Tag Archives: Hightower




Good friends test your comfort zone

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I’m more of a fisherman than a skier, so last week when I found myself on the ski slopes at the top of Mt Werner in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, I was a bit nervous. I had been skiing all day and felt pretty confident on the nice, easy green slopes like “Sundial”, but when my good friends Beth and Buzz steered me left off my usual chair lift instead of right, I found myself on a much tougher, blue run. As the picture below highlights, my choices were all challenging blue or black diamond runs. My friends assured me I could handle “High Noon” because I’d skied slopes as difficult before, and they believed it would make the day more memorable for me. I certainly wasn’t facing the same danger Gary Cooper found at High Noon, but like Grace Kelly who got off the train to help Marshal Kane, my friends were by my side.  I trusted that my friends had my best interests in mind, so I pushed over the top. They were right. It was invigorating, thrilling, and rewarding!  I completed the run and repeated the track two more times.  I wouldn’t have tried it by myself and am glad my friends pushed me to step out of my comfort zone.  I wasn’t crazy enough to try the black diamond “Three O’Clock” run though! Maybe next year!

Deciding to take the uncomfortable path that day reminded me of a financial plan I recently designed and implemented with two clients. No, I didn’t push them over a steep cliff! I helped them step out of their comfort zone, so they could implement strategies to pursue their goals.  I met with a couple who is four years from retirement and has accumulated an IRA large enough to provide them today with retirement security for life. They reached financial independence because they have been disciplined 401k savers, spend conservatively and because we had successfully managed their portfolio through two decades of volatile markets.  As I updated their plan to account for recent changes in tax laws, market volatility, interest rates and their revised goals, I recommended that they dramatically change the plan that had made them successful.  I asked them to stop contributing to their 401k “growth” focused plan and instead pay more taxes now and accumulate an after-tax portfolio of tax-free bonds.   To say that the couple was skeptical and uncomfortable is an understatement.  I was moving them into a strategy that I believed was in their best interests, but one they were initially uncomfortable with.  Like my good friends did for me, I pushed my clients out of their comfort zone because that is what good advisors do.

My clients are a mix of different ages, occupations, income levels, family circumstances, and fluid conditions.   Twenty-seven years of planning for clients has taught me that their plans need to change in response to evolving life circumstances, and often that change is hard for people to accept. If their “easier” current course doesn’t lead them on a path to reaching their goals, then it’s my job to push clients toward that harder ski slope.

To catch the personal, professional, financial or other trophy fish are you going after, be open to stepping out of your comfort zone as you prepare and implement plans to catch your dream fish.  You will have more control over how you catch them and in which rivers and streams or oceans you fish in.

Tim Scannell, CPA, CFPTM provides Personal and Business Tax Planning, Estate Planning, Investment Management, and Generational Wealth management to his clients. “We strive to deliver transparent, proactive, independent, and comprehensive planning and communications to the families we work for”.

Wealth Management, Fly Fishing, Entrepreneurship, Investment Planning, Estate Planning, Tim Scannell, Valparaiso, Hightower Advisors

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Make your own luck!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

As I walked up Barnes Creek from its entrance into Crescent Lake, I didn’t see many places where fish could survive, and I wasn’t having success finding the elusive Crescenti Trout. I had caught only two small fish earlier that morning in Crescent Lake, so I thought I’d fish the Creek. I’ve learned from other fishermen and from twenty-seven years of wealth planning for clients that if one strategy isn’t working, you have to be ready to adjust.

It was mid-October, the creek water levels were low, and there was little oxygen in the water. This left few places for fish to hide from predators. As my optimism about catching a fish slipped away, I focused on my incredibly beautiful surroundings. Barnes Creek runs through a rain forest-like setting full of luminous moss-covered trees. I was waiting for Treebeard from Lord of the Rings to point out where the fish were.

After walking for twenty minutes in the low water, I stopped to admire a bird as it dove behind a tree that had fallen across the Creek. As I gently crept across the fallen tree trunk, I saw a moving pool of water flowing under the tree that could possibly protect a fish from prey.  I changed my fly, shortened my cast, and after a dozen attempts, I set the fly in the water flow where it drifted under the tree. And bam! I got a hit! Lucky?  I don’t think so.

