Tag Archives: Scannell Wealth Management




Preparing an “Exit Strategy” like Kobe Bryant

Monday, December 21, 2015

What is your Plan

My phone buzzes on the nightstand. I hate that thing sometimes. I look over and am surprised to see that it’s my son, Brendan, 25, texting me way past my bedtime from his Western Timezone. I grab the phone and slide open the message.

Kobe retiring,” it says. I yawn. Definitely not a necessary text at 10PM.

That’s what happens when you get old,” I reply. I’m awake so I do a quick google search and see that “old” NBA basketball player Kobe Bryant is… only 37. Yikes. I won’t say how old that makes me, but I can’t imagine what it would be like to retire at 37.

He announced it via poem…” says Brendan. He includes the link (1). I save it for later and my head hits the pillow.

Now, none of my clients are professional athletes, and most won’t announce their retirement with a poem, but all of them worry about how they will eventually leave the workforce. For those who own a company, there’s the added pressure of planning for that business beyond their retirement. In a recent meeting, I asked a client (let’s call him Bill) for his vision for his company over the next three to five years. Specifically, I asked if Bill has an “exit strategy” that will provide him retirement income, protect his family and employees, and preserve the legacy Bill invested so much sweat and energy to create. Bill gave me a blank stare. As a small business owner myself, I can understand why.

John M. Leonetti, author of Exiting Your Business, Protecting Your Wealth, says, “Most owners do not have an exit strategy in place because people who run businesses tend to focus a majority of their efforts on being in the game or competing in their industry…[They] understand the logic of planning for an exit, but typically put it off to some unknown point in the future” (2). The task of planning your departure from your business can feel daunting and overwhelming. Like many of my clients, I am a small business owner. My last name is even in the title. As my children were growing up, I joked about who was going to take over the business when I retired. My jokes were left with blank responses. Truthfully, I’m happy to see my children following careers that interest them. For me, it became clear I needed to look outside the family to build a succession plan that best served the company and most importantly, our clients.

Likewise, Bill and I started a process that will provide him with an independent evaluation of his company and a list of strategies to implement to make a sale viable. Based on my 29 years of experience working as a CPA and CFP®, I find that the first step in this process is identifying what the business is really worth and what the client needs from the business to ensure a comfortable retirement.  With this information, Bill can begin to consider all of the sale alternatives. I’ll go into these in more detail in my next post, but for our purposes here, they include the following options:

  1. Internal management buyout
  2. Formal search for a strategic buyer
  3. Private equity
  4. Transfer to the next generation
  5. Growth capital for business expansion

The process wasn’t as hard as Bill imagined once we jumped the mental barrier of the “exit strategy.” The information was available, and the client just needed our team to coordinate his existing advisors to help get the job done.

Kobe will play to the end of this NBA season in April, stretching his public exit strategy to five months. For you and your company, your strategy may be ingrained in your business for the next few decades to ensure you leave at the right time in the best possible situation. As John M. Leonetti says, “For a mature company, the sooner a plan is put in place, the better prepared an owner will be when an exit is available, both personally and professionally.”

Clients work with us because we don’t sell products – we create customized plans based on each client’s unique goals and we continuously reevaluate client plans to ensure they are aligned with changing needs. Our clients rely on us to protect their futures, and we take their trust to heart.

  1. http://www.theplayerstribune.com/dear-basketball/
  2. http://quickbooks.intuit.com/r/business-planning/how-to-plan-an-exit-strategy-for-your-small-business

Generational Wealth is being passed to the Generation of Debt

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Scannell Wealth Management, HighTower Advisors, Financial Planning

Clients work with us because we create customized plans based on each client’s unique goals, and we continuously reevaluate client plans to ensure they are aligned with changing needs. When preparing plans and advice, we focus on “Generational Wealth Management” and help prepare clients’ heirs for the time when they will receive wealth.

 

This year I have had over a dozen planning meeting with “next generation” heirs, all of whom were one to five years out of college and working in their careers.  As a group, their top questions related to budgeting and managing their debt.  As I worked on one of the plans last week, it occurred to me that parents today should be having conversations with their kids about debt, conversations foreign to our parents because debt availability and variances today didn’t exist when we were young. Our children and grandchildren can get into more financial trouble much faster today than 30 years ago when I graduated from University of Illinois.

