Challenges, Additions and Optimism: Where Walkner Condon is Going

Challenges, Additions and Optimism: Where Walkner Condon is Going

The story of 2020 is yet to be over, but it will be a year that will never be forgotten. We have faced some of the greatest challenges as a company, namely the battle that the co-founder of our namesake, Nate Condon, has undertaken. As his winding road towards recovery has taken its twists and turns, we are happy to report that he has improved from a rather grave position just a short six weeks ago to improving metrics and hopefulness that a serious but necessary surgery will finally be the answer to long-term health. There is one major surgery in Nate’s future that is expected to ultimately get him better, and we anticipate a full recovery.

We will have answers in the next couple of months on how long this journey will take, but his strength and resolve have been awe-inspiring. And speaking of awe-inspiring, the way Sylina, Nate’s wife, has taken on the role of full-time caregiver during this process has been the most incredible example of true, selfless love and devotion. Nothing reveals the core of a person or a relationship like these types of sudden, life-changing events, and the whole Condon family has proven to be solid as a rock. The Walkner Condon team is certainly happy to have our rock back, as Nate’s strength and nutrition has improved, and he has been able to become involved again in our weekly meetings. 

Despite these unforeseen challenges, we still have a job to do. Jon, Mitch, and Keith have thrived under the virtual meeting environment, and we have collectively worked to enhance the client experience through technology. Each day as clients become more adjusted to the nuances of working together online, the process gets easier to navigate and more personal. We have recently purchased software that will further assist us in gathering and sharing personalized data with secure document sharing. This will also help us conduct our strategy meetings through a more efficient way by getting updated client information prior to our appointment. 

In late August, we had another unforeseen development when Stan Farmer and Syl Michelin began discussions about joining us as financial advisors. It was a natural fit with Keith previously working with these two talented individuals. And, at the two months+ mark of tenure, we can report that they are indeed excellent at what they do, as well as great fits for the “comfortably unique” office culture we all enjoy so much. And we would be remiss to not mention Hannah’s contributions during this time, as she has been instrumental in Stan and Syl’s success in onboarding. Her positive attitude and ability to offer a trusted perspective on many topics is invaluable. 

The interesting thing about change is that it is unyielding and unrepentant, but it is your choice whether to embrace it or allow it to become a barrier to true progress. Even “good” change can be a painfully uneven experience, but regardless of what iteration of change you face, it forces you to look inward and accept your own limitations. For me, it is the understanding that I cannot be all things to all people, and that I will simply never be good at all things. Even things I enjoy doing, I realize that a true specialist is far better suited for than someone that dabbles. 

Resultantly, two new employees have recently joined us and we will be embarking on a new venture with the goal of expanding our service level to our clients. Dan Corcoran, marketing and social media specialist, was added to our team with the goal of telling our story and increasing our engagement and communication. We believe that being “comfortably unique” is our secret sauce, and adding staff that can help us get this message out is incredibly valuable.

Next, Anna Lautenbach is a highly credentialed financial advisor that will also be assisting us with compliance responsibilities. She also will be partnering with us to establish tax services as a new entity. We believe that we can offer the same customized, friendly experience on the tax consulting and preparation side to compliment our investment management and financial planning services to both Wisconsin-based and U.S. expat clients. We intend on carrying forward our prompt response time and ease of doing business, and offering clear and concise advice from Walkner Condon Financial Advisors to Walkner Condon Tax Services.

On behalf of the partners, Nate and Jon, we look forward with optimistic eyes and hearts. We are humbled by our clients’ genuine care for us as a group. We exist because of all of you, and we will tirelessly strive to make your experience with comprehensive wealth management an exemplary one.

The future is bright.

Clint Walkner

Welcome Syl & Stan and the Evolution of Walkner Condon

Welcome Syl & Stan and the Evolution of Walkner Condon

In late December of 2011, Nate and I walked out of UW Credit Union and started Walkner Condon with a buildout on Monroe Street, my brother Craig as our office administrator, and zero clients. Since then we moved down the street to our current office, built out a reimagined office layout and added Jonathon, who later became our first partner.

Mitch was added shortly thereafter, recognizing that building for the future was best done by adding talented individuals that believe in serving clients with their best interests always at heart. Keith joined a little while later, finding us through mutual connections and starting a new niche at Walkner Condon in working with U.S. expats. Hannah joined us in a client support role and will soon elevate to financial advisor in the near future. 

