Life

A Career in Financial Planning

Ever wondered what it is like to be a financial planner? Is your child or someone you know considering working in this field? Mark Beal, CFP® was invited to sit down with Laurie Genevish of My Ideal College to discuss the ins and outs of the financial planning profession.

Laurie works with both students and parents by conducting specialized assessments and expert consultations for college planning.

At Baer Wealth, we’re biased, but we think financial planning is a great career choice!

Laurie Genevish with My Ideal College interviews Mark Beal about what it takes to pursue and be a finanical planner.

Values Investing

Image from Pixabay

Image from Pixabay

The college admissions ordeal is more than a scandal – it’s much worse.

We are learning more about how successful, powerful, influential, famous people allegedly have gone beyond bending the rules for their own advantage so that their kids can get admitted to certain universities and colleges. It is easy for us “normal” people to sit back and watch this story unfold with a scornful eye. But that should hardly be the focus.

It is shameful that these parents knowingly and intentionally went to such great lengths to have their kids get admitted into schools. Lies, deception, bribery and outright fraud were all par for tIhe course.

Some who may be sympathetic to the situation (Bueller? Bueller?) might argue that these parents were doing what so many other parents do: whatever it takes to help their child get into college. Just like so many normal parents who invest in their children’s future via a college education, this might include helping write an admissions essay, completing that unfinished homework assignment, or signing up for financial aid.

There are many reasons why this story has created such an outrage. From my perspective, there is nothing more heinous than the fact that these parents have completely failed their children in teaching them values.

Values that come to mind include faith, accountability, compassion, humility, loyalty and authenticity. There are also honesty, integrity, truthfulness and hard work.

Instead, these parents have led by example in showing what greed, ego, fraud and envy are all about. That you can lie and cheat to reach a desired outcome. That hard work and merit has less value than dollar bills. That integrity is inferior to satisfaction.

Instead of investing in the value of a college experience (certainly not an education), these parents should have been investing in teaching their children the values they will actually need to make it in the real world.

This sort of values investing cannot be bought, but it does have a promising chance of outperformance.

My wife and I are expecting the arrival of our first child in the next few weeks, and I am fully expecting to be thrown through the ringer in more ways than one. There are sure to be head-scratching moments, times of happiness and sadness, and many instances of not knowing the right answer. But what I do know is that we will always work to invest in the values that our son will have, no matter how hard that is.

Note: this article was also featured on Mark Beal’s LinkedIn profile and can be viewed here.

Return on Investment

Defined as the ratio between net profit and cost of investment of some resources.

Return on investment, or ROI, is used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment and also to make a comparison of the efficiencies of different investments. The calculation is both straight-forward as well as versatile, and can be applied to many settings. Most often in the financial world, we might look at the ROI of our favorite stock holding (which is undoubtedly APPL or AMZN at the current time, right?). Say you bought AAPL at $100/share in July 2016 and about two years later it’s worth$222/share.

ROI = (Gain from investment - Cost of investment) / Cost of investment

ROI APPL = ($222 - $100) / $100 = 122% …Not bad!

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In the above example, the resource we invested was capital. However, one could argue that time is our most valuable resource. This morning I attended a great event hosted by Roswell NEXT, a local community organization which I am a part of. There, I had a conversation with someone about ROI.

It seems natural that with our finite amount of time in each day, we look to join organizations, attend certain events, or talk to certain people based upon our perceived (or desired) ROI on that time spent. It makes good business sense, and hopefully you will be able to measure that by way of landing a new account or signing a new contract.

But have you ever considered the importance of being involved with or doing something simply because of your interest in it? Volunteering with an non-profit you are passionate about; joining a local community organization; introducing yourself to the new neighbors who just moved in; or trying a new sport or activity.

Time is our most valuable resource. Time spent on personal pursuits should be considered independently of professional networking and business development, but they should hold equal weight. There’s an ROI to those personal pursuits, though it may not be as efficiently measured.

Enlightening Summer Reading

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There are a lot of light summer reads out there for your beach vacation. But if you want to read a book this summer that will inspire you as your run and grow your business, take a look at Mark Cuban's summer reading list, as told to Inc.com

They aren't light, but they are enlightening. 

