At Serenity Financial Planning, we have more than 20 years of experience specializing in helping women in the medical field pursue their financial future through personalized, comprehensive financial planning with a serene approach. Our ultimate goal is to offer people financial confidence in our abilities and advice so they can focus on what matters most.
While every client’s situation is unique, we want to share how we recently helped a new client—we feel like many of you can relate. The following case study example provides insight into our process and the types of analysis we provide at Serenity Financial Planning. We hope Dr. John and Jane Smith’s* story will show you how our proactive process, services, and strategies can make a difference in your life too.
A Little About the Smiths
After holding a seminar for medical professionals, I received a call from a female physician who had attended. I learned that Jane is married and her husband is also a physician. They both work full-time and have two children. When Jane came to my office to meet me, she was carrying boxes and boxes of financial documents she had kept over the years. She was lost and frustrated when it came to their financial life but knew she didn’t have the expertise or time to manage their finances on her own. She was worried that her lack of awareness would hurt them down the road, whether it be an unforeseen situation such as something happening to her husband, or reaching retirement unprepared.
I thoroughly analyzed all of Jane and John’s financials. We reviewed their current portfolio, their tax history, debt, risk, and retirement goals.
As I gathered information, I focused on answering these two questions:
- Is the Smiths’ portfolio positioned properly to make their money work for them?
- What risks are they taking with their money that could jeopardize their retirement?
The number-one issue I found was that John and Jane had not been paying sufficient attention to their money and had money in too many places, making it feel overwhelming to stay on top of things. They were constantly receiving statements and tax notices from different financial institutions but didn’t know what to do with the information. And while they had been saving through a group plan for many years, they were unknowingly investing in high-risk mutual funds without much diversification.
John and Jane were also holding too much cash, suffering from low interest rates that weren’t keeping up with inflation. This low-interest-rate problem was also affecting their children’s college savings. The Smiths had taken steps to save and do the right thing, but their money was not working for them and they hadn’t set out goals for what they wanted and needed. For example, they didn’t know how much they needed for retirement or what they wanted their retirement to look like practically.
Not only was the Smiths’ money not working hard for them, but they were taking too many risks, some that they weren’t even aware of. I learned that because of a lack of tax planning, they were paying high income tax, an unnecessary amount that could be mitigated with the right strategies. They were also maxing out their credit cards, carrying high balances forward at double-digit interest rates.
Jane and John also did not have disability insurance. Considering their profession, if one of them were unable to perform their job, their financial situation would suffer greatly. And that’s just disability insurance. They also did not have proper life insurance to supplement income, pay for childcare expenses, or pay off debt should one of them predecease the other.
In other words, they were in over their heads financially and wanted to partner with someone who could take the burden of financial management off their shoulders so they could rest easy, knowing their money and their future were taken care of.
How I Helped
With a comprehensive look at their challenges, I then moved to creating strategies that would give them the serenity they desired so they could invest in their careers and family without the dread of financial problems hanging over them.
I started by taking a big-picture look at their retirement goals, mapping out when they want to retire, what their retirement lifestyle will look like, and how much money they need to make that a reality.
I then turned to their assets to help set them up to reach those goals. I ran a risk-tolerance assessment, capturing the amount of risk they were comfortable with and using that information to create a customized balanced portfolio of diversified assets. Since one of the headaches was caused by having too many things in too many places, I created an eMoney account for the Smiths so they could see all their assets, credit cards, mortgage, and other financial information in one place.
I also collaborated with other professionals—a CPA to help mitigate their taxes and provide tax-planning scenarios, and an estate attorney to set up their assets to avoid probate and implement strategies to preserve their estate.
Jane and John walked away with a solid financial plan and an increased level of confidence in their future. You can’t put a price tag on that! They now have an advocate on their side, an experienced financial planner who understands their financial situation, goals, and concerns, and who can help them plan for every aspect of their retirement, including investing and tax planning. When they have questions or need to provide an update, they get personalized attention, talking directly to us—people who intimately know them and their story.
It’s Your Turn!
At Serenity Financial Planning, we would love to take a look at your financial situation to see if our process and strategies could help you increase your probability of a successful retirement and confident financial future.
If you’re experiencing a situation similar to the Smiths’ or face an entirely different need, I encourage you to reach out to us. We would be happy to evaluate your situation and share how we can help. Schedule a no-obligation introductory meeting online or reach out to me at (858) 251-4545 or email@example.com.
Sima Alefi is founder and wealth management advisor at Serenity Financial Planning, a boutique financial firm serving women in the medical field. With two decades of experience, Sima provides her clients with a serene approach to investing while helping them pursue their goals. Sima and the Serenity team strive to offer personalized strategies for their clients’ needs while also making their clients feel heard and cared for.
Sima has a bachelor’s degree in business management and holds the Chartered Financial Consultant® and Accredited Asset Management Specialist℠ certifications. She cares deeply for her community and is an active member of the Kiwanis Club of La Jolla, Sharp Healthcare Foundation, San Diego Nice Guys, and acts as a North County Advisory Board Member for the North County Food Bank. She is a lifelong learner with a dedication to growing in knowledge both personally and in the industry to assist her clients better. Sima enjoys music and exploring the beautiful Californian outdoors. To learn more about Sima, connect with her on LinkedIn.
*Names changed to protect identity.
Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal. Serenity Financial and LPL Financial do not provide legal advice or tax services. Please consult your legal advisor or tax advisor regarding your specific situation. There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.