I made my luck that day by having the right equipment, being determined, staying alert, adjusting my strategy, and being willing to take a risk. I could have lost my fly in the surrounding bushes, but I made the cast anyway. Catching that teeny tiny fish (too small to show in a photograph) was thrilling, but the preparation and journey are what I truly appreciated and enjoyed.

I work with a client who recently sold his business that he had grown from simply a great idea to a very profitable enterprise. I watched as he invested an incredible amount of time and energy into creating a company that employs hundreds of people. He believed in his vision, and he risked his own personal time and treasure to implement his plan.  Outsiders might read about a business being sold and think the owner won the lottery. I see the little things that were painstakingly done daily, the hundreds of employees’ families that were provided for and the millions of lives improved by products he created from just an idea. When the opportunity to sell arose, he was prepared and made his own luck. Most importantly, the world is a better place because of him.

To catch the personal, professional, financial or other trophy fish are you going after, you need to invest time and resources to be prepared and ready to make your own luck when opportunities arise. Doing so will allow you to catch your dream fish. More importantly, you will have control over how you catch it, choosing the rivers and streams or oceans you fish in.

Tim Scannell, CPA, CFPTM provides Personal and Business Tax Planning, Estate Planning, Investment Management, and Generational Wealth management to his clients. “We strive to deliver transparent, proactive, independent, and comprehensive planning and communications to the families we work for”.

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Is Discipline Required?

Friday, November 16, 2012

A friend recently said to me, “I want to work for myself, but I don’t have the discipline.” Is it true? Do some people actually suffer from a lack of self-direction?  I am a recovering accountant with discipline and planning ingrained in my DNA, and I often take it for granted.  If you aren’t passionate about generating and completing to-do lists, are you destined to work for someone else?  I started thinking about the successful business owners I know, and I wondered why they have the “discipline” to succeed. Just what does discipline mean when it comes to owning a business? The entrepreneurs I know and work for are all very different.  Some follow the regiments of military marines while others have a hard time making scheduled meetings.   The common thread I see with extraordinary entrepreneurs is their ability to successfully build a team with varying talents and skills so that as a group, there is great focus and accountability.  A lack of discipline is not a good reason to not become an entrepreneur.  Find a partner or team of people who can help you with the mastery needed to reach your dreams.

Based on my twenty-six years of financial planning experience, contrary to what many think, you do not need to be disciplined to successfully achieve your financial goals. However, you must reach out for help and set up a plan that puts you on a managed path for success.  If you aren’t wired like a clock, you can still buy your dream home, reduce your debt, save for retirement and achieve many other financial goals.  Having helped literally thousands of people manage their 401k over my career, I concur with industry statistics showing that if people must be disciplined enough to sign up for and manage their own 401k account, 90% or more will never do it.  To help the 90%, we create a fully managed program that puts them on the path for a successful retirement.  When we are able to do this for employees, we get 70% to 95% on a path for successful retirement.  Just last week, I reported our managed approach results to a retirement plan client.  With the managed plan, 82% of the company’s 103 employees are on a successful path for retirement vs. only 32% before offering the managed plan.

Many people believe lack of discipline is the missing ingredient to succeed and as a result don’t try.  I can relate to that feeling when it comes to fly fishing.  I’ve read a number of fishing books and am never afraid to ask questions when I’m with true fishermen, the ones who have it in their DNA.  They know where to look and when to cast, what fly to use and when to change strategies.  I’m often not sure I have what it takes to succeed because I question whether I have the genetic composition to be a successful fisherman.  Should I no longer fish? Should I be banned from the great rivers, sidelined to watch as masters enjoy the fisherman’s life? I hope not! Having had success with guides and great fisherman but rarely able to catch a fish when I am alone, I am convinced that I’m the kind of fisherman that needs to travel with masters to catch my dream fish. I can go out on my own, but I will have more success and definitely more fun teaming up with master anglers I can learn from.  That’s not such a bad deal.

