Whether you are actively looking to hire a wealth advisor, or are just curious what wealth management is all about, we welcome you to Focus Wealth Management, Ltd.
Wealth management can mean many things to many people. For us, it describes a customized and comprehensive process using the principles and tools of financial planning combined with a proven and disciplined investment philosophy to manage and enhance our client’s financial lives. For you, it means sound advice with an uncommon level of continuing service.
We encourage you to explore our site and learn more about us, the people we serve, and the services we provide. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a complimentary consultation, please contact us.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Our clients value our professional, objective advice. Whether you are facing a financial transition – either planned or unexpected – or just want to know if you are on the right track, we employ the same rigorous and thorough analysis to determine the best possible strategies. Clients entrusting us with wealth management benefit from expertise and efforts of the entire Focus team on their behalf.
Every relationship is unique, but the following stories identify situations where the knowledge and experience of our Wealth Advisors add the most value.
Meet Our ClientsThe Too Busy Executive
“I am ready to fire the guy who has been managing my investments,” said the busy entrepreneur, “and I’m that guy!” Don, a young executive, had already been involved in two start-up companies and was working for the third. Like most successful business owners, he is energetic, intelligent and insanely busy. Don understands investing but he gets busy and ignores his accounts for months at a time. His portfolio has paid the price more than once for his spurts of active trading followed by total neglect.
Don decided that he needed to hire professionals for investment management, just as he has hired technology, human resource, accounting and legal professionals for his businesses. He understands and appreciates our structured investment philosophy and the discipline we bring to the investing process. His wife Jane appreciates our financial planning process which allowed her to see, for the first time, that they are on track toward meeting their long-term goals.
In addition to managing the portfolio, our wealth management process included helping Don and Jane choose the most appropriate refinancing option for their home, set a savings goal for their children’s education, and coordinate their contributions among their multiple retirement plan options. Don is relieved to have someone he can trust to take the responsibility for managing their family’s financial future. “Before partnering with Focus, my own family’s finances were a nagging worry. I know now that we are in good hands and I can concentrate on building my business and enjoying my kids while they are still young.”
Beth’s income suddenly skyrocketed when her small company was purchased by a private equity firm. She was promoted twice in three years and her stock options all vested in one year. The additional income came with additional responsibility including frequent business travel, often overseas. Beth relished her new position but struggled with the constant daycare and elementary school issues for her three small children, aged 8, 6 and 4.
Her husband, Michael, had a good management level job, but was earning much less than Beth was making. They finally decided that it would be best for them and the children for Michael to “retire” and provide the family support they needed. He was enjoying the new role and Beth was thrilled not to have to worry about the kids when she was at work or traveling.
When they were first married, Michael assumed the role of managing their finances, including their small investments, with the help of a retail broker he knew from college. As their accounts grew, they were getting more and more frequent calls from the broker to buy this stock or sell that one, purchase a large annuity and buy oil and gas limited partnerships. These piecemeal conversations were becoming of concern to Beth as she began to realize that there was no overall investment plan for what had now become a very large portfolio.
Michael was reluctant to give up his control over the investments which was causing some family discord. Finally he admitted he could not articulate any overall plan and they were both too busy to deal with it on a daily basis.
We worked with them to create an overall financial plan for them that addressed the children’s education and their retirement goals. As part of the planning, we collaborated with them to create a formal Investment Policy Statement (IPS) for all of their investment assets, including Beth’s retirement plans with her company. Their IPS addresses both short and long-term goals, tax issues, their overall asset allocation and the desired portfolio structure and management activities for each account. We provide the day-to-day management, tax planning, trading, cash flow management, rebalancing and performance reporting. At a glance they always know where they are in relation to achieving their goals.
They both appreciate that those annoying phone calls have stopped.
When we met Bud and Rose, they had been married for several years. This is a second marriage for each of them – Bud has two children from his first marriage and Rose has three. When they got married, they had an attorney draw up wills with trusts to make sure that each of their children would inherit their parent’s share of the estate. During their marriage, they bought a house together and titled it in their joint names. They co-mingled their financial assets and named each other as beneficiaries of their life insurance and 401k accounts.
After looking at how their assets were titled, we walked them through a hypothetical scenario in which Rose experiences an untimely death. In spite of her intention to protect her assets for her children, everything – cash, life insurance, her share of the house – would end up transferring directly to Bud. Since all their assets were jointly owned, and she had named him as the beneficiary of her life insurance and 401ks, none of the assets were available to fund the trust she set up for her children.
