Michael Palazzolo CFP® is the founder of Fintentional LLC located outside of Detroit in the city of Birmingham, Michigan. Mr. Palazzolo took the time to discuss the inspiration for Fintentional’s name and his passion for helping others with their financial planning for our latest client showcase.
What is the story behind the name “Fintentional”?
I read a book in the mid-nineties titled “Your Money or Your Life.” In a nut shell, the book introduced me to the concept of “being conscious” of how you use your financial resources. I also had the opportunity to work with many high net worth individuals who fit the “The Millionaire Next Door” profile. They consciously set out to build a business, career, or practice and wanted their investments managed with a similar mindset.
On a more personal note, my wife Amy and I are avid runners and yoga practitioners. I have had an excellent running coach and wonderful yoga teachers who stressed the importance of knowing why you were running that day or setting your intention before a yoga practice.
I am lucky to live with one of those wonderful yoga instructors and benefit from Amy’s knowledge and experience. Most recently, I served as her practice audience for an internal TED talk she gave at her day job relating how yoga principles can make one a better leader. Again, the main takeaway is being conscious of how you react to your environment so that you stay focused on your objectives to help others succeed.
I knew I was looking for a name that married finance with consciousness and intention. I wanted my firm to focus on helping people consciously integrate money with their life goals however that might look for each person. I thought of numerous names and nothing was quite right. Then one day “Fintentional” popped in my head during a run. I came home, found out that the domain name was available, and haven’t looked back since.
On your website, I can see you are an active reader. If there was one book you recommend that everyone should read, what would it be and why?
Yes, I love to read. Back when I finished the two-day CFP® examination, I walked to a bookstore near our house to browse. I was excited to find and purchase a new personal finance book after two long days of intense CFP® testing. My wife Amy laughed and confirmed that I made the right choice to switch careers.
But I digress. I recommend reading “Your Money or Your Life.” As I previously mentioned, it helps you develop a healthy relationship between your finances and the rest of your life. It walks the reader through three levels of financial growth that include financial intelligence, financial integrity, and financial independence. These are shifts in mindsets rather than financial goals like a specific net worth.
Finally, the last key takeaway for me was the concept of determining what is ‘enough’ for you. This is different for everybody and includes basic needs, comforts, little luxuries and causes you want to support with time and money.
What does your ideal client look like?
I enjoy working with very engaged people who have a desire to learn and grow. This could mean a “do it your selfer” who simply wants to validate their ideas or someone that could do it themselves, but doesn’t have the interest, time, or trust they will follow through. I enjoy helping people figure out how to navigate financial transitions like a career change. On a personal note, if we can discuss travel, outdoor adventures like hiking or running, music, yoga and our pets then even better.
One thing I learned during my training at GreenPath, is my values are not other people’s values with respect to their money and how it is used. This is always in the back of my mind, so I think I can work well with people with differing financial objectives.
What’s your favorite part about being a financial planner?
Working with people from so many walks of life. Of course, I am there to listen and cooperatively develop financial solutions for my clients. But I also learn so much myself from clients as they share their life stories with me. I have had the privilege of working with business owners, doctors, dentists, farmers, firefighters, electricians, authors, and engineers to name just a few from across the country and right here in Michigan. I learned from clients who have immigrated from many different countries, practiced different faiths, and created both traditional and non-traditional families. But the common thread is they are looking to make the best financial decisions possible for themselves, their families and their community and I get to be a part of that.
With so many financial advisors offering similar services, what makes your practice stand out?
This is a great question because there are so many good financial planners out there. What I bring to the table is a real passion for personal finance and how it applies to our day to day life. I look forward to reading the WSJ every morning with my coffee and enjoy reading the technical financial planning journals as well.
I say this because I can then use this knowledge to help my clients. In my previous positions, I was often the go-to resource for my colleagues when they faced unusual client situations. If I don’t know the answer, I usually know how to find it. I can attribute some of this ability to my parents. They are retired high school teachers. They always stressed to me that their job was not to teach students how to memorize facts, but instead to research and learn when presented with a new problem.
I also bring extensive technical, analytical, troubleshooting, and programming skills developed in my prior career as a software engineer. This can come in quite handy when solving financial problems in the context of the complexity of life.
I have also been told I am very patient, especially when communicating technical information to those that may not be as familiar with a subject.
You have a lot of offerings listed on your site. Is there any one topic that is your favorite to advise your clients on?
My favorite topic is what is typically called retirement planning. However, I agree with Michael Kitces, who in one of his blogs discusses reframing the conversation from one of “’retirement’ to financial independence.” What you are planning for is really more of a transition between two different ways of generating income.
This could be the traditional transition one thinks of between employment and living off your investments and Social Security in retirement. Or it could be changing careers, starting a business, staying home to take care of the children or starting an encore career in traditional retirement.
I enjoy working with individuals to figure out how this transition might look. There are many moving parts that need to be considered as well as planning for how an income change impacts you and your family. Plus, I have personal experience with both a career transition and starting a business so I understand the excitement and fear that can go along with it.
The quotes between your sub-pages really leave an impact on the viewer. How important was this feature?
The quotes were very important to me. They helped me develop the overall style. I wanted to get across my personality, views on money, and especially my long-term investment philosophy. I also tried to select quotes from individuals who might now always be lumped together like Henry David Thoreau and Ayn Rand, but had interesting quotes on wealth, money, and life that all seemed to fit together.
The one quote I didn’t fit in but hope to include in a blog someday, is a tip of the hat to my love of music and the desire to live an authentic life.
“Take ‘Jack and Diane.’ I was so disgusted with people thinking the line ‘Hold on to sixteen as long as you can’ meant to stay a teenager forever. What I meant was keep doing whatever makes you feel alive.” – John Mellencamp
How did you decide on your website theme?
One of the questions on the Twenty Over Ten questionnaire asked me to define my company’s overall style or aesthetic. More specifically it asked me to think about what my office space looks like, images you use on brochures and artwork on the walls. This question stumped me for a bit since my goal was to establish more of a virtual practice.
However, I work out of my home and can accommodate local clients to visit as required. So, I thought about my home and my office space. Many people, when visiting our home, often comment on how welcoming it feels. My wife and I love to travel, so we have printed some of Amy’s pictures on canvas and placed them throughout the house.
My goal was to try to have the overall aesthetic of my website complement that of my home while also trying to convey the message of “Finance with Intention.” I wanted to try to show that I am passionate about personal finance, understand that I am helping clients with their hard-earned financial resources, and have the experience and knowledge to help them.
A good friend, who is a graphic designer, created my logo and color scheme. I wanted to make sure the logo was a part of the website. I also wanted to include my wife’s vacation photos on the main page to help provide the overall look and feel I was seeking. Plus, I enjoy talking about travel with people. Amy’s only stipulation was to include some Michigan photographs since not everyone realizes how beautiful Michigan is.
Have you received any feedback from your site?
The positive feedback has been tremendous. People felt it was easy to navigate, liked the overall tone and found it easy to grasp the key ideas. I will share one of the many comments I received. Arlene Moss, the XY Planning Network Director of Advisor Success, shared “WOW – I really love this. The quotes are fantastic. Way to go!”
Why did you choose to work with Twenty Over Ten To Create Your Advisor Website ?
I liked the look and feel of the sample sites and how the company is focused on developing financial advisor sites. The information they provided on their blog gave me a good indication of their competence. They were very responsive during my decision-making process and continued to be this way after I hired them.
Finally, I liked that they had an easy to use tool that I could use to make updates to my site. As a former techie, I wanted to protect myself from getting too far into the weeds of becoming a web developer and instead focus on my business.