Case Study #1: Financial Planning for Career & Life Transitions

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Overview

Jeanne came to us after getting laid off from her job as an account executive with a large technology company. She was divorced and in her mid-50s and had no desire to retire.  In fact, she was looking to start her own business.  Jeanne had wanted to be an entrepreneur in the green tech industry for several years, and she thought it was the perfect time to take the leap. 

Jeanne had done a great job saving over the years but was worried about her money lasting, especially if she had to withdraw from her savings to fund her current lifestyle and business startup expenses.  She was also interested in socially responsible investing and wanted her investment portfolio to reflect her values.   

Jeanne's Goals

  • Consolidate multiple accounts and develop a coherent sustainable investment strategy that reflects Jeanne’s values.
  • Develop a cash flow plan to transition through a period of low income
  • Consult on how much of her personal assets can be invested in the business without risking her long-term retirement goals.
  • Consult on the intersection of her business and personal finances, including risk management and tax planning strategies.
  • Consult on different ways to monetize the business

Financial Plan

We started by figuring out how to allow Jeanne’s retirement assets the longest possible time to grow before she started withdrawing from them.  Jeanne had received some cash in her divorce, and we decided that would offer her a two-year window before she needed to bring in additional income from the business.  Setting this amount aside in liquid cash and savings accounts, we consolidated her various investment accounts and allocated the holdings according to her risk tolerance, time horizon, and goals.  Additionally, we ESG-Optimized her portfolio, meaning we largely invested in holdings (stocks & bonds) that screen for environmental, social, and governance factors.

Jeanne was committed to not imperiling her retirement or overall financial well-being to invest in her business.  We discussed potential investment amounts for the business and settled on a $20,000-$30,000 range.  After that, Jeanne was committed to bringing in outside investors to solve additional capital needs.   

Also, as a business owner, Jeanne now had unique risks and tax planning opportunities.  First, we talked about obtaining an umbrella insurance policy and making sure to insure any business assets.  For example, Jeanne bought a trailer for her business.  To protect the business and her personal assets, we advised her to ensure the trailer was covered in her insurance policies.  Second, Jeanne had tax planning opportunities, such as writing off much of her travel and other expenses for the business.

Last, as Jeanne was moving into a new and innovative area of the industry, we consulted on various ways of monetizing the business.  For example, though the business itself may take years to become profitable due to large capital and scaling costs, Jeanne could leverage her newfound expertise into speaking engagements, consulting, and/or writing a book.  

Conclusion: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities

Jeanne took advantage of a bad situation, the loss of her income and job security, by turning it into an opportunity to work toward her entrepreneurial dreams.  Additionally, instead of working in ambiguity or being consumed with worry over her personal finances, she sought out a professional firm like ours to help manage her financial life and the inevitable interplay between her business and personal finances.  We allocated her investment portfolio to reflect her values while still maintaining adequate diversification and risk exposure.   

Interested in working with a fee-only financial planner for your own career or life transition? 

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Disclaimer: These case studies are for informational purposes only. They are based on our experiences with real clients; however, all names and identifying information has been changed to protect their privacy. Financial planning is a personalized process and the recommendations created for you may be different.