Because achievement comes in many forms FP: Individual Tax & Financial Planning
EB: Employee Benefits RP: Retirement Plans

Individual Tax & Financial Planning

Introduction / Services

 

Individual Tax & Financial Planning

Summit Financial Strategies

Summit Financial Strategies delivers customized retirement, investment, income tax and financial planning solutions to a select group of individuals. We offer flexible, prudent strategies to maximize the growth and protection of your assets and manage client's financial issues. We are problem solvers that approach everything from a "solution-based" starting point with passion, conviction and integrity. We deliver to our clients customized, competitive, cost-effective financial solutions to today's complex financial problems.

At Summit Financial Strategies we feel that the next decade will be an era of extensive change in how we plan for the future. Our success is in anticipating and responding creatively to the planning needs of our clients. In today's world where quick-fix solutions are commonplace, we believe that thoroughness, integrity and professional excellence are the keys to success. Our approach allows us to form a partnership with our clients to better serve their needs.

Services

  • Business Retirement Plan Selection (CH)
  • Income Tax compliance for Individuals
  • Business Operations Consulting for Closely Held Entities
  • Investment Management and Asset Allocation (BF)
  • Life Insurance planning and Implementation (BF)
  • Long-Term Care (KH)
  • Education Planning and Funding
  • Executive Deferred Compensation (PM)
  • Life Planning (BF)
  • Retirement Income Planning & Management (BF)
  • Employee Education Workshops (BF)

Service Providers

  • American Funds
  • CCH incorporated
  • Pershing LLC
  • Fidelity Investments
  • Nationwide
  • Nationwide funds
  • Naviplan
  • Morningstar
  • SEI Investments
  • Ogilvie Security Advisors

We cannot predict … We can help you prepare

Business Operations Consulting for Closely Held Entities

At Summit, our mission is to preserve and build your business capital and ensure your company’s future is financially sound.  We provide a wide range of services for closely-held businesses, including:

  • Federal and State income tax return compliance including multi state preparation
  • Strategic Income tax planning
  • ROI analysis for entering new markets whether genetic or thru outside acquisition
  • Succession planning for ownership transitions
  • Strategic cash flow planning and financial analysis
  • Comprehensive accounting services and accounting system selection
  • Buy / Sell consulting and implementation

As your trusted tax advisor, we provide services with personalized attention to your business’s specific needs.  Balancing the needs of the business with those of the owners and employees is an integral part of our practical approach.

Business Retirement Plan Selection

Here is a rundown of retirement plan options. The best plan will vary depending upon your needs.

Simplified Employee Pension Plan (SEP IRA)

If you have few employees and are looking for a plan that is truly low cost and low maintenance, then consider a SEP IRA. The plan is funded with tax-deductible employer contributions, and you must cover all eligible employees. Employee contributions are not allowed. There is no "plan document," and you don't need to file annual reports with the IRS. Contributions can vary from year to year.

Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE IRA)

SIMPLE IRAs are good for your employees. They allow employee contributions. And, they mandate an employer match. However, a SIMPLE IRA won't let you sock away as much for yourself.

Profit Sharing Plans

Profit sharing plans give you a piece of your company's profits. Annual contributions are made to your account, but because they are based on your company's performance.

401(k)

If you have more than 25 employees, then you might be surprised to find that a 401(k) is not as expensive to create and maintain as you may have thought. However, this plan has limited flexibility. Annual contributions can be made to the accounts by employees and the employer. Vesting is determined by the employer and an employer match is not required.

Defined Benefit Plan

If you are looking to retire in the next 10 years or so and haven't built up your nest egg yet, then a defined benefit plan is a good opportunity to save. You can contribute as much as is needed to give you an annual retirement payout . Because younger employees have more years until retirement, their contribution limit will be lower than yours. A defined benefit plan can be expensive and it's not very flexible as contributions are not optional.

