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As the economy changes, many people are trying to navigate how it affects their finances. Financial institutions, such as banks, have professionals on staff who may be able to guide them in the right direction when it comes to making decisions about their money.

Bill Caster, northern Ohio managing director at Fifth Third Private Bank in Cleveland, and James Hill, branch manager at Farmers National Bank in Beachwood, weighed in on the benefits of speaking with professionals at financial institutions to go over one’s options regarding money matters.

“With inflation running at a 40-year high, consumers have less purchasing power than they had before, and rising prices have put a dent in many personal budgets,” Caster said.

By consulting with a professional at a financial institution, a person can get help coming up with a plan to navigate these challenges, he said. Ways of doing so may be consolidating debt, saving for retirement or stretching income during times of inflation.

When searching for a financial adviser, Caster recommended clients first get to know them so they can have a comfort level working with them.

“Ask about their experience and how you can work together,” he said. “Then ask for a full personal financial review so they can understand your complete financial picture and your financial goals.”

Clients should also ask about the products and services being presented to them, such as whether there is a monthly fee, a minimum deposit or a banking app, as well as what the rates are, he said.

Something people might not know about financial institutions is the selection of products and services they offer, he noted.

“You should inquire with your bank about the products and services they provide before looking elsewhere, because you may also receive a loyal customer discount,” Caster stated.

“Rates have shifted and changed drastically and very quickly, whether that be on credit side or deposit side,” Hill said. “I think it’s just one of those markets right now where the Fed’s changing rates all the time and we’re going to see a lot of shifts and moves whether it be in deposit rates or loan rates right now.”

Everybody, both businesses and individuals, has been affected by this shift on some level, he noted. Rates have changed for loans, deposits and investments.

“Everyone’s kind of on the heightened awareness of finances right now, just to look and see what’s going to happen,” he stated.

Hill said it is wise to visit financial professionals to review one’s current money situations, adding that an “annual checkup” can be beneficial.

“I like to think of it as when you go to your doctor for a checkup,” he said. “It’s always good to consult with a financial banker or adviser, just to see how your finances are. Things change, health-wise, over the year and so do your finances.”

It is always helpful to sit down with a banker, go over where you are currently, what products you currently have, what you like and what you don’t like about them, and see if things have changed as far as banking products and services, Hill advised.

“Technology steps in, things change all the time, so it’s always good to get a pulse check and see how you’re doing, and if there’s something that we could be doing for you,” he mentioned.

In addition to reviewing a client’s current financial status, it is good to discuss what their goals are and the desired state of where they would like to be, he pointed out.

“Come up with a plan with that banker,” he recommended. “Sit down, come up with a short-term plan, a long-term plan.”

Keeping an eye on whether anything has changed, revisiting these goals and staying in touch with one’s banker is a good practice, Hill said.

Life changes are another good reason to connect with a financial professional, he said. Such events may include having a baby, moving, opening a first account, making investments or estate planning.

“Any time you have a life change, it’s always a good time to reach out to one of your bankers,” Hill stated.

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