Can he bake a cherry pie?

Author: By Dan Searles and John Stohlman
Posted: Monday, July 27, 2009

If you’ll allow me, Dan, the grace of an analogy we’ll have some fun and I’ll answer our most-asked question, “What does a financial planner do?” I confess I’ve never baked anything in my life. However, my daughters, Corey Sue and Annie, are prize-winning bakers. They have won Grand Champion ribbons at the county fair, so maybe baking is in my genes. And, because of the girls, the Food Network is broadcasting in my house much of the time, so perhaps I’ve learned something. Without any help from them, I propose to create a cherry pie. First, I’ll identify the ingredients I think should go into my cherry pie – milk, cherries, sugar, salt, and flour.

I’m going to put them all together in a big bowl, stir it up, pour it into a pie tin and stick the concoction in the oven for one hour and fifteen minutes at, oh how about, 415 degrees. I ask you, will I have a cherry pie? No, I’ll have a big mess! But as a Financial Planner, that is what I hear all the time when it comes to a recipe for personal financial planning.

“Oh I’ll take a mutual fund here and an annuity there, and a will I bought at Staples and mix them all up. Of course, I don’t have much experience in any of these areas, but I’ll have a financial plan that works, right?” Wrong, what you’ll probably have is a bigger mess than I have with my pie. And the consequences to you and your family of your mistakes could be much worse than a poorly tasting pie. 

 This is an area of life where expertise is needed. Which leads us to this month’s question:
Q: “My broker says it’s time to get back into the market. The guy on the radio says we haven’t seen the worst yet. My neighbor thinks it’s a great time to buy. My brother-in-law took all his money out of the market. I don’t know whom to trust or listen to!” Scared in Maryland
A: Dear Scared: You need to find a financial advising professional that you can trust and chart a course that will help weather the storms and guide you towards a more independent future.
We suggest you take the time to ask your friends, neighbors and/or relatives about their relationships with financial professionals. If your friends like them, chances are you may as well. In addition to the personal recommendation, you’ll want to consider their credentials.

However impressive the credentials, it does not mean you will get along with every CFP®, ChFC®, or CEP®, or that they will all have expertise in your specific area of financial concern. When you’ve identified a few that come with high recommendations, arrange an interview.

Consider their bedside manner, voice your concerns and carefully consider their approach and their answers. If you are unsure what to ask, watch for next month’s column when we’ll outline good questions for an initial interview or questions that could be used to evaluate your current relationship.
Until next time, remember your money matters.

Dan Searles and John Stohlman, owners of Medallion Financial Group, are CFP®’s, financial planners and Registered Representatives with over 25 years of experience in the financial services industry, offering securities and advisory services through National Planning Corporation (NPC), member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. Medallion Financial Group and NPC are separate and unrelated companies. They manage over $250 million of client assets. For further info, questions or comments regarding this article, Dan and John can be reached at 301-990-9704 or
1-800-878-9704 or

*National Planning Corporation does not endorse the opinions expressed in this column. The information here is not to be considered as financial, tax or legal advice. As with any financial, tax or legal matter, consult your qualified adviser before taking action. No investment strategy can ensure a profit or protect against a loss. As always, past performance is not indicative of future results.

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