By Starrla Cray
MONTROSE, MN How much will I need to save for retirement? What are my tax-advantaged investment options?
Financial advisor Melissa Morris enjoys helping clients with these types of questions.
Morris recently opened an office in Montrose to provide local access to her services, which have been available in the Twin Cities for the past 15 years.
“I still have an office in downtown Minneapolis, and I’m still employed by Minneapolis Financial Group,” she said.
However, her new location inside Citizens State Bank on Highway 12 is a convenient way to meet clients close to home.
“I love being out here,” said Morris, who is doing business as Morris Financial.
She plans to be in Montrose Mondays, Fridays, and some Thursdays; and in Minneapolis the rest of the time.
“People should call first if they want to make sure I’m here,” she said.
Morris does estate, business, and charitable planning for both urban and rural area clients.
“My goal is to widen my customer base out here,” said Morris, who has been a resident of Waverly for the past 21 years.
Farmers, attorneys, business owners, and families appreciate the personalized financial advice Morris provides.
“I work for the client,” she said. “I’m able to research a variety of different products, and pick the ones best-suited for them. I don’t have a cookie-cutter approach.”
People usually come to Morris to learn ways to increase their income and learn ways to save.
“I like to sit down with a family and have them tell me what they see in their future,” Morris said. “We’re all different. Your plan has to be personalized to what you want.”
Morris remembers one couple that was planning for retirement. The husband hoped for a snowmobile cabin in northern Minnesota, while the wife dreamed of a condo in Arizona.
“Guess where they are?” Morris asked, laughing. (The couple got the condo in Arizona.)
Morris enjoys developing lasting relationships with her clients, and usually meets with them at least once a year.
“They become my friends,” she said. “I value them a lot.”
Morris has training as a special care planner, which involves creating practical financial solutions for parents with disabled children. In addition to meeting privately with families, she also offers a series of workshops.
“My biggest goal is to educate the customer,” Morris said, adding that she wants people to understand the importance of planning for their future.
One of her clients, for example, said he wants to use all his money by the time he turns 85.
“A lot of people don’t expect to live to their late 90s,” she said, but added that people can’t always predict what is going to happen.
Morris said her father, who still lives at home, will turn 90 in January.
In some families, one person takes care of all money-related decisions, but Morris said it can be a good idea for both spouses to understand financial planning.
Women, for example, have a longer life expectancy than men, and may have to make financial choices on their own someday. Morris said she teases women that they should marry a man seven years younger for this reason.
Morris grew up in southern Florida, before moving to Minnesota. Her grandparents had a dairy farm near Wadena, and her father was a freighter captain on the Great Lakes, so she spent many summers in the Midwest.
After high school, Morris attended the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, where she majored in natural resources and environmental studies, with an emphasis in soil science.
She worked in banking during and after college, and enjoyed it so much that she wanted to make the financial industry her full-time career.
In 1996, she became a financial advisor for Minneapolis Financial Group, and has since earned several distinctions in her field.
In her free time, Morris enjoys spending time with her husband on their hobby farm.
The couple has a daughter who works in admissions at the University of Alaska, and a son who is a pastor in Michigan.
To reach Morris, call (612) 790-2236 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.