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What You'll Learn In Today's Episode
  • Planning the finances of people in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s requires a different set of goals from those for someone at peak income. You have to balance the numbers with the reasoning behind them.
  • Some advisors fail to keep flexible with regard to younger clients’ goals. Instead, focus on finding out what’s important to clients at their current stage of life. Ask, for instance, what someone would regret having missed out on if their life suddenly ended.
  • One size doesn’t always fit all, so avoid cookie-cutter approaches. For example, if they’re going to want to start a business in 5 years, this has to be factored in. Go beyond headline tax planning.
  • Younger clients may not be as eager to hear about end-of-life planning. Regardless, it’s never too early to discuss it. You can help them prepare for retirement without dictating what they choose.

Executive Summary:

Welcome back to the Retirement Tax Services Podcast! Steven’s guest this week is advisor Thomas Kopelman, who just co-founded Allstreet Wealth. While many financial planners focus on retirees, Thomas’ niche is millennials. In fact, he often does tax planning for people whose income level is still on the rise.

The Equity On-ramp

Managing the finances of people in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s requires its own approach. Accordingly, Thomas suggests a different set of goals from those for someone at peak income.

It’s less let’s-limit-taxes-this-year and more let’s-limit-taxes-over-your-lifetime. You have to balance the numbers with the reasoning behind them. Make sure you’re presenting the why.

Start with the basics. For instance, Thomas often digs deeper at the 2nd meeting with a new client. He seeks to understand where they are, where they want to be, and what needs to happen for them to feel successful.

Many advisors instinctively default to optimizing numbers. As a result, they sometimes fail to keep flexible with regard to younger clients’ goals.

Instead, focus on finding out what’s important to them at their current stage of life. To be honest, a lot of people aren’t living the life that they want.

Thomas often sees this when asking, for instance, what someone would regret having missed out on if their life suddenly ended. Consider yourself tasked with helping them reach those goals.

For example, let’s say someone works a well-paying job that they hate. Examine their financial objectives. Taking a slightly lower-paying, more enjoyable position might still meet those goals.

It’s incredibly liberating for some clients to learn this. In all honesty, it’s sometimes life-changing. Delivering value by saving people money is great, but assisting quality of life changes, even in small ways, can mean lots more.

Suppose that more than anything, a client or prospect wants to fund their children’s education. Examine their 529. Is that their best option?

Or, would they be better off keeping their money somewhere that allows more flexibility, should college plans change? Sometimes the most beneficial solutions are no-brainers.

Thomas Kopelman: Put Away Cookie Cutters

It can be tempting to advocate common solutions, but one size doesn’t always fit all. Alternatively, look at their life goals. If they’re going to want to start a business in 5 years, this has to be factored in.

Likewise, if they want to take periodic sabbaticals to travel with their families, that changes the equation, too. Go beyond headline tax planning.

Look at the bigger picture and empower them to make well-informed decisions. If someone is usually healthy but fully funding an HSA anyway, they could reach retirement with $50,000 invested that they won’t use.

Pull back the curtain and help them understand the possible outcomes. Younger clients may not be as eager to hear about end-of-life planning.

Regardless, they need to know. It’s never too early to add this as part of your shared considerations. You can discuss preparing for retirement without dictating what they choose.

As a matter of fact, many millennials may not know how a Roth account differs from a 401k. Respectfully help them get up to speed. This is an easy instant value-add.

Your Action Items

  • Have a process around your advising. Let every client know exactly where they’re at, precisely what’s next, and everything that needs to be done. Standardize as much as you can. Transparency is a natural value-add.

  • Invest in technology to help your tax planning. If a particular software will help you analyze and do things a little faster, it’s worth the investment. Doing taxes well has become what investment management used to be.

  • Get tax returns every year. Do this for prospects as well as clients. You can’t take their pulse, financially without them. In other words, you need them to do your best work. Clients can actually lose value if you don’t.

