Planning isn’t tough, but some people just can’t find balance
Financial planning is not rocket science. In fact, setting a budget, tracking income and expenses, and setting financial goals are things most people can do for themselves, according to Robert Wall in Hillsboro.
“The problem most people run into is that they don’t see the need to start planning until the table is already set before them,” Wall said. “It is never too late to put together a financial plan and then find ways to make it work, but it is a lot easier if people get started earlier in life, before they find themselves in trouble.”
Wall grew up in Hillsboro, graduated from Hillsboro High School in 1979, and earned a business administration and economics degree from Tabor College in 1983. He began working as an Everance financial adviser at 105 S. Main Street in Hillsboro in the summer of 2011, coming back to the community where he grew up, with a desire to help people keep their money and be wise with it.
“After college, I got started in retail sales and marketing with a large financial company,” he said. “I spent 25 years in the competitive business world, including eight years in financial services and banking, but I have always felt I should be on the side of the customer, helping them keep their money.”
As a financial advisor, Wall’s goal is to help clients understand the importance of integrating faith and personal values with financial goals. He also hopes to help others avoid common financial mistakes that can lead to bigger problems.
“I guess I was able to avoid some of the big financial mistakes people make, influenced by society, because I grew up in a conservative, you could go as far as to say ‘frugal,’ household,” he said. “My experiences help me give others a chance to build on good choices, and then we can see where it will take them. I like to help others get in charge of their own finances instead of their finances being in charge of them.”
Wall said that even though financial planning does not involve difficult concepts or require extensive training, it is hard for some people to get a handle on.
“Some people have a sense that they need a plan but just don’t get around to putting it in action. Others just are not planners by nature,” he said. “It is kind of like me trying to pull off a construction project. Sure, I could figure out how to do it myself, but it would be very stressful. I would much rather just delegate a person trained in that area to do it for me. It is the same with finances. Since I have a sense of how it all should work, I like to help others find a way to make their finances work for them.”
One of the first steps Wall recommends for a client looking to get a good handle on finances in 2012 is to keep track of the money flow.
“You have to know how much money you have coming in, where it is going, and what it is used for before you can put together a solid plan of action,” he said. “We take a look at an overall picture of assets and liabilities and make sure we have as much going in as there is going out.”
From that point, Wall offers help with debt counseling, retirement planning, investment strategies, and insurance needs. He helps clients determine how their personal faith and values can be integrated into money management goals.
“Some of the larger companies I worked for in the past just serve folks on the higher end of the income scale,” he said. “I am here to help anyone who wants to get a handle on personal finances and help them find a way to keep their money. We talk about the mistakes to avoid.”
Big mistakes to avoid on Wall’s financial list include credit card debt, high interest automobile loans, no budget plan, student loans — specifically those that parents take out when they should be preserving those assets for retirement, and mishandling 401K or IRA funds.
“I like to talk with people at whatever financial stage they are at,” he said. “Of course, it is much easier to make these plans earlier rather than later. The best time to start a financial plan is when someone gets that full-time job, lives on his or her own, and begins an active income and expense cash flow.”
Wall said one of the things he appreciated about his current job was that he could also provide an avenue of help for those not making it in the current financial environment.
“Our goal is to get people on their feet, on solid financial ground,” he said. “We offer shared money through churches in this area to those who need financial help. Everance is able to match church funds given to those who apply through a church affiliated with the Anabaptist faith, such as a Mennonite or Mennonite-Brethren congregation. This is money that goes right into our local community here.”
Wall, who serves Everance clients at offices in Hillsboro, Hesston, and North Newton, said he is very happy to be back in the community where he grew up. He and his wife, Jenny, have two college-age daughters and currently live in Wichita, but he is in Hillsboro on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, each week.