Who Works with Us
If you are:
- a busy professional with more questions about money than time,
- possibly going through a transition and looking for help navigating through it,
- concerned about the high cost of college or retirement and trying to figure out how to pay for one or the other or both,
- seeking reassurance that you are on the right track or have a sense that you need to make a ‘course correction’,
- looking for a trusted voice to be a sounding board
- you want financial management help without being required to move your money to have someone else manage it,
then give us a call.
If you want answers to a few of your money concerns, then you will want to choose one of our modular financial planning options.
If you want help developing a portfolio that aligns with your values and risk and want to implement our advice on your own, we can do that.
If you want guidance on a range of issues and maybe want us to directly manage your investments without paying a variable AUM fee based on your investment balance, you may want one of our fixed-fee WealthCare™ programs.
Whether you are a Do-It-Yourself investor or someone starting out, we can help you make smarter money moves.
We are financial planners with local clients throughout Greater Boston including Newton, Middlesex and Essex Counties, southern and Seacoast New Hampshire, and we work with clients remotely nationwide including Texas.
We cater primarily to couples as well as divorced and widowed individuals in need of trusted guidance while going through transitions. Our clients tend to be busy professionals or are owners of one-owner and married couple-owned businesses (proprietorships, Single Member LLCs or S-Corps).
We strive to make our planning services accessible and reasonable to those who are busy launching their careers or growing their families. We offer reasonably priced flat fee investment or financial and tax planning services.
Our clients are tired of Big Box financial supermarkets. They are also tired of going it alone despite success in other areas of their life. They may lack the time or motivation to be a Do-It-Yourselfer. They crave a higher degree of personalized service with insightful proactive advice and answers to their financial questions. They seek solutions that are objective and not based on the purchase of an investment or insurance product.
We strive to work with a small, successful, select group of individuals on an ongoing basis as a trusted advisor. This group includes business and investment real estate owners, professionals, entrepreneurs, and pre-retirees.
We welcome clients from all walks and stages of life and have particular focus on those in education, engineering, technology, medicine, dental and allied health professions.
We welcome members of all races or religions and members of the LGBTQ community.
Client Case Studies … Maybe These Describe You and Your Situation
Recent Widow with Three Children in High School and Middle School
Bonnie, a teacher and mother of a daughter and twin sons, had become a widow at 51 just a year before. She had relied on her husband to handle the family finances, taxes and investing. Now, she was overwhelmed by the day-to-day details and she was in near-panic mode thinking about college for three children in a couple of years. She had no idea whether or not she could retire as planned at age 65 and had no clue about how or where she was invested.
SOLUTION: WealthCare Gold Fixed-Fee Retainer Program with RetireRight Reality Check (ongoing Fixed-Fee)
We started by helping Bonnie create a realistic household spending plan. We then projected college costs for all three children and provided a road map that included an Expected Family Contribution based on implementing our tax and asset strategies. Then we helped her identify her investment Risk Number and mapped out an investment plan that aligned with her stated risk but based on much lower-cost index investment options. We also completed an initial RetireRight Reality Check. At various times over the past few years, we’ve tracked and updated her college funding and retirement plans. And we’ve worked on filing financial aid forms, evaluating refinancing options and establishing an estate plan. When she downsized we helped her evaluate loan options and determine the best way to use her home sale proceeds to get a low housing payment without tying up all her cash in her new condo. We helped her set up a six-figure retirement cash reserve fund with her remaining proceeds at a local bank.
Pre-Retirees Unsure About Retirement
Jack, a senior manager with a large Boston area manufacturer, and Diane, a stay-at-home mom and artist, were finished with college for their two daughters. Now that both had reached their mid-50s, they were turning their attention to their future retirement needs. Through diligent effort and savings, Jack had accumulated a high six-figure 401(k) balance. And Diane had inherited her father’s seven-figure IRA. Jack was uneasy about their choice of investments. And he was unclear about when he should target for retirement and how to integrate Social Security into the plan.
SOLUTION: RetireRight Reality Check with Portfolio Lab Analysis (Fixed-Fee)
For a flat, one-time fee, we sat down with Jack and Diane a few times, first to gather information and discuss goals and then to go over and tweak our recommendations. We started with a review of current and projected cash flows and taxes. We used statistical sampling techniques to ‘stress-test’ the cash flows to determine a sustainable portfolio distribution plan. Then we worked on getting their investments in line with this recommended plan.
First we used two risk analysis tools to find their Risk Number. After analyzing their various investments, we found that their portfolio Risk Number was higher than their own stated Risk Numbers. Using the investment options available to him in his 401(k), we developed a new allocation plan that was more in line with his stated risk tolerance. He implemented the personalized investment proposal on his own and periodically schedules times to follow up for an updated allocation and retirement reality check.