And, if you are a small business owner who is thinking about selling your business, take a look at the book I wrote specifically on that subject. It is called One Shot, and you can read it here

One Shot is about a process that all successful entrepreneurs can go through to ask the right questions, pursue the appropriate conversations, and ultimately implement the best solutions for you and your business.

Inspiring Podcasts - You Owe It to Yourself to Listen

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Part of what I do at Baer Wealth Management is work with business owners to help them determine the right time to sell their business and maximize their profits from the sale.

I often recommend that they listen to this podcast: Built to Sell

The Built to Sell podcast focuses on business owners who have recently sold their companies and takes an excellent look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of the selling process.  It works so well because those interviewed are honest and open about the challenges they faced and give insightful information about the decisions they made along the way.

If you are thinking about selling your business, I think you will find the information valuable and suggest you first listen to the episode with Sue Hrib, who recently sold her consulting firm.  

And, if you get inspired by listening to podcasts like I do, take a look at this piece from Inc.com, which suggests several other podcasts that business owners and entrepreneurs might find interesting.  I know I will be checking some of them out this summer!

Five Healthy Money Habits To Teach Your Kids

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Our two children, Sunny who is six, and MJ who is three, don’t understand what their dad does for a living quite yet.  But my wife and I have started to teach them some good habits and instill some simple principles that we hope are sinking in.  Good money habits begin with the basics and, hopefully, lead to a way of thinking about money that will last a lifetime.  Here are some ideas you may want to teach your kids:

1.       Understanding needs vs. wants.  Your child may think they “need” a new toy, but as parents, it is our job to help our children understand it is actually a “want.”  That is a very important first lesson that can be applied throughout a lifetime as a foundation of smart money management.

2.      Nothing in life is given – if you want something, you have to work for it.  Working hard is how you get what you “want.”  Start your kids on an allowance at an early age and help them understand that to be able to do the things they want to do, they need to earn that right by working for it.

3.      As your children get older, teach them that money is earned by providing a value.  The value can be in creating a new product that people like to use or simply by providing a service that people are willing to pay for – washing cars, moving lawns, etc.  Almost all successful entrepreneurs got their start by figuring out how to earn money from their neighbors and friends.

4.      Pay yourself first.  Teach your kids that every paycheck you earn is a way to secure your future.  It is important to contribute 10 – 20% of what you make to yourself in the form of automatic savings.  If you wait to save what is left after you pay your expenses and satisfy your “wants,” you most likely will not save anything at all.

5.      Illustrate the power of investing and compounding interest.  Earning money on your money is the most powerful way to compound wealth and is how the wealthy get wealthier.  It can best be illustrated to a child by asking this question:  If you were given a choice to receive $1 million dollars in one month, or a penny doubled every day for 30 days, which one would you choose?

            I think even most adults would be surprised to learn that a penny doubled every day for 30 days would be worth more than $5 million after 30 days.  That is the power of compounding interest.

Day 1:  $.01                                                            
Day 2: $.02
Day 3: $.04
Day 4: $.08
Day 5: $.16
Day 6: $.32
Day 7: $.64
Day 8: $1.28
Day 9: $2.56
Day 10: $5.12
Day 11: $10.24
Day 12: $20.48
Day 13: $40.96
Day 14: $81.92
Day 15: $163.84
Day 16: $327.68
Day 17: $655.36
Day 18: $1,310.72
Day 19: $2,621.44
Day 20: $5,242.88
Day 21: $10,485.76
Day 22: $20,971.52
Day 23: $41,943.04
Day 24: $83,886.08
Day 25: $167,772.16
Day 26: $335,544.32
Day 27: $671,088.64
Day 28: $1,342,177.28
Day 29: $2,684,354.56
Day 30: $5,368,709.12

How a former Eckerd’s drugstore cashier became major player in the financial services industry

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Kenny Baer was featured in Atlanta Business Chronicle's "Meet the C-Suite" which features some of the city's most high profile c-level executives.

December 6, 2017

Phil W. Hudson

Staff Writer 

Atlanta Business Chronicle

Welcome to Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “Meet the C-Suite,” where each week we will feature one of the city’s most high profile c-level executives.

This week meet Kenny Baer, managing partner of Marietta-based Baer Wealth Management.

