Thinking Through the Future with Colleen Gillam-Judd
- Today we talk through how to think about your own wealth. The listener should be asking themselves a simple question: How are you thinking about the wealth YOU are creating?
Resources From Today’s Episode
We welcome Colleen, a Certified Financial Planner, at IG Wealth Management on today’s show. Colleen shares a wealth of knowledge (literally) about her experiences in the financial planning realm. She shares an outside approach to planning, especially for firm owners.
The conversation today is less focused on partnerships, referrals, or adding wealth management to a practice, and more focused on those running the practice and how their wealth management is on a personal level.
Colleen kicks us off by saying: ‘Every wealth [management] person wants to partner with them [firm owners], but no one asks how they are doing.’
We’ll uncover this great thought throughout the show notes below.
When To Start Thinking About Wealth Management?
After David and Colleen establish their unique approach to the wealth management conversation, David asks Colleen when she sees firm owners begin to ask for help.
Colleen shares that there tends to be a standard place for most entrepreneurs who have been working with their heads down and establishing their businesses. She points out a few things that firm owners, or any entrepreneur, may begin to see after their earned successes:
- Excess $ in the checking account
- Excess cash flow
- Low stress about business expenses
Put simply, we learn from Colleen that the place in time an entrepreneur may be ready to begin the wealth management conversation is when they can take a financial vacation.
David brings up an interesting point from here. For firm owners, there may be an unwritten rule of fear that once things are up and running, taking a vacation is actually the moment firm owners lose their edge. If the capital exists to take a vacation, why not put them in investment vehicles instead of vacations? With this, it’s Colleen’s job to help overcome these mental hurdles, but how? We’ll cover this in the next section.
Bigger Than Planned
Colleen points out that business owners are overachievers. So naturally, it’s scary once the business is bigger than imagined. Entrepreneurs focus on growth initially, but what about once they begin to settle in, then what?
Colleen asks some really in-depth questions that are important to identify this ‘then what’ question:
- What does the business owner want to achieve personally in the next 5-10 years?
- What do they want the business to achieve in the 5-10 years?
- How do they make these work?
- How do we integrate earned time off, affording holiday’s, new vehicles, house, etc. without feeling like taking a step backwards?
More specifically, Colleen shares the importance of meeting with firm owners and their spouses because everyone has a different idea of what financial success actually looks like. Is it freedom? Is it security?
The key is to figure out what each person’s definition of financial success is and how they intend on achieving it. To get everyone on the same page, if you will.
Surprisingly, this conversation is more like a therapy conversation as both parties may be misaligned with their goals. This isn’t a bad thing either, Colleen shares with us, it’s simply the opportunity to identify what the goals are, lay them out on the table, get on the same page, and achieve them.
According to Colleen, it’s a ton of fun because it’s no longer about the bank account balance, but about what they want to do with it.
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Taking that Big Vacation
A common situation for firm owners is desiring a big vacation or break. But that decision comes with baggage for many. It often involves guilt or stress.
Colleen helps her clients understand their financial ability to take the vacation, and also talk through the practical side of where their firm will be upon returning. Spoiler alert: It’ll be fine.
This is often a deserved reward for years of good work, and should be enjoyed. With financial planning, firm owners can look forward to these every few years.
Colleen explains it like this:
“Instead of it just being a one time win, because I think it’s really important when you’re doing financial planning for yourself… It’s not just about retirement or saving for the kids’ school. It’s also about your day to day life. Success means feeling like your money’s working hard for you. So putting in a lot of my plans for people is ‘let’s do this every year or every two years’ —That big fun holiday.”
Scenario: Beancounter, LLC
Colleen and David talk through a hypothetical scenario on how the things mentioned above begin to play out. We begin with Sarah & Tony Beancounter of Beanconter, LLC. Their business has been up and running for 5+ years and they see an abundance of dollars within the business, on top of their healthy salaries as well.
Before we get too far, it’s important to clarify that a healthy salary (according to David & Colleen) could be considered > 100-200k with the business owners checking some foundation money boxes, as well. For example, an appropriate 3 month savings mark, ability to save 15-20% of annual salary, emergency funds, etc.
Step 1: Identifying goals
Some common goals a planner may see:
- Saving for college
Although we only uncovered step 1 of Colleen’s planning process, there were plenty of nuggets along the way that gave us an inside look at planning for the future.
Colleen and David share a conversation that with these common goals, planning for an unpredictable future is still hard to do. So, in Colleen’s world, it’s valuable to help people identify their goals, then schedule a plan that works for them, making sure that their dollars are going in the appropriate direction. And ultimately, making sure they are in a position to enjoy their money today and tomorrow. In many scenarios, we may find firm owners who are willing to decrease their time in the business, but never truly step away for full retirement.
Taking the Next Steps
It’s never too soon to start thinking about the future. If you are taking the right steps year after year, you can build the firm and life you want. This interview could be the right place to start in dreaming big:
“Open up a notebook, start asking these important questions. Even if you’re in year 2 or 3 of your journey as a firm owner, start thinking about this now. Because if you’re putting in the right steps, getting your pricing right, you’re getting your marketing systems right, you’re getting your fulfillment and workflow systems right. We’ve seen it so many times in our accounting community, you will get there. These things do compound. So please take that seriously and have some fun for ten to 15 minutes and jot down notes from today’s today’s interview.” – David Cristello
To learn more about the semi-retirement conversation, make sure to check out the podcast on our website.
If you enjoyed the interview, leave a review. It helps us get the word out. Also, if you really enjoyed it and there is a shift in how you think about the future of your firm, share it with a fellow firm owner that needed to hear something Jeff talked about today.
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