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 employers 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 celebrate 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 reflects 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 for almost 10 years.
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, for which I am very thankful that I completed this 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 business 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, developing a strategy, and implementing it. The best feeling is when you have worked the plan and can start seeing that the goal is achievable.
My wife, Shannon, and our three daughters, Isabel, Melanie, and Amy, live in Avon Lake. 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 attending 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.
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 reflects 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 be a small part of 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 & 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 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 in/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. 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 life. 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 woodwork. 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 Service Associate
I come from two extremely large families, most of whom are scattered throughout the greater Cleveland area. My father has five brothers and sisters and I have 20 first cousins on his side. My mother’s family is shockingly even larger. She has 32 first cousins, and a majority of them have gone on to have families of their own. As a result, I have countless second and third cousins, and we see them on a fairly frequent basis. As you can imagine, Christmas is very hectic.
Growing up, most of my time was spent outside playing sports, especially baseball. I played travel baseball throughout my childhood and adolescent years. My parents were constantly driving me back and forth to practices, games, and tournaments. Our team was fortunate enough to travel out of state a few times each summer to play in tournaments. The highlight for our team was when we got to travel to Cooperstown, New York, to visit the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame and play in a nationwide tournament.
After playing four years of baseball in high school, I was able to fulfill my lifelong dream of attending The Ohio State University. I was so sure that was where I wanted to go to college that I did not even apply anywhere else. I originally thought that I wanted to explore the field of radiology, but after taking courses that were strictly monotonous memorization, I decided that it was not for me. Up until that point in my life, I had not done much financial planning. In order to realize financial goals, everyone needs to have at least a basic understanding of personal finance, so I figured why not try to make a career out of it. I also wanted to help people and I have always been good with numbers, so financial planning seemed like a natural fit.
I reside in North Royalton, Ohio, and am a fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Indians, and, yes, even the Browns. I play flag football just as a kid; most of my free time is spent either watching or playing sports. I am a huge and Sunday morning softball. If I am not involved with sports in some way, I am probably spending time with my 3-year-old puggle named Baylee.
Client Service Associate
I come from a family of five and grew up in the small suburb of Brecksville, Ohio, located just south of Cleveland. I was raised to appreciate family and have really enjoyed spending time with my immediate and extended family over the years for birthdays, holidays, and our yearly vacation. Growing up, most of my time was spent playing just about any sport I could, hanging out at the Brecksville Recreation Center, and spending my winter weekends at both Brandywine and Boston Mills ski resorts.
After playing basketball and soccer at Brecksville Broadview-Heights High School I decided to attend The Ohio State University. I grew up going to the football games every year with my dad, who also graduated from there. I knew from an early age that Ohio State was the only place I wanted to attend to further my educational career. My father and grandfather got me involved with investing early on in my life with the little savings I had from my summer jobs. I enjoyed it so much I decided to major in finance with a specificity in investments and also obtained a real estate major as well.
Post-graduation, I started working for an anti-money laundering firm called Gabriel Partners as a compliance analyst, performing due diligence reviews for high-risk accounts and filing suspicious activity reports. After gaining some industry experience, I decided to combine my compliance experience with my major and passion for finance and joined PNC Investments as a broker-dealer/advisory compliance specialist and regional supervisory officer.
I decided to join M.J. Baker Financial Advisors to help clients by assisting our advisors throughout the planning process. Being able to assist our clients and seeing a plan develop from start to finish, as well as seeing that plan succeed over time, is such a rewarding experience. At M.J. Baker Financial Advisors, we value all of our clients and are very grateful they have entrusted us with their financial futures.
I reside in the West End of Lakewood, Ohio, and most of my time is spent outside, watching or playing sports and spending time with my family. I love all Cleveland sports, especially the Browns, and you can catch me in First Energy Stadium every home game during the fall.