Our Team

Our Team

With over 50 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 22nd year as a financial advisor, I continue to be struck by the level of complexity that people face on a daily basis. 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 and managing money, where we work to be sure we know what needs to happen from here. 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 on financial services. I’ve held positions as a 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 an 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.

 

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Michael K. Stearns, JD, is proud to have been recognized as a Founders' Club advisor for 2020—a distinction based on annual production that places him among the top 37 percent of advisors affiliated with Commonwealth Financial Network.

Each year, Commonwealth, the Registered Investment Adviser–broker/dealer that helps us process investment transactions on your behalf, recognizes Founders' Club advisors by inviting them to an exclusive gathering of their peers, leading industry experts, and Commonwealth home office staff. Founders' Club 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 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 lifelong 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, New York). 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 nonprofit 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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Phillip Riley

Financial Advisor

My motivation to become a financial advisor was driven by my desire to help others succeed in their financial and personal lives. Nearly 25 years ago, my interest in the functioning of the capital markets began when I made my first investment as a retail investor. During that time period, I found it very difficult to find investment advice that proved to be in my best interest. The prevailing mindset of the financial representatives I encountered was to sell individual investments and insurance products while failing to provide essential leadership structured around a personalized financial plan. My frustration and inability to obtain unbiased investment advice that served my best interest ultimately propelled me to pursue a career as an independent financial advisor. Over the years, I have strived to build the firm that I would have wanted to hire earlier in my life. One that provides the support and guidance the clients need to plan for their future and make decisions that will make a positive difference in their lives. My primary objective as an advisor is to work with my clients to narrow the gap between the life they imagine they want and the one they are living! 

Prior to my career as a financial advisor, I gained valuable business experience operating several independent grocery stores. That experience, along with my affiliation with the University of Toledo Family Business Center, gave me an understanding of what it takes to keep a successful business enterprise going over many generations. Having this more diverse background combined with managing the finances for the grocery business, has given me a perspective of the financial challenges and operational issues a small business faces deciding how to make the best use of their capital.     

I have learned and practiced many facets of wealth management throughout the years. I owned and operated a fee-only investment advisory practice, a franchise operation for the Mutual Fund Store, with offices located in Toledo, Ohio, and Jacksonville, Florida. In addition to providing investment management, I have the necessary expertise with my life, health, and property and casualty insurance licenses to grow and protect the well-being of the individuals, families, and small businesses I work with.

Family is an important part of my life. My wife, Kristin, and children Maura, Gwynne, and Dane keep life interesting outside of business. During the summers, we enjoy spending time with our extended family and friends at our cottage in Northern Michigan on Burt Lake, making memories that hopefully will last many years.