Tax Strategy Services

Effective tax planning is vital because it canvasses nearly every aspect of your wealth management plan. We review each aspect of your wealth management plan and identify opportunities to put tax-efficient strategies into play for you. We can do this by maximizing tax efficiency in your retirement accounts and estate plan, blending the tax benefits you receive with your charitable giving, and keeping you educated on the latest tax rules and regulations.

These are some of the other ways we implement tax efficiencies:
  • Seek opportunities year-round — not just at year-end — to offset realized capital gains and lower taxes.
  • Identify the best tax strategies for Roth conversions and select the most appropriate retirement savings plans such as traditional or Roth IRAs and 401(k) plans.
  • Strategically use taxable, tax-exempt and tax-deferred accounts for your investments in order to lower your overall tax bill.
  • Develop a spend-down plan to better your odds of having enough money in retirement in the most tax-efficient way.
  • Review your tax returns in order to stay abreast and plan for any changes in tax situations.
  • Leverage the knowledge and experience of our colleagues at Buckingham Strategic Partners who stay current on tax-law changes and collaborate with practitioners in the field to better serve your comprehensive wealth management plan.

Legacy Planning

You have worked hard to build your financial legacy. We have an astute method for helping you design a plan to share your legacy with family, friends, charities and causes. Our detailed wealth transfer strategy can help you define your goals and plan for the future of your wealth by identifying and implementing tax strategies; and maximizing your tax benefits to make the most of your savings.

Using our wealth transfer process, we aim to:
  • Define your wishes for how your wealth will be transferred during your lifetime and beyond.
  • Identify and implement tax strategies to make the most of what you’ve saved.
  • Determine strategies to maximize the transfer of your wealth, helping you leave a legacy that is significant and lasting.
  • Maximize your tax benefits while you’re supporting the causes most important to you.
  • Uncover circumstances that deserve particular consideration, either in your wealth transfer or estate plan, to make certain your essential documents reflect your wishes.
  • Help you communicate plans to your family and charitable organizations to ensure everyone knows your intentions and who is responsible for carrying out your plans.

Retirement Income

You spend your life saving and one of the most difficult transitions to make as investor is the change from accumulation to spending. We will work with all aspects of your retirement to create a strategy that achieves your goals and objectives. There are many key factors to retirement such as social security, investment strategies, spend down strategies, and the integration of pensions or other income streams. We will assist you in maximizing tax efficiency and longevity of each item in a way that is unique to each situation.

Our retirement income services include:
Bond Ladders

Fixed income is a critical component of any portfolio.  It is the foundation in which the rest of the portfolio can be built.  Our fixed income desk allows us to purchase fixed income instruments directly from the open market without markup.  The fixed income instruments are utilized to control risk in the portfolio in a manner specifically tailored to the individual client.

Tax Efficiency

Investors should always keep in mind the tax impact of their portfolio options.  The “Tax Efficiency” of a portfolio can help investors keep more of the money they make.  For a portion of the portfolio we like to use “core funds” that hold stocks across all size and valuation ranges but have higher weights in small-cap and value stocks when compared to the overall market. In addition, we may use tax-managed funds and municipal bonds in taxable accounts. Tax-managed funds are mutual funds that explicitly look to harvest capital losses and defer gains to improve tax efficiency.  Each portfolio is designed by evaluating our client’s specific situation so we can maximize the efficiency of their individual investment strategies.

Pensions & Annuities

Annuities can play a role in certain retirement plans.  However, like most financial products there are annuities that are right for the client’s specific situation and those that are not.  We do not sell any annuity or insurance product.  This allows our advisors to be independent evaluators of the need for an annuity.  We can also fairly evaluate existing annuity contracts and help our clients understand if the contract is right for their situation and if the fees are appropriate.  It is our desire to help educate clients on the use of annuities as an independent advisor.

Pensions can enhance the retirement plan for individuals that have them available.  There are key decisions that need to be made when a client retires regarding the annuity and we are there to guide our clients through this decision making process.  We also design our portfolios around the annuity as part of our holistic planning process.  This complete planning provides the client with a more complete view of their financial situation.

Spend-Down Strategy

Many people think of retirement planning as saving enough money to live the lifestyle they’ve envisioned and do the things they’ve planned. The financial skills and planning you need for this new phase of life should be implemented before retirement begins. We can help you develop a customized spend-down plan to decrease your tax costs and increase your odds of having enough money in retirement.