Steven and guest Thomas Kopelman have more tips for managing millennial money in this edition of the Retirement Tax Services Podcast. Tax-related questions are always welcome at

Are you interested in content that provides you with action steps that you can take to deliver massive tax value to your clients? Then you are going to love our powerful training sessions online. Click on the link below to get started on your journey:

Thank you for listening.


Steven Jarvis:

Hello everyone. And welcome to the next episode of the retirement tax services podcast, financial professionals edition. I’m your host, Steven Jarvis CPA. And in this show, I teach financial advisors how to deliver massive value to their clients through tax planning. So with me on the show today, I have Thomas Kopelman who is the recent co-founder of Allstreet Wealth and an avid content creator along with being a financial planner. So, Thomas welcome.

Thomas Kopelman:

Hey, thanks for having me. We’ve been talking about this for a while, so I’m glad we finally got it to work.


Yeah, you’ve had just a couple of things going on, you know, starting your own firm here. And, I think I moved it a couple of times, so I’ll take ownership for that, but I want to just start with having… congratulations! As we’re recording this, you’re on like day three, right?


Today is day three of all streets being up and running. We’d like the day I knew I was doing, it was like maybe the last day of May. So from that point of just building the website, building the brand, figuring out whether I was gonna do it on my own or partner with one other person and just get everything up and running. So it’s been a crazy summer and it’s nice to be here and we’re almost fully… got every client over and good to go.


Well, that’s really exciting. Congratulations. That’s such a huge step, but so exciting for you and your partner.


Thank you.


So we want to talk on the show today about obviously taxes. That’s what we’re all here for. So, I mean, just to start out with, I guess, for context for the listeners, you actually work more with younger clients in their twenties and thirties, a lot of the times. And so the conversation might be a little bit different than what we talk about often on this show, but just as a reminder for the listeners, when we talk about retirement tax services, that retirement tax really is what we define as that six or seven figure bill that the IRS is going to expect you to pay during your retirement. So whether you are currently retired or you’ve got years to plan for it, it’s coming someday and proactive planning is what’s going to help us sand the rough edges off of what we’re eventually going to. Oh, so Thomas I’ll let you kind of give a overview of the types of things from a tax standpoint, you’re focusing on given the clients you serve.

What Are The Tax Planning Needs Of Younger Clients? [2:40] 


So you hit the nail on the head. So I do work entirely with people, twenties, thirties, early forties… as they age you know, that might change a little bit and I might just age with my client base. But what I’ve come to find is that people in their young twenties is not really my ideal client base. It’s just, most of the time people aren’t taking life seriously enough. At that point, there’s not a whole lot of income. So it’s super basic, just like cashflow planning and where to, you know, do 401k pay off loans for some people it’s a lot, but for most people it’s like pretty basic. And I’m going to try to launch a course about this. Cause I think I could teach it through like a really inexpensive course and they don’t need as much active planning. So I kind of moved out to a little bit later in the twenties, thirties and early forties because these people are starting to go through a lot.

So, you know, if you think about that age range, I mean, you have student loans, you’re getting married, you know, your first job, second job, you’re starting a business. You know, just all of those things that are going on. So financial planning is super valuable to help make sure that they’re making the right decisions over and over and over. And so when we look at tax planning, I think that it’s really different compared to working with retirees or people that are just about to retire. So if you think about, you know, people that are 55, you know, getting ready to retire, most of these people are making the most money that they’ve ever made or are probably ever gonna make. And so tax planning is a lot of how do we limit your taxes this year? And I know that’s kind of the mindset a lot of people have with businesses and then you move to retirees and it’s again like, you know how much we have to draw out of the accounts. Like how do we not take out too much so we don’t have to pay extra tax? But when you look at millennials or people in their twenties and thirties, it’s less about how do we limit tax this year and more about how do we limit tax over your lifetime? Because these people have 30, 40, more years of working plus all of retirement, which we don’t really call it retirement because you know, most young people don’t really think that they’re going to retire. They can’t see themselves doing nothing for that long of a time. So what we really talk about is like financial freedom. So at what age, you know, can you get to a point where you are not working because you need a paycheck, but you’re picking to do the things that you love that add value, keep you young and you enjoy. So I think the main focus with my clients is how do we minimize the total tax bill over your lifetime, but also how do we not only make decisions based on tax, but we also make decisions on your goals and flexibility and pursuing the things that you want to do in life.


