SHERIDAN — Financial planning is not a new concept, but technology has changed the industry similarly to most other industries in the world today.
While some argue that financial planning in-person is now an irrelevant occupation, financial planners in Sheridan have adjusted to fit the needs of clients in the digital age.
Peter Eliason and Arik Jacobson have experienced the shifts in advising throughout their years of experience. Jacobson mentioned numerous options available today, from traditional financial advisors to robo-investing and phone applications to online trading. Even with multiple electronic options, he believes the physical face-to-face contact is still alive and well.
“You have all these options now, and for some people, the apps, the online trading, that might work for them, but I think there’s a reason that…guys like us still have jobs,” Jacobson said. “It’s more than just investment planning. There’s so many different layers to it, there’s so many different facets that they all go hand-in-hand.”
He said there’s a ton of competition, but it depends on the individual need of the customer. Each entity requires a different set of skills, and Sheridan advisors meet those needs just like any large city would.
“There are a lot of avenues to have financial services, and I think that’s a good thing for the community,” Eliason said. “…I think we’re blessed by having that many resources.”
The first step a client must take in determining what avenue to pursue is to assess personal needs. Is financial advice needed for personal, professional or industrial finances? Do you need to see and be involved in each decision that is made with your money, including trades and adjustments to your investment portfolio, or are you satisfied with letting someone take a sum of money and investing it how they have been professionally trained?
Eliason said financial planning usually takes on different waves that correlate to life events. All advisors encourage starting early in life.
Jim Shellenberger, another Sheridan-based financial advisor, said his company’s youngest client is 12 years old and chose to invest money earned through a 4-H livestock project. Shellenberger started as a behind-the-scenes portfolio creator for his company — who headquarters in Sheridan but works with clients nationwide — but has since branched out with coworker Kelly Miller-Smart to focus on more personal account management in the Sheridan area.
The personal aspect of working with clients in-person is why he switched into investment analysis.
The earlier the better, but most people tend to begin seeking financial investors upon starting their first jobs. Eliason said a focus on student debt, starting retirement accounts and multiplying their assets are the focus of recent college graduates looking to utilize experts’ knowledge.
The second wave of clients includes those marrying, buying houses and raising families. Life insurance policies and the careful balance of saving for children’s education and planning for retirement are at the forefront of this group’s financial sights.
When clients near retirement, establishing retirement plans financially is the primary focus.
Shellenberger said most financial advisors begin with a relaxed meeting to see if the client will feel like the company is a good fit for their financial planning needs. Eliason and Jacobson said many clients may be intimidated by the advising process initially, but the advisors encourage any type of question from their potential client. Anyone with any sort of interest to diversify financial assets can find an appropriate advisor to fit their needs.
“Whether or not you have $1,000 or $1 million, it shouldn’t make a difference,” Eliason said.
And, of course, the earlier the better.