To catch the personal, professional, financial or other trophy fish are you going after, you don’t need to be disciplined if you can partner with people who are.  Together, you too can catch your dream fish. More importantly, you will have control over how you catch it, choosing the rivers and streams or oceans you fish in.

Tim Scannell, CPA, CFPTM provides Personal and Business Tax Planning, Estate Planning, Investment Management, and Generational Wealth management to his clients. “We strive to deliver transparent, proactive, independent, and comprehensive planning and communications to the families we work for”.

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It’s all about the Presentation

Monday, October 29, 2012

There is nothing like a perfect cast with a fly rod.  Your backcast is smooth as you feel the line tension, and you watch as the weighted line propels the fly exactly where you want it.  Of course, it also helps when your prize fish takes a bite!  I’m not the most talented fly fisherman, so that feeling doesn’t happen as often as I’d like.  When it does, I tend to look around for recognition.  Do I expect the fish to look up like Mr. Limpet and say, “Way to go Tim”? Not really, but when the cast is done right, it’s like the feeling I get after making a great golf shot or finishing a pain-free run.

A lot of time, planning and resources go into preparing for the perfect presentation of an artificial lure that makes a fish want to grasp it. Depending on the fish species you seek and where you are fishing, presentation decisions include fly rod weight, size and action; reel drag; line, leader and tippet size; and fly size and pattern.  When you get to the water, you have to be prepared and willing to adjust your plan, so you typically bring more tools than you will use.  Failure and wasted time are the costs of lack of preparation. You can’t be flexible if you don’t anticipate the need to adapt.  I paid the price in Canada last year as I watched Walleye feasting on mayflies, and I didn’t have the right lures to attract those fish.  It’s not fun!

I recently attended a presentation made by an aspiring entrepreneur.  He must not have understood the importance of fully preparing for his pitch to this group of accredited investors.  Confidence in his unique product created a fog that prevented him from seeing why we were there and what our goals were.  I’m guessing he didn’t spend any time in advance learning about his audience. He was casting what he thought we should want to hear, so he paid dearly by missing a great chance to obtain funding.  He needed to understand where he was fishing, know what fish he was looking for, and then present his product in a way that would attract the audience members to invest in his product.

I watched the documentary “The Fog of War” in which the former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara said that he prepared roughly three hours for each one hour of presentations he was to make to Senate and Congress committees. That sounds about right to me.  Last week, I recorded 26 hours of planning and preparation time for 10 client meetings.  Before each client meeting, I review my history with the client and note their goals, strengths, obstacles and concerns.  I then prepare updates for their tax planning, estate, risk management, investment planning, retirement and business plans.  We help clients address complicated and fluid goals and concerns, so I must carefully prepare before each meeting, and I need to anticipate changes.

To catch the personal, professional, financial or other trophy fish are you seek, you need to invest time and resources to prepare for your presentations and make sure they are focused on the needs of your audience.  Doing so will allow you to catch your dream fish. More importantly, you will have control over how you catch it, choosing the rivers and streams or oceans you fish in.

Tim Scannell, CPA, CFPTM provides Personal and Business Tax Planning, Estate Planning, Investment Management, and Generational Wealth management to his clients. “We strive to deliver transparent, proactive, independent, and comprehensive planning and communications to the families we work for”.

HighTower Advisors LLC, its affiliates and HighTower Advisor’s Financial Advisors do not provide tax or legal advice.  You need to consult your legal and tax professional when making any investment.1253048-2010.10

 

Protecting Resources for Future Generations

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

When I return from fishing in Canada, people will often ask how many fish I brought home.  Sometimes I will get confusing looks when I reply that we never bring fish home.  We keep fish to eat while in Canada but release all of the other fish we catch. Catch and Release is just one of the programs in place to make sure that there will be fish for the anglers who show up on lakes and rivers after we are gone.

Many lakes and rivers we visit have additional rules aimed at protecting fish for future generations.  Some require that you use “barbless” hooks and others require single (instead of double or triple) hooks to limit the stress caused when removing hooks from fish we catch. This summer, my favorite fly-fishing river, the Yampa in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, was closed to fisherman because the low oxygen levels in the low water could harm the fish as they battle their capture into the net.  The fishing community sets a good example of how to protect and pass resources on to the next generation.