Okay. I really liked that you ended on that. You had mentioned that as we were doing the pre show of making sure that that piece about flexibility is included in the conversation. It can get really easy with taxes to get hung up, just strictly on the numbers. And I’m a CPA, I’m a numbers nerd. I like the numbers, they make sense, they all fit in my spreadsheet, but you’re totally right. And it’s a good reminder to have that. We’ve got to make sure we’re balancing the numbers with the Why, with the goal, with that flexibility, because especially people who are younger in their careers, maybe from a tax standpoint, it’s going to make sense to max out their contributions to an HSA or a 529 or their 401k plan at work. Then maybe they’ve got those other life events that you’re talking about that, you know, as you understand what’s coming or what they see in their future, making sure we’re preserving that flexibility is also an important part of that conversation. So Thomas, maybe talk a little bit about how you have that conversation with a client. What’s That look like?

Helping Clients Live Their Best Life [5:58]


Yeah. So I mean, my process, like in my, in my second meeting, I really dig deep into like, people’s lives. You talk about how important that is, but what I really try to get an understanding of, it was like, where are you at today? Where are you trying to go? But then how do we peel this back and figure out like, what needs to happen in your life for you to feel like a success? Because I feel like too many financial planners, tax professionals, whatever we get stuck in the numbers of optimization of like, you know, using the perfect amount on every account. But we, we sometimes forget that these are people we’re sitting across from, they have a life that they want to live. The best thing for them to do is not always to make the best spreadsheet answer and miss out on things in life that they would really regret. And so I get to get some deep questions into them where the goal is by the end, I understand that like, you know, if life ended today, what did you not get to do? Like, you know, did you wish you traveled? Do you wish that you spent more time with your kids? Do you wish that, you know, you would have gone out for more dates with your significant other and started to figure out like then if you had unlimited money or then if you had limited time, like what would you do with your life? Because then I really get to peel back that onion and figure out from a lot of people that like, they’re not living the life they want, they have this ideal life. They haven’t really thought about how to live it. And my job is to figure out how do I help them do that financially. Sometimes it’s helping people realize, like, you know, you’re working a job that you absolutely hate. You would totally be fine and hit all of your goals to make 20% less income, but do a job you love. And that is super freeing to a lot of people. So I think when I go through this, it’s starting to figure out like, okay, what are those main goals? Like? You know, if a client says like one of my absolute biggest goals is like, you know, I need to, I want to pay for my kids’ education. It’s super important for me. My parents did it. I want to pass it on. Okay, well, great. Then let’s start to look into, you know, 529. Does it make sense to throw your money into this account that I’ll use in Indiana for example, you get a 20% tax credit up to $5,000.

Okay. Well, if that’s your top goal, it probably makes sense to use that 529, but then above and beyond that, like is just keeping money in there for the tax deferred growth and tax for use on college. Like, is that more beneficial than putting your money somewhere else? That creates more flexibility if college were to change. So I think that my goal is that I help people figure out, like there are some no-brainers tax planning wise. Like, you know, if you have a 401k up to a match, that is just a no-brainer. If you have a 520 and you have kids you want to pay for college and 529, have some of these tax benefits. Well, the minimum put in is kind of a brainer, you know, HSA kind of a no brainer Roth IRA, kind of a no brainer if you’re at a lower tax bracket, but then there’s other times where it’s like, you know, going above that 6% in your 401k to get yourself to 19,500. You know, a lot of financial planners are just going to look in and say like, you know, you got to do that. You gotta do the HSA, you got to do the 5 29 above and beyond because that’s like the most optimal. But at the end of the day, if that person’s gonna want to start a business in five years, or if that person you don’t want to take sabbaticals every couple of years or travel with their family, we’re putting all of their extra money into their 401k is not going to be the best option. So you have to start to look and view decisions. And that is not always the most optimal tax wise or number wise, but sometimes what’s the most optimal to help these people in their life while still taking advantage of the things that we can.