Money Purchase Plans

A Money Purchase Plan, sometimes referred to as a Pension Plan, requires a fixed percentage of compensation to be contributed to each eligible employee, annually. These plans are for businesses of any size, or individuals with self-employment income, earned on either a full- or part-time basis.

For more details on any of these plans, please contact us.

Education Planning and Funding

Educational planning can include addressing the needs of funding for Kindergarten through 12th grades, College and even Graduate level curriculum. Financial resources can include many aspects including multi generational education planning, the financial aid application process, and evaluating the use of income tax efficient investment accounts, like 529 plans, Coverdale Education Savings or Uniform Gifts/Transfers to Minor Accounts all of which can be highly useful in addressing the educational planning issues many families face in today’s expensive educational environment.

A Section 529 college savings plan is a tax-advantaged state-administered investment program. These plans allow you to save money in an account in which the earnings will grow free from federal income tax and, when used to pay for "qualified higher education expenses", may be withdrawn federal income tax-free. In many states, a participant can receive special state incentives, including state tax treatment that mirrors the federal tax treatment, tax deductions/credits and/or other state tax benefits, based on participation in their state’s program(s).  Savings plans (also known as investment plans) enable participants to save money in a college savings account on behalf of a designated beneficiary.  Amounts contributed and any earnings on the account may then be used to pay the beneficiary’s qualified higher education expenses. Contributions can vary, depending on the individual savings goals. The plans offer various investment options that provide a variable rate of return usually based on stock or bond funds, although some plans offer investment options that guarantee a minimum rate of return.  We will be happy to work with you to set up a plan for your child, godchild, grandchild or any other child you would like to help finance educational expenses.

The fees, expenses and features of 529 plans can vary from state to state. 529 plans involve investment risk, including the possible loss of funds. There is no guarantee a college-funding goal will be met. Earnings must be used to pay for qualified higher education expenses to be federally tax-free. The earnings portion of a nonqualified withdrawal will be subject to ordinary income tax at the recipient's marginal rate and subject to a 10% penalty. By investing in a Plan outside your State of residence, you may lose any State tax benefits. 529 plans are subject to enrollment, maintenance and administration/management fees and expenses.

Employee Education Workshops

Thank you for your interest in Summit Financial Strategies, Inc.  We are pleased to be able to offer the following Employee Education Workshops:

Introduction to Financial Planning

An overview of personal financial management and the six areas of Financial Planning.

Personal Risk Management

A comprehensive review of the short- and long-term risks we face and the best ways to protect against them.

Planning and Saving for Higher Education

The why, when and how of saving for higher education, including how to take advantage of available tax breaks.

Asset Allocation and Portfolio Construction

How prudent asset allocation and wealth management can improve your financial results.

Retirement Income Planning

A comprehensive overview of how to prepare for retirement and generate the income needed to maintain your lifestyle in retirement. 

Estate Planning & Administration

Defining what Estate Planning really is and the importance of proper preparation.

The principal workshop instructor, Peter M. Manning, MST, CPA, PFS has more than 20 years of financial services experience.  Employees who participate will benefit from their comprehensive knowledge and practical advice in financial matters that many people are concerned about, more than ever these days.

Please feel free to contact us and schedule a single workshop or series of workshops that would be most convenient for your employees.  We generally recommend that these meetings be held at lunchtime or, alternatively, as an end-of-business session.

Executive Deferred Compensation

Executive Deferred Compensation is typically used to provide a benefit to a select group of key employees which falls outside of the Qualified Retirement Plan category.  Normally an Executive Deferred Compensation Plan is designed to supplement a company’s retirement plan providing a benefit above and beyond what can be provided using a qualified plan.  It is more commensurate with an income replacement which is proportionate to their level of compensation. Common funding vehicles include corporate-owned life insurance (COLI), sinking funds or individual variable annuities.

