A line from my favorite movie, McFarland, is when the new cross-country coach learns that his runners aren’t acclimated to running hills. As a result, they get annihilated during their first meet in which there is ample hilly terrain. The coach, during his post-meet pep talk, tells his boys, “Now we know what we didn’t know.” 

The same can be said about financial planning. Many people don’t know what they don’t know—not until they meet with a financial planner who can educate them about important steps to take to ensure a stable future. 

David Shuley, Wealth Management Advisor at Esteem Wealth Partners, has been with Northwestern Mutual (NM) for nearly three decades. He started in the financial advisor business in July 1993, fresh out of college after moving to the Cincinnati area from Utah. 

Shuley, along with his business partners Brent Shaw, Geoff Stevens, and Sean Murphy, offers an integrated practice, meaning they can provide investments, estate planning, banking, and insurance planning.

“It allows us to create a full picture and be the quarterback to help our clients maneuver all things financial planning,” says Shuley. 

Esteem Wealth Partners has six certified financial planners on the team, all with a breadth of knowledge that is unsurpassed. They come together to bring their expertise with executive business owners and physicians to leverage their presence in the community on both a local and national scale. 

NM has become one of the largest and fastest-growing independent broker-dealers in the county. Shuley notes that it’s been a nice situation for him to continue to stay with NM and form his own identity within Esteem Wealth Partners, which uses NM as an entity to hold assets and have access to world-class insurance products. Within the NM system, Esteem Wealth Partners is one of the top in the nation, having received national awards for their level of expertise. 

“That continual relationship with a client is paramount,” says Shaw. “Managing the money is the most important upfront, but the relationship, the communication, and the cadence in which you are meeting with clients and servicing their needs is, by far, the most important piece, and we have the team and the capacity to do that well.”

It’s all about the plan.

“Most people who come to us have their money in lots of different places - 401K, IRA, a regular investment account. Few have an idea as to what they’re going to use first in the distribution order and how they’re going to spend money in retirement the most tax-efficient way possible,” says Stevens. “That’s where we come in.”In other words, if you don’t set things up before retirement specifically to leverage it, you may not be able to get near the leverage.

“There are some things you just can’t do later,” says Shuley. “If you set up earlier, it can make a big difference.”

When it comes to financial planning, some concepts are more difficult for people to understand on their own. For instance, they don’t seem to grasp that growing money is quite different from distributing money.

“Most people have zero plans on how they’re going to distribute their income from their assets,” says Shuley. “They wonder, ‘How do I go about it? Do I take my earnings out every year?’ There’s typically not a plan.”

People think it’s best to keep growing it and pull out the money later. 

“In retirement, that can be a very dangerous thing—especially in a major downturn like we had last year,” says Shuley, noting that most retirees will experience at least four to six major downturns during their retirement. “It’s imperative that they consider how they’re going to be able to distribute that money efficiently so they can sleep at night in retirement without having to worry.”

Shuley carefully built his team, taking into consideration each partner’s age to ensure a smooth continuation plan. 

“Our clients appreciate that 20 years from now when I’m old, I have other partners who will be here that they already know,” says Shuley. “We want this to be a multigenerational kind of event for clients. They can have their kids work with us as well!” 

For more information on Northwestern Mutual, call 513.366.3600 or visit Cincinnati.nm.com.