Fall is here, and we are feeling ready for cool weather, pumpkin pies, and our busy season! This month, we are sharing our recent Portland Business Journal feature, a recommendation for the upcoming arts season and, of course, a song that’s really about financial planning.
From the Portland Business Journal
Sean Meyers, Contributing Writer
More than most Certified Financial Planners (CFP), Georgia Lee Hussey likes to get a feel for her client.
The former installation sculpturist is president of Modernist Financial, which is carving out a niche by helping Portland’s creative contingent embrace its growing affluence.
Last month we celebrated Modernist’s second birthday! In this newsletter, we are sharing some thoughts on our birthday gift, our latest webinar, recent press and more.
Modernist Financial turned two last month! It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since we set out to realize our vision for a values-centric wealth management firm. We’ve enjoyed every minute of it and are delighted by the success we’ve seen.
Now, as then, we are driven by our desire to help creatives structure their wealth around their values. We have also worked to clarify our own values, and are honoring them as we celebrate our birthday.
This month we are sharing thoughts on the value of storytelling, the next quarterly Investment Insights webinar and some recent press mentions.
This month we are talking about inherited money stories, recent pro-bono activities, and our Q1 investment webinar. We hope you enjoy!
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.
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.
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.
This month we are announcing our first Investment Insights webinar and sharing thoughts on business planning for creatives. We hope you enjoy!
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
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.
This month we discuss who we serve and why, more on ESG investing, and movies that are really about creative process. We hope you’ll enjoy!
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?”
On Tuesday, March 28 we are hosting our first webinar. We will dive into the values behind Modernist Financial, what it means to be a B corp, investing in alignment with your values, and our take on ESG investing. Read more and RSVP.
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.
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.
This month we are sharing some exciting news about running an ethical business, ESG investing trends, and our first webinar.
This month we decided to geek out on one of our favorite financial planning topics - managing cash flow. Around here, we think it is the secret sauce for turning financial plans into reality!
Happy new year! Here’s to a joyous and fulfilling year, rich in connection and beauty.
Last month we talked about supporting personal values through our investment choices. This month we are diving into the most direct way to support our ideals: charitable giving.