Hi-Tech Manager Looking for Advice on Social Security Before Retiring
Jerry, a technology executive, was being offered an early retirement buy-out proposal from his employer. Since he was 64 and in good health, he wanted to know how and when to claim his Social Security benefits to integrate them into his retirement cash flow plan.
SOLUTION: RetireRight SSI Analysis (Fixed-Fee)
Using advanced tools to model his benefits and tax impact of his other IRA distributions, we helped him find an optimal claiming time and strategy. Through this analysis we identified two options that would generate $100,000 or more in increased lifetime household benefits.
Corporate Sales Executive Looking for a Second Opinion on 401(k) Investments
Tom, a successful corporate sales executive in his mid-40s, called looking for a second opinion about how he should be allocated in his 401(k) with an accumulated six-figure balance. He had never worked with another advisor and had chosen funds based on a guess of what sounded right for him. Despite his proximity to one of our offices, his schedule made it difficult for him to meet during regular business hours.
SOLUTION: Portfolio Lab Analysis with Custom Allocation (Fixed-Fee)
After a phone meeting to get an idea of his investment background and experience, we forwarded to him links to two online tools we use to assess investment tolerance and behavior. Then we requested copies of all 401(k) information including current statements, summary plan documents and complete menu of investment options. We provided him with a link to a secure client portal that we establish for clients to share information electronically. With this information we determined that his Risk Number was about 70 on on 99 scale. We mapped his current investment holdings which showed a Risk Number of 50 on the same scale. We then proposed a set of investment changes that resulted in a Risk Number of 68 and was more in line with his risk tolerance and goals. This analysis also showed his overall past performance and a number of other portfolio metrics (standard deviation, beta, Sortino Ratio).
He took these recommendations and implemented them on his own. Later, he extended the project to do a Portfolio Lab Analysis on his other IRAs held at a large well-known firm where he was paying over 2% in fees between a 1% asset management fee plus expense ratios on over a dozen actively managed mutual funds they chose. This analysis showed that he was not in line with his Risk Number as well.
We recommended a streamlined solution of five low-cost index-based funds with a better performance history. He transferred his funds to a self-directed IRA at a custodian of his choosing and bought six funds saving him more than $2,500 in his first year.
Business Owner Seeking Advice to Fund College Gets a Tax Scholarship
Anthony a business owner in his early 50s owned commercial real estate and two businesses. He had handled his business and family finances without outside assistance for years. His CPA handled his tax returns but never provided proactive planning options that may have saved him money. The year before meeting, he had taken a huge distribution from his firm to pay for his daughter’s last year of school. The distribution artificially inflated his average income and based on prevailing financial aid rules made his family ineligible for any needs-based financial aid. His son was graduating from high school and accepted into a prestigious and expensive private college at a cost of $52,000 per year without any offer of aid.
SOLUTION: CollegeCare Strategy Session with EFC Plus Cash Flow & Tax Plan (Fixed-Fee)
As is often the case for high-income families, we can find ways to free up cash flow from other savings. As part of the initial analysis we were able to recommend better auto insurance coverage for his personal and business vehicles resulting in nearly $2,000 in savings in the first year alone. Then we focused on ways to restructure his business assets using a Family Limited Partnership with a lease-back option for his business equipment. We combined this with other payroll and retirement plan options and these strategies lowered his taxable business profit without significantly reducing his actual cash flow. The strategies as implemented would save him nearly $32,000 in income taxes over four years. Combined with the savings on his insurance costs, he had enough freed up cash flow to pay for one year of college without he or his son incurring additional loan debt.
Retired Business Owner Trying to Understand His Investment Costs
Clyde, an active retiree in his early 70s, had sold a successful business in Connecticut a few years earlier. He had a long-standing relationship with an advisor working for a well-known brand name insurer. His seven-figure portfolio was being managed in a traditional asset management arrangement. He was enrolled in a program that he thought was costing him 1% per year without any additional costs.
SOLUTION: Portfolio Lab Analysis with Custom Recommendations (Fixed-Fee)
After reviewing the twenty-six holdings that comprised his portfolio, we reported that that his average expense ratio for the actively-managed underlying funds was 0.80%/year or close to $7,000/year. We also determined that his internal trading costs based on relatively high turnover reported by the fund prospectuses were close to $4,000/year.
While his adviser’s fee was 1%/year or about $10,000 as he had correctly noted, he was unaware of these other costs. His true costs were close to 2.3% or closer to $23,000 per year.
Further analysis had noted that over multiple time periods (one-year, 3-year, 5-year and 10-year) that his portfolio’s performance had lower returns than one broad passive mutual fund or one low-cost globally diversified actively-managed mutual fund or one Exchange Traded Fund model of fewer than a dozen holdings. The average under-performance of his portfolio compared to these alternatives ranged from 2% to 4% per year.
