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Client Stories

Career Shifters and Your Resume in 2018

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This summer, our client Mary decided that the time is ripe to finally take the big leap from her past career in nursing to pursue her dream as a Human Resources (H.R.) professional. She has been reading articles about the expansive employment opportunities in Colorado, and she recently finished an H.R. Certificate program. During a conversation about structuring her finances during this transition, she shared her fears about resume writing because she hasn’t written one since 1980. Starting from scratch can be a daunting task, considering how resumes have evolved over the years. How will Mary know how to communicate her current marketability, without sounding too outdated?

We suggested that she begin by referring to the sought-after job description to create an Objective or Summary section at the top of the page. Because a hiring manager will likely spend less than a minute scanning her resume, Mary will want to be sure that the first thing he/she reads is applicable to the job description. She will want to “brand” herself as an H.R. professional, rather than a nurse. Forbes describes bluntly in a recent article about branding: “Most of us feel most comfortable talking about areas in which we are already credible….the key to branding yourself for a career change is to describe yourself as a person who is already in the field you wish to enter.”

The next step is to be aware of ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems). Rather than reading through hundreds of resume submissions, hiring managers will often utilize ATS to help choose the most applicable resumes for the available job. We suggested that Mary spend some time researching ATS to understand this new “language” to ensure her resume isn’t accidentally overlooked.

Which key words should Mary use in her resume to give her the best chances of making it through an ATS? The direct job description is the best place to start. In addition, Business Insider explains “Every field has its own acronyms and terminology. It’s your job to figure out how to translate your experience and past successes into terms that resonate with your new target audience. Subscribe to industry-specific publications, conduct informational interviews, and start attending events that are relevant to your target field to gain this insight, and update your resume accordingly.”

One last suggestion for Mary is to pay attention to the small details, such as her email address provider. Using a Yahoo, Hotmail, or AOL email address may indicate to hiring managers that she is living in the past. In addition, be sure to only include relevant education and work history.

If you are looking to align your financial planning with an upcoming career shift, please call Sharkey, Howes, and Javer at 303-639-5100 to schedule a complimentary meeting.   

How Financial Planning Can Make a Difference When a Loved One Passes Away

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Earlier this year, Julie Fletcher, CFP®, received a call from a client informing her that his spouse had unexpectedly passed away. When reflecting on the call, Julie said, “It was an incredibly difficult phone call. I had enjoyed getting to know them so much over the previous years. No matter how difficult it was for me, I couldn’t imagine what he was going through. I told him we would do everything we could from our standpoint to take the stress of the financial issues off of his back.”

In the time leading up to the call, Julie and the team at SH&J had been working to help the couple set up investment management and make sure their beneficiaries were aligned with their estate planning documents in order.

Julie commented, “Regardless of your stage of life, it’s important to be prepared for the unexpected. When we work with our clients we always make these 3 recommendations.”

  1. Stay Current
    Regularly check your estate planning documents to make sure they are up to date with fresh signatures and in line with state laws.
  2. Confirm Beneficiaries
    Make sure your beneficiaries are in line with your estate planning documents. Your beneficiary designations supersede your estate planning documents.
  3. Communicate Your Wishes
    Have open and honest conversations about your wishes with your close family members. Julie says, “Talking about the inevitable is the hardest part, but it is so important for them to know what you would want.”

Unfortunately, the call came and the difficult conversation ensued including a review of the details and costs regarding the funeral service. Julie was able to attend the service and later talked with her client about his decision to spend additional funds on the service to make it extra special.  “When I talked to him some time after the service, he said he was so happy he spent the money to honor his loved one. The service was beautiful and moving and truly celebrated his spouse’s life.”

In the weeks to follow, Julie and the team followed SH&J’s streamlined process designed to keep things uncomplicated for both the survivor and the beneficiaries.  She coordinated with the estate planning Attorney to execute on the estate planning that was appropriately in place and also worked with all of the beneficiaries to set up accounts to receive money in their names. Julie met all of them when they were in town for the service and has formed ongoing relationships with them even though they are scattered around the country. “I’m honored to have been a part of this process and to serve the beneficiaries who continue this legacy.”