 

In 1984, I graduated from U of I with an Accounting degree and roughly $5,000 in student loans. As a starting CPA with Ernst and Whinney (now Ernst and Young), I was earning a salary of $21,000/year, so I could afford loan payments.  My loan balance of $5,000 was only 23% of my salary and the monthly loan payments were only 7% of my monthly income. Needing a car and a credit card for work, I purchased a Ford Taurus for $18,000 and applied for a credit card with a $1,000 limit, which seemed like more than enough at the time.

 

My recent meetings with college graduates revealed that most have had credit cards and iPhones – and related credit through all of the related Apple media sites- since high school and graduated from college with student debt that is 100% to 500% of their salary.   They have been and will be solicited weekly for auto, credit card, pay-day loans, education, and many other “Free” loan offers that can put them in a hole very quickly.

 

So how do we start having the conversations with our children once they are living on their own?  If they are still in your basement, this conversation will be much easier!  If you aren’t comfortable with or don’t feel qualified to start the conversation, how can you offer them the resources and tools they need to succeed? Can we expect them to be able to handle an inheritance if they can’t manage their own debt?

 

The conversation covers the definitions of “Good Debt” vs. “Bad Debt” and how to evaluate which is which. Your advisor should be able to offer advice and plans to your heirs that they can use to prioritize debt and discern how and when to pay off each loan.  We create 90-day plans with loan balance goals and then meet to review and measure progress.  Each client is different, so we use monthly budget and loan analysis worksheets to create a custom plan for each client. We become an accountability partner or coach with clients, helping them set goals, define and measure success, and then review and revise goals as they progress.

 

With the complexities of all parent/child dynamics, I’ve found that even if parents have the right answers when it comes to handling money matters, having the children get the answers from someone who isn’t a parent can make a big difference. If your children need to discuss money matters with a professional, send them to me.
Tim Scannell, CPA, CFPTM. provides Personal and Business Tax Planning, Estate Planning, Investment Management, and Generational Wealth management to his clients. “We deliver proactive, objective advice, plans and solutions enabling our clients to reach their unique family goals.”

Are you communicating “Old School” about money?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

My 88-year-old mother-in-law gets dressed up to go to the bank. At 53, I occasionally stop in the new bank branch near my office and am always greeted by empty offices, a plate of cookies and smiling employees just happy to see a customer. I bank electronically, so my visits are rare.  Recently, I asked each of my five Millennial children when they last went into a bank. Brigid (22) went last year to get quarters for laundry.  Brendan (25) couldn’t even tell me the last time he wrote a check.

New School

Changing technology and evolving client needs also affect the delivery of financial services.  This month, as our firm reviews its 2016 business plan, we will analyze client surveys and requests to determine how we can adjust our staff, communication, technology, and other resources to meet our clients’ rapidly changing needs. We aspire to deliver advice and plans in ways that best serve our clients.

 

There is a large and growing divide between how generations use technology and access our advice, plans, communications, educational tools and other resources, so it is important that we provide various delivery methods to our clients. This is particularly important in the plans and processes designed to help our clients prepare their heirs to eventually receive wealth.  We ask to work with our clients’ beneficiaries, so we can help prepare them for the money they will receive.  In addition, the processes we set up to achieve this goal strengthen clients’ connections with their heirs and create opportunities for clients to pass valuable lessons about money and giving back.  These plans increase the likelihood that future generations benefit from inherited wealth rather than suffer detriment by not understanding the responsibilities of wealth.

 

Like many of my clients, for years, I have used “old school” spreadsheets for planning and am very comfortable with them.  Most of our clients’ children don’t use them or learn that way.  Instead, educational workshops on budgeting and basic investing are now offered using cloud-based programs like MINT, Billguard, or You Need A Budget (YNAB).  Our old PowerPoint lessons have been converted to readily available online podcasts and videos.

 

As you create multi-generational plans and you request advice from your advisor team, make sure plans are delivered with the beneficiaries in mind. Consider how your heirs communicate and learn.  Doing so will increase the likelihood that the wealth you will eventually pass will improve the lives of the next generation and the world they live in.

 

Clients work with us because we don’t sell products – we create customized plans based on each client’s unique goals, and we continuously reevaluate client plans to ensure they are aligned with changing needs.

 

Tim Scannell, CPA, CFPTM. provides Personal and Business Tax Planning, Estate Planning, Investment Management, and Generational Wealth management to his clients. “We deliver proactive, objective advice, plans and solutions enabling our clients to reach their unique family goals.”

