Meet Maestro // Michael Denison
An entrepreneur at heart and passionate about teaching, Michael sees tremendous value in helping clients focus on tax-free income for retirement purposes. Holding Series 6, 63, and 7 licenses, he is a financial planner serving clients in Colorado and several other states. Michael helps guide his clients through the most important class they were never taught in school: financial literacy. Here’s what he has to say about life in the financial planning world.
I’m a fee-based financial planner, so I don’t have to sell you something in order to get paid. This is contrary to how the rest of the financial industry works. I’ve always been uncomfortable with the traditional approach to financial planning, which is where I have to sell you something in order to get paid. Fee-based planning removes that barrier -- clients never have to worry that I’m trying to sell them something that’s not in their best interest.
Our job as financial planners is really to help you understand your blind-spots, to help you understand the most efficient way to get where you’re trying to go.
After earning my MBA I worked with a career coach who helped me figure out that I really love teaching. That’s how I got into financial planning. In my current role, I get to work with people all day and help them understand how to make their money and assets work for them so they can live the life they want.
If you want to hit your goals, hire a professional. An important question I ask as a financial planner is ‘Do you want to hit your goals or not?’ Do you actually want to retire? Do you want to make sure your family is taken care of? Do you want to do these things? Because if you do, then talk with a planner -- we’re going to help you hit your goals. If you want to eat healthier, hire someone that is going to help you do that. If you want to be in better shape, hire someone that is going to help get there. If you’re sick, hire a doctor. The same principle applies with finances. If you want to hit your goals, hire a professional.
My superpower is the ability to be dispassionate about your money. And that’s what leads to success. But my Kryptonite is my own money...which is why I have two trusted advisors of my own!
One-third of my clients are traditional small business owners and one-third of my clients are entrepreneurs in real estate. I’m able to hop into conversations with SMB owners about what to do when it’s time to pivot a business or business model. Being an entrepreneur myself, I understand the ups and downs of running a business. I can work with business owners and empower them to create and use strategies to make their fluctuating incomes work for them as well as working with them to recognize the implications of investing those hard-earned dollars, even when monthly income may not be consistent.
When I meet with clients who are entrepreneurs it’s an opportunity to force them out of their business-ownership role and make them think about their future again. That means every six months, we re-focus on why they’re doing what they’re doing. Did they start their business to spend more time with family? To leave corporate America behind? Freedom of space and time? We’re going to re-focus to understand where the client is and what exactly they have to do to hit their goals. And we’ll create next steps together to make sure the client gets where they’re wanting to go.
There’s a reason we call ourselves financial planners and not financial advisors. It's because we’re looking at everything. We’re looking at your estate planning, wills, business operations, healthcare open enrollment plans, operating agreements -- we’re looking at everything. The high-touch aspect of what we do has the overall goal to take these tasks off the clients’ plate.
The most common thing I work with clients on is estate planning. It’s the hardest task to get off the to-do list. It’s making sure a client gets in front of their estate planning attorney. And if I need to go to that meeting with them, I do.
My favorite place to be is between 40’ - 100’ underwater. I’m an avid scuba diver and as hard as that is to do with a three- and five-year-old at home in landlocked Colorado, I love it. My wife and I try to get down to blue or green water as much as possible and spend some time on a beach.