“After we completed the process, I remember our client saying he felt like it should have been more complicated. As if he had missed a piece of the puzzle. I assured him this is how the process should go when you are prepared.”

When a loved one passes away, you want to focus on what really matters. If you are looking for a financial planning team to help make sure your financial plan is ready for the unexpected, reach out today. We would love to be able to help you.

LONG-TERM CARE & SOCIAL SECURITY

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Story #1

Kevin started working with Sharkey, Howes & Javer to review his retirement goals to help ensure he was on the right track and wasn’t missing anything. As part of planning for his retirement, Kevin had questions regarding a long term care insurance policy he had purchased before working with SH&J. Premiums for the policy had been increasing year over year and he wanted to know if it made more sense to continue paying the higher premiums, to modify his benefits, or drop the policy altogether.

We were able to provide a scenario illustrating if Kevin did have a long term care need down the road that reducing the benefit period only slightly reduced the premium and he would forfeit half of his total benefits. In the end, when comparing total benefits received versus total premiums paid along with Kevin’s projected assets, it made more sense for him to continue paying the higher premiums and maintain his current coverage.

Story #2

Mike and Lisa started working with Sharkey, Howes & Javer as they were approaching retirement and wanted to know how to maximize their cumulative Social Security benefits and when they should start collecting. Both Mike and Lisa had a strong earnings history throughout their working years and they were each eligible for similar monthly benefits at full retirement age. As part of their financial plan, we walked Mike and Lisa through their various options for spousal benefits in addition to their own respective benefit, and the timing of each. In the end, we were able to recommend an optimal claiming strategy taking into account their various resources and overall financial position going into retirement.

These writings are provided for illustrative purposes only. An individual’s experience may vary based on his or her individual circumstances. There can be no assurance that SH&J will be able to achieve similar results in comparable situations. No portion of these writings is to be interpreted as a testimonial or endorsement of SH&J’s investment advisory services and it is not known whether the clients referenced approve of SH&J or its services.

SELLING A BUSINESS

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Story #1

Dan and Carol had been long time clients and sought out the expertise of Sharkey, Howes & Javer to assist them when they were faced with making an important decision about the disposition of their business upon retirement. Being long time clients, we had already developed a financial plan addressing their retirement goals and their options regarding the sale of their business.

Once Dan and Carol started receiving offers on the business we were able to illustrate for them the advantages and risks of each offer not only financially, but also how each offer may impact the lifestyle they desire going forward.

Story #2

Bruce and Kathy initially sought out SH&J to help structure an exit plan that would bridge the transition between running their business and “hanging up the hat” in retirement. As they worked through this process, SH&J discovered Bruce and Kathy were also managing the finances of elderly family members. Managing various accounts and properties in different states added to the stress of their daily grind.

In order to help make life simpler, Bruce and Kathy asked SH&J to manage their own investments, as well as the investments for their elderly family members. Now they can review everything together in one place and shift their focus back to the best way to transition into retirement.

These writings are provided for illustrative purposes only. An individual’s experience may vary based on his or her individual circumstances. There can be no assurance that SH&J will be able to achieve similar results in comparable situations. No portion of these writings is to be interpreted as a testimonial or endorsement of SH&J’s investment advisory services and it is not known whether the clients referenced approve of SH&J or its services.

ALREADY RETIRED

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Story #1

John and Susan had just moved to Denver when they began working with Sharkey, Howes & Javer. They had already retired and were living off of their Social Security, pensions, and annual distributions from their respective annuities.

They had a sudden cash need and wanted to surrender the annuity policies to cover the lump sum cash need. After discussing their situation with SH&J we learned that the annuities could not be surrendered without a penalty and they would lose an underlying survivor benefit which was important to them to maintain for their children.

