Please click on the team member photo to see their biography.
Michael J. Baker, CPA
I grew up on the west side of Cleveland and moved to Avon Lake after graduating from Baldwin Wallace College in 1978. From 1978 to 1996, I was in private practice working with small companies, where I gained a wide variety of experience.
In 1996, my wife, Beth, and I, after careful research, decided to start our own accounting firm. In 1999, we decided to become registered in financial services so we could handle our clients' investments as well as their tax planning. Both the accounting firm and our financial services practice grew steadily over the years. Due to increased regulation and oversight, I was confronted with the decision to sell one of the businesses. So, in 2011, I sold the accounting firm and now focus 100 percent of my attention on my clients' entire financial picture.
Over the years, I have worked with business owners setting up retirement plans, as well as employees of Fortune 500 companies helping them achieve their goals. And I really enjoy working with my clients on a plan with specific goals and finally watching them achieve their goals and celebrating those achievements with them.
When I am not handling the financial affairs of my clients, you can find me playing golf, working out, or spending quality time with my family. Every client who comes in for a meeting gets to hear the latest story about my grandchildren and see a few photos as well.
All of us at M.J. Baker Financial Advisors take great pride in the fact that Shawn and I have qualified for the Five Star award* for wealth managers. In addition, in 2015, we met the requirements for Commonwealth’s President's Club level, which represents the top 17 percent of advisors at Commonwealth based on annual production.
I hope that clients can look back on our relationship and say that our firm could be trusted to do the right thing. And that we can be relied upon to take care of our clients' financial affairs.
*Five Star Winner Criteria: Based on 10 objective eligibility and evaluation criteria, including a minimum of 5 years as an active credentialed financial professional, favorable regulatory and complaint history, accepts new clients, client retention rates, client assets administered, education, and professional designations. 1,548 Cleveland area wealth managers were considered for the award; 62 (4 percent of candidates) were named 2020 Five Star Wealth Managers. (The criteria provided reflect the most recent year for which the advisor received the award. The criteria used, the number of wealth managers considered for the award, and the percentage of those who receive the award may vary from year to year.) These awards are not indicative of the wealth managers' future performance. Your experiences may vary. For more information, please visit www.fivestarprofessional.com.
Shawn Brunner, CFP®, CRPS®
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™
I started in the financial services industry right out of college in 2006, not quite 100 percent sure what I was looking for in a career. I knew that I enjoyed helping people regardless of the situation and, with my major in economics, personal finance seemed like the right path. My first experience with this industry was not a pleasant one, as I did not feel helpful, but more salesy, which is not me. Not long after that, I started working at M.J. Baker Financial Advisors, where I learned how I can truly help families with their personal finance. I have now been with M.J. Baker Financial Advisors since 2006.
I obtained the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification as a way to better understand the different planning issues that we see every day and how best to work with individuals to solve these issues. The program required many hours of self-study, which I am very thankful that I completed before I had kids.
We have assisted families in planning for their future, whether near retirement or just starting out, to make sound financial decisions. There are so many different important planning aspects that tend to get lost, forgotten, or ignored in the busyness that we all face each day. Our job is to make sure that you are aware of your financial life and create a plan to get you where you want to go.
What excites me the most about this job is seeing a financial plan go full cycle, meaning working with you to identify your goals and developing and implementing a strategy. The best feeling is when you have worked out the plan and can start seeing that the goal is achievable.
I reside in Avon Lake with my wife, Shannon, and our three daughters: Isabel, Melanie, and Amy. We are starting to enter the age of activities for the girls, as both Isabel and Melanie will be in school this fall while also taking dance classes, soccer practices, and swim lessons. If I am not at the office or attending one of my children’s activities, you can typically find me either at home with my family, at the gym lifting with my father-in-law, or, lately, on the softball field.
* Five Star Winner Criteria: Based on 10 objective eligibility and evaluation criteria, including a minimum of 5 years as an active credentialed financial professional, favorable regulatory and complaint history, accepts new clients, client retention rates, client assets administered, education, and professional designations. 1,548 Cleveland area wealth managers were considered for the award; 62 (4 percent of candidates) were named 2020 Five Star Wealth Managers. (The criteria provided reflect the most recent year for which the advisor received the award. The criteria used, the number of wealth managers considered for the award, and the percentage of those who receive the award may vary from year to year.) These awards are not indicative of the wealth managers' future performance. Your experiences may vary. For more information, please visit www.fivestarprofessional.com.
Financial Services Administrator
I come from a large family, born and raised in the small town of Wellington, Ohio. Over the years, a new job, marriage, and the creation of a family of my own led me to a new destination. I currently reside in Avon, Ohio, with my husband, Mike.
