Key ConcernsKey Concerns: Fulfillment/Life Satisfaction, Delegating Financial Matters

  • Vivian, a corporate attorney, was well compensated, selected her own investments, and saved consistently each month. Although responsible and disciplined, she dedicated little time to her finances or questioning why she worked so hard, saved, and invested.
  • During our introductory meeting, we uncovered a need for more than just a financial checkup. Her investments needed some attention, especially her employer stock, for which she had no plans. More important, her career was no longer challenging, and her responsibilities felt monotonous. A leisurely retirement wasn’t the answer, she said. Vivian really wanted to make the most of her time with her sons before they went off to college in several years. After that, perhaps she’d use her legal expertise to support causes she cared about.
  • As we built Vivian’s financial plan, we found that she was actually quite close to being financially independent. Her retirement accounts, combined with the value of her company stock, were enough to easily support her lifestyle. She no longer needed to work for a paycheck.
  • Vivian’s employer stock sat at a low point relative to its long trading history, and she was only comfortable selling at higher values. We worked together to develop a rules-based stock sale plan, similar to the plans used by executives at public companies. This plan involved selling stock weekly. The number of shares sold, increased if the stock price grew.
  • Shortly after we implemented Vivian’s sales plan, her company announced it was in discussions to be acquired by a rival. The stock jumped dramatically, triggering sales of many shares at elevated prices. This almost certainly would not have been realized if Vivian had not committed to a systematic strategy ahead of the announcement.
  • When Vivian approached her manager about her intentions to retire, she was offered additional pay and increased flexibility at the office. She chose to work for a year, earning more and further securing her retirement plan, enjoying the fact that she no longer needed to work for a living.
  • Today Vivian is financially independent at the young age of 53, and beginning to enjoy the life she only thought could happen years from now. Recently, she had lunch with one of her former colleagues. After discussing her retirement plan with this woman, she introduced us to her friend, who is planning her own retirement next year.
Vivian, 53-year-old corporate attorney
  • Jim, a successful small business owner, met with us 20 years ago. As an entrepreneur, he felt a sense of control and was therefore comfortable taking calculated business risks. As an investor, however, he was quite conservative, with little tolerance for volatility and a strong desire to minimize taxes. Jim worked hard to build his business and envisioned himself turning his largest asset into a means for retirement by age 60.
  • During our planning process, Jim received an offer to buy his business. Initially, he believed the offer for the small semiconductor business, which he’d started, and had operated for 25 years, was somewhat low. Jim struggled with the idea of selling for less than top dollar and paying the tax bill. In addition, we determined that the after-tax proceeds of the business sale alone would not quite meet Jim’s needs in retirement.
  • During one conversation, Jim’s wife mentioned that they held old stock certificates for her former employer in a safe deposit box. They hadn’t thought about the shares and didn’t realize their value had increased. When we added the after-tax proceeds of the stock certificates to their financial plan, their retirement picture improved dramatically. The business sale offer plus stock certificates were enough to cover taxes and provide more than $300,000 per year, even when invested in a low-risk portfolio of tax-free municipal bonds.
  • After seeing this analysis and asking a number of questions, Jim involved his CPA, who confirmed the tax estimates and how the tax-free income worked. Based on this, Jim decided to sell both the business and the stock. He’d pay the taxes and accept a slightly lower business value in order to secure his retirement and provide tax-free income going forward.
  • Jim has gone on to enjoy 20 years of financial independence as a Brown Wealth Management client. His conservative portfolio helped him live comfortably during two recessions, and he still collects a predictable tax-free income. Jim volunteers at a local ranger society, plays drums in a band that tours around San Diego, and frequents his second home on Catalina Island where he spends time diving and boating.
Jim, 78-year-old retired business owner

Key Concerns:

  • Making the most of company stock
  • Managing taxes and risks
  • Prioritizing family time and his legacy
  • When we met John, he was a technology executive who had amassed millions of dollars’ worth of his employer’s stock. His career successes required family sacrifices and many long days at the office. He dreamed of spending more time with family and friends, and traveling more.
  • John was torn. Almost all of his net worth was invested in his employer’s stock, a risky proposition. However, the stock had made him wealthy, and taxes would take a large bite out of the value if he diversified. In addition, he had missed a recent high point and anxiously hoped for a rebound before diversifying.
  • After getting to know John’s family and their financials, we determined that he was indeed financially independent, at the current stock price. A few smart financial moves could reduce John’s tax burden, dramatically cut his investment risk, and provide enough income to meet all of his financial objectives.
  • We prepared detailed recommendations in conjunction with his CPA and attorney— specialized trusts, partnerships, and a systematic stock sale strategy. Sales proceeds were invested to generate the income he needed for the rest of his life, send his kids to college, and leave a financial legacy after he and his wife passed. John decided to keep a small portion of his employer’s stock. He enjoys watching it grow and having a connection to his former employer, while knowing his financial future doesn’t depend on it.
  • For the past 17 years, we’ve worked closely with John to ensure that he continues to enjoy complete financial freedom. He has spent time hiking mountains abroad, skiing in remote locations, and has shared many incredible experiences with his wife and children.
John, 49-year-old tech executive