Zeiter earns designation to help parents of special needs children

Central Valley Business Journal, January 2012

By KEITH MICHAUD/Business Journal Editor

Financial planning takes on a whole new urgency for the parents of special children.

How the children will navigate everyday challenges, hold onto Social Security benefits, and cover health care costs once their parents are gone is a very real and serious concern.

Increasingly, financial planning professionals are recognizing the need to provide those parents with caring guidance to make those arrangements.

“I just want to be always continuing my education,” said Michael Zeiter of Miceli Financial Partners in Modesto, who recently achieved Massachusetts Mutual


Life Insurance’s Charter Special Needs Consultant designation to provide such guidance. “I’m a student of my industry. This capped it off. … This is a serious issue and I wanted to incorporate it in my business.”

Zeiter, who is on the board of the United Cerebral Palsy of Stanislaus and Tuolumne Counties, completed “pretty rigorous” training in curriculum by  American University to become one of the first in the nation certified to provide such guidance.

“The drive for training and the commitment undertaken by Michael underscores that actions speak louder than words,” Drew Miceli, MassMutual general agent, said in a statement on Zeiter’s achievement. “Families with children with special needs can rest assured that MassMutual and its financial services professionals are well-prepared to help families navigate the long-term course to help secure a strong financial future.”

While that curriculum is exclusive to MassMutual agents, other insurance and financial planning professionals also see the same need.

Frank Quacinella, a Merrill Lynch financial advisor in Stockton, has worked with families and caregivers of special needs people for more than 25 years. He went through that company’s training and holds a Certified Special Needs Advisor designation.

For Zeiter, deciding to become a Charter Special Needs Consultant came down to a compassionate view mixed with pragmatism.

“It’s a big cruel world out there,” said Zeiter. There is very little difference between special needs people and those without those challenges, he said.

“At one point I said to myself ‘This is unfair and there’s an urgency here,’” he said. “You’re earning a living helping other people.”

Zeiter has lived in Modesto the past 25 years and in business for 14 years, the past five of which with MassMutual.

Beside the special needs consultant designation, Zeiter is also a chartered life underwriter and chartered financial consultant. He was Agent of the Year for MassMutual in the San Jose/Central Valley region in 2008 and 2009, and the No. 1 Financial Representative in Insurance and Investments with Foresters Financial Services in 2006 and the No. 2 representative from 2002 to 2005.

Contact the author about this and other stories at kmichaud@cvbizjournal.com.

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