Our Team

Our Team

With nearly 45 years of combined experience in financial services, we have the knowledge and resources to help you pursue your financial security. We've advised clients through many up and down market cycles. 

 

We're here to address your individual concerns, provide guidance, and put you at ease. You'll find that our approach is very personal. 

 

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Michael K. Stearns, JD

Senior Financial Advisor

As I enter my 16th year as a financial advisor, I continue to be struck by the level of complexity that people face on a daily basis.  Knowing what to do is not easy, especially given the pace of change and the wide range of financial decisions we are all required to make with limited information.  So people delegate some decisions and gather advice on others, hoping the professionals they choose to partner with are competent and trustworthy.  This is the core of how I see my work for my clients.  Together we define what success looks like.  We make informed decisions on the way there, year after year.  

I focus my practice on retirement planning, where I work to be sure we know where we are and what needs to happen from here.  In managing money, I prefer to try to grow a portfolio with caution, depending of course on a client’s feelings about risk and reward.  Retirement income strategies are an important piece for the day when work is optional, as is intelligently addressing the risk of long-term care needs.  Optimizing social security and reducing taxes are always “top of mind,” as are the transfer of your assets to the next generation and charitable causes. 

College funding strategies and guidance on company retirement plans are also important areas in my practice.

I interact with clients’ CPAs and attorneys as needed, speaking their language, sometimes as quarterback and sometimes as cat herder.  I know my way around a tax return and an estate plan.

I received my bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) and a Juris Doctor degree from Boston University Law School.  I was raised in the Chicago suburb of Wilmette, attending New Trier East High School.

I’ve had an unusually diverse career, focused almost entirely in financial services.  I’ve held positions as public defender, manager in the corporate tax department of a “big eight” accounting firm, and stock options trader at the Chicago Board Options Exchange.  As my interest in financial services grew, I took positions in brokerage firms as attorney, chief compliance officer, and eventually branch manager.  These positions greatly inform what I know, what I’ve seen, and how I conduct myself as an advisor. 

Evaluating and settling customer complaints for many years showed me how the best advisors (and the worst) treat their clients.  For more than 10 years, I served as an expert witness and case consultant in securities arbitration.  I have held every license needed to supervise the functions of a brokerage firm. 

With this background, I turned my attention to advising families, founding the predecessor to North Star Financial Advisors in 2003.  I maintain the highest level of independence—working only for my clients.

I’m an alumnus of the Michigan gymnastics team and Michigan football cheerleaders. I love being a part of the alumni cheer squad on the field every homecoming.

I stay active in the local Sigma Chi Fraternity Alumni organization, which assists undergraduates in housing and officer training. I also regularly conduct a presentation to UM medical school residents on financial skills they’ll need in a future that includes a paycheck, debt, and new obligations.

 I have two adult children who work and attend school in Ann Arbor.
 

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Michael Stearns, JD, is proud to have been recognized as a Business Experience advisor for 2016—a distinction based on annual production that places him among the top 49 percent of advisors affiliated with Commonwealth Financial Network®.



Each year, Commonwealth, the broker/dealer–RIA that helps us process investment transactions on your behalf, recognizes Business Experience advisors by inviting them to an exclusive gathering of their peers, leading industry experts, and Commonwealth home office staff. Business Experience advisors benefit from an intensive learning and networking experience designed to help them hone their expertise, share best practices, and provide ever-higher levels of service, education, and leadership to their clients.


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Hylan Moises, Ph.D.

Financial Advisor

My motivation to become a financial advisor stems from my passion for investing and an enduring commitment to educate others and help them succeed in their financial life. This is my second career. I believe it’s beneficial to the clients I serve that I became a financial advisor later in life and followed a rather non-traditional path from being a university professor to becoming an investment advisor. Prior to securing my financial credentials in 2004, I developed my investing expertise and learned the ins and outs of the equity and debt markets the old-fashioned way—I actively participated as an individual investor through bull and bear markets beginning in the mid 1970s.  

From to my academic background, I understand and appreciate the importance of being a good listener and respecting the opinions of others.  As a doctorally prepared neuroscientist, I understand the need to think critically and analytically and to maintain a commitment to life-long learning. My knowledge of behavioral finance and neuro-economics allows me to appreciate how my clients think and behave about money and help them understand that as well.  Using this perspective, I provide my clients with a unique style of financial leadership and trusted advice.

As an Investment Adviser Representative of Commonwealth Financial Network®, I adhere to a personal philosophy of always putting the interest of my clients first. In my advisory role, I specialize in holistic financial life planning, risk-managed portfolio construction, tactical asset management, tax control strategies, and retirement income planning.

I did my undergraduate work at the University of Washington in Seattle and earned my Ph.D. in physiology and neural science from the University of Rochester (Rochester, NY).  I was a tenured professor of physiology and neuroscience at the University of Michigan (UM),before retiring from academia to pursue a career in business as an investment advisor. Prior to co-founding North Star Financial Advisors, I worked as a financial advisor for Ameriprise Financial Services. 

My past business expertise includes operating as an independent consultant to several biotechnology firms and the Division of Gastroenterology at the UM Medical Center. I am a managing partner for several private commercial property ventures. My voluntary and public service responsibilities have included serving on the board for a non-profit alternative health clinic in Ann Arbor, board member of the UM Retirement Association, and member of the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor.  I have resided with my family in Ann Arbor for the past 35 years.

 

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Jennene R. Otto

Client Services Administrator

Jennene joined North Star Financial in June 2013 as our client services administrator. In addition to being the friendly voice who greets clients in person and by telephone, her role focuses on managing practice operations, client requests, and keeping all of our ducks in a row. She holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Eastern Michigan University and has more than 15 years of experience in corporate accounting and human resources.