For the past 16 years, Melanie White Terry has been working through her financial advisory firm, Harbor Financial Group. Her clients are primarily busy and highly successful professionals or entrepreneurs that have comfortably broken the six-figure barrier and want to secure their legacy.
Harbor Financial Group helps clients crystalise their objectives and take the time to understand what they want to accomplish from a business and personal perspective; giving them piece of mind.
What are the typical challenges that clients approach you with in relation to the management of their finances?
Most people don’t have the time, knowledge or inclination to implement all of the ideas and opportunities they want to pursue. Many have done some good planning. They have existing relationships with very good advisers. They have spent a lot of time talking about these things but, for some reason, the job never gets done. We will never undo any of the good work that they may already have in place, we tend to focus on their areas of vulnerability. We take responsibility for seeing their plan to fruition.
We typically explore some or all of the following seven areas:
- Family income and security
- Asset Shifting
- Asset Distribution
- Estate Equalisation
- Business Succession
- Asset Protection and Estate Depletion
- Charitable opportunities
What are the most important aspects that need to be ironed out in order to achieve satisfactory result and a well-organised retirement plan for your clients?
Understanding my clients’ objectives is paramount. I want to know how they feel about the areas they would like for us to consider: security for themselves and their spouse, estate distribution, general terms of their will or plan, succession plan, key employees, and tax issues.
It is also important to gather information about their family, business, real estate, liquid assets, qualified plans, life, disability and long-term care insurance, liabilities, charitable giving, and advisers.
Identifying issues and gaps in their planning and how they feel about them is critical.
Lastly, our clients should have enough discretionary income and/or sufficient assets to be able to either execute or at least begin the plan and the willingness to learn about what might be non-traditional planning opportunities.
How do you assist clients with finding out if they are compliant with federal requirements applicable to retirement? What are the key issues that they face in relation to compliance?
We collect statements to support all of the information that we gather and keep up with the changing laws and regulations by taking applicable continuing education courses and leaning on the consultants on our team that have a wealth of expertise in tax law as attorneys and CPAs.
Additionally, we do a proper fact-finding analysis to determine their time horizon, investment risk tolerance and ensure that they are in plans for which they qualify, based upon their income, employer plan offerings, business structure, employee information etc.
How can your clients ensure that as much of their estate goes to their family on their death?
Insurance is one of the foundations in a comprehensive planning strategy. We assess the amount and type of coverage they have already relative to their objectives and determine if there is a gap to fill.
We tend to recommend that our clients have enough life insurance to replace their income and pay off liabilities to creditors and Uncle Sam. When appropriate, we may recommend establishing appropriate trust documents.
Disability income insurance is recommended to protect what could be their greatest asset; their ability to earn an income.
Long-term care planning is recommended to protect assets because most of our clients did not budget for an additional $7,000-10,000 per month of expenses to self -insure above their retirement expenses.
Does Harbor Financial Group offer any solutions in respect of maintaining and growing wealth for future generations of the same family?
We make it a common practice to reach out to beneficiaries and other family members of our clients to address their planning needs as well.
9861 Broken Land Parkway, #150
Columbia, MD 21046