Navigating the financial sphere can be challenging and intimidating, especially for those who do not have a background in the field. Saving for college, retirement, or a new car is difficult enough even without considering the intricacies of the financial requirements for them. This is where working with a trustworthy wealth management firm would come into play.

Douglas Breitenbach, first vice president, wealth management adviser of Merrill Lynch in Pepper Pike, and Brent Horvath, director of wealth management services of Gries Financial in Cleveland, said working with one of these firms can help people understand how to achieve their goals.

Horvath described his role as being “the quarterback” of all things financial for his clients. He said they want their clients to feel free to call them anytime if they have any kind of question, whether it be about taxes, investments, retirement planning or buying a new home.

“For our clients that we’re doing wealth management for, over time we build up a good idea of what their assets are, their income, their expenses so that we can easily advise them on those types of questions,” Horvath said. “It saves them angst, if you will, or the wonderment about what they need to do. We make it easy for them and get them on the right path right away without them having to spend hours and hours.”

The advantage of working with a wealth management firm, Breitenbach said, is knowing that you are going to work with an institution that is constantly investing in its resources and individuals to provide this kind of advice.

“You should be receiving the most up-to-date guidance available in the market,” Breitenbach said. “Additionally, when going at it on your own, there’s always the question of ‘what if?’ Working with a wealth management advisor is a great way to make sure that those blind spots have been identified that could potentially derail you from achieving a given goal.”

Breitenbach said, having worked with people as young as teenagers to as old as their late 90s, it’s difficult to give an actual age as to when someone should start utilizing these firms.

“Really, it’s for anyone who has an objective that they’re trying to meet in their life, like planning for college or retirement, which are very common ones,” Breitenbach said. “Other things include saving in the most efficient ways, whether it be through a 401(k), IRA or other retirement account. Or making sure that after-tax dollars are working in the most efficient way possible.”

Horvath said, however, that he wishes they could get more young people to use this service. He provided the example of a young adult getting their first job, and then having to decide on insurances and understand their benefits.

“That’s when you make a lot of decisions or have a lot of questions that you need answers to, but maybe you don’t have the assets that some of the big firms may want to see,” Horvath said.

He added that people are also much better off starting early because the compounding nature of money really kicks in once you’ve been investing for 10, 20 or 30 years.

Horvath said working with a wealth management firm boils down to expertise, rather than the client finding the information on their own.

“I can look up online what might be wrong with me if my hand is itchy or why my elbow is sore,” Horvath said. “But it doesn’t make me a doctor. And a lot of times you can get misinformation or get directed down the wrong path. ... It’s kind of the same thing for financial information. There’s a ton of information out there. But if you’re looking for that kind of information, and you start down the wrong path and don’t consider other things that maybe don’t occur to you – like how taxes fit in or changes that could come legislatively, ... that’s where our expertise can come in and help smooth all of that out.”

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