Yeah. We got to get advisors to go past just what I like to think of as headline tax planning of like all those things you listed of. Well, these are the things I see talked about the most commonly, so we better do all of them all the time and really dive into what makes sense for this situation. And then making sure that I think you said, you know, empowering your clients to make decisions. We’ve got to make sure that we’re empowering people with the information to know kind of where some of those decisions can be made, because especially as we talk about some of these specialty tax qualified accounts, like an HSA or a 529, it’s interesting to me to ask people and see what their understanding is of. Okay. Well, in your mind, maybe you think I’m going to fund an HSA and I’ll use that for medical expenses forever. Well, great. If you fully fund an HSA every year and you stay healthy, do you know what’s gonna happen to that money later? Is that in line with what your goals are? Because we’re going to hope that you stay healthy. What if you get to retirement and end up with $50,000 in an HSA that you aren’t going to use. And so just helping kind of pull back the curtain a little bit and understand what really, what are, what are the different outcomes here. And this might even be a more interesting conversation for you- we’ll use the word interesting- working with younger people and talking about those end of life decisions. Retirees might be more likely to already be thinking about that, but anytime we’re talking about taxes, I really like to frame it as let’s do everything we can to reduce your tax bill over the lifetime of your wealth, which means we have to include what, what does that end of life planning look like? And it’s really never too early to start having that in as part of our considerations.


Yeah. And I think that, like, you kind of talked about this too, but my goal is that necessarily, I’m not like telling my clients what to do, but like we’re going down the rabbit hole of like, they’re talking about something. So they’re like, you know, Hey, we want to prepare for retirement. And you’re like, okay, great. Like, you know, here are the accounts that we have, you know, you have a 401k, you also have a Roth 401k. Most people don’t even know that, they just think of a regular, they’re like “Roth 401k I’ve never heard that” Well, you know, it’s kinda, you just gotta go in there and see if they have it, or, you know, then you have IRAs Roth, IRAs, you know, these are your main retirement accounts, you know, tell me why you use a 401k. “Well, they gave me a match. That’s really great. And I do it because it reduces my tax bill today.” Okay. Well, do you know what a Roth account is? “Um, no, not really.” Okay. So what a Roth does is it doesn’t reduce your taxable income today, but then that money grows and you’re never going to be taxed on it again. So do you think, like you think you’re gonna make more income in your lifetime? “Um, yeah. Like I definitely know. I’ll make more.” Okay, great. Like, you know, when we’re looking at tax brackets and you’re going to go, like, you might go up from 24 to 32%, do you also think taxes in the future are going to go up? “Oh yeah, for sure. Taxes in the future are going to go up. It’s going to have to, okay”. So if you know that you’re gonna be in a higher tax bracket in the future, you know, taxes are going to go up in the future.

Do you think maybe it makes sense to pay tax today versus defer it to the future where you’re going to have higher taxes and they’re like, “oh, well, yeah, that actually makes sense.” So then I do want to do Roth, so like I can help walk them through that. Or so when we talk about the HSA and say, Hey, like you have an FSA, you have an HSA, like you use your HSA, but you use it on healthcare costs every year. Do you think you could afford those healthcare costs out of pocket? “Yeah. Like we, we’d be fine. Like we can cover it up to the deductible. It’s no big deal.” Well then, like, if you think about an HSA, it has triple tax benefits. If you just use it there, you’re missing that tax-free growth. Like you’re, you’re missing out on that part. You know?