After reviewing a life insurance analysis, we determined that there was a life insurance policy with a significant cash value that could be surrendered without jeopardizing their long term goals and would cover their upcoming cash need without sacrificing the survivor benefit on the annuities for their children.

Story #2

Barbara, a retired nurse, came to Sharkey, Howes & Javer with a rather complicated structure of income streams that created uncertainty and confusion in her world. She was the recipient of various family trusts, family real estate properties, and trusts from late husband’s estate, while at the same time trying to manage rental properties and a family ranch. Understandably, she struggled to grasp the details of her financial picture and hired SH&J as her financial planners to get a better understanding of her finances.

With the realization that she had very little control over her income sources, Barbara asked SH&J to help her develop an investment portfolio that she could access on her own, without asking permission from any trustees. This portfolio continues to provide retirement income for Barbara today.

These writings are provided for illustrative purposes only. An individual’s experience may vary based on his or her individual circumstances. There can be no assurance that SH&J will be able to achieve similar results in comparable situations. No portion of these writings is to be interpreted as a testimonial or endorsement of SH&J’s investment advisory services and it is not known whether the clients referenced approve of SH&J or its services.

Young Professionals

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Story #1

Doug and Kristin began working with Sharkey, Howes & Javer in 2007. When we first met, they were 37 and 35 years old with two young children, ages 3 and 1. Kristin was employed full-time in the medical profession, while Doug took care of the children and consulted part-time.

When they first came to us, Kristin and Doug had very little understanding of their monthly cash flow, had not yet begun thinking about college expenses for their children, and retirement seemed daunting with minimal contributions being made.

Sharkey, Howes & Javer prepared a detailed financial plan addressing each of these concerns, and more. Based on our analyses, we provided them with thorough recommendations that were practical and accommodated their monthly cash flow.

We also provided a custom investment portfolio crucial to helping them reach their goals.

Over the years we have helped Kristin and Doug through many important decisions and life changes. Their plan has been revised to account for a job change, the purchase of a larger home, private school for their children, and an increase in travel, without jeopardizing their long-term retirement goal.

Now at age 47 and 45, Kristen and Doug are on track for both retirement and college education, while continuing to understand their cash flow, living within their means, and having a long-term investment approach.

Story #2

Adam, age 32, met with an advisor at Sharkey, Howes & Javer. He was single and renting an apartment at the time. Adam explained that he had a desire to get married in the next few years, purchase a home as well as start a family, and wanted to know how to begin planning for all these life events.

Although we decided that a formal financial plan was probably premature as the timing and details of these events were still developing, Adam did have a significant amount of discretionary income, and we helped him establish a preliminary plan to begin saving for these goals as well as retirement.
SH&J currently manages these accounts and continues to work with Adam to track his progress toward his specific goals.

These writings are provided for illustrative purposes only. An individual’s experience may vary based on his or her individual circumstances. There can be no assurance that SH&J will be able to achieve similar results in comparable situations. No portion of these writings is to be interpreted as a testimonial or endorsement of SH&J’s investment advisory services and it is not known whether the clients referenced approve of SH&J or its services.

APPROACHING RETIREMENT

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Story #1

The Smith’s had been working with another advisor for many years. They had done a fair amount of planning and also had the advisor develop a long-term investment strategy to manage their assets. They were invested primarily in products that were “sponsored” by the advisor’s employer and with retirement fast approaching the advisor was now recommending they each purchase an annuity with the majority of their assets. The Smiths had questions about this product and the advice to switch strategies.

The client scheduled an appointment with Sharkey, Howes & Javer to get a second opinion. After multiple discussions with the client and a review of the proposed annuities and other investment strategies, together we concluded that the purchase of these particular products was likely not the best solution given their specific circumstances and comfort level with the complexity, fee structure, and loss of flexibility. They chose to go a different direction based on the analysis provided by SH&J.