Emotional Data: The missing link for Robo-Advisors

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Scannell Wealth management

While preparing his income tax return on TurboTax this week, a client called because he owed more than expected and wanted to know why.  Over the phone, we reviewed the TurboTax online questionnaire and determined what caused the higher tax bill. We then reduced it by electing credits he hadn’t considered.  HighTower-Scannell Wealth offers proactive tax planning for our clients, but we are not in the tax preparation business.  My advice to most clients is that TurboTax is a great tool, but they should consult with their CPA because these professional accountants know and understand the law. Paying for objective advice from a CPA is a good investment because it usually saves money.

 

The next day, while discussing estate planning alternatives with a client, I was asked, “Should I go online to draft a will rather than pay an attorney?” I recommend that clients work with a licensed attorney to help implement an estate plan because they have seen and worked on the problems created when estate planning documents are not prepared properly.  When clients need a will, trust, power of attorney, living will or other planning documents, an online questionnaire will not address all of the issues that need to be considered.  Fees paid to an attorney for valuable expertise will protect your family when you are gone.

 

These questions became apparent today as I read the article “Robo-Advisor growth hits Wall Street” in Yahoo Sports.  The journalist addressed the growth of online “advisors” who offer low cost, technology- based investment management services some believe may replace working with advisors like me. Online firms are successfully leveraging technology to drive down the cost to invest and improve expense transparency, both of which are good for clients.  We’ve used robo-advisor-type services in our practice to deliver low cost and transparency to our clients, lowering our client fees 5 times since 2007 while passing along efficiencies to those we serve.

 

Beyond the cost savings and transparency improvements, can these online companies truly replace the human touch of advisors? I remember watching an online tutorial about Walleye fishing before leaving for my first fishing trip in Canada.  It was informative, but it did not compare with the coaching I received from the fishing guide in the boat on the water. He directed me toward the different strategies and equipment needed for the catch as the weather changed on the lake.

 

I know my clients’ stories, priorities, history, goals and families, and I didn’t discover that by reviewing online surveys. I’m there when clients face unexpected life events, job changes, promotions, or medical emergencies.  I offer advice when they are saving for college, planning for weddings or evaluating the overwhelming alternatives facing their elderly parents. We gather “robo-advisor” financial facts, but it’s the emotional data we gather in personal meetings that allows us to prepare, implement, and monitor comprehensive plans addressing taxes, retirement, cash flow, budgeting, estate planning, insurance and other needs.

 

Your goals and dreams change. Financial products do not. Clients work with us because we don’t sell products – we create customized plans based on each client’s unique goals, and we continuously reevaluate client plans to ensure they are aligned with changing needs.  Our clients rely on us to protect their futures, and we take their trust to heart.

 

Tim Scannell, CPA, CFP TM provides Personal and Business Tax Planning, Estate Planning, Investment Management, and Generational Wealth management to his clients. “Clients work with us because we don’t sell products – we create customized plans based on each client’s unique goals, and we continuously reevaluate client plans to ensure they are aligned with changing needs. Our clients rely on us to protect their futures, and we take their trust to heart.

 

Verify your Social Security Benefits!

Friday, February 20, 2015

When preparing retirement plans for clients, confirming the accuracy of Social Security data and estimating Social Security retirement revenue is very important.  As a process, we ask to review clients’ benefit statements to make sure that their income, taxes and benefits are reported accurately. If your income or taxes are incorrect in your report, it could be a sign that your employer is miscalculating your income, or worse, not remitting your withheld FICA taxes.  If the amount reported by Social Security is greater than your actual wages, it may be a sign that your identity has been stolen and someone is using your Social Security number.  Both problems can cost you benefits, time and legal fees.  To help clients monitor their benefits, we help them register for online statements at www.socialsecurity.gov. Verifying the accuracy of clients’ Social Security information throughout their working career is valuable for clients of all ages because if there are inaccuracies, we must correct them while data remains available from their employers.

 

Verify Your Benefits

Verify Your Benefits

When reviewing your information and benefits, remember that Social Security uses your highest 35 years of income, limits the amount of earnings subject to taxation each year, and uses the same limit when calculating your benefits. Note that the contribution base fluctuates. For example, the contribution and benefit base was $117,000 in 2014 and increased to $118,500 in 2015.

 

Once the accuracy of your information at Social Security and your benefits are confirmed, we work through the complex rules and regulations to help clients create a strategy to maximize their lifetime benefits.  Based on 29 years of planning experience, there are no rules of thumb to use use when making benefit elections.  The specific ages and income histories of spouses, both living and deceased, life expectancy and other assumptions will result in strategy options that are specific to each client.  Due to the complexities of the calculations, we use software designed specifically to analyze and compare their different life long results.