Do you think you could pay for it out of pocket knowing that you could let it go in the HSA, if all the way to retirement you don’t use it and then you pay tax on the gain, like an IRA or you can use it in healthcare costs. Does that sound like something that’d be beneficial? And they’re kind of like, “Oh, that does make a lot of sense. I didn’t even realize it could be invested, but am I? Employer can? And so a lot of times it’s not me telling people what to do, it’s taking them down that. And then a lot of times people are like, well, what, well, you know, “Now I’m putting my money in my Roth IRA. Like, what if I need like $50,000?” Okay, well, you have an emergency. Like what’s the largest emergency you’ve ever had like 4,000. Okay. Well we have a $30,000 emergency fund. So why would you ever need to take money from your Roth IRA? But then I still help explain, like you always have that access. And so a lot of times what people need to understand is not just use a Roth IRA, but they need to understand that it offers flexibility. You know, it could be a backup emergency fund. You can use it on college, like all of these things to help alleviate the worry for the person. Because a lot of times, as soon as they hear something, they think that like, how does that change my life? And now am I going to miss out on this? And so if you can take them down the rabbit hole of like, well, what do I just always do? They say, well, what if that happens? Okay, well then what if that happens? And then what if that happens?

And then you can really get them to start to think deep about a topic, because I have a rule with my clients that we’re not going to do anything you don’t understand. If you don’t understand it, not doing it. So like, you know, they’re kinda on crypto and you’ll have to talk about taxes and crypto and all that stuff. And I have other clients that know nothing about it. Well, if they’re not going to be able to learn about it, they’re not going to be able to understand it and be able to hold onto the investment. And so there’s no reason to be pushing people to do things that are the most optimal. Cause what I believe is you’re better off following a hundred percent to a T the plan that’s the best for you, than 50% of the most optimal plan.


Yeah. Thomas, there’s so much great stuff in there. And I really appreciate you talking about that in terms of how you actually interact with your clients on those topics. One of the things that stuck out to me as you’re going through that, this comes to mind quite often for me, because there are just so many different types of tax qualified accounts, different tax planning opportunities that, I mean, just in the last five minutes, I mean, we’ve just you and I have just blasted through a dozen different things talking really quickly because we both know these are things we spend time on. We know our listeners spend time on these things, but when we look at a client and having just started your own firm, talk to me a little bit about kind of your process or your system for making sure that you’re balancing all these different potential opportunities with not just bombarding your client in a way that’s going to overwhelm them. And they’re not going to take action on anything because I I’m, I’m sure. I am just completely positive that when you talk about these things with your clients, you’re going slower and more intentionally more methodically. Because if you just listed out all of those accounts all at once, for someone who’s new to these things, it would go right over their head and be like, yeah, I’m finding somebody else. So what’s that process look like to find that balance?

Thomas Kopelman’s Process of Balancing Potential Tax Planning Opportunities [15:18]


Yeah. So I think that’s a really good question. So in that second meeting, when we really dig deep into what they want and then kind of what they have going on, I started to talk about some of these accounts, like, you know, do you have an HSA, explain what they are, explain what a Roth IRA is. Explain-  if they are a small business, explain what a SEP IRA is or what a solo 401k is. And we started to like, conceptually get it. So that way they’re like, you know, that makes sense. Like I get why I would use that. So then in my third meeting, when I deliver my one page financial plan, where I have my recommendations of the things that we should do of like, you know, you should switch to a Roth and they understand why they should switch to Roth or Hey, like, you know, non tax wise here’s why you should have a high yield savings account. And here’s why you should have the automation and monthly savings. And you know, here’s why you should start a Roth IRA. Like we go through and we kind of talk initially about what the accounts are. And then I say like, Hey, in the next meeting, after I do the research, I’ll be able to help tell you whether it makes sense for you to be in Roth versus traditional or whether you should use that HSA and what number. And so then they’re already familiar with it and now it’s like fine tuning the numbers. And then if they have more questions now they’ve had time to like, think about it, start to understand it. Maybe they have some further questions that they didn’t get to ask. Cause they weren’t even halfway there, answer them and get them to feel good about it.

