By Lorelei Lawson
We all know insurance is essential for peace of mind in today’s world. We insure our vehicles, our homes, our health, and our lives. We rest easy, knowing we’re covered against loss. But are we doing enough to insure that we will enjoy a happy, fulfilling retirement? That’s where Country Financial representative Julie Hale Miller can help — planning today to make the most of our retirement years.
A representative with Country Financial for the past 17 years, Julie offers full-service financial planning for her clients, as well as providing the right insurance for all their needs. She has worked in the insurance industry since her college days, alongside her father, Tom Hale, who has 42 years experience in the field. At Country Financial- Hale & Miller in Chatham, the two bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to their clients.
Securing Your Todays and Your Tomorrows
When Julie sits down with clients to talk about their financial future, she begins by reviewing their current financial and insurance picture. That takes place at a free, confidential meeting to review their current situation, possible future life events such as marriage or a child going to college, and their goals for retirement.
“We call it ‘securing your financial house,’” Julie explains. “We look at your net worth, and if that is $700,000 or $800,000, you should consider $1 million in liability insurance.”
Since most people have a large portion of their assets in their homes, property and vehicles, the first step is often to determine if the client has adequate coverage for those possessions. The loss of a vehicle or home could spell financial disaster, so proper insurance coverage is key.
Life insurance can be complicated and confusing, but Julie is ready to help her clients determine just how much coverage they need to provide for their loved ones if they pass on. She can also help when making decisions about purchasing disability insurance, as well as long-term care insurance.
With the financial house of her client in order, Julie can then dig into what has become her specialty — retirement planning.
“When I meet with clients, I project them living to be 100,” Julie said. “We can rein that back in a little, because that ‘100’ can give them sticker shock. But wouldn’t you rather plan for that than to run out of money at age 90?”
At the complimentary insurance and financial review, Julie meets with her clients and works with them to identify their current needs, and their goals for the future. She then can put together an individualized plan to help her customers achieve their dreams for retirement.
Managing the Future
Country Financial offers much more than insurance to their clients — they offer expert financial planning through local representatives like Julie Hale Miller, as well as certified financial security consultants who can offer highly specialized advice to Country Financial customers.
“If you have an in-service distribution, we can help you manage that,” Julie said. “We take a ‘portfolio snapshot’ of your investments and ask, ‘how risky should you be?’ If you are in a fund that is earning very little money, we may suggest you diversify. We need to target your objectives.”
Julie’s expertise in retirement planning can help her clients come up with the right mix of investments for each family, at every different stage of their lives. She can also call on the highly-trained Country Financial experts.
“What’s fabulous about Country Financial is the Financial Security Consultants,” Julie said. “They are very knowledgeable and very well versed in Social Security, and most pension plans in the state. When my clients reach the point where they need more specific financial guidance, then we will set up that joint appointment for them.”
Since becoming a full-time financial representative for Country Financial, Julie has continued to build on her education in the industry through her professional certifications and through coursework at the American College for Financial Services.
A native of Taylorville, Julie graduated from high school there and went on to earn her bachelor of arts degree in accounting from William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri. Even while a college student, she often spent her time home from school helping out her father in his insurance agency. After her graduation, her dad needed an assistant, and she began her insurance career.
After she embarked on her career path, she continued to pursue her education, including completing the LILI (Leadership in Life Institute) program through the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA). She has now nearly completed the course of study to be designated a CASL — Chartered Advisor for Senior Living — through the American College.
“There are tons of letters you can get behind your name, but I felt that this particular designation would really help me focus on what I want to focus on, which is retirement planning,” Julie said.
She currently has completed four of the five required courses for the designation and is at work on the final course, Fundamentals of Estate Planning. Julie has already completed Fundamentals of Investments, Financial Decisions for Retirement, Understanding the Older Client, and Health & Long-Term Care Financing for Seniors. She highlights the Understanding the Older Client course as being particularly beneficial for her clients.
“It really was a sociology course on aging, and it is very helpful when I’m working with families that have to make the decisions that come with aging,” Julie said. “The aging client feels like he is losing control, and it really helps to have an idea of what they’re going through. They are trying to make the right decisions for their families, it just takes them a longer time.”
Julie is also continuing to learn and grow in the financial planning field through participation in professional groups. She is the current president of the Central Illinois Chapter of NAIFA with members in a 100-mile radius of Springfield.
“We have a lot of diversity in our group,” Julie said. “Every time we meet I come up with new sales ideas and networking opportunities.”
She and her husband of 15 years enjoy travel, but Julie explained there has not been much time for that the past few years. “We try to build our vacations around my conferences,” Julie said. “We will be going to the NAIFA national conference in San Diego in September.” While at the NAIFA conferences, Julie attends several breakout sessions on topics concerning her clients, such as Social Security. “Every time I have a chance to go, I go,” Julie said. They also enjoy live music and go to many concerts.
At home in Chatham, Julie is very active in the Chatham United Methodist Church, and is a member of both the Chatham Chamber of Commerce and the Springfield Chamber of Commerce.
To speak with Julie about your insurance needs, financial goals or retirement planning, stop by her office at 120 W. Walnut in Chatham, or give her a call at 217-483-4355.
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