Twenty years ago, Mike and I decided to explore starting our own accounting firm. After interviewing other accountants about the pros and cons of the business, we decided to put our plan into action. By 1999, our business had grown and clients were seeking investment advice. This led to the beginning of M.J. Baker Financial Advisors. Thanks to the amazing growth of our business, I was able to leave my job of 30 years in the printing industry to become a full-time member of the M.J. Baker Financial Advisors team in 2007. With my background in customer service, I was excited about reaching a whole new field of people and growing new relationships.
Now that I am approaching my 10-year anniversary with M.J. Baker Financial Advisors, I have realized that my favorite part of this job is watching the joy and excitement as our clients reach their financial and retirement goals. It is incredibly satisfying to play a small part in realizing these big dreams.
When I am not working, I can usually be found anywhere there is warmth and sunshine. I like being outdoors as much as possible. I also enjoy playing with and watching my grandchildren. When I am not in the company of my family, Mike usually has me out on the golf course trying to improve my game, which is forever an ongoing project.
Financial Services and Marketing Administrator
I am a member of a large family and spent most of my time living in Avon Lake, Ohio. Life experiences led me to my new home in Amherst, Ohio, which I share with my husband, Neal, and my son, Tucker.
I am the financial services and marketing administrator for M.J. Baker Financial Advisors. This position provides back office and marketing support for the advisors and office. I obtained an associate’s degree in criminal justice in 2005, followed by a post-degree certificate in paralegal studies. I have been known for my diversity. I have worked and assisted in many different legal fields, such as contract law, probate, domestic relations, and auto dealer law. As a paralegal, I prepared documents, worked on discovery, served subpoenas, and completed other various functions. My primary focus has been in the workers’ compensation field, and I am also a notary public. In June 2015, I became an official employee of M.J. Baker Financial Advisors.
I tend to find myself most at home in a job where I can focus on creativity and the client. I enjoy planning events, in both my personal and professional lives. It gives me enjoyment knowing that I can create a memorable experience for our clients and others.
During my downtime, I enjoy spending time with my husband and son. We take frequent bike rides and enjoy time outdoors together. I also like cooking, baking, crafting, and woodworking. On the weekends, I am most likely to be found spending time with my family or working on a random home project. My weekends always seem to be filled with a flurry of activity.
Client Services Associate
I was born and raised on a dairy farm in mid-Ohio, where helping each other and our neighbors were part of our way of life. I attended Notre Dame College in South Euclid, Ohio, as a student-athlete majoring in environmental science. I later transferred to Cleveland State University where I studied marketing. I spent my summers working on Put-In-Bay where I met and became friends with a wide variety of people from all walks of life. That experience as a college student was unforgettable, however, I knew it was not the career that I desired. After college and my time working on “The Bay,” I set out to find a career that I could grow in, both personally and professionally.
Three years after working in a stressful and time-demanding position in finance, I was introduced to the financial services industry. After acquiring my licenses, I discovered an industry where I could make a difference and have a positive impact on someone’s life. This resonated with me on a personal level, helping others, just as I did growing up. I spent three years, working with my clients to help them save and grow their money, secure their income when they retire, develop a plan to protect their family, and make sure that plan includes instructions to transfer their wealth according to their wishes. After our company went through a corporate restructuring process, they decided to change the manner in which they wanted us to work with clients. I knew that it was time for me to make my own change and look for a place that valued the same beliefs I did. This brought me to M.J. Baker Financial Advisors. The genuine care for each of their clients, the dedication to a peerless experience, and the truly holistic approach were all synonymous with my own beliefs.
I am looking forward to continuing to grow in my role here at M.J. Baker Financial Advisors as a client service associate. I am most excited about getting to know each of our clients on a personal basis and working together with our advisors and team members to achieve their financial goals. My greatest joy in the work I do is watching our clients reach their financial goals, knowing just how much hard work went into achieving them and how much it means to that client. The fact that I get to watch that process happen and have a role in that progress is special to me.
I currently reside in the Strongsville area with my wife, who happens to be of those friends I met while working on Put-In-Bay. We both deeply enjoy traveling and due to the recent pandemic, we have been exploring our nation’s parks. Most recently, Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks in Texas, Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, and Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. When I’m not traveling or enjoying a newly discovered taco restaurant with my wife, I enjoy going to concerts, continuously adjusting my golf swing, but more than likely playing baseball in a couple of different adult leagues in the Cleveland area.
Client Service Analyst
Brian joined Commonwealth in March 2023 as a virtual administration specialist. In this role, his responsibilities include working as a virtual member and operational point of contact for advisors’ offices and providing task ownership, support, and coordination with other Commonwealth departments; collaborating with various internal operational teams across the firm to research and resolve complex issues; and managing client data in Commonwealth’s CRM platform to create and distribute reports, prepare for client meetings and calls, and create procedure workflows. Prior to joining Commonwealth, he worked as a mortgage loan closer for Homepoint and a reporting analyst for BNY Mellon. He graduated from Kent State University with a degree in justice studies and is a certified notary public. In his spare time, he enjoys golfing and scuba diving.