My clients share my belief that wealth and security are much more than income and assets. They want to be good stewards of their resources. They want to be comfortable with their own financial security and comfortable with how their investments affect workers, the environment, consumers, and future generations.
The brief stories below reflect the experiences of actual clients, although all names are fictitious.
Mike worked for an environmental organization and inherited several hundred thousand dollars. He never had that kind of money before, and wanted to invest it sustainably and responsibly, both for his retirement and for the environment. We decided to invest his inheritance in a sustainable portfolio including holdings in alternative energy. We wrote a retirement plan that enabled him to retire with confidence, and he and his second wife went to an estate planning attorney and wrote wills to ensure that their resources will pass to each of their children as they wish.
Julie and her partner Cathy recently married, but their marriage is not recognized in the state of Idaho. Julie is committed to her career and Cathy cared for an ill parent until he passed away. We developed a plan around uncertain marriage laws and opened an investment account for Julie so she could build her retirement savings while investing in a portfolio that considers her commitment to the environment.
Wanda was devastated when she lost her husband to cancer. She was also very anxious about her finances, as she had never managed them herself. The plan we created together made her comfortable with her situation. We developed a portfolio of sustainable mutual funds for her, and we regularly review their performance and update her projections so that she does not worry about running out of money.
Sue and Joe live in Washington, D.C., and have worked in international development their whole careers, with frequent postings and travel overseas. They have been far more focused on helping other people than on managing their own finances. Our planning process helped them see how they could retire comfortably. They learned they could start collecting some social security benefits now, while ensuring that they each collect their maximum benefit at age 70, through a “file and suspend” strategy. We also developed sustainable investment portfolios with appropriate asset allocations.
Sam, in his early 40s, recently switched jobs. He doesn’t like thinking about his spending, 401k or related matters. We developed a plan with a clear savings strategy that he can meet without worrying about his budget. We rolled the after-tax contributions in his old employer’s retirement plan (which he didn’t know he had) into a Roth IRA with sustainable mutual funds, and rolled the rest of the plan into the 401k of his new employer, keeping his account management simple.
Jill and Roger are in their mid-fifties and have two children in college. Roger is the primary bread-winner and has worked hard throughout his career, putting his passion for rock-climbing aside to build a strong foundation for his family. Jill has a less lucrative but fulfilling profession. Roger wanted to take a year off to focus on his climbing goals while he is fit enough to accomplish them, but did not want to put his family’s financial security at risk. He would have to quit his job, and had no guarantee that he would be re-hired at a similar salary. We modeled different scenarios and calculated what he would need to earn after his year off to enable a comfortable retirement income. We rolled his 401(k) into a sustainable investment portfolio of individual stocks and bonds with no significant fossil fuel exploration or extraction companies. We assessed insurance needs and got better property and casualty coverage for less money, and also replaced Roger’s employer-based life insurance. After thorough analysis and discussion, Roger and Jill felt comfortable that Roger could quit his job and dedicate himself to his passion for a year.
Sherry had a successful career, and her accounts grew to several million dollars as she committed herself passionately to her work. She became anxious about her investments at retirement, when she realized she was no longer saving money. She was unsure how to manage and rebalance her investments or calculate and take her Required Minimum Distributions. After writing a full financial plan, we opened a managed bond account and a managed equity account with sustainable investments. We meet quarterly to review her liquidity situation and investments, and use her Required Minimum Distributions to rebalance her accounts.
Mark was in his late 50s and his wife, Monica, in her late 40s. They lived on the East Coast. Mark was tired of his office job and long commute into the city. Monica was at the peak of her profession and earning significantly more than Mark. Mark wanted to quit his office job and work with a friend in a small construction firm near their home, because he always wanted to learn to build things. During the financial planning process, we figured out how Mark could make this change without sacrificing the couple’s ability to retire comfortably. Monica bought additional life insurance, recognizing that they were increasingly dependent on her income. Tragically, Monica died suddenly and unexpectedly about two years later. Her life insurance benefit gave Mark the option to stay in their house and not have to change his lifestyle during an extremely difficult time.
Ken has been an activist his whole life. He and his wife are now retired (although he is still an activist) and are taking money out of their investments to support themselves. Ken feels very strongly that his investments should reflect his priorities, so we invested his IRA in a Fossil Fuel Free portfolio of diverse mutual funds. We work together to ensure that he and his wife pay themselves out of their investments and manage their liquidity in a way that allows them to live their desired standard of living throughout their retirement.