  • Name: Kenny Baer

  • Company: Baer Wealth Management

  • Title: Managing Partner

  • Headquarters: Marietta

  • Background: I started my career in the financial services industry straight out of school. I briefly exited the financial services industry to work on the financial side of professional sports.

  • First Job: I worked at Eckerd’s Drug Store as a cashier in the same office park where our company is located today.

  • Education: Sports Management/Minor Business from Elon University; Certified Financial Planner degree from Oglethorpe University

  • Residence: Roswell/East Cobb

Business Strategy

How’s business: Business is great. We have had year over year growth of more than 25 percent in the last 5 years. Our client base continues to grow and we are also growing from a hiring standpoint.

Biggest challenge for your business: Sustaining our growth rate regardless of stock market performance. The challenge in our business is educating clients so they have realistic expectations of what to expect from their accounts. We are a firm that refuses to sell people a bill of goods. We pride ourselves on telling our customers the truth about what they can and should expect from us. In our industry, we often combat competition who essentially try to tell clients that they can predict the future. 

What’s going to change at your company in the next year: We are looking to expand through acquisition and I expect to make our first acquisition before the end of next year. 

Company goal yet to be achieved: Creating a sustainable marketing campaign that leads to a consistent and predictable inflow of the right type of prospective clients.

Management philosophy

Guiding principles for good management: I believe that the office should be a fun place to be. You spend as much time at work as most anywhere else so we are always working to create a culture and an environment where people can be effective and happy. That is not only better for the staff but also for our clients. I like to give our staff the opportunity to better themselves via education, or any other ideas they have that can help them further their own careers. Ultimately, I think that is just better for them, their families and also for our firm. I believe that a collaborative environment is a thriving environment. Asking for advice and getting everyone’s thoughts and opinions helps build a strong team.

Best way to keep competitive edge: Staying educated on what is available financially to best serve our clients. Essentially you don’t know what you don’t know. So, we try to stay abreast of the best available options and strategies for our clients. The world is constantly changing and I see it as our duty to best serve our clients by being informed about what they can potentially do to reach their goals. 

Why people like working for you: I try to accentuate my employee’s positive attributes and put them in a position to succeed. 

Most inspiring entrepreneur: I don’t know if I would specifically call this person an “entrepreneur,” but I think Jim Carrey has an incredibly inspirational story. He wrote himself a $10M check years before he had made it as an actor and had enough belief in himself that he was one day going to be able to cash it. He also learned from his father that you can fail doing something you settle for, so you might as well go after your dream. If you fail, fail at doing something you love. 

I also admire John Paul Dejoria, founder of Paul Mitchell. He had found success but then lost it all and even lived in his car for some time. But he bounced back with only $700 to his name and grew his business into the billion-dollar company that it is today. His story reminds me of a favorite line in my favorite poem: “If”, by Rudyard Kipling: “If you can make one heap of all your winnings, risk it on one turn of pitch and toss, and lose and start again at your beginnings, and never breathe a word about your loss.”  

Judgment calls

Best business decision: Purchasing the practice from my father at a time when I did not know whether or not I could really afford to do it. Having the belief in yourself that you can just make it happen. I included many of the lessons I learned as an entrepreneur in the book I recently wrote, “One Shot.” It offers strategic and tactical advice to entrepreneurs and small business owners who are ready to sell the companies they founded.

Hardest lesson learned and how you learned it: Patience, and trust that things will get done. I can expect things quickly but if something is ten deep on a to-do list, then I need patience and trust to accept that eventually it will get done. I’m still learning it!

Toughest business decision: Hiring, when to hire, whether to hire internally or to outsource, etc. It is never clear cut what the right move is.

Biggest missed opportunity: I wouldn’t say it was a missed opportunity, but I wish I would never have left the industry for the brief time I did. It was a learning experience so I can’t say I regret it but that departure just delayed the success that we have today. 

True confessions

Like best about job: From an internal perspective, I enjoy working with our staff. We have really talented and great people. In regards to our clients, I like helping them solve their problems and acting as their personal CFO. It is very rewarding to implement a strategy for a client that puts them on a track to achieve all their financial goals.

Like least about job: Keeping organized and detailing notes from conversations I have.