But then I don’t stop there. Like most advisors are like, you know, let’s do that. Like I’ll set up your accounts, you go do your stuff. But what I do is I add a meeting three weeks after that called our accountability meeting. And so what we do in that meeting is we make sure every single thing on the plan is done. So, you know, your emergency fund might not be built to 10,000, but like what I’ve seen from most advisors is your plan says max Roth IRA, 6,000 a year, max HSA, 7,100 a year, do 401k 6%. But what I actually do is I take it a step further and I show them exactly what they need to do monthly. So, hey, monthly, this is how much is going into your emergency fund. And sometimes it’s a year, the first three months we’re front-loading emergency fund that month for now.

We’re scaling that back, doing more to your Roth now, starting HSA contributions. But then I help them implement every single one. So I’m going with them into their company benefits, um, helping them set up the bank accounts. I’m helping. Like I make sure that every single thing on the plan gets implemented because there’s always this thing. Everybody says like 40% of recommendations get implemented by the average client. And I’m doing my clients a disservice. If I’m letting that happen, I get that young professionals are busy. They have families, a million things going on and estate planning or their will might not be fun to do or the life insurance, but I’m tracking every single one of those. And I literally follow up with people every day. Like if okay, Hey, you’re supposed to set up this bank account. I’ll refinance student loans. I had a client who I’ve been trying to get refinancing loans. I followed up with him every three days. Did you do it? Did you do it yet? Did you do this? Did you do it? And I tell everybody when they’re signing on that, I own accountability. And if you would find me following up often annoying, then this isn’t the right relationship because my clients value that they value that I’m going to follow up and make sure things get done. Because if you’re not getting things done, there’s no reason for you to be my client because we’re not doing the best work together.


Oh, that’s so great that you reinforced the implementation like that because clients certainly need quite often, clients need a professional in their lives who can help them identify these opportunities who can help them identify how much they need to be contributing or how much they need to be converting or whatever the, the quantitative pieces, but just as important, if not more important is that implementation side. And, and I mean, you said it’s a disservice to your clients. If you’re not also helping them with the implementation and that’s true of any tax related matter we can think of. That it can’t just be, “oh, Hey, look at how smart I am. I can tell you about how to do backdoor Roth contributions.” You need to be able to walk them through the process, hold them accountable and make sure it actually gets implemented otherwise. What was the point?


Exactly. Otherwise you’re just giving them some advice because it sounds good. And you’re like, well, I get my fee either way. So I don’t really care. But my biggest thing is that like everybody, 99% of my clients pay me a monthly subscription. Some, a couple of AUM above that subscription level. But like, they’re paying me for advice. So I tell them like, this is a successful relationship if you’re living the life you want, hitting your goals. If you’re not, but just your assets are growing then this isn’t a successful relationship. So if I don’t own that part, then you know, I’m not really doing my job. And so like accountability is a part of it in every single step. Like our annual review is it’s annual review, again, update new goals, new financials. Here’s the one page plan, the next meeting, and then have an accountability meeting again.

And so we always are just having accountability meetings to make sure that everything is done. I even have clients that like, you know, I have a new client. He makes, he’s like 29 makes like $200,000 a year. Spends all of his money. For accountability for us is that I’m like, he, he can not move money from his online savings. Cause it’s been a problem where he just saves it and moves it back, that he cannot move that money over without a call to me. And if he doesn’t call me and he starts moving it over, then he’s fired as a client because there’s no reason for me to be there and help them try to do things and then never get them accomplished because, and he’s asked for that accountability piece. And so I always equate this to working out, like if everybody just needed a workout plan then they would be ripped to have a six pack and be in shape, then they would be good.

But what people need is, you know, Monday morning, Hey, let’s go, you got to this week, like get to the gym, like blah, blah, blah. And I need to change it as I have an injury or all of a sudden, you know, I went from being busy to now I have time to work, you know, do five days, week versus three or vice versa. And so I think in our industry, it’s so undervalued, like motivation, accountability, having people stick to the plan. It’s like my clients, a lot of them would say they would literally pay me all of the money they pay me just for accountability and none of the planning.


