The main objective of a financial plan should be to successfully achieve financial independence for the rest of your life. “Financial independence” is often a loosely-used term that is tossed around without definition. At Imperium, financial independence is defined as: building a portfolio of financial assets that can generate an income to cover all of your expenses without the need for earned income. Beyond that, whether it’s owning your own home, funding your children’s education, or creating a stress-free retirement, a financial plan is considered vital in achieving those goals. An effective and specifically tailored plan goes beyond the realm of saving, budgeting, and investing. It also includes other elements of your financial picture—such as insurance planning, tax planning, retirement planning, and estate planning—and integrates them into your comprehensive plan. We take financial planning very seriously, so attention to detail and a truly comprehensive approach are paramount to our process. At Imperium, each financial plan is crafted from the ground-up, not canned, generic, or template-based. Our Process involves:
- Discovering You: Our process begins with our Financial Planning Questionnaire and Document Checklist, which leads into a consultative discovery meeting designed to learn more about you and your goals.
- Annual Review: We take financial planning very seriously. In order for a financial plan to be useful, it must be thoroughly comprehensive, holistic, and above all else, totally accurate. After our involved development process, we will meet to discuss your completed financial plan. We update your plan annually, and this is the most important meeting of the year. We will show you the smartest ways to achieve your financial goals while keeping you on the path toward financial independence. By directing the traffic of cash flows, we believe we will be able to help you get the most from your money while you’re alive and leave the appropriate legacy to your family if desired.
- Implementation: Whether it’s making the right investment decisions, choosing the right insurance plan for you and your family, saving to reach your retirement goals, or creating an estate plan that preserves your legacy; our financial professionals will be right there by your side at each step. Our goal here is to make the implementation process as easy and convenient as possible for you. Through foresight, encouragement, and professionalism, we’ll make sure each step of your plan is implemented. We help our clients actually achieve all of their goals, whether it’s securing the correct financing for large purchases or paying in cash, figuring out the amounts and timing of the best accounts to fund, or coordinating long-term college funding.
- Review and Support: Our goal is to make sure you achieve your financial goals. Over the 12 months of when we do your plan and it gets its next update, we will be meeting with you to discuss the best way to make the goals of the year a reality. We consult with our clients on every big purchase or expense that they want our help with. Whether it’s shopping for a mortgage, planning a wedding, or buying that dream car, we are here for you every step of the way so that these dreams on paper turn into experiences in life in a way that takes the anxiety of spending or buyer’s remorse out of the equation.
This is the most important charge of our job for you. Every client’s portfolio is custom tailored to their financial plan. Unlike many other firms which ask arbitrary questions about risk before dropping the money into a portfolio model run on autopilot, we believe that for what our clients are paying, they deserve more. Given how thorough and comprehensive our financial planning process is, we can develop an accurate catalogue of expected future cashflows that we can then marry to investments with identical time horizons. This allows for us to shift risk focus from exposure to volatility to avoiding the realization of loss. Generally our approach involves:
- Cash Management: It is essential to financial success to ensure you have an adequate cash reserve for emergencies. This is a different number for every person. Since cash is the least performing investment over time, it’s important to keep it functioning efficiently. Our financial plan will show us where we need to be with your cash position, and we will look for ways to enhance those cash returns by using Treasuries and other money market securities so that you aren’t getting the bottom basement rates.
- Fixed-Income and Bond Investments: If a client needs a certain amount of money in 4 years, we have that money in bonds maturing in 4 years. Why? Because at the end of the term of a bond, you get your money back at face value. Since our financial plans are so thorough and updated annually, we will maintain a solid view on when money is needed from the portfolio. This way, unlike many traditional portfolio models, we can coordinate that cash need without having to keep our fingers crossed that the markets are going to be up at that point.
- Equity Investments: The stock market is a bumpy ride that trends upward given a long enough timeline. So, for money a client doesn’t need for 15 years, we would be inclined to invest them in stocks. Stocks don’t provide a pre-determined return of capital, but the longest period of loss in the S&P 500 was 14 years…those are good probabilities to work with. The investments we use do not come with a commission, but because of our extended evaluation of the process we believe they are elite—not because they are the “hot fund” talked about on CNBC this year.
Tax Planning & Preparation
Imperium is more than just a financial planning or an investment management company—we are an accounting company as well. We believe that an integral part of financial success is accurately and thoroughly incorporating tax strategy. We optimize our tax planning through preparing our clients’ tax returns. Our experienced CPAs are able to provide valuable input into the financial planning process as well as direct strategic planning on actions we take with our client’s investment portfolios.
- Tax Planning: The first reason Chris decided to incorporate a tax division at Imperium is because he was shocked calling client accountants to discuss strategy, and the conversation could usually only project out a year or two. When we look at tax strategy, we are evaluating it over the rest of our clients’ lives. This comprehensive and broad reaching strategy is likewise reflected in our comprehensive financial plans. We feel taking action today that will affect your finances years down the road adds tremendous financial value to our clients.
- Tax Preparation: The other reason Chris started the tax division was because he felt that there was an inherent flaw in the accounting business model; it is very much quantity over quality. With CPAs having as many as 500 clients, it is easy for them to get lost in the mix. Our firm is unique in the fact that our team works together to avoid surprises when tax season approaches. We provide tax projections to our clients throughout the year and do not wait until year end. We closely monitor your tax situation and determine if estimates need to be made to avoid costly penalties. If a special or unusual circumstance occurs, your entire tax planning team is only a phone call away. We work together and plan accordingly. We help our clients with their personal 1040 tax return as well as business 1120 S-corp, C-corp, estate, trust, and other tax returns.
- Other Tax Services: We work with our business owner clients in choosing the correct tax elections, bookkeeping & accounting, payroll (in certain cases), and coordinating tax benefits dealing with 401(k) retirement plan design as well as real estate investments.
One of the most important ingredients for financial success is making sure you have sufficient insurance to cover unlikely situations that come with wealth-destroying expenses. We help our clients identify these gaps and bridge them accordingly. Through our expertise and resources, we assist in making sure that the price you are being charged is fair and the insurance you have is insurance you need.
Estate Planning Review
Although we currently do not create estate documents, we will have a conversation about your wishes regarding how you want your wealth to be handled after you are gone or become incapacitated. Our goal is to avoid families ending up in discord and rancor while trying to interpret “what the right thing to do is.” It’s important that your wishes are abundantly clear, and we will help you interpret and evaluate whether or not your estate plan will actually facilitate them.
For clients that are business owners, we can assist you in determining the correct corporate entity and the ideal tax structure. Ownership in a business opens up other savings and investing opportunities, and we can help you explore those as well as make recommendations to take advantage such as 401(k), Profit Sharing, and Defined Benefit Cash Balance plan development. We also offer bookkeeping, accounting, and payroll services.