Pet peeve: People who just ignore you or don’t respond. We often joke that we should just send the spouse flowers and tell them we are sorry for their loss because the only rational reason they have not responded is they are dead. 

First choice for a new career: I would probably be an actor, writer, or standup comedian.

Predilections

Most influential book: Unbroken, the Laura Hillenbrand book about Louis Zamperini. A true story about a man who survived the most incredible hardships and was able to rebuild his spirit. A true inspiration and an American hero. 

Favorite cause: Children’s Restoration Network. They help support homeless children throughout the Atlanta area. Over the last couple of years, we have donated more than 500 toys to their organization through multiple initiatives including our annual Holiday Toy Drive. 

Favorite restaurant: Little Alley in Roswell: Great steaks and a great bourbon selection.

Favorite way to spend free time: I enjoy spending time with my wife and children doing something fun. My daughter, Sunny, who is 5, and my son, MJ, who is 3, are up for most anything but my daughter has especially enjoyed indoor rock climbing, and my son loves going to the golf course. I enjoy being with them where they are burning off energy! 

I personally enjoy exercise, college football, and playing golf. It depends on the day in which order I prefer those. It really just depends on how well I am playing golf at the time!

Favorite music: I have extremely eclectic taste, after just glancing at my music list, I see Kid Cudi, Hank Williams Jr., Bill Withers, Taylor Swift, and the Grateful Dead. 

 

 

How Much Your Passwords Are Worth to Cyber Criminals

Your account information can cost cybercriminals less than a latte — and they’re after more than banking credentials.

The Tokyo-based cybersecurity firm Trend Micro released two reports in December, outlining underground markets where cybercriminals sell illegal products and services. It found that criminal markets hosted in North American countries sell diverse offerings, from music and media account credentials to fake documents, weapons and drugs, and that their German counterparts focus on credit cards and identification documents, and sometimes give away Amazon and Netflix accounts for free.

Underground markets where people can buy and sell stolen information and hacking tools have become so advanced in recent years that even an “entry-level” cybercriminal is “only limited by their imagination and resources,” says Ed Cabrera, vice president of cybersecurity strategy at Trend Micro. A sampling of what’s up for grabs: Malware (complete with technical support services), hosting services, the tools to spam people and services that jam websites with fake traffic to force them offline. “Even the low-levels are able to scale and conduct much more sophisticated attacks than in years past.”

What’s on sale in the North American Underground Price:

Classic U.S.-issued credit card account information $19 to $22 (100 sets)

Gold, platinum or business U.S.-issued credit card account information $36 to $42 (50 sets)

Classic Canada-issued credit card account information $47 to $50 (40 sets)

Gold, platinum or business Canada-issued credit card account information $50 to $65 (35 sets)

Fake U.S.-issued physical credit cards $210 to $874

Netflix account access $5

Hulu Plus account access $4

Spotify account access $2

Beats Music account access $2

Dish Network Anywhere account access $7

Verified PayPal account access $9

Sirius Satellite Radio account access $15

Counterfeit U.S. passport $780

Counterfeit U.K. passport $730

U.S. driver’s license scan$145

Counterfeit U.S. driver’s license $727

Counterfeit CVS, Walgreens or Roland prescription labels $100 per three labels

Why would criminals want victims’ media and entertainment accounts? Cabrera says the crooks may intend to log into those accounts and then access the individual’s payment card information — or they could just be looking for free entertainment. In many cases, these sets of credentials create a complete profile of the user to further scam them or are tied to a financial instrument they can exploit. And people may not notice as quickly that they’ve been exploited, compared with when customers find fraudulent charges on credit card statements.

Criminals purchasing from markets hosted in Germany can buy stolen bank account credentials based on the balances available, and usually also receive associated personal identification numbers or other verification information, according to the report. The report cites an account Trend Micro researchers found on sale for $2,932.33, given that it held a balance of about $8,000.

What’s on sale in the German Underground Price:

Scanned I.D. (male) $10.66

Scanned I.D. (female) $8.53

Online bank account informationAt least $10.66, ranging higher depending on balances

“These sites are competing with each other for these criminal users,” Cabrera says, adding that many goods and services come with “satisfaction-guaranteed” offers.

Baer Wealth Management