My first job out of graduate school was as a consultant for a big four accounting firm. I spent most of my workdays in a windowless, closet-sized office crunching numbers and producing cost reports for healthcare companies and hospitals. Occasionally, I spent time working directly with clients and began to look forward to that aspect of my job more than any other. Through that experience, I realized that I very much enjoyed advising clients, but knew that I would find working with individuals and families much more satisfying than consulting with large companies. I made the switch in 1990 and never looked back.
I grew up in a very close-knit, large family. As a child and well into my teens, our extended family would gather every Saturday evening at my Great Grandparents’ house in Beaumont and simply enjoy being together. I had second and third cousins who were more like siblings. The wonderful thing about MBR is that we’re much like a big family, and that family atmosphere permeates not only through the MBR team, but extends to our client relationships. I’ve been a part of many of my clients’ lives and they mine for three decades and counting.
A private, boutique-sized firm that provides unparalleled service cannot be replicated or operated within a large institution. Mergers and acquisitions were commonplace in our industry 15 to 20 years ago and we made the mistake of selling our previous firm to a large financial institution. Through that sale, we ultimately lost our firm’s identity, independence, and even some of our clients. We’re a small firm that prefers to provide an outstanding experience to a limited number of clients.
One very valuable piece of advice that I received from a renowned tax attorney was that, if at all possible, plan to transition assets from one generation to the next utilizing both testamentary and irrevocable lifetime trusts. It gives families the choice to pay income tax at either the trust’s tax rate or the beneficiary’s tax rate. Even better, the trust protects the beneficiary’s assets from lawsuits and divorce.
Giving good advice never goes out of style. Tax laws, retirement regulations, investment platforms, insurance products, and financial planning strategies routinely change in our industry. You have to expect change and plan accordingly.
A successful client relationship is achieved only by fully understanding a client’s wealth management goals and developing a plan that accomplishes those goals. That’s a loop that repeats itself time and again with lifelong clients.
My thirty years in the industry have taught me that all lifelong clients experience a true “time of need.” Some experience many, including the death of a spouse or child, the loss of a job, a life-changing diagnosis, etc. It’s especially then that I want to be there for my clients both personally and to help them navigate through the financial consequences of those life-changing events.