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Transitioning from CEO to Retiree: Why You Need a 5-Year Plan

retirement13 Steps You Can Take Now to Realize Your Goals

Today’s 50-something CEOs tend to have vague dreams of  more fishing, traveling or sailing  when they retire, but they don’t know when that might be so they haven’t begun planning for it.

That’s a mistake, say a trio of specialists: wealth management advisor Haitham “Hutch” Ashoo, CPA Jim Kohles, and estate planning attorney John Hartog.

“Whether you’re selling your company, passing it along to a successor or simply retiring, that’s a potentially irreversible life event – you’ve got just one chance to get it right,” says Ashoo, CEO of Pillar Wealth Management, (www.pillarwm.com).

A 2012 survey of CEOs by executive search firm Witt/Kieffer found 71 percent of those aged 55 to 59 have no retirement plan, although 73 percent look forward to more recreational and leisure activities when they let go of the reins.

“A lot of baby boomers have the idea that they’re just going to work till they stop working,” says Kohles, chairman of RINA accountancy corporation, (www.rina.com). “If they hope to do certain things in retirement and maintain a certain lifestyle, they’re likely to end up disappointed.”

Planning for the transition from CEO to retiree should incorporate everything – including what happens to your assets after you’re gone, adds John Hartog of Hartog & Baer Trust and Estate Law, (www.hartogbaer.com).

“Many of my clients worry about what effects a large inheritance will have on their children – they want to continue parenting from the grave. You can, but should think hard about doing that,” he says.

The three say smart planning requires coordinating among all of your advisors; that’s the best way to avoid an irrevocable mistake. With that in mind, Ashoo, Kohles and Hartog offer these suggestions and considerations from their respective areas of expertise:

1. Ashoo: Identify your specific lifestyle goals for retirement, so you can plan for funding them. To determine how much money you’ll need, you have to have a clear picture of what you want, Ashoo says. Do you see yourself on your own yacht? Providing seed capital for your children to buy a business? Pursuing charitable endeavors?

Each goal will have a dollar amount attached, and you (or your advisor) can then determine whether it’s feasible and, if so, put together a financial plan.

“But you can’t just create a plan and forget it. You need to monitor its progress regularly and make adjustments to make sure you’re staying on course, just like you would if you were sailing or flying,” Ashoo says. “We run our clients’ plans quarterly.“

It’s also imperative that you don’t take any undue risks – that is, risks beyond what’s necessary to meet your goals, he says. “You may hear about a great investment opportunity and want in on it, but if you lose that money, you may not have a chance to make it up.”

2. Kohles: Don’t sell yourself short when selling your business. “If you’re banking on money from the sale of your business, know that it’s unlikely you’ll have investors just waiting with the cash for the chance to buy it when you’re ready to sell,” Kohles says.

Buyers are more likely to offer to pay over time from the company’s future earnings — which leaves the retired CEO with no control over the business and utterly reliant on the new owners to maintain its profitability.

A good alternative is to establish an S corporation combined with an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), Kohles says.

“You’re selling the company to the employees while retaining control until you phase yourself completely out,” he says. “The ESOP doesn’t pay income taxes – the employees do when they retire. And you don’t pay taxes on the money or the stock that you contribute.”

3. Hartog: What do you want your kids’ inheritance to say? If you have children, this decision can change their lives for the better – or the worse.

“How your assets are disposed of should reflect your values,” Hartog says. “A lot of people prefer to think in terms of taxes at the expense of values. I advise against that.”

For children, incentive trusts can encourage, or discourage, certain behaviors.

“If you’re concerned your adult child won’t be productive if he has a lot of money, set up a trust that will make distributions equal to what the child earns himself,” Hartog says.

“Or, if you want to be supportive of a child who’s doing something socially responsible, like teaching in an impoverished area, you can set it up to pay twice his salary.”

There are many creative ways to establish trusts, Hartog says. Plan about five years out and change the trust as life events dictate.

About Haitham “Hutch” Ashoo

Haitham “Hutch” Ashoo is the CEO of Pillar Wealth Management, LLC, in Walnut Creek, Calif. The firm specializes in client-centered wealth management for ultra affluent families.

About Jim Kohles

Jim Kohles is chairman of the board of RINA accountancy corporation, Walnut Creek, Calif. A certified public accountant for more than 35 years, he specializes in business consulting, succession and retirement planning, and insurance.

About John Hartog

John Hartog is a partner at Hartog & Baer Trust and Estate Law. A certified specialist in estate planning, trust and probate law, and taxation law, he has been selected to the Super Lawyers Top 100 list for nineconsecutive years.