Our spend-down strategies include:

  • Moving past the traditional tax goal of paying the least amount in a single year to losing the least amount of wealth over your lifetime.
  • Defining the amount of money you need to achieve your desired retirement lifestyle and implementing a plan to fund that lifestyle.
  • Optimizing your Social Security payout to achieve maximum benefits.
  • Reducing the income taxes you pay by updating estate-planning documents to reflect current tax law.
  • Sharing proven, field-tested strategies that our specialists have used to help others through this transitional phase.
  • Identifying opportunities to lower taxes through IRA conversions and distributions and rebalancing and managing your portfolio.
  • Putting your plan in writing so you understand how your retirement lifestyle will be funded.

Portfolio Strategy

An effective portfolio is created through understanding a client’s individual preference and then applying evidence based investment strategies. Our services are based on long-term investment strategies incorporating the principles of Modern Portfolio Theory. This investment approach is firmly rooted in the belief that markets are “efficient” over periods of time and that investors’ long-term returns are determined principally by asset allocation decisions, rather than market timing or stock picking.

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We recommend diversified portfolios, principally through the use of passively managed, asset class mutual funds. AWS selects or recommends portfolios of securities, principally broadly-traded open end mutual funds or conservative fixed income securities to implement this investment strategy. Each portfolio is then tailored to the client’s individual goals and risk tolerances.

Assessing your goals and circumstances begins during the discovery meeting
Risk assessment to determine your ability, willingness, and need to take risks
Understanding the investment strategy
Building your portfolio
Ongoing maintenance

Fixed income brings safety, stability and security to an investment portfolio and is the foundation on which a solid portfolio is built. When combined with your equity portfolio, it serves as a diversifier by protecting against inherent ups and downs of the stock market. We work with Buckingham Strategic Partners’ specialized fixed income team to create a portfolio with the proper allocation of fixed income based on the level of risk that you’re comfortable with and is appropriate for your situation.

Buckingham Strategic Partners’ fixed income team works with our advisory team to:
  • Reduce the risk and increase the diversification of your portfolio by purchasing high-quality bonds and monitoring those bonds daily to ensure quality is maintained.
  • Identify opportunities to maximize tax strategies.
  • Determine whether you are best served by bond funds or a customized bond ladder —a portfolio of individual bonds that have staggered maturities — to provide a steady source of income while reducing reinvestment and interest rate risks.
  • Leveraging Buckingham Strategic Partners’ fixed income platform, AWS can seek pricing advantages in a competitive market.

Federal Benefits

Social Security benefits play a key role in maintaining your lifestyle in retirement. While the Social Security Administration determines your benefit based on earnings, the amount you receive can vary significantly depending on your filing strategy. We work to find strategies that can help you reach your maximum benefit based on your specific circumstances. This allows you to rely less on your investments to keep up with spending needs.

We help optimize Social Security in the following ways:
  • Determine your optimal filing age and help with the filing process.
  • Use optimization software to analyze your scenarios, compare options and build the appropriate solution into your overall financial plan.
  • Identify potential benefits based on your specific circumstances, such as those related to marital status, your children, death or disability.
  • Educate you about changes in the Social Security system that may significantly affect your benefits.
  • Work with business owners to manage the impact of Social Security taxes.
  • Adjust your retirement savings plan as Social Security evolves to address any changes in your income benefits.

Medicare Guidance

As we age, health care coverage can become a priority. Health-related issues and their subsequent costs often increase. Unfortunately, getting the proper health care coverage can also become more complicated. We are here to provide support and help with Medicare guidance and recommend external resources that can provide in-depth enrollment assistance.

Our team can support you by:
  • Avoiding lifetime Medicare premium penalties to protect your retirement savings.
  • Explaining the purpose of different parts of Medicare — be it insurance for hospital stays, doctors’ visits or prescription drug coverage — and in which ones you should enroll.
  • Reducing stress by simplifying what can be a complex enrollment process.
  • Enrolling you in the appropriate types of plans in a timely fashion.
  • Serving as a strategic resource throughout the entire enrollment process.
  • Educating you on the cost of Medicare coverage.

Risk Management

There are many complexities involved when addressing your insurance needs, but you can receive wide-ranging protection against the unexpected and the inevitable through careful, strategic planning. We will work closely with our trusted partner, First Element Insurance Planners, to identify your insurance needs so they fit into your comprehensive wealth management plan.

First Element can help your insurance solutions fit into your comprehensive wealth management plan by:
  • Analyzing your existing insurance plans to gauge whether they accurately reflect your current needs.
  • Providing access to specialists in life insurance, long-term-care insurance, disability insurance, estate planning, business planning, and home and auto insurance.
  • Surveying the options among dozens of highly rated insurance carriers so you have an objective recommendation.
  • Participating in regular review meetings to make sure your insurance continues to meet your evolving needs.
  • Developing a plan so your family’s lifestyle wouldn’t be significantly affected if you were to lose your income.
  • Performing evaluations for life insurance.
  • Providing buy/sell and key person evaluations for business needs.

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