Our advisors and staff are our best recruiters, and when Nate and I approached Keith with the idea of adding advisors to our expat team, he politely declined to reach out to anyone. Keith explained that he wanted to help build the infrastructure to offer complete expat services and serve his clients first, and he would approach advisors later with our value proposition. When I asked Keith who he respected and had values that would align with ours, there were two names that he brought up – Stan and Syl from his previous firm, Thun Financial.

Then in mid-June, Thun Financial communicated that they were being acquired by Creative Planning. It took a few months, conversations were started, and we are happy to announce that Syl Michelin and Stan Farmer are now members of Walkner Condon Financial Advisors! Their additions will greatly benefit our expats clients and others that face cross-border investment and financial planning difficulties. Additionally, one question that always popped up when the partners met was “what happens to our expat business if Keith gets hit by a bus” (or more accurately, what happens if Keith’s pancreas starts to become inflamed and he ends up being out of work)? Now with our international team featuring three experienced members, we will be able to offer support to our clients under any circumstances.

2020 remains a challenging year, but even in difficult times, we are pleased to add such talented advisors to our firm. I would be remiss not to mention all the efforts of the rest of our team, who all pitched in to help while Nate has been absent. Nate is our “glue guy”, and to go through this process without him has been tough. As he gets better, we will be back at full strength very soon.

To read more about Syl and Stan, head over to our expat website.

Here’s to the next chapter of Walkner Condon! Thanks to all of our clients who make us who we are.

Clint Walkner

 

Our Disaster Recovery Plan

Our Disaster Recovery Plan

As coronavirus fears continue, we wanted to bring the attention of our clients to the preparations we have as a firm for unnatural events. Fortunately for us, the tools that we use on an everyday basis are available to us anywhere in the world where we have an internet connection. Our clients files, notes, and operations software are all cloud-based. 

In a situation where in-person meetings are inadvisable or logistically challenging, we do web conference meetings where we can screen share and cover just about anything that we can do in our office. Keith, who works with expats almost exclusively, has been doing this for years, and we have fine-tuned our systems to offer a fantastic virtual experience. We use Zoom for our virtual meetings most of the time, and it has proven to be a very stable platform. Gone are the days of grainy videos and garbled audio! 

As part of our compliance process, we are required to have a disaster recovery plan, which has recently been reviewed and updated. We also think it’s safe to say that if we had an event that necessitated us to utilize disaster recovery, such an event might come with a volatile market. We could definitely provide larger scale webinars to disseminate information, as well as the blog posts and podcasts that you have all come to expect from us.

Whether or not the coronavirus becomes an event that will cause us temporarily to change our regular work environment, rest assured that we will be able to service your investment accounts in the same manner. If for some reason an in-person meeting is not possible, we will strive to provide you with a seamless virtual experience. 

If you have any questions about our disaster recovery plan, please let us know.

 

Clint Walkner

The Definitive Guide to 2019 Tax Forms for Walkner Condon

The Definitive Guide to 2019 Tax Forms for Walkner Condon

TD Ameritrade has indicated that tax forms have been posted and mailed. All clients that have taxable accounts (individual, joint, or trust) will receive 1099 tax documents by mail, in addition to them being posted online. In most cases, cost basis information will be provided on the consolidated 1099 forms. Clients that have taken distributions from IRA accounts (this includes Roth conversions) will receive 1099-R tax forms.

The easiest and quickest way to get your 1099s is to go to the TD Ameritrade client websiteClick here to log into your TD Ameritrade account. There is a “forgot password” link there, if you need it. Please be aware that tax documents will NOT be posted to the Blueleaf web portal. 

This is what the envelope will look like for TD Ameritrade accounts:

And yes, we super duper PROMISE that you get this in the mail unless you are a tiny percentage of people that signed up for electronic tax statements, which is almost no one.

If you do not have a taxable account and you have not taken money out of your IRA, you will not receive a 1099 form. Contributions do NOT trigger 1099s.

For clients with accounts held at Interactive Brokers or Betterment, the process is the same as above. The easiest way to get your 1099s is to access them online.

Please keep an eye out for your tax documents when checking your mail. As always, do not hesitate to contact us with any questions, or to assure that we have the right address on file for you. You may contact Hannah for administrative questions at hannah@walknercondon.com or at 608-234-4127.