We brainstormed what could then happen. Bud could roll Rose’s 401k into his IRA and then name his own children as beneficiaries. All the joint assets become his, leaving nothing for her children. So what happens to Rose’s children? Presumably they could go live with their father, but what about the costs of college they planned to cover from their joint funds? If Rose is no longer in the picture, Bud may not feel any obligation to his step-children to continue to help them from Rose’s share of their joint assets. Or, perhaps he will marry again and leave everything to his new wife.
After thinking through this scenario, Bud and Rose decided to update their estate planning documents and retitle some of their investments. They know they want to provide for each other at the time of the first death, but they also want to make sure that their own assets and their share of the marital assets will ultimately pass to their children. After meeting with an estate planning attorney and changing the ownership and beneficiaries of their assets, they were able to set up a plan that will accomplish both goals.
“My husband just died. We were married for 32 years, and he handled all our finances. I just don’t know what to do.” When Cecilia came to our office, she was sad and overwhelmed. Her husband, John, died unexpectedly so there was no time to prepare. She brought in a pile of bank statements, investment reports, paid bills, tax returns – anything she could find that had to do with numbers.
We helped Cecilia organize her papers and sat down with her to call the banks and other institutions where they had accounts. It took piles of forms and letters to close all their investment accounts and rollover John’s IRAs, consolidating everything into just two accounts. Cecilia could now see how much money she really had, and began to feel more secure after we developed a cash flow plan showing her how much she could spend each month. We set up a monthly transfer to her checking account to cover her living expenses and designed a conservative investment portfolio for her.
We also introduced her to an estate planning attorney to update her will and create a revocable living trust so that, in the event that her health prevented her from managing her affairs, one of her children could easily step in and take over. Cecilia is doing pretty well now and she knows she can call us whenever she needs help making a financial decision.
Gabe and Martha, age 52, were both committed to giving their children the best education possible so they wouldn’t be saddled with student loans. To do that, they consumed their savings and most of their disposable income to cover college tuition. They had always looked forward to the prospect of retiring at age 62, but when they realized they had only 10 years to prepare for the financial cost of retirement, they decided they needed help.
We prepared a retirement readiness plan with two alternatives – one with them retiring at age 62 and the other at age 67. They both had planned on taking social security as soon as they retired, not realizing that their benefit would be reduced by 25% if they took it at age 62 versus waiting until their full retirement age of 67. Gabe was fortunate to have a pension that would start at retirement but it too would be less if he retired early. In addition, they had concerns about the cost of health insurance for the gap between 62 and 65 when they would be eligible for Medicare.
The plan clearly showed how much more cash flow would be available if they waited to retire, giving them more time to build back their savings in addition to substantially increasing the amount in their 401(k) plans. That, plus the increased monthly income from social security and Gabe’s pension, showed them that it would definitely be worth waiting five more years to have the retirement they want.
Answering a knock at the door, Doug found the sheriff with a summons. Doug, who serves as co-trustee with his mother for a family trust created at his father’s death, was being summoned for failing to file a required trustee’s report with the county commissioner. Joe, his mother’s CPA and long-time investment advisor, was responsible for managing the investments and preparing and filing all the tax returns and commissioner’s reports for the trust, so Doug had no idea there was a problem.
Doug, as co-trustee, along with his mother, was being personally fined for failing to file an accounting report of the trust’s activity for the prior year. Concerned about Joe’s actions, Doug asked us to look over the investment accounts in the trust. After reviewing the activity for the prior years, we were able to explain that Joe had generated huge capital gains for the trust (as well as substantial commissions for himself) when he moved to a new brokerage company. To avoid having the trust pay the taxes on this gain at the higher trust tax rate, he directed Doug, as trustee, to distribute the sale proceeds to his mother so that the gain would be taxed on her personal return.
This very large cash distribution of trust corpus (principal), along with several accounting errors and the unfiled report, was the gist of the commissioner’s concern. As Doug became fully aware of his personal liability as trustee, he became more and more anxious and frustrated. “I feel like I am trying to chase a runaway train here”, he complained. “Please help me put on the brakes!”
We laid out the various issues and problems to Doug, along with a plan to correct them. At our recommendation, Doug engaged an experienced trust attorney to correct the previous commissioner’s reports and amend prior tax returns. Doug then transferred the trust assets away from Joe and into our disciplined investment management program. Now the commissioner is happy and Doug is relieved not to have to worry about seeing the sheriff at his door again.
Wealth management is a comprehensive approach combining sophisticated financial planning and portfolio management. Our experienced Wealth Advisors’ knowledge encompasses everything from retirement and estate planning to social security claiming strategies and analysis of executive benefits. We manage your investment portfolio in the context of your overall financial picture. We take the lead in coordinating with your attorney, accountant and other advisors.
We want to be the ones you look to first for sound financial advice.