If you believe that we are merely borrowing resources from our children and future generations, then you want to return them in the same or better condition than when you borrowed them.

Over the past twenty-six years, when advising families and business owners about many financial topics, I find that my favorite planning meetings involve helping transfer businesses and other wealth to future generations and charities. It is especially fulfilling when the planning includes charitable gifts because often times it involves inviting children and grandchildren to get involved.

When families create donor-advised funds, charitable trusts and other vehicles, and when they invite their children and grandchildren to get involved in the process, those families create a lasting legacy of giving and create stronger bonds among the family members.  They also use this process to pass the experiences and knowledge needed to respect and manage the wealth they will inherit.  Most people who inherit wealth have no idea how hard it was to create, especially when beneficiaries are third and fourth generation-removed from the wealth creator.  Successful mentoring must teach how hard it is to create and maintain wealth, so that it is respected. Charitable planning is one of the best ways I’ve seen that done.

I work with a family that meets annually to award scholarships to high school students from a fund created by forward-thinking parents.  I have never met the originators of the scholarships, but I assume they would be delighted to see how this annual event connects the children and provides them with an altruistic, collaborative experience.  As the family members review applications and interview candidates from all backgrounds, they encounter life changing stories that give them greater appreciation for their blessings, including the endowment of giving bestowed by their parents.  Like the rivers I fish in, my clients’ lives and their future generations are in better condition because parents cared to transfer knowledge in addition to wealth.

 

Tim Scannell, CPA, CFPTM provides Personal and Business Tax Planning, Estate Planning, Investment Management, and Generational Wealth management to his clients. “We strive to deliver transparent, proactive, independent, and comprehensive planning and communications to the families we work for”.

 

 

Wealth Management, Fly Fishing, Entrepreneurship, Investment Planning, Estate Planning, Tim Scannell, Valparaiso, Hightower Advisors

It’s about the Journey

Friday, August 17, 2012

So there we were at the western edge of the lake, searching for fish.  The water was warmer than normal for July in Northern Manitoba, Canada, so fishing was tough.  We were getting desperate. Where were the fish?  We hoped there was another lake close by because our spot  just wasn’t working.  As we rounded a bend, we viewed a small creek that fed into our lake. Young eighteen-year-old Arnie and I volunteered to be the search party for fish for the men in our two boats. Because the water was so shallow, we ventured out on foot.

The river was surrounded by thick trees and bushes that looked like they hadn’t ever seen humans.  The only path to find our mystery lake loaded with fish involved Arnie and me jumping from rock to rock, moving our way up the river, maintaining our balance and footing.  One hundred yards into the river, we saw a small pool of water in the shade.  It wasn’t the lake we were searching for, but it held promise.  Moving into the woods briefly and then out to the pool, I cast my lure with anticipation and joy kind of like my kids feel in a candy shop.

Within ten seconds of my beautiful cast, instead of fish, I caught what seemed like a thick blanket of mosquitoes.  Hands, face, ears, every exposed piece of skin were under attack. Hearing Arnie yelp and seeing him sprint like madman, I raced out of there, leaping from rock to rock to get back to the safety of the boat.

Back on the lake, as the boats came together to compare notes, my fishing “friends” howled at the lumps on my face.  We had no fish but we had a great story, more humorous to them than to me at the time!  What did I get for my efforts besides a lot of pain?  A connection with those friends that will last forever.  Fishing isn’t about filling a barrel with fish and then dropping your line.  Fishing is about adventure, risks, failures and successes.  It is about the journey with people you trust and friendships you build as a result.

Entrepreneurship is like that, too.  When I think about the businesses I have been involved in, the business owners I have advised, and the clients I work for, I think about the journeys. We are always striving for success, but I have learned just as much, if not more, from my and their bumps in the road.  More importantly, I think about the friends I have made and about the many people who have invested time mentoring and advising me. My fishing friends, like the clients I work with, all give me more than I could possibly return to them.  I also think about my wife Nancy and our wonderful children and the journeys we have shared together.  I am very fortunate.

