MARGIN – 2020 Client Successes

Jan 29, 2021 | Blog, Investment, Newsletter

2020 – Year Two: Surviving To Thriving

Let me catch you up

From 2018 to 2019, cease and desist (ex-employer) lawsuits hit my door-step as I was brining our Thanksgiving turkey; old clients who referred to me as their “son” stopped answering my calls; immediate family asked what I would do “when I failed”.

Then 2020 came, and there was no time for thinking about the past.

Our clients needed us more than ever.

Because our firm is not about us, it’s about our clients.
Their stories, dreams, and goals.

2021 will be no different as we keep adding value and serving our clients to the best of our professional abilities.


2020 Client Highlights of Big Wins

  • In the midst of a client’s first pregnancy they moved from NYC to Nashville, while their side gig turned into a million dollar business. 
    • We assisted in creating a financial foundation to support rapid growth: payroll, business licenses, entity formations, retirement accounts, attorney introductions, and insurance. Now they can focus on starting their family instead of navigating the complex world of business compliance.
      • The client mentioned they could finally go to the mailbox without anxiety that they might be getting a letter from the IRS.
      • FIRE in 2020, helped a client under 50 understand the trade-offs of paying off their mortgage right before quitting their job and starting financial independence. Thailand, U.K, California, Portland, and Colorado mountains all got visited last year.
  • Converted a client’s house into an asset, which helped them claim costs that were previously not deductible on their tax return, created deductible losses (claiming depreciation) setting the stage from some partial Roth IRA conversions, and less taxes in the future!  
  • Supported a hospitalist, helping her set up a new business while she worked 24/7 caring for COVID patients. Keeping her spirits up with cards and phone conversations, in addition to setting up her first back-door Roth, a solo 401(k), and consolidating accounts so she could focus on saving lives!
  • Spotted a fraudulent $100,000 private investment, and gave the clients options on revising the terms of the agreement.
  • First call, as a client was laid off. A bittersweet moment for them: sad to lose their job, but relieved we prioritized an emergency fund over more retirement savings. This way they didn’t have a penalty to withdraw funds or pay more in taxes.
    • Also helped them negotiate a severance and settlement in a tax-efficient manner.
  • During COVID, talked through trade-offs of whether a client should charter a $50k flight out of Bogota Colombia, to Denver, during airplane shutdowns. While they were worried about being laid-off in oil-and-gas.
      • This added confidence to start on their next big goal – buying a home during this, they stayed calm, and we started dollar-cost averaging at the bottom of the market. 
  • After about 5-years of missing deferred compensation, a client started in 2020. This substantially reduced current taxes, and allowed these funds to compound to a larger amount over time to be withdrawn at a lower tax bracket in the future. 
  • Reviewed 50+ real estate investment properties, and spent over 200+ hours looking over direct real estate deals, private deals, or vacation homes. Providing tax, investment, due diligence, and emotional trade-offs to buying and selling real estate.
  • Saved clients over a quarter million dollars in projected future taxes by tax loss harvesting $20,000 to $200,000 in certain households. 
    • Allowing some to finally reduce high concentrations in employer stock. Thus avoiding huge gains if those stocks went down while avoiding paying huge tax bills of up to $150,000.
  • Proactively called mortgage lenders on behalf of ALL clients in February to package those home loans together to provide our clients a better deal. A few saved over $500 a month in payments.
  • Kept every single retired client confident in their long-term planning by re-running scenarios, and talking through options when their portfolio was down in the first quarter.
    • Talked to every client with the capacity to take risk and large cash balances in April about dollar cost averaging into the market as it recovered. 
  • Kept clients on their investment course, rebalanced accounts near the end of March. Added meaningful performance by selling bonds, and bought stocks when they were low. 


What about YOU?

If you are a client, did we forget something important you feel we should add? Feel free to respond to this e-mail, and tell us about your financial highlights and we will update this list and get on it (confidentially).

How much time do you have?

Of course, there’s so many other areas we added value to our clients’ lives in addition to saved taxes, better financial decisions, and sleeping better at night.


New Addition & Welcome: Sara Arnold, CPA, MST

Sara and I have worked together for a year now. Always amazing with savant tax technical skills, but more importantly a heart for our clients that you can’t learn in a textbook.

One of the biggest purple squirrels, I’ve ever found, who defies all conventional stereotypes about who a CPA is, and what they should be like. I’m excited to work with her to take our firm to the next level.

New Addition & Welcome: Jess Landrum

Jess has been with our team for a few months. We finally have operational help. And with a calm-everyone-down-southern-drawl she destroys frustrating operational issues, and keeps our ship running smoothly so Sara and I can focus on clients.


Peers: All-Stars want to play with All-Stars

Play with better players, if you want to get better.

The first two years, I was overly protective about a lot of “our ideas”.
This is backwards thinking.

Since then, I read about Accredited Investors Wealth Management, a now $1.9 billion firm that used to spend weekends with competing firms reviewing their practice for improvement. Then they paid a charity of the peers’ choice for their help.

Imagine reading in the Wall Street Journal tomorrow that Google invited all the Apple engineers to test their products, and tear them apart, and then pay a charity of their choice. It’d never happen. 

Yes, there is risk here. But, if you’re a great player, the biggest risk is failing to get better.


Thank you

With that in mind, I want to recognize some of my peers, or “sparring partners” as I like to say, who have made our firm better both in tiny and in major ways.

  • Phil Billingham at Perceptive Planning (from the U.K.- thank you much for your cross-border help Phil, hope you got that pint)
  • Adam Blumberg at Interaxis
  • Zach Rollins at Recurring Capital Partners
  • Morgan Ranstrom at Trailhead Partners
  • Yiwen Chen at Transform Wealth
  • Alyssa Yocom at Schultz Financial Group
  • Greg Kero at AStreetInvestments
  • Paul Knipping at Axiom
  • Todd Butler at Advice Period
  • Chris Long at Intentional Wealth Solutions

And to the dozens of peers who spent time with us, sincerely thank you for your time.

If you are interested in “sparring with us,” reach out, we’d love to meet you.

We’ll follow this newsletter up with our Road Ahead: Getting better for our clients in 2021.


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