We recommended a portfolio in line with his Risk Number that included a core allocation to the one globally diversified active funds (cost: 0.26%/year) and an allocation to a broad ETF model anchored with high-quality dividend-paying stocks. The combined weighted average cost of this solution was 0.54% or $5,400/year +/- resulting in a savings of nearly $18,000 in his first year alone.
Real Estate Investor Worried About Tax Bill from Property Sales
A 64 year-old real estate investor was troubled about his portfolio that included a rental property in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The mulit-family property had been purchased over twenty years before at a fraction of its current $600,000 value. He wanted to sell the property, replace the income provided by his rental and reduce his income taxes. He was stunned to learn that, according to his lawyer and a tax preparer, he would be obligated to pay nearly $200,000 in capital gains taxes if the property was sold and that little, if anything, could be done to lower his income taxes.
SOLUTION: WealthCare Strategy Session Focus on Tax-Planning (Fixed-Fee)
Discouraged, he reached out for a second opinion and, after our discussing the situation with him, we did a Pre-Sale Tax & Income Analysis of the property. Our diagnosis reported a way to structure the sale through an IRS-sanctioned method that would result in no capital gains taxes due when the property was sold and provide a way to invest more money now to replace his income from the sold property. We also discovered other legal tax-saving opportunities for him with which his lawyer and most CPAs were unfamiliar.
Our recommendations for the sale of investment property or a business will typically result in clients paying no capital gains taxes now while enjoying more assets to invest and income than they may have had previously. In this case he had the opportunity to defer taxes for up to thirty years and have $200,000 more to invest now for his retirement.
Young Family Navigating Personal Finances Asking ‘Are We on Track?’
Scott and Marsha, a married couple in their early 30s, had recently purchased a home and had a newborn. Scott worked in the pharmaceutical industry. Marsha worked as a manager in a financial services firm. While they had good-paying jobs and were contributing to their 401(k) plans, they were cash-strapped. They were unsure how to organize their finances or what steps to take to stay on track for their multiple goals including paying down debt while saving for college and retirement.
SOLUTION: WealthCare Silver Planning Program with Annual Advisor Support Program (Fixed-Fee)
We started with a ‘financial check-up’ to identify their financial strengths and weaknesses. We identified gaps in their home, life and disability insurance coverage and presented options for them to consider including enrollment in certain employer-sponsored benefits. We then estimated future college education costs for their son as well as a possible sibling. Armed with this information we researched and provided recommendations for low-cost, no commission college savings products and included a target amount for monthly contributions. We then evaluated their mortgage, loan and credit card debt to determine an accelerated pay-down schedule that would work into the new ’70-20-10′ household savings plan that we had developed with them.
Because they were enrolled in our annual support program, we also provided advice on other employer benefits during annual Open Enrollment and we also analyzed their 401(k) investments providing recommendations on changes that they chose to implement to rebalance annually.
Using our online dashboard tools, they could keep track of their progress toward their goals as well as track their near-term spending.
Corporate Executive and Self-Employed Spouse Seeking Advice on College, Taxes, Retirement and Investing
Peggy, a 48-year old executive in a large technology firm, and Tom, a 51-year old self-employed consultant, were parents of three children. Two daughters were in high school about to enter college and a son was entering pre-school. Because of their busy work and travel schedules, they had never organized their finances. Over the past twenty years, each of them had changed employers at least four times. They had a collection of 401(k) accounts and had lost track of them over time. Their income was very high and they paid AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax) but were never sure if there were any ways to minimize their tax liability. They had good savings habits but no clear strategy on how and where to invest. And with two daughters entering college soon, they had no clear plan on how to pay for it though they knew that they would not qualify for needs-based aid.
SOLUTION: WealthCare Gold Planning Program with Annual Advisor Support Program (Fixed-Fee)
We started with a financial wellness check-up to identify strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement. Over time we helped them identify their near- and longer-term goals and created a cash flow projection during the college funding years and retirement. Using various statistical techniques, we modeled their plan and stress-tested it to see if they were on track. We also identified tax strategies that may help them qualify for ‘tax scholarships’ which may help free up cash flow to help pay for college. We also analyzed their range of investments, helped them consolidate them between self-directed accounts as well as accounts managed by us. As part of this we helped them implement a ‘backdoor Roth IRA’ strategy which provided future tax diversification and retirement savings. After they completed our online risk profiles, we identified that their current investment allocations were not in line with their goals and made clear recommendations for them to implement directly on their own for IRAs as well as active employer-sponsored 401(k) plans.
All-in, the tangible net benefit from the recommendations implemented for the first year of service equaled more than $10,000. The projected cost savings and impact on their net worth over the next ten years from these steps was estimated at nearly $78,000 in current dollars, a return on their investment in the planning process of nearly 15-to-1.
NOTE: Case studies are for illustrative purposes only. Names and details have been changed to protect client privacy. Some case studies represent a composite of multiple clients with similar situations.