 

Plan wisely, verify the accuracy of your information, consider all options before making your Social Security benefit elections, and lastly, make sure you incorporate Social Security into your retirement plan, regardless of your age.

 

Your goals and dreams change. Financial products do not. Clients work with us because we don’t sell products – we create customized plans based on each client’s unique goals, and we continuously reevaluate client plans to ensure they are aligned with changing needs. Our clients rely on us to protect their futures, and we take their trust to heart.

 

Tim Scannell, CPA, CFP TM provides Personal and Business Tax Planning, Estate Planning, Investment Management, and Generational Wealth management to his clients. “We deliver proactive, objective advice, plans and solutions enabling our clients to reach their unique family goals “.

 

Keith Wolak, CPA is a partner at Hoeppner Wagner & Evans. Keith is a Board Certified Indiana Trust and Estate Lawyer, as certified by Trust and Estate Specialty Board. Hoeppner Wagner & Evans LLP is a law firm with offices in Merrillville and Valparaiso. Visit our website www.hwelaw.com for more information. DISCLAIMER: This publication is not intended to be legal advice but is presented for informational and educational purposes only. The facts and circumstances of a specific legal issue are unique and you should seek legal advice for your specific questions or concerns. No attorney-client relationship is created.

 

Prepare for the Net Investment Income Tax!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

We create customized plans based on each client’s unique goals

As always, strategic investment requires careful planning. This is extremely pertinent as the Affordable Care Act initiated a new tax that may reduce investment profits if not considered accordingly. The Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) creates an additional 3.8% tax on income for some high income taxpayers who have investment income. Generally if you are married and have a Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) above $250,000 ($200,000 for single taxpayers) and you have investment income, your plan must address this issue.  As we design, implement and monitor investment and wealth management strategies with our clients, we analyze the impact of this tax just as I check the weather before heading to the river to fly fish.

 

Our planning efforts for clients in November and December each year focus on various deferral and avoidance strategies before year end to prevent the client from exceeding the MAGI levels where the NII tax is due. We have helped clients structure asset sales to defer recognition of income, plan retirement payments over time rather than in a lump sum, and sell stocks and other investments with losses to offset other portfolio gains. We facilitated gifts of appreciated property to charity and accelerated retirement plan contributions to reduce taxable income. In one instance where cash was limited, the client borrowed funds against the bond portfolio to increase retirement plan contributions because the tax savings paid in the short-term interest cost tenfold. We have also helped business owners utilize other traditional tax deferral methods such as accelerating depreciation, paying employee bonuses or accelerating other discretionary expenses in high income years.  The goal of these strategies has been to reduce MAGI and avoid the additional 3.8% tax.

 

Our focus in January and February is to ensure that client portfolios and other assets are structured in a way to minimize the Net Investment Income Tax for the current year.  Income subject to the tax includes interest, dividends, net capital gains, rental and royalty income, and business income from passive activities. We analyze clients portfolios and other assets to minimize the NII taxable items.  Items that are not included in this tax base include operating income from a non-passive business, tax-exempt interest, self –employment income, and distributions from qualified retirement plans. Consequently, we strive to maximize these items.

 

Making your children aware of the tax is a great opportunity to prepare them for ultimately receiving and preserving the wealth you have created. With the complexities of all parent/child dynamics, I’ve found that even if the parents have the right answers when it comes to handling money matters, having the children get the answers from someone who isn’t a parent can make a big difference. If your children need to discuss money matters with an expert, send them to us.

 

Your goals and dreams change. Financial products do not. Clients work with us because we don’t sell products – we create customized plans based on each client’s unique goals, and we continuously reevaluate client plans to ensure they are aligned with changing needs. Our clients rely on us to protect their futures, and we take their trust to heart.

 

Tim Scannell, CPA, CFP TM provides Personal and Business Tax Planning, Estate Planning, Investment Management, and Generational Wealth management to his clients. “We deliver proactive, objective advice, plans and solutions enabling our clients to reach their unique family goals “.

 

Keith Wolak, CPA is a partner at Hoeppner Wagner & Evans. Keith is a Board Certified Indiana Trust and Estate Lawyer, as certified by Trust and Estate Specialty Board. Hoeppner Wagner & Evans LLP is a law firm with offices in Merrillville and Valparaiso. Visit our website www.hwelaw.com for more information. DISCLAIMER: This publication is not intended to be legal




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.