Earning membership in The Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), an organization of insurance and financial professionals that recognizes achievement in the industry, is, according to Saratoga New York Life representative Brad Cary, “a pretty big deal.” And even though he was so honored last month, he says the biggest satisfaction in his work comes from helping others make financial plans and be ready for the future.
Cary has been a New York Life agent in Saratoga since August 1987, Cary said, and in that time he has seen myriad changes in the financial planning business as old models such as defined benefit retirement programs — commonly known as pension plans — were supplanted by other financial products.
Even in a rapidly changing landscape of financial products and regulations, Cary said that it is his desire to help others come up with solid, well-rounded financial portfolios that will ensure financial stability throughout their lives. According to the website of the MDRT, those chosen for membership must not only meet certain financial goals, but must “love helping others with their financial needs, and ensuring that they are prepared in the event of a catastrophe.”
According to figures released by the U.S. Department of Labor, between 1979 and 2011, the percentage of workers whose retirement planning included defined-benefit pensions decreased from 28 percent to 11 percent. Only 3 percent of workers today rely only on defined benefit pensions, the bureau said.
“People need to be educated because of the demise of defined-benefit retirement plans (pensions),” Cary said. “Everybody today has to have at least a working knowledge of financial planning.”
Cary became a certified financial planner in September, 2006, and a Chartered Financial Consultant in 1995. This allows him to sit down with clients and develop customized financial and insurance plans for customers that are tailored to their specific needs and stage of life, he said.
Cary admits that many people do okay with self-directed financial planning. “There’s nothing I do you can’t do yourself,” he said, but added that the benefit of seeking the assistance of certified financial planners is the breadth and depth of knowledge they can offer clients.
“You have to do a lot of research to come up with a well-rounded and diverse strategy,” Cary said. “That is what we do; we do the research and sit down with people and develop a well-rounded plan that is client-centric.”
Cary also said that many self-directed investors panic at the first sign of a downturn and pull out of the market immediately. A financial planner can help people understand that even though downturns do happen, overall trends in the long term are where the clients should focus.
“The presence of a certified financial planner in the mix can be as important as having an attorney and CPA,” he said.