For emerging business leaders, the journey to financial success can feel like Shaun White nailing a perfect halfpipe run with a gold medal on the line…blindfolded. With rapid career growth, coupled with life-altering events such as marriage, parenthood, and homeownership, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the complexities and uncertainties coming your way.

I’m here to guide you through four core strategies essential for you and any emerging business leader not only to survive but to thrive financially. From managing complexity to future-proofing your financials, we’ll explore actionable steps to build a robust financial foundation.

#1 Manage Complexity

Gone are the days of simple budgeting spreadsheets. As you climb the ladder of success (whatever that looks like for you), your financial planning needs to evolve too– you need a more comprehensive approach. With increased income and major life events like marriage, parenthood, or homeownership taking place simultaneously, financial dynamics become multifaceted.

For instance, let’s consider the situation of my clients, who are a couple in their 40s, both high-achieving professionals and parents to two children. Over the past few years, the wife, a healthcare executive, has seen significant career growth, catapulting from earning around $100,000 annually to $250,000. However, with this increase in salary, her responsibilities at work have also grown, leading to challenges in maintaining a balance between work and family obligations, particularly in terms of caring for their children and managing household tasks.

To address this imbalance, and the fact that they want to secure a steady and higher income, they jointly decided on a strategy: the husband, whose career path isn’t as defined, would leverage the flexibility offered by his job in terms of working hours. As a result, he now has a more limited schedule at work and takes on a more prominent role in managing household responsibilities and caring for their children. This shift allows them to better distribute the workload between them, ensuring that both career advancement and family well-being are prioritized and maintained.

Another aspect is battling a range of complexities related to investments and financial structure.

For example, one of our clients has his regular day job and is building a business on the side that he will transition into as his full-time gig over the next year. In his current role he’s figuring out the delicate dance between time commitments, managing income and cash flow, and what his eventual exit looks like to capitalize on his stock options. His new business is capital (money) intensive which requires him to ensure him and his wife are aligning their spending with the new investments. There’s a day in the near future that he’ll have to contend with a wide array of tax implications for all of this. If this has your head spinning, you’re not alone, and it takes a lot to keep it all straight.

Tracking cash flow and regularly auditing your finances to maintain stability becomes crucial in such scenarios. Additionally, as assets and liabilities grow, the impact of your strategic decisions about debt management, investment allocation, and tax optimization grows too. Seeking guidance from financial advisors who specialize in managing complexity can streamline this process and provide tailored solutions for effective financial management.

#2 Future-Proof Your Financials

Futureproofing your financial well-being involves taking a comprehensive approach that considers both short-term needs and long-term goals. One essential tool in this process is conducting a Human Life Value Analysis (HLV), which helps you evaluate your financial worth over various time horizons, considering factors such as current earnings potential, anticipated career growth, and evolving life circumstances.

For example, going back to my client the healthcare executive, conducting a Human Life Value Analysis can help them assess not only their current earnings but also project their potential future earnings based on career trajectory and market trends. This analysis helps them understand the true value of their income over time and allows them to plan accordingly for their family’s financial security.

The HLV Analysis also sheds light on the suitability of their life insurance coverage. This exercise looks at factors such as outstanding debts, future expenses like mortgage payments or children’s education costs, and the potential loss of income in the event of disability or death so you can identify any gaps in your insurance coverage that may leave your loved ones vulnerable. If this were the case, then you can adjust your insurance policies proactively to ensure the level of protection you really need for your family’s financial well-being, even in the face of unforeseen circumstances.

Another advantage is that the analysis prompts you to think about long-term financial goals beyond immediate needs. Planning for retirement, setting aside funds for children’s education, or creating a legacy for future generations becomes an integral part of the financial planning process more easily.

It may seem laborious but having a roadmap for making informed decisions about insurance coverage, investment strategies, and savings goals ultimately contributes to greater financial security and peace of mind. Trust me, your future self will applaud you commitment to the time, energy, and effort you took to dial in your finances.

#3 Manage Risk

As a wealth advisor, I witness life’s unpredictability unfolding daily, emphasizing the importance of being prepared for unexpected situations. I could tell you dozens of stories around scenarios such as clients or friends facing sudden job loss, unexpected medical emergencies, or unforeseen accidents. In these moments, those who have taken proactive steps to safeguard their financial well-being fare far better than those who haven’t.

For instance, individuals with disability insurance, particularly if their occupation involves physical labor or exposes them to potential injuries, can maintain financial stability even if they’re unable to work due to illness or injury. Similarly, short-term disability insurance can prove invaluable during pivotal life stages such as childbirth and allows you to focus on recovery and family responsibilities without the added stress of financial strain. And families with adequate life insurance coverage can ensure their loved ones are protected financially in the event of an untimely death.

Investing in the right health insurance to meet specific family needs also makes a difference. For example, you may opt for high-deductible health insurance plans paired with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) which offer a dual advantage of lower premiums and tax-advantaged savings for future medical expenses.

If you’re also a homeowner, a robust risk management strategy also encompasses evaluating property and casualty insurance coverage. This risk was highlighted in the wake of the Marshall Fires that occurred in Colorado in December of 2022. Many homeowners we caught totally off-guard when a devastating wildfire swept through several suburban neighborhoods. Many homeowners discovered first hand that they’re homeowners insurance didn’t adequately cover the replacement value of their homes.

These are meant to help you mitigate financial risks stemming from unexpected events such as natural disasters, accidents, or lawsuits. And while you’re at it, it wouldn’t hurt to also explore additional measures for liability protection, such as umbrella insurance policies, which can provide an extra layer of security, safeguarding assets and minimizing exposure to potential financial losses.

#4 Diversify Your Investments

Diversification is one of the things that many people looking to invest, or already investing, have a love and hate relationship with. Some argue that it’s just too complicated or are not willing to expose themselves to earning below average returns. However, there’s one thing that remains universally true, during times of market and economic uncertainty, diversification helps investors mitigate their losses (and keep their minds right). When you spread investments across different types of assets, such as stocks, bonds, real estate, and alternative investments, you can reduce the impact of any single asset’s poor performance on your overall portfolio.

While market investments offer liquidity and growth potential, they also come with inherent volatility risks. For example, during periods of economic downturn, stock prices may plummet, leading to significant losses for investors heavily concentrated in equities. Along with smaller account balances, this can have a huge impact on an investor’s psyche, often leading to poor decisions.

On the other hand, real estate investments performance is often not correlated with the stock market, it can provide significant tax benefits, and has shown to have long-term appreciation potential. However, real estate often lacks liquidity, making it challenging to quickly access funds if needed. For example, if you owned a rental property and needed some additional cash for an emergency, you can’t simply sell the bathroom. The property may take months to sell, especially during a downturn in the housing market.

Additionally, innovative solutions like permanent life insurance can also play a role in diversification. These policies not only offer protection but also accumulate cash value over time, providing an additional avenue for investment income. For example, a whole life insurance policy can serve as a tax-efficient investment vehicle while also providing a death benefit to beneficiaries.

By this time, I think you already get my point: managing the complexities of financial success requires not just agility, but strategic foresight. As a financial advisor, my mission is that you’re not just aiming to survive; you’re positioning yourself to thrive. Once you start doing less of the “dodging obstacles” solutions and start building a robust framework that empowers you to weather any storm and seize every opportunity that comes your way, you’ll find a financial clarity and peace of mind that doesn’t have a price tag.

This blog is part of a series, read Unlocking Financial Freedom: Strategic Retirement Planning for Any Stage in Life for actionable steps and financial strategies to consider before or during retirement.

Advisory services are offered through CS Planning, Corp., an SEC registered investment adviser
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