Why these two retirees are spending their life farming and painting, instead of worrying.

When Sam came to us, she knew it was time to retire from long hours as an architect, but she had no idea where to begin.  She dreamed of moving to the country and living a slower life full of the things she loved: painting, cooking and caring for her relationship.    

Her partner, Kelly, had managed their investments, but 2008 really spooked her.  She didn’t cash out but she spent many sleepless nights worrying whether she was making the right choices for their future.  Kelly was clear that she didn’t want the responsibility of managing their portfolio once they retired.   

Together, we clarified a vision of their life in retirement and implemented an investment portfolio designed to last the rest of their life.  Sam gained a deeper understanding of their investments and Kelly was happy to delegate.  We worked with their CPA to minimize taxes by understanding their income need and distributing appropriate amounts from their IRAs, Roth IRAs and taxable investments.  In the absence of heirs, we aligned their financial plan with their desire to give. In collaboration with a community foundation, Sam and Kelly created a Donor Advised Fund, a philanthropic structure that will outlive them.   

They enjoy checking in at our semi-annual meetings, to review their plan and portfolio.  This leaves Sam free to take art classes and Kelly to focus on growing her famous heirloom tomatoes.

Establishing deep communication around financial goals after receiving an inheritance.

Marc and Robert are in their 40s and raising two teenagers with college on the horizon. Robert’s mother recently died from cancer and the whole family is grieving. Robert received an inheritance that felt heavy with grief. When they came to Modernist, they realized they had never established deep communication around their financial goals and values. In the past, their differing financial philosophies and spending styles had resulted in tension and stress for the whole family. They had always been rigorous savers with a significant portfolio for their age, but much of that behavior came from fear rather than intentional planning. After Robert's inheritance, their portfolio quadrupled yet they felt lost and overwhelmed.

We dug deep to uncover their individual money stories that had led to strained conversations about money. They are now in regular counseling to help them grow together while experiencing transition. This work informs their financial planning, as they cope with the family's loss, an empty nest in a few years and career concerns that we discovered in our initial conversations. We implemented a cash flow structure that helped them prioritize and make decisions together, automated bills and savings and created a sense of permission around discretionary spending. Our portfolio management let them focus on their careers knowing that some of the best minds in finance and academia direct their portfolio decisions.

Today, they make financial decisions together, whether vacation spots, funding their kids’ education or their own retirement dreams. The inheritance no longer feels like Mom’s money, but rather part of the financial engine that will fund their early retirement after the kids graduate.

How financial life planning helped this entrepreneur balance a fast-growing business and family

Diana’s design agency was taking off: 200% growth in year two, international awards and tons of press. It seemed ridiculous to complain, yet her life felt chaotic as she juggled her fast-growing business, dreams of motherhood and home-ownership, and an occasional date night with her often-traveling husband.

We worked with her and her husband to understand their aspirations for their careers, family, home and relationship with money. Then we mobilized a team around their vision for growth and a stable home for their new family.

We coordinated quarterly meetings with her business team (CPA, banker, bookkeeper and Modernist Financial) to provide simple tools that show the business’ financials at a glance. Her new personal banker manages the cash flow and lending of the business and the family.  Her new accounting firm manages her business’ books and provides timely tax advice in her quarterly financial meetings. An HR firm stepped in to assist with hiring key employees and implementing best practices. Modernist helped automate the structure of her family’s cash flow and investment portfolio to make sure their bills are paid and they are saving for emergencies and retirement each month.

As a team, we give Diana the information she needs to feel confident in her business decisions so she can make mental space for her personal goals.

Why The Fiduciary Rule Matters

This winter, Modernist Financial became a Certified B Corporation®. We are very proud to officially join this movement of people using business as a force for good.™ There are many ways to do this as a wealth management firm: offering our clients comprehensive financial life planning and education, investing in employees’ well-being and human capital, promoting inclusion and equity in the industry.

“Fiduciary duty” is a legal requirement to act only in another party’s interests. At Modernist Financial, we designed our legal structure to minimize conflicts of interest from the start. We are compensated only by our clients, which means no other parties or companies pay us referral fees, commissions, or kickbacks. In every case, our clients’ interests have to come before our own.

To read more, visit Where's Your Living Room

How creative business owners can learn to stop worrying & love their cash, taxes, and advisors

By Liliya Jones

At Modernist, we think of creatives as the visionaries and change agents who can be found in almost any industry. They are the entrepreneurs, designers, writers, etc. who will build the next Google, design the next Nike Roshe, and write the next Game of Thrones.

Creatives, though they work in disparate fields, all share a higher likelihood of owning a business or being self-employed than the rest of the workforce. In our experience, these tactics for managing cash, taxes, and strategic planning can help successful (closely-held) businesses get to the next level.

Why We Built a Financial Firm to Serve Creatives

By Georgia Lee Hussey

At Modernist Financial, we are dedicated to helping creative inheritors, entrepreneurs and retirees structure their wealth around their progressive values. Yet, when we share our mission with others in the financial industry, we often hear the same questions: “Aren't creatives terrible with money?” or “Aren’t they all broke?”

ESG Investing: A Luxury Good, for Now

By Liliya Jones

Earlier this month Modernist became a Certified B Corporation®, joining a movement of people using business as a force for good.™ There are many ways to do this as a wealth management firm: offering our clients comprehensive financial life planning and education, investing in employees’ well-being and human capital, promoting inclusion and equity in the industry.

In addition to thorough planning, advisors can help clients align their wealth with their values by offering ESG investment portfolios. If you’ve picked up a financial newspaper lately, you know that ESG factors (Environmental, Social, and Governance) are the hottest investment trend.

Why I Built a B-Corp™, Fiduciary Wealth Management Firm

By Georgia Lee Hussy

To Resist A Culture of Conformity in Finance

The financial industry has a bad reputation when it comes to ethical business practices. See: opposition to the fiduciary requirement, persistent lack of diversity, willfully unclear fees and compensation, and outright fraud a-la Wells Fargo or Bernie Madoff. I believe this ethical mess springs from a culture of conformity that is rife with groupthink and confirmation bias, resulting in mediocre products and minimal service.

Team Modernist on values-based investing, video art and GLH telling it like it is

The end of the year is upon us, which means long weekends and pie for breakfast. It is also time to wrap up your 2016 charitable giving before December 31st. If you plan to donate to Oregon cultural organizations, you may be able to make a matching gift to Oregon Cultural Trust and deduct it from your Oregon state taxes!

Charitable giving is one way to support causes that align with your values. In recent years, there has also been a lot of progress in values-based investing practices. Excuse our longer newsletter, but we think you’ll be fascinated!

What Are Money Stories?

The stories that compose our lives are historical, romantic, political, social, and spiritual; they are also financial.

Talking about money, even more than sex, is often embarrassing, shameful, taboo. Like our cultural inhibitions about sexuality, dissonant stories about money can obscure our path to personal awareness and growth.

Yet, humans are story-telling marvels, usually placing ourselves at the center of the narratives we spin. Buddhism teaches that we tell ourselves stories in order to make sense of our individual suffering. Joan Didion reminds us that “we tell ourselves stories in order to live.”

To read more, visit Where's Your Living Room

Team Modernist on #CountHerIn, Georgia at Wildfang, and Dolly Parton

We “celebrated” Equal Pay Day back on April 12th, marking the day on which the average US woman will have earned the same income as an average man did in the previous calendar year. Unfortunately, the April 12th date doesn’t tell the whole story – Latina women won’t have earned the same amount until November 1st. The data is discouraging, but with so many great women and allies out there, we’re hopeful. Read on for more.  –- Georgia and Team Modernist