Yeah. That’s so that’s so huge. I really appreciate you reinforcing that so much with financial planning in general, but especially with tax planning, it’s so much about the consistent intentional action. I can’t sit down with you today, evaluate your tax situation and then give you a plan that you’re never gonna have to change. Again, it changes constantly, which is one of the other things that I wanted to ask you about, uh, appreciate you describing your process for a new client of what those meetings look like. But so then as they go through and have these different life events, as, you know, things change from year to year or as you know, Congress is kind enough to change things for us to give all of us more jobs, security that we already had plenty of. What’s your process look like to make sure these things get updated, that you know, when things are changing and that you’re making changes in that plan with your client appropriately.

Making Proactive Changes To Client Plans [21:47]


Yeah. So I mean, every client gets a new plan every single year, but even just small things like this is a little less taxes, but just like student loans. So I’m tracking when student loans are changing, what things are going on. And like every client of mine that has student loans has a meeting set for the middle of January of next year, because we understand that student loans are going to come back up. That’s a big change that we need to be prepared for. And then other things are just like, Hey, you know, I got a client. They, you know, maybe they make a hundred thousand dollars. Their wife makes 80. They’re about to have a baby. They know she’s going to stay at home. So like they’re letting me know about that. So ”Hey, you know, her 401k is going to be transferred over. Should we start to do some Roth conversions in this year where income is going to be way lower than the average”, or even, you know, you have clients that were making a hundred thousand dollars and now they both got massive salary increases new jobs. They’re making 200,000. Okay. Well, does it still make sense for them to be doing Roth contributions or should they be switching to traditional contributions because they’re in a higher tax bracket? So I think looking at a lot of those things, even understanding like, Hey, you got a new job now, do you have an HSA now that we have an HSA? Great. Now we should start to use it. So I think that like, honestly I set up the, my clients call me at every life change. So like we just kind of interview for a new job. Like we want you to help look at if these benefits are going to be good or, you know, Hey, we’re pregnant. Like what does that look like?

So my clients, it’s not like, Hey, we meet everybody for an annual review in January. You know, I manage the investments in the background. It’s like we meet with everybody on salary increase and bonus time. And then they call me for every major financial decision. So we probably need like eight to 12 times a year. And so I’m kind of always knowing what’s going on. And that’s what I told everybody I want them to do because I can only do the best planning if I actually know what’s going on. And I think there’s a huge difference maker between, “Hey, I’m starting a new job. I got to pick all my benefits. I can’t meet with you until February and I can’t get ahold of you.” Like, no, you let me know tomorrow or the next day we’re gonna meet. I’m gonna make sure that every decision was made correctly there. So it’s best for you because I think it’s just a huge value add for people to be able to see them like, wow, I have somebody to help make sure that I make every decision right. Versus that, like, I just go through it with the limited information that I have and it’s way more emotional for me because it’s my money and I’m maybe I won’t make the best decision and then they have to worry about it.


Yeah. That’s such a great process to have in place. And it, and if you keep that tax lens there of looking out for those opportunities, I mean, you’ve just listed all the kinds of things that are going to potentially have those kind of triggers for us. So those raise that flag of, Hey, we need to think about something for taxes. And so it all, it’s also interconnected, which is why I love having this conversation with advisors. Although there definitely are advisors who don’t put as much emphasis on tax planning. I’ve yet to find an advisor who can give me an example of financial planning that doesn’t have a tax impact.


Yeah, I agree. And that’s kind of, I don’t even like, I guess, unless you only manage like taxable investment accounts, like I do know advisers, like people come to them and say, Hey, this account, will you manage it for me? And they don’t even understand it. They don’t even take the time to get it, to know the goal of the account, which I don’t even understand how you invest without really knowing that. But I think I will add here too, that like, this is more so the process that I have for traditional clients, but I do work with a decent amount of business owners too. And the business owners, the tax planning becomes a lot bigger because now we’re looking at like, you know, set up as a business, should you be LLC taxes and S Corp? Like, what are the benefits of doing the tax status that way?

