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What the Certified Exit Planning Advisor Designation is and Why I Pursued It

What the Certified Exit Planning Advisor Designation is and Why I Pursued It

One of the most overlooked yet essential steps that a private business owner, or owners, should take is establishing an exit plan. It is vital to know that at the end of years of hard work and dedication the three critical components of success in succession are met – personal goals, financial goals, and business goals. 

More than Just the Face Value of Your Business

The question that most often goes unanswered, or is not known, is “What is my business really worth?” It is possible to get a business valuation to determine a value, but in many cases, there is more to the success of the transition than just the final amount. That is why I decided to study to achieve the Certified Exit Planning Advisor accreditation through the Exit Planning Institute. I want to add value to my clients who are business owners as well as those that I come into contact with throughout my career.

As one of the owners here at Walkner Condon Financial Advisors, I have first-hand experience with understanding the needs of a growing business. We have grown tremendously over the last four years, and I am incredibly grateful for the people I work with and for all of the clients that we get to work for. Creating an exit plan is something that we have discussed and simply put, it is good business. It can and should be a win-win for everyone if the process of exit planning is done thoroughly. Creating a team around you that has professional experience crafting and implementing exit plans is extremely important and can add to the value of the company for the owner or owners. It can also help with the morale of the employees of the company and then increase the chances of long-term success. 

Baby Boomers and Business Ownership

The majority of privately-owned businesses are owned by Baby Boomers, who are being forced to consider the options that they have to exit their businesses at an alarming rate. Every day since 2011, 10,000 people in the United States turned 65. That will continue for a couple of years still. With so many businesses being owned by Baby Boomers, they need to have an exit plan in place that will benefit their personal, financial, and business goals. That is where a Certified Exit Planning Advisor can really add value to these owners by organizing the team of professionals and experts around the ownership group to create and execute this plan. In reality, most companies are not ready to be sold when the owner wants to sell, which makes the exit planning process even more important. 

The Power of Planning Ahead

I am proud of the CEPA designation that I pursued, and I am looking forward to utilizing the skills and knowledge that I learned to help owners as they plan for the inevitable exit of their business. I have already had a handful of conversations with current clients and others in the community, conversations that have reinforced the value that I believe someone with the CEPA designation and expertise can add to financial planning for their personal and business goals. I know one thing is certain in this uncertain business world: You will exit your business at some point…either in a way that you planned for or one that you did not plan for! 

 

Jonathon Jordan, CFP®, CEPA

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

Schwab Announcement

Schwab Announcement

Walkner Condon Financial Advisors Announces the Addition of Schwab as a Custodian

Walkner Condon Financial Advisors is proud to announce the addition of Charles Schwab as a custodian. This will bring our number of available custodians for our clients up to four, with TD Ameritrade and Interactive Brokers acting as the two highest assets under management custodians offered to our clients. Primarily, TD Ameritrade functions as our domestic custodian while Interactive Brokers offers a global offering for our U.S. expat clients.

Why Schwab?

Simply put, with the Schwab/TD Ameritrade merger, we anticipate their offerings to be one of the most complete in the industry. Schwab offers commission-free equity and ETF trading, along with a myriad of fixed income, options, and banking choices for clients that require those services. As a team, we discussed what we thought was the best way to hit the ground running when the merger occurs, and that was to familiarize ourselves with the platform prior to the transition. Additionally, it will offer us the ability to help clients with Schwab accounts that they would like us to manage without having to transfer assets over to another custodian. Moreover, many 401k plans offer a self-directed option with Schwab, so this may also open up investment opportunities for our clients without being required to use their preselected investment lineup.

What is Happening with Existing Clients?

Not much at all. We are not anticipating moving any clients from TD to Schwab proactively, instead allowing the transfer process to play out naturally. It will take years before the merger is truly complete, which will allow us ample time to vet out the new combined entity.

Should there be clients with Schwab accounts currently that would like us to incorporate those into their current investment lineup through our management, please contact us. We will also reach out to those clients that we think will directly benefit from this new offering.

Please let us know if you have any additional questions. We are excited to offer more choice to our clients, as we strive to achieve confidence and clarity in their financial futures.

 

Clint, Nate, Jon, Mitch, Keith, and Hannah

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 [email protected] or at 608-234-4127.

The Walkner Condon Team