardless the dollar amount, if it is important to our membership, it is important to us. Financial planning is not just about increasing assets, it’s also about building confidence. The more money one can save, the more control it gives us over our lives.”
Regarding investments, Gernetzke recommends that his clients take a long view. “Investing is a long-term game,” he says. “That means hanging in there and expecting yields in years and decades, not months and quarters. The mistakes that investors typically make include: not putting enough money in savings; buying and selling stock at the worst time; owning too many or too few stocks, and not having sufficient cash reserves. These are all compounded if consumers don’t have a clear sense of their goals. While creating a strong financial plan is not necessarily a quick and easy fix to all these problems, as a Summit Financial Advisor, I strive to make the process more approachable and less intimidating overall. We want to work with our members to avoid these pitfalls.”
Gernetzke was born and raised in Sun Prairie and studied economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After graduation, he began working as a financial advisor, and has been part of the Summit Financial team since 2009. In his profession, Gernetzke feels fortunate to meet so many people and hear the stories of their goals, struggles and successes. “The work I do is tremendously important to my clients, and I take the responsibility very seriously. It directly affects their financial security, their children’s education, and their retirement plans,” he says. Gernetzke likes to remind potential clients that financial advisors are a great resource, regardless of the customer’s income level. “Everyone deserves sound advice, assistance in planning, and a partner committed to achieving their financial goals over time,” he says.
Aaron Lawry is a Financial Consultant with Investment Services at UW Credit Union, a full-service investment company that offers advice and education on investment topics and financial planning to members from all over the country.
“We work with the largest independent broker-dealer in the nation, LPL Financial, that allows us to have access to many different products,” he says. “In addition, we do not offer proprietary products that could present a conflict of interest when advising clients. Our staff are dual employees of both the UW Credit Union and Investment Services at UW Credit Union, so members can feel confident we are not influenced by external compensation factors or corporate quotas.”
The full-service investment company offers members a complete range of services. “We manage our members’ assets and advise them in all aspects of their finances–everything from planning for retirement to saving for the down payment on a house,” he says. “Because we’re member-owned, our guiding principle is to put members’ best interests first. We go the extra mile to help clients find the right strategies for themselves, their families and their businesses.”
In terms of investments, Lawry says the needs of member-clients haven’t changed dramatically over the years. “We all want to put ourselves in the best position to be financially secure,” he says. “That doesn’t mean, however, that all of our situations and goals are the same. At Investment Services at UW Credit Union, we stay on top of current market trends as well as industry changes to make sure that our member-clients are getting the best advice possible.”
One major challenge for investors is the low interest rate environment. “For those who rely on income from their assets, the last 10 years have been difficult,” Lawry says. “Finding income-oriented strategies and educating members on their options is a major focus of our team.”
Another challenge for the wealth management industry is making the business more transparent for consumers. Lawry says he embraces this trend, since it gives investors more information and a greater ability to make good long-term financial decisions.
After a decade in the business, Lawry says he enjoys the planning side of his job the most. “Helping member-clients create a strategy that allows them to grow and meet their long-term goals is very rewarding,” he says. “Although keeping up with the ever-changing regulations is taxing, at Investment Services at UW Credit Union, we take that challenge very seriously, ensuring that our member-clients are getting the best service possible.”
Jayne Deutmeyer CTFA ® is the Vice President and Trust Officer at State Bank of Cross Plains, an independent community bank that has served the greater Dane County area for more than 100 years. She has been with the company for 17 years, first in general banking and then specifically in wealth management.”With full-service offices in eight different cities, State Bank of Cross Plains illustrates its commitment to our communities every day. We live and breathe it here,” she says.
Deutmeyer’s wealth management division specializes in holistic, comprehensive financial planning. She and her colleagues work with owners of small businesses, the beneficiaries of estates, parents who have college planning needs, and those creating retirement plans for individuals or businesses. “A lot of banks have brokerage services but not all of them have true wealth management or trust services,” she says. “That’s another thing that makes us so interesting.”