Like, you know, what is the livable salary need to pay you? You know, now you can deduct a hundred percent of your meals that are business-related like, I let my clients know about that and, you know, Hey, you, you’re a SEP IRA. Great. Well now the business is growing. We have to move to a 401k. Well, how do we do that? Should you be doing Roth versus traditional as a business? Like, how should you match? And I help look at how the business can reduce taxes too, because there’s a difference between like, you know, just deductions and set up of the business to reduce taxes. And then there’s a difference of like tax efficient investing in whether you should be in Roth and traditional or, you know, whether you should use a PSAP or solo and get into all of the added benefits of each type of those accounts.


For sure. Yeah. If you’re an advisor and you ever struggle for things for your agenda for your next client meeting, you clearly, aren’t doing tax planning. I mean, just in the last 20 minutes, as we’ve been talking about, Thomas has listed so many different potential tax topics that you should be talking about with your clients.


Sometimes. Like I think advisors get a little head trash. Like what if I tell them to do nothing different, but you can still get into like, here’s why we’re sticking with Roth this year, or here’s why, you know, we still want you to be in the HSA or here’s like sometimes telling people to keep doing what they’re doing is very valuable.


Oh, that’s the dishwasher rule, right. Make sure clients know what you’re doing for them, whether they see a tangible change or not. And so some years it’s going to be, Hey, you know what? We went back through and evaluated these 17 different things about your situation and great news. The plan we have in place is still effective for accomplishing your goals.

Action Items [27:22]


Thomas, really appreciate you being on the show today. We like to make sure that we always give our listeners action items so that we’re taking knowledge and really turning it into value by recommending what can be done. So I’ll let you start. What’s a, as you think about tax planning or the conversation we’ve been having, what’s an action item you’d recommend to advisors?


I think have a process around it. And I know that’s pretty vague, but the more advisors I talked to, the more that I realized, like a lot of people, they lack process. So it’s kind of just like every client goes through a little different process. There’s different amount of meetings. You know, we talk about different things in each meeting, but the more process you can put around the better you can actually be of an advisor for your clients, because you know exactly what to do. Like for me, I think it’s so important to let every client know exactly where they’re at exactly what’s next, exactly what needs to get done, what I’m doing, what they’re doing, um, and creating that transparency. So I would say, process is the first one. Um, the second one I think is like maybe for some people it’s investing in tech to help with this.


Like I know, I mean, I’m just gonna drop, like I know holistic plan is a great one that financial advisors can use that helps you analyze and run through different tax scenarios. Like it may not make sense for everybody, but I think, you know, using a different software that can help you analyze and do things a little bit quicker. And I think just really everybody does need to talk about it. Like I think, you know, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, investment management was like the big value add for advisors. Now that’s becoming commoditized and tax planning is really where the value add. There’s not that many softwares are most individual people don’t know that much about taxes. And if you can really nail taxes, well, you’re going to add value for your clients. No matter what.


I really liked that, you know, to, to reinforce the, the, the process piece, having checklists, having systems, having something tangible to it, not only so that, you know, you’re being thorough and effective, but that you also then can turn around and use that as a deliverable to your client. We actually recently just had a webinar for our RTS members going through, uh, Q4 year-end tax planning checklist, essentially that’s “Hey, here’s the 19 things we went through and looked at, all your tax returns or on your tax return.” And it’s something they can bring to a meeting with a client. And so it serves both the purpose of being thorough as well as now you have something to show to your client, here’s what I’m going through and looking at for you. So of course the other action item we always throw in here advisors is to make sure you’re getting tax returns because to reinforce that implementation part, if these things don’t get reported to the IRS, they may as well not happened. And so getting tax returns every year is a great way to identify opportunities and to make sure that the follow through happens on the plans you put in place. Not only that your client took the steps that you recommended to them, but then when it got to the tax preparer, nothing got changed on the back end because unfortunately that happens all too often. All right, well that’s all for today. Thanks everyone for listening until next time. Good luck out there. And remember to tip your servers, not the IRS.


The information on this site is for education only and should not be considered tax advice. Retirement Tax Services is not affiliated with Shilanski & Associates, Jarvis Financial Services or any other financial services firms.

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