 

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Life Lessons from a Personal Assistant

No matter what your position in the company you work for, there is always a lot you can learn from a personal assistant. Their roles put them in the thick of most functions of any company without making them full participants and this allows them a unique perspective on all operations most employees will never see; they are able to observe more than most would. There are courses for a personal assistant to learn the tips and tricks of the trade but most of the more efficient and effective tricks will only be picked up naturally over the course of a career. Let’s look at some nuggets of wisdom that go with the job description of personal assistant but that anyone can use themselves to better their career.

Create a Personal System

The first thing a personal assistant will do for their duties is create a system or routine that they cover every morning in their responsibilities. It usually includes checking e-mails, menial daily chores, any responsibility they might have to undertake daily gets filed into a system of operation for a personal assistant. Regardless of salary or position, each of us undertakes to complete some daily task in our careers and creating a system for ourselves and sticking to it creates routine which in turn makes us more efficient from day to day.

Write it All Down

Having good handwriting is one of the qualifications essential to being a good personal assistant because they find themselves writing virtually everything down. This is a good philosophy for anyone in any position to follow; the information age is so drowned in information that not writing down the important notes threatens to see that information become background noise we cannot grasp. If you get an idea brilliant enough to never forget, ignore your instinct and write it down; same for dates, meetings and telephone numbers.

Finish Tasks Once

One amazing thing personal assistants learn in their careers is the work ethic of only ever having to go over something once. By that, it means a system that has been tried and tested is extensively used by most personal assistants and that is only ever looking at a document once. You see a bill, you observe it, address it and then file it but never half-half it by looking at it, putting it down and coming back to it later; you open yourself up to losing it and never addressing it at all later on. We can apply this to any task in our lives to make it easier; pack those groceries away immediately, do the dishes as soon as they need to be done or hang up your laundry immediately after a wash – these examples make life easier. A personal assistant is someone we can all learn a lot from to make life easier, after all their perspective is one of both observer and participant.

Eugene Calvini is a writer who has been involved in a Singapore serviced office among others around the world his entire career; he enjoys sharing tips and tricks he has picked up over the course of his career.

 

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Help Your Staff Offer a Better Service

Training staff takes time and commitment. It is necessary to train employees so that they perform the job well, have a good understanding of health and safety and to ensure they are able to provide the best possible customer service. One of the areas to focus on is offering excellent customer support to everyone and making them have a strong disability awareness that will benefit them to understand how to provide the best service to everyone that walks through the door.

Give Your Employees the Confidence They Need to Provide Excellent Service

When providing disability awareness training you should aim to make your staff comfortable when serving all disabled people. They must be able to provide help without being patronising in any way, and it is important that they don’t make assumptions about the customers. Employees need to be prepared to give extra assistance but never to impose their ‘helpfulness’ to those who don’t require it.  One of the most important things is to train your staff so they are fully aware of any adjustments that can be made if necessary.

When I train my new employees I focus on the following points when it comes to what they may be required to do:

  1. Role playing is a wonderful way of teaching staff to be able to confidently communicate with customers. We have a couple of customers who cannot understand speech very well and for them we provide written information. We have a pen and paper by the counter at all times for times like these.
  2. I like my employees to speak directly to the customer and not to their carer.
  3. Patience is always required for all customers and it’s also important to make sure customers understand everything being said to them.
  4. My staff know that they may be required to provide assistance such as offering an arm for support or for guidance around the store.
  5. Having a seat near to the counter is excellent. My employees are trained to provide seating to customers who may have to wait longer than usual, or who have many bags weighing them down.
  6. In some circumstances it is necessary to speak privately with customers, and you should keep their information confidential. If you have a busy shop or office make sure you have a place for your employees to take customers so that the conversation doesn’t have to be overheard.
  7. We use a portable ramp for our customers to use if they wish to reach our back room.  If you have any portable equipment such as ramps make sure your employees are able to set it up safely, know where it is kept and how to store it safely when not in use.

We have recently worked hard on our printed information to provide materials for all of our customers. In the past we had many leaflets on our counter and we would often pop them into the carrier bags of our customers, but it dawned on me that not everyone was able to read the information. I worked with a company that helped me to create leaflets with larger font.  We also changed the font so it looked a lot clearer and less flamboyant. We added some additional signs at our counter, and around the store that provided information for our customers. These signs are located at a low height so they can be read by everyone and are in large text.

Positive Service for the Entire Community

By training employees to be more aware of the needs of all of the customers we have been able to improve our business, our reputation and our revenue. Currently we are waiting to see if our planning permission for better access to the store has been accepted, and hopefully this will benefit our customers and our business further. Clear training, essential information and solutions available for multiple situations only helps to establish your organisation within your community.

One useful way to help your business provide a better service is an access audit. Highlight areas where improvement is needed and train your employees to provide brilliant customer service.

 

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