Ex-Advisor Running for Governor Says 'Economic Torpedo' Headed for His State

Michael Markey

Michael Markey Jr., financial advisor-turned Michigan gubernatorial hopeful, sees “an economic torpedo headed” toward Michigan “right now,” he tells ThinkAdvisor in an interview.

This disaster will hit because of the “shift from an in-person workforce to a remote workforce,” argues Markey, co-founder and managing partner of Legacy Financial Network.

When General Motors, Chrysler and Ford drove auto manufacturing overseas, it triggered massive job losses, small-business failures and sharp increases in crime in Michigan. 

“All that is about to happen again” because of the change to remote work, Markey warns. In the interview, he offers some solutions to the problem, mainly tax-related.

Markey, 38, launched Grand Rapids-based Legacy Financial in 2009. He is now in fundraising mode on the campaign trail, intent to qualify for a crowded Republican primary, on Aug. 2, to challenge incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, in the November election.

In stepping into the political arena, Markey had to step away from his advisory business, which has three locations and manages more than $100 million, including assets in a trust business that the firm acquired.

Legacy Network has three units: an insurance organization, an RIA and Legacy Network Properties, which owns the buildings in its branch locations.

As an advisor, Markey has put the focus on preparation. His book, “Fireproof Your Retirement: It’s Your Money. Learn How to Make Your Advisor Work for You” (2014), discusses the inevitability of external events affecting a portfolio and how to protect it.

Markey was also a ThinkAdvisor contributor.

Contingency planning for clients has been one of his high priorities. In addressing that concept, he finds similarities between a sound financial plan and the strategies of baseball — he was a catcher for the Eastern Michigan Eagles in college — which he explains in the interview.

As for his mission to unseat Whitmer, he vigorously faults the Democrat for her use of executive orders.

“There’s no better way to create haves and have-nots than to shut down schools,” he argues, alluding to Whitmer’s 2020 school closing orders amid the pandemic.

Fifteen years an advisor, he was previously with LFN Advisors, Brokers International Financial Services and Northwestern Mutual.

ThinkAdvisor recently interviewed Markey, who was speaking by phone from Grand Rapids.

“The role of government is to stay out of your way but to encourage outcomes that are positive and are likely to happen,” the Republican candidate maintains.

Here are highlights of our conversation:

THINKADVISOR: What’s your forecast for Michigan’s economy?

MICHAEL MARKEY JR.: There’s an economic torpedo headed our way right now.

When the Big 3 — GM, Chrysler and Ford — shifted U.S. manufacturing overseas, jobs went away, and so did the infrastructure that was dependent on those workers: restaurants, shops [and so on].

When those businesses closed, there were empty storefronts and increasing crime.

All that is about to happen again because we’re having a shift from an in-person workforce to a remote workforce.

Who will be the most negatively affected?

Those in lower socioeconomic careers.

So there should be a tax incentive or tax rebate for that population. 

More in-person work should be encouraged. Tax incentives should be given to businesses to continue to employ people in person.

The role of government is to stay out of your way but to encourage outcomes that are positive and more likely to happen.

How do you feel about having to give up being a financial advisor because you’re running for governor?

I stepped away from my firm officially on the last day of March.

It’s really hard to [face] the realization that the firm doesn’t need you on a day-to-day basis. That’s a good thing, but it’s a hard reality when you’ve spent so many years building the business and being part of it every day.

I have two people in leadership. Another advisor is taking on the clients I was working with.

So now it’s a full head of steam on the campaign trail. We even have a 45-foot tour bus!

Why did you decide to toss your hat in the ring?

It was a collective collage of small events that added up. Running for office has always been something I talked about, even in high school.

I enjoyed having conversations with clients about politics and religion, even though I know they’re taboo.

When we got to this year, I remembered what a friend of mine used to say: “Would you rather be right, or fix it? You can’t do both.”

I looked at a lot of people running [for governor] who are so busy trying to be right. I thought they lost the idea that we need to fix it.

Why should you be governor? 

In politics, what we need right now is more working across the aisles — more cooperation.