Story #2

Jonathan and Rebecca came to SHJ to review their balance sheet as it was over weighted with real estate properties. Although it represented significant wealth, their multiple real estate properties were not going to provide much in actual retirement income.

Ages 65 and 67, retirement was quickly approaching and the clients had a primary residence, three vacation homes, and two investment properties. The rental income received on the investment properties was just slightly over the cost to maintain the properties. This left the couple dependent on their investment portfolio for everyday living expenses.

SHJ analyzed their portfolio and once the analysis was shared, the couple was surprised to see that their investment portfolio was insufficient to meet their needs. They needed help in finding alternate solutions. SHJ helped them come to the realization that the equity would eventually need to be tapped by either selling a property (or two) or increasing the loans against the properties. SHJ provided them with a detailed plan of the most efficient way of accomplishing this.

These writings are provided for illustrative purposes only. An individual’s experience may vary based on his or her individual circumstances. There can be no assurance that SH&J will be able to achieve similar results in comparable situations. No portion of these writings is to be interpreted as a testimonial or endorsement of SH&J’s investment advisory services and it is not known whether the clients referenced approve of SH&J or its services.

DEATH OF A SPOUSE

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 Story #1

Jack, age 72, was diagnosed with a terminal illness, leaving his wife, Jill, age 70, to eventually handle the finances on her own. They hired Sharkey, Howes & Javer to review their overall circumstances, their investment portfolio, and their estate planning. We concluded that the assets they accumulated to date should be more than sufficient to provide Jill with the same standard of living that she had been accustomed to before Jack’s eventual passing.

We reviewed their current investment portfolio and determined that the amount of risk they were exposed to was more than what was determined to accomplish their goals. We redesigned and implemented a new portfolio with a lower risk profile and to this date, Jill’s portfolio is still projected to be on track to provide for her needs for her expected lifetime.

We also worked closely with Jack and Jill’s estate planning attorney and together agreed to make some changes that, under the tax law at the time, could potentially save the clients a significant amount of taxes upon Jill’s eventual passing. Jack has unfortunately since passed away, but Jill now has a better understanding of her finances, is taking distributions from her portfolio and continues to meet with us regularly for financial guidance.

Story #2

Jane, age 55, lost her husband about two years before working with Sharkey, Howes & Javer. Raising two teenage boys on her own was challenging and handling the finances became too overwhelming.

We discussed her desires to pay for college for both boys and prepared a plan that detailed how to accomplish this important goal. Although a homemaker for the last 14 years, we also developed a plan for her “retirement.” SH&J managed her investment portfolio that was comprised of her deceased husband’s 401(k) from his employer as well as life insurance proceeds. We implemented a plan to provide her a consistent monthly income to supplement her current social security survivor benefits so she could maintain her lifestyle.

Now, ten years later, both boys have completed their undergraduate studies without incurring any student loan debt, and Jane continues to follow the recommended portfolio distribution plan.

 Story #3

Beth, age 63, lost her husband suddenly and found herself abruptly in a position to make all the financial decisions, needless to say, all during her grieving process. Although she was familiar with managing the necessary bills, she was not familiar with how to invest their existing portfolio or the proceeds from life insurance. She also had to make social security and 401(k) rollover decisions.

She met with Sharkey, Howes & Javer and we initially provided her some literature and recommendations to help her with the grieving. We then patiently guided her through the financial process and helped her decide which Social Security option was likely the most advantageous given her circumstances and assumed life expectancy. We also helped her consolidate numerous 401(k)’s into one retirement account to simplify her finances, specifically upcoming Required Minimum Distributions from her IRA.

SH&J is now helping Beth with her retirement plan as well as helping her understand the basics of investing and designing a long-term investment portfolio.

These writings are provided for illustrative purposes only. An individual’s experience may vary based on his or her individual circumstances. There can be no assurance that SH&J will be able to achieve similar results in comparable situations. No portion of these writings is to be interpreted as a testimonial or endorsement of SH&J’s investment advisory services and it is not known whether the clients referenced approve of SH&J or its services.