Long-term Care

Long-term care insurance can be an effective tool for protecting your assets and estate from the high costs of senior care. Though the average nursing home length of stay is significantly higher than most people believe, less than 20% of long-term care is nursing home care. Home care, home health care, adult day care, assisted living facility care and others constitute the overwhelming majority of senior care services. These services are covered under most long-term care insurance policies. Generally, the people who are in need of care are responsible for paying the costs personally. Long-term care is usually not covered by your personal health insurance plan or by the policy you may currently have from a present or previous employer. Medicare usually pays for only a small percentage of skilled nursing costs while Medicaid provides health care coverage to Americans with lower incomes and can pay almost half of all nursing home costs. It is likely that you will need long-term care in the future however, no one can predict the kind of care that may be needed or the exact costs involved.  Long-term care insurance policies often take effect when an individual is unable to perform activities of daily living or becomes cognitively impaired from dementia or related illnesses. We can help you determine what the best option for you will be.

Insurance Planning and Implementation

Summit Financial Strategies recognizes that “the best laid [plans]…oft go awry.”1 Your current lifestyle, family needs and future goals can be ruined by an unexpected catastrophe. Therefore, we want to ensure that you have adequately and efficiently protected what really matters to you. We help you first identify the various personal risks you and your financial situation may be exposed to. Our analysis will generally include the impact on your financial situation of a premature death or disability. Then we assess the adequacy of covering these risks with personal assets (e.g. cash reserves or other earmarked accounts). In other words, we help you determine what are reasonable risks to “self-insure.” Lastly, we quantify and recommend the most appropriate ways to cover what you can not afford to lose – typically through insurance policies. Our insurance solutions include:

  • Life Insurance: whether it’s planning for estate needs or shielding family from the financial consequences of a premature death, the income tax-free characteristics of life insurance can be a very effective way to provide a death benefit. We help clients identify the most appropriate way to cover their Life Insurance needs using either Term (temporary) Insurance, Universal / Variable Universal (permanent) Insurance policies, or a combination of both.
  • Disability Insurance: the ability to earn an income is typically the most important component of a successful financial situation, especially for younger individuals. Therefore, it is vital that you have a protection plan to provide income replacement in the event of a disabling injury or illness. Disability insurance is often the most cost effective method to provide this protection.  

Because your family and financial protection needs will change over time, our protection strategies include the flexibility to make adjustments as necessary and maintain suitable coverage for different stages of your life.

Additional Insurance Management services include:

  • Business owner and key employee insurance strategies – including:
    • Buy-Sell arrangements and business continuation plans
    • Corporate (or Bank) Owned Life Insurance programs.
  • Assessing the adequacy of Property & Casualty Insurance coverage, including:
    • Home Owners and/or Flood Insurance
    • Automobile Insurance
    • Personal Liability Insurance

Robert Burns (1759 - 1796), To a Mouse (Poem, November, 1785)

Life Events Planning

Beyond the core financial concerns that most of have, a proper investment strategy, a major funding goal like education, a solid retirement plan and protection for our financial future, you may have concerns on needs that arise from a life changing event, such as:

  • Inheritance
  • Marriage
  • Starting a family
  • Divorce
  • Job transition or loss

Summit Financial Strategies has the experience, tools and resources to help you prepare for these events and assess what impact they may have your overall financial situation.  Through our ongoing relationship with you, we can help you navigate through these and other situations that may arise and ensure that you can continue on the right track to meet your life’s financial goals.

Investment Management and Asset Allocation

The Summit Financial Strategies Wealth Management process involves six specific steps that begin with developing and substantiating your unique investment goals.  From there we establish your investment risk profile and complete an intensive evaluation of your current financial condition relative to your particular needs.  These initial three activities form the basis for our development of a personalized Investment Policy Statement, or wealth management plan, for you.  This plan will establish suitable objectives, reasonable expectations and formal asset allocation guidelines for the investment structure and management of your portfolio holdings. 