There is a Chinese proverb that says “the journey is the reward”.  I believe that’s true!

 

Wealth Management, Fly Fishing, Entrepreneurship, Investment Planning, Estate Planning, Tim Scannell, Valparaiso, Hightower Advisors

How would you define an Entrepreneur?

Friday, August 3, 2012

I recently talked with Steven C. Andrews, CPA, Partner at Crowe Horwath LLP.  Steve consults with organizations on taxation, business structuring and succession planning.  Steve has been with the Firm for 29 years and has been the Firm’s Tax Matters partner for 13 years.  Below is a transcript of an interview with Steven concerning entrepreneurs?

Q: Based on your experience, how would you define an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneur is defined as “an owner or manager of a business who makes money through risk and initiative…” (Wikipedia). Most of my clients fit this definition to a tee. I like to separate the two elements of this definition to help illustrate what I mean.

People tend to focus on risk when reading the definition. You might picture small business owners or people you know who work for themselves and think they are risk takers.  You might be correct but your idea about risk isn’t always a main consideration for entrepreneurs.  Let me explain by giving you an example.

John Deere made a polished plow that would not accumulate soil on the blade.  Was he a risk taker, small business owner or an innovator?   He saw a problem and then developed a solution that was a better way of doing things.  He developed his idea, introduced his product to the market and the rest is well known.  I believe that when John Deere was young, he did not grow up thinking he would create one of the world’s largest game-changing companies or that he was inherently a risk taker.  Most of the entrepreneurs I work with are like John Deere. Entrepreneurs see a problem, identify a solution and then pursue success with a passion. To me, risk is “where opportunity meets preparation”.

Initiative is the second part of the definition.  Most of the successful entrepreneurs I know and work with simply do things better.  They have no new idea or breakthrough technology.  They simply know how improve a product or service and get it done more cost effectively.  They see a way to streamline operations, cut out inefficiencies, and improve the customer experience.  I tip my hat to them.  They too are in the class of where “opportunity meets preparation”.

Q: What other characteristics are common in successful entrepreneurs?

Leadership is a key characteristic of entrepreneurs.  Taking the initiative means stepping up to the plate, taking charge, being able to make a decision whether right or wrong.  Entrepreneurs are willing to bear the responsibility for their actions after they have thought through the issue.  Successful leaders that I have worked with are all great leaders.  They get people to follow their vision and passion.  I give all of them credit.  They drive the American economy.  Entrepreneurs are a different breed of individuals.  Without them, we would not have much.

Tim Scannell, CPA, CFPTM provides Personal and Business Tax Planning, Estate Planning, Investment Management, and Generational Wealth management to his clients. “We strive to deliver transparent, proactive, independent, and comprehensive planning and communications to the families we work for”.

Wealth Management, Fly Fishing, Entrepreneurship, Investment Planning, Estate Planning, Tim Scannell, Valparaiso, Hightower Advisors




Scannell Wealth Management Group is registered with HighTower Securities, LLC, member FINRA, MSRB and SIPC, and with HighTower Advisors, LLC, a registered investment advisor with the SEC. Securities are offered through HighTower Securities, LLC; advisory services are offered through HighTower Advisors, LLC.

This is not an offer to buy or sell securities. No investment process is free of risk, and there is no guarantee that the investment process or the investment opportunities referenced herein will be profitable. Past performance is not indicative of current or future performance and is not a guarantee. The investment opportunities referenced herein may not be suitable for all investors.

All data and information reference herein are from sources believed to be reliable. Any opinions, news, research, analyses, prices, or other information contained in this research is provided as general market commentary, it does not constitute investment advice. Scannell Wealth Management Group and HighTower shall not in any way be liable for claims, and make no expressed or implied representations or warranties as to the accuracy or completeness of the data and other information, or for statements or errors contained in or omissions from the obtained data and information referenced herein. The data and information are provided as of the date referenced. Such data and information are subject to change without notice.

This document was created for informational purposes only; the opinions expressed are solely those of Scannell Wealth Management Group, and do not represent those of HighTower Advisors, LLC, or any of its affiliates.