In addition, Deutmeyer also works with women who are at key moments in their financial lives, whether they are newly divorced or widowed, starting a new business, embarking on a second career, or organizing their finances as a single parent.
“There are actually many life events when individuals can benefit from the counsel of a financial advisor,” she says. Examples include landing a first job, buying a first house, starting a family, or simply planning to pay off debt. “It’s not just retirement that looks different these days,” she says. “The American family is reshaping itself as well. Families can now include adult children living at home, single parents, two moms, two dads, all kinds of blended situations. As wealth management advisors, we have definitely expanded our approach to accommodate that.”
Deutmeyer emphasizes the value consumers get from meeting one-on-one with a financial advisor, so they can work together on a personalized financial strategy that not only meets financial needs, but also achieves financial goals. “There are a lot of facets to wealth management,” she says. “And I guarantee that we are a better resource than simply clicking through a few websites online. We want people to come in and talk to us, so we can use our experience to dispense the best advice for each unique situation.”
To make the most of your appointment with an advisor, Deutmeyer stresses the importance of understanding your complete financial situation. “Spend some time taking inventory of what you have,” she says. “Look at your tax filings, your investments, the types of accounts you’ve opened, the balances of those accounts, and the amount of insurance you’ve invested in. Understand any benefits you receive from your employer, figure out your assets, and how much credit card debt you carry.”
In choosing a wealth management advisor, Deutmeyer says “Find someone you trust, who has great experience; someone who will work with you long-term, at the pace you’re comfortable with.”
After more than 20 years with Johnson Insurance/Johnson Bank, Patrick Kelly has taken on the challenge of leading Baer Insurance Services, an independent insurance firm founded in 1928. “Ultimately, I came to Baer because I wanted to help this successful agency continue to grow and perpetuate itself,” he says, noting that the appeal of our area is another reason. “I really like Madison and the surrounding communities,” he says. “In my prior position, I was traveling a lot. Now I can be in town closer to my three kids’ activities.”
Baer Insurance is a full-service company, offering personal insurance for individuals’ homes and autos, as well as commercial and benefits insurance for businesses. They also provide various life insurance and related products.
Baer is well known for personal insurance, having carved out a niche catering to the explosive growth in homes on Madison’s west side. “Our decision to invest in a significant location perfectly positioned between Madison, Verona and Middleton has served us well,” Kelly says. “Between that and our unique staffing model–Baer has a very welcoming lobby and five licensed personal lines agents–we have created an elevated customer experience that people really seem to appreciate. While our personal insurance group has a very broad appeal, our focus with businesses has always been a bit more targeted. We do a lot of work with commercial property, municipalities, construction, food manufacturing, financial services and media companies.”
Not surprisingly, over the years Baer has also accumulated a great deal of industry-specific knowledge. “I was thrilled to discover we work with a number of cheese manufacturers, especially the company that makes my favorite 20-year cheddar,” he says. Kelly notes that focusing on specific industries makes a lot of sense due to the increasing complexity of regulations and other demands specific businesses face.
“Given the option, most people prefer to do business with companies that are locally owned,” Kelly says. “Business owners want to work with people who have business acumen, life experience, and pull within the industry. With the increasing number of agencies that are being swallowed up by private equity firms or national ‘aggregators,’ that’s getting harder to find.”
Kelly says the most important thing for customers to understand is that insurance is a very complex product. While consumers can go online and purchase an “off the shelf” product with little customization or advice, it is more advantageous for a consumer to work one-on-one with a professional to ensure that unique needs are served.
“We encourage people to take a time out, dial in, and truly understand their exposure to risk,” he says. “At the same time, it’s crucial to determine the customer’s goals–what they want to accomplish. Once we define those things, we can identify the right insurance products or risk management strategies for that customer.”
Kelly says the most satisfying part of his job is watching families and businesses become successful. “Internally, building a team is also fun,” he says. “Insurance is a great industry and it’s exciting to bring in new people and watch them grow as professionals. My father always said you tend to attract clients with values and perspectives similar to your own. We work hard to get the people part right. Then good things happen.” —
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