Michael J. ZiemerCFP®
Wealth Manager, Principal
What sparked your interest in financial planning?
My interest in the financial markets started when I was youngster (9-10 years old). When I would receive monetary birthday gifts and Christmas presents from relatives, my mom would always make sure that I invested a large portion of them into the Fidelity Magellan mutual fund. Fortunately, my mother didn’t stop at making sure I was a prudent saver/investor, she would also make sure that I read the quarterly and annual reports. After reading the Peter Lynch’s report and commentary, she would sit down with me and ask questions and discuss various financial and investment topics. At the time I dreaded these quarterly discussions, but later in life I realized that my dear mother instilled both a knowledge base and passion for investing.
After graduating with a Finance major from the Indiana Kelley School of Business in 1999 (the height of the Tech bubble), I went to work with Charles Schwab and Company. While having many discussions with Schwab clients, I realized that most of the people that I was working with were focused on buying/selling stocks and rarely had a long-term investment strategy and/or financial plan. This was the moment that sparked my interest in financial planning, and I started studying for my CFP®. Not only is financial planning itself a process, but the career of a financial planner is a lifelong process. I continue to enjoy learning about the everchanging aspects of investments, taxes, estate planning, charitable giving, family planning, and helping clients solve real life financial issues using this knowledge base.
Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?
I grew up youngest of four children in Evansville, Indiana (think of the sharp point in the lower left-hand corner of Indiana). Evansville is located on the Ohio River and is a great place to raise a family and be a kid. It has both a small-town Midwest feel but also enjoys a vibrant economy that includes banking, natural resources and two Universities. During my childhood, I was always outside playing sports with friends. I played basketball, soccer, baseball, golf, tennis and football…pretty much whatever sport was in season, I was playing. As a Catholic kid in southern Indiana, I grew up a diehard fan of Indiana basketball and Notre Dame football.
When it came time to leave Evansville and go to college, I didn’t go too far. I decided to attend Indiana University and pursue a finance major at the Kelley School of Business in Bloomington, Indiana. While at IU, I met and fell in love with my wife Kristen (in Statistics class). After graduating IU, we moved to Indianapolis, IN, for two years. This is where I started working with Charles Schwab and Company. Craving milder winters and more sunny days, Kristen and I moved to Charlotte, NC, in 2002. We now live in the Cotswold neighborhood in Charlotte where we spend most of our time raising three children. When we are not shuttling kids between school and youth sports, we love seeing live music and traveling with our family.
What fuels you every day in your work?
Working to help real people achieve and maintain financial independence is a huge motivator for me. I am driven by the challenge of striving to help clients solve complex life and financial challenges. I realized early on in my career the importance of being a listener before a problem solver. I enjoy meeting families and learning their story and future life goals. After I fully understand a client’s objectives, it is rewarding to work with a team of professionals to develop actionable recommendations that will allow people to achieve their financial dreams.
When you retire you’re going to…?
It has always been my goal to retire and teach economics at a college or university in a small college town in North Carolina. If you visit our office in Charlotte, you will always find a whiteboard in our conference rooms. I have always enjoyed explaining/teaching financial and economic concepts to clients (probably goes back to discussions with my mom when I was a child). I am a big believer that we need to teach the next generation the importance of financial planning. There are so many people in our society that have not had the opportunity to learn about budgeting, debt management and saving/investing. I hope to have the opportunity to make a difference in the financial lives of our youth.
How do you do good in your community?
My wife Kristen and I have been moved by the mission at Families Forward Charlotte. Families Forward is non-profit organization with the vision to empower Charlotte area families to overcome intergenerational poverty. Their mission is to partner with families experiencing poverty to achieve lasting economic stability. Kristen and I directly work with a family to provide support and foster long-term relationships through individualized mentoring. This experience has allowed our family to grow by better understanding the financial challenges that many families face every day. It is so rewarding to build relationships with families and watch them grow and thrive. We are so blessed to be a part of Families Forward Charlotte.