Using the Investment Policy Statement as our blueprint, we will then develop, recommend and help you implement a target portfolio of investments with stated objectives that meet the asset allocation requirements.  All of our customized portfolios are characterized by being a well-diversified investment mix that may be expected to generate long-term returns to help achieve your goals at a suitable level of risk.  The final steps in our process include ongoing monitoring of your portfolio and regular communication to ensure that your objectives continue to met given changes that will occur.  Variations in asset weightings will be kept within initially established ranges and regular reporting will be provided.  Reporting services include monthly activity statements, quarterly performance reports and year-end tax documentation.  Additionally, we are available on a regular basis and encourage meeting at least annually to make portfolio adjustments that any personal changes may dictate and reconfirm that Summit Financial Strategies Wealth Management continues to meet your goals.

Additional Wealth Management services include:

  • Coordinating the management and/or disposition of closely held securities
  • Assisting in the development of Rule 10(b)-5 Plans
  • Analysis and guidance on Employee Stock Options

Income Tax Compliance for Individuals

At Summit, our mission is to preserve your wealth, minimize your tax burden, and ensure your future is financially sound.   We provide strategic tax planning that works in tandem with the rest of your financial goals, managing the cost benefit between tax liabilities and your personal wealth management.  Our staff of CPA’s will ensure you are taking advantage of all the federal and state tax benefits available to you.  As your trusted tax advisor, our support does not end once your return is filed.  We provide personal tax planning not only at tax time, but throughout the year, as day-to-day life changes require it, and in the event your return is selected for audit by federal or state taxing authorities, we ensure your position is represented and the best possible result is negotiated.

Retirement Income Planning and Management

The professionals in Summit Financial Strategies are recognized experts in the area of Personal Retirement Planning and Income Management.  With more than 200 clients in or preparing for retirement, we have significant experience and expertise in plan design, product coordination and tax mitigation techniques to ensure that you are prepared for living in retirement.  We can help you understand, develop and implement a retirement plan that can help provide income you will not outlive.

As with our other services, Summit’s Retirement Income Planning program begins with you – your goals and objectives.  We first help you discover and/or refine your retirement lifestyle expectations to eventual identify a reasonable target income need that includes quantifiable, essential expenses.  We then assess your available sources of retirement income that can be applied to the need and determine if there will be an income gap – an income need that exceeds the current available sources.  Finally, we collaborate with you and develop an income management strategy designed to produce supplemental, inflation-adjusted annual income from personal assets to cover the gap.

Our Retirement Income Management philosophy is rooted in the following four tenets:

  1. Income applied to cover essential expenses must have a high degree of certainty and sustainability for life.
  2. Personal assets earmarked for income generation should be subdivided and invested based on time periods.  Assets used for income generation in early retirement periods must be invested conservatively, while assets positioned for later years can be invested more aggressively.
  3. Product allocation is more relevant than asset allocation.
  4. Developing an income strategy based on a clients’ need is the best way to mitigate risks, generate reliable, sustainable income throughout the future and bring a level of control to a retirement plan.

In addition to helping you prepare for and manage a retirement income strategy,  we ensure that other retirement planning consideration are addressed and incorporated into and overall retirement plan.  These considerations may include, but are not limited to:

  • Optimizing Social Security election options
  • Utilizing pre-tax vs. post-tax (ROTH) retirement savings plans
  • Healthcare options including COBRA and Medicare
  • Understanding the impact of Required Minimum Distributions
  • Tax preference items that may benefit your situation, such as preferable capital gains tax rates, the IRS “Like-Kind Exchange” provision and/or the principal residence exclusion.
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Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member www.finra.org and www.sipc.org, a Registered Investment Adviser. Fixed insurance products and services, as well as benefits consulting and plan administration, offered by Summit Financial Corporation are separate and unrelated to Commonwealth. Fixed insurance products and services, as well as tax services, offered by Summit Financial Strategies, Inc. are separate and unrelated to Commonwealth. This communication is strictly intended for individuals residing in the states of AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, ME, MD, MA, MI, NV, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VT, VA. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products and services.