The Walkner Condon Team

What’s Up At Walkner Condon

What’s Up At Walkner Condon

We are consistently surprised at how interested our clients are in keeping up with our firm, so we wanted to continue to inform you of what we have done and where we are going. Here are a few of our goals we have worked on recently, and here are some that we are looking at in the near future:

Enhancements to Educational Content

In 2018 we set out a goal to improve our communication to clients, born out of asking clients what they wanted to consume in meetings. Some of our clients really enjoyed our written form, while others preferred video or audio. What that highlighted to us is that people learn and consume media in different ways, and we wanted to reach our clients (and prospective clients) through a variety of mediums. We continued to write blog posts and added our podcast, Gimme Some Truth, to the offerings and most recently have begun to dabble in Facebook and YouTube Live. We want to offer a library of content that is actionable, approachable, and hopefully, a little fun along the way. As we continue to develop this content, we welcome your feedback and suggestions regarding future blog posts, podcasts, and videos. 

Additions to Staff

In November of 2017, we added Jonathon Jordan as an advisor. In 2018, he achieved the goals we laid out to achieve partnership, which he accomplished much faster than we could have even anticipated! Jonathon’s addition also helped us add a CFP(R) to Walkner Condon.

Shortly after hiring Jonathon, we hired Mitch DeWitt. Since joining the firm, Mitch has finished his MBA at the University of Wisconsin and is working through his CFP(R) studies with an expected completion in 2020. In a short amount of time he has proven to be a huge asset to our firm and we have been very impressed with his skills as an advisor.

Keith Poniewaz joined us a few short months ago and has stepped right in to round out our service model offerings with a focus on U.S. expatriates. Keith helps clients navigate through the complex regulations facing investors abroad. With his academic background, Keith has also been a huge help in creating content for us through appearances on Gimme Some Truth, writing white papers and blog posts, and though live video. 

Completion of Buildout

With an eye on future expansion, we engaged our landlord and built out the last 650 square feet in our building. We are committed to our location on Monroe Street and wanted to be proactive in locking down additional space.

Increased Service Models

We now offer 3 models of services to prospective clients based on their needs. We also proactively contacted those existing clients that may fit better in a different model if we felt that it was in their best interest. With these service levels we feel that we can serve the vast majority of prospective clients where there is a mutual fit. 

Goals for the Remainder of 2019

We have recently completed the hiring process and we will be making an announcement soon on our hiring of an administrative assistant. We are very excited and are confident she will be a friendly and productive member of our team that will further help us to serve you.

As a team we have utilized a practice management coach for the first time. This exercise has us better articulating our core values and putting our processes down on paper. We are very protective of our culture that we have built and this will help assure that any future staff additions will continue to follow the “Walkner Condon Way”. You will see some of these efforts show up on our website later this year. 

We continue to look for another advisor or advisor team. It is not our goal to be the biggest firm in Madison, but we do feel that adding advisors at this time will allow us to spread our message of accessible financial services to others in the Dane County area. We do not seek to be all things to all people; we seek to be all things to some people. Through word of mouth and our online presence we are fortunate to be a growing firm, and we strive to provide a comfortably unique experience.

-Clint Walkner

Meet Our New Advisor – Keith Poniewaz: From Madison to the World

Meet Our New Advisor – Keith Poniewaz: From Madison to the World

From our team:

When you have the opportunity to add unique talent and diversity to your organization, you move quickly. Walkner Condon Financial Advisors is excited to announce the addition of Keith Poniewaz to our team as Financial Advisor | Director of International Advisory Services.

Keith is an experienced financial advisor with an extensive background working with ex-pats on the financial challenges they face with overseas living. In addition to his 5 years as an advisor, Keith holds a Ph.D. from The University of Pennsylvania and has spent time working overseas (Spain and France). In addition to his work with ex-pats, Keith also helps domestic clients work through complex financial situations. His background in academia also offers him a unique perspective and understanding of benefit packages and investing with clients working in higher education.

Our firm is committed to measured growth that adds value to our clients. Keith will help us improve our financial education through his excellent writing and research skills. We are excited to have Keith join our team as he fits the culture and character of our firm. Please join us in welcoming Keith to our team! -Clint, Nate, Jon, and Mitch

From Keith:

“I’m extremely excited to join Walkner Condon.  They are a firm that is committed to building maintaining and the highest level client experience for clients both in the United States and abroad. Walkner Condon’s flexibility means that we can design and build a financial planning and investment experience that best fits with the client’s life.  Moreover, the team’s expertise in technical and technological questions has been invaluable in this transition and I’m excited to show my clients what our combined expertise offers.”

***And by the way, Keith saw the pineapple graphic and immediately remarked about it being a symbol of hospitality in history. Always good to have well traveled people in the office! -Clint

Here is the podcast introducing Keith: