These client profiles illustrate current and past clients:

Pre-retirement planning

Fred and Ethel Smith are 8 years from retirement. Both are employed and have relatively good job security. They have accumulated assets in two 401k plans as well as traditional and Roth IRAs. As with most investors, the volatility of the last decade raised uncertainty about the security of their plans to retire. They make their own decisions about investments in the 401k plans by using information provided by the employer and the plan provider. The IRAs are invested with two different local brokers. A few years ago they purchased a variable annuity through a local insurance agent. Now they wonder if additional annuities at retirement will keep them from running out of money. They are uncertain how much to rely on social security or when to start drawing benefits.  Neither has a defined benefit pension plan.

The Smiths look forward to retirement and definitely hope to travel more and spend time with family, particularly grandchildren. However, they do not have very specific plans concerning their lifestyle in retirement. A local CPA® prepares their tax return. Fred asked her if she knew an advisor that would help them plan retirement without trying to sell new products. The CPA® suggested they talk to Jones Financial.

Both Fred and Ethel have a Will, but they have not reviewed these in several years. They do not recall if their retirement plan beneficiary forms name their children or their estate as the eventual beneficiary.  Roth conversion is something they have read about and talked about with friends, but they have not analyzed this idea carefully. A local insurance agent has approached them about long term care insurance, but they are dragging their feet and can't make a decision. They are concerned with the possibility of high long term care expenses particularly since there is longevity on both sides of the family. However, they are reluctant to spend money on premiums knowing they may never collect benefits from the policy.

Death of a spouse

Jane’s husband Frank passed away recently following a lengthy illness. Jane is employed and very capable of taking care of herself. However, grief over her husband’s death and the many decisions she needs to make leave her feeling out of control. She and Frank typically conferred about investments and other financial matters, but Frank usually took the lead on these issues and Jane often deferred to his opinion. She may want to delegate management of her portfolio to someone she can trust, but retain the ability to handle things herself in the future.

One of her big concerns is future inflation and what that will do to her standard of living. She is not sure how to invest to protect herself from inflation. She has other issues that need immediate attention including when to begin taking distributions from Frank’s rollover IRA and how to invest significant life insurance proceeds she will receive soon. In addition, she has been told by several people that she needs a living trust, but she doesn’t really know why. From past experience, she has ideas how to proceed with these issues, but she is reluctant to move forward without input and advice from others. She wants to feel confident that she is not making financial mistakes.


Tom will soon receive a significant inheritance following the death of his father. He is not married and has no children. He has investments scattered around in a 401k plan, three IRAs, bank deposits, several mutual funds, and a discount brokerage account. However, the inheritance is more than twice as large as all his other investments combined. The inheritance will give him the opportunity to pursue hobbies he has dreamed about but has not been able to afford.

Tom does not enjoy making investment decisions and is not sure that he wants to spend a lot of time managing his investments. He wants to enjoy life, but he doesn’t want to over spend and possibly sacrifice a secure retirement. Tom wants help determining a reasonable spending level and an appropriate investment portfolio. He also wants to find a way to help out a niece and nephew and create educational accounts for their minor children. Eventually he wants half of his estate to be split between his alma mater and the local community foundation.

Business sale

Barney and Betty Brown are experts in managing the small business they started many years ago and the business has been successful. The timing is right to sell the business to an interested buyer. They feel too young to fully retire and may get involved in another small business they’ve always dreamed of starting. However, they want to invest a significant portion of the business sale proceeds to create a secure future. They have worked well together as partners in the business, but they have very different feelings about taking risk when investing. Barney wants to keep things safe to avoid losses. Betty believes at least half of the portfolio should be in stocks for long term growth.

Barney and Betty have some familiarity with investments because their business offers employees a 401k plan. However, they have invested most of their retirement plan balance in a Target Date fund. This offers them “set it and forget it” diversification. They do not have experience managing a large pool of investments outside the plan which will now represent a major part of their financial future. They have talked to registered representatives at two local brokerage firms but received conflicting advice. Both of them believe the amount they have to invest should permit them to pay modest investment costs and expenses.

There is longevity on both sides of the family. Both have parents who are alive and going strong in the mid 80’s. Barney and Betty worry they may outlive their assets if they also live a long time, particularly with rising health care costs.

None of their children expressed an interest in continuing the business so they haven’t spent much time thinking about estate planning. However, with new significant liquid assets to invest, they are contemplating arrangements for minor grandchildren, a daughter who has a serious disability, and a son who is in the middle of a divorce.