By Nick Robinson


Last in a seven-part series on businesses that are members of Capital Area Local First. For membership information, see www.capitalarealocalfirst.com.

Blue chip: Edward Jones lends financial savvy to Main Street, Michigan

Benjamin D. Eichler believes in bringing Wall Street to Main Street. Eichler, a financial adviser with Edward Jones in Williamston, hates to use the cliché, but he knows that it helps to describe what he does. He’s been in the business for three years, helping people pick out the financial products and investment tools for the various stages of their life.

Edward Jones specializes in individual investors and small-business owners, working in both the short and long term. Eichler, whose office is at 150 S. Putnum St., loves the opportunities his job creates for him.

“What I love about this job is I get to talk to people,” he says. “I get to work with long-term investors, not people that just buy and sell, buy and sell, buy and sell. I get to know them, know their kids, their grandkids.”

Eichler received his MBA from Michigan State in 2005 and decided to stay in the area to settle down to start a family.

“I just love the area,” he said. “I grew up in a farming community, so this is a big city to me. Williamston has a nice sense of community. It reminds me of where I’m from. I like small communities.”

Eichler also thinks its important to give back to the community, but he doesn’t like to call it that.

“I like to think of it as strengthening the community,” he says. “I want to create a better place for me and my family. And you have to chip in if you want it to improve.”

To use another cliché, it’s all about paying it forward. If people are unemployed or in the red, as Eichler says, they won’t need his services, so the situation begs for him to help. As he says, everyone stands on each other’s shoulders.

“You can’t be an expert in every field,” he says. “If I need to get myself out to the public, I turn to an advertiser. Or if I need furniture, I go to a furniture store. We all rely on each other.”

In bringing expertise to the community, Eichler provides financial advice to those that need it. And with today’s unsure economy, his skills seem more pertinent than ever.

“Foot traffic in here has increased significantly,” Eichler commented. “A down market reminds folks that it’s good to have a professional behind you and your investments. And now is a true opportunity to build wealth, an opportunity you don’t have in an up market.”

For those looking to invest, he looks at three different areas for where you should put your money: now, later and when you retire. The “now” is your cash for spending on food and rent and other things (cigarettes and bubblegum, as Eichler puts it) and an emergency fund for when mistakes happen. The “later” is when you’re starting a family, buying a house and a car and going on vacations. And then there’s retirement, for which he advises people to invest in Roth IRAs, stocks and equity mutual funds.

“It’s totally individualized and customized to each investor,” Eichler said. Eichler says that investments are easy to set up. However, the challenge comes when trying to teach people to budget themselves and be aware of their spending.

“I tell people to live within their means,” he says. “I never thought I would have to tell people that, but I do. Like, if you’re painting, and you have red, green and blue, you don’t put blue where green is necessary.”

Eichler is great at coming up with analogies for what he’s trying to explain, making it much easier for a layman to understand the complex world of finance. He says that simply translating is an important part of his job.

But he wants people to know that his way of doing things is not the only way and it may not be right for everyone. He says that he’s defined as much by the businesses he turns away as those he keeps and that everyone has different needs.

As for the future of the economy, Eichler is nothing but hopeful.

“It’s going to get better,” he says, “but how much better and how fast is beyond me. If I didn’t think it was going to get better, I would have quit my job six months ago and moved into a shack in the woods. You just have to believe and have vision, just like with any job.”

Edward Jones

S. Putnam St., Williamston 8 a.m - 4 p.m. Monday - Friday Weekends and
evenings by appointment (517) 655-2427 www.edwardjones.com