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As a business executive, you have a lot on your plate. You likely juggle multiple responsibilities at once and work long hours day in and day out. While your career is demanding, it’s also very fulfilling. Without your leadership, a company’s growth and success wouldn’t be possible.
Even though it’s easier said than done, it’s essential you don’t forget about personal matters like financial planning. By keeping your finances top of mind, you can ensure that you and your family reap the rewards of your hard work for years to come.
Challenges of Financial Planning for Business Executives
You know the ins and outs of your company. After all, you are recognized as a leader within your organization. However, that doesn’t mean you have extensive experience with financial planning, especially on a personal level. If you’re new to it, you may be unsure where to start and longing for guidance.
That’s where financial advisors come in. There are an increasing number of financial advisors who specialize in helping business executives with the particular financial planning challenges you may come across as a leader at a mid to large sized firm.
If you read this guide and decide to hire a financial advisor with experience helping business executives like you, you can put yourself and your family on the path toward financial security. You may also avoid the common money mistakes that many people in leadership positions at large organizations have a tendency to make.
Financial Planning for Business Executives
There are a number of topics to consider as well as questions you’ll have when you’re planning your finances as a business executive. Here’s a brief overview of several of them.
Living Well on a Business Executive Income
Your experience level, the company you work for, and industry you’re in all play a role in how much you earn. Chances are however, you’re rewarded with a high salary that continues to go up every year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, top executives in 2019 earned an average of $104, 690.
While your income as a business executive may make it possible for you and your family to live a very comfortable lifestyle, you still need to pay attention to how you spend and save your money. After all, a high income doesn’t guarantee financial success and stability.
Here are a few questions a financial advisor can help you answer so you can make the most of your income as a corporate leader.
- How much can I afford to spend on my everyday expenses and luxuries each month?
- Can I afford to maintain my current lifestyle and still meet my financial goals?
- What financial planning insights have you gained working with other business executives like me?
Repaying Your Student Loans
Not all business executives have a college degree as some use their experience and years of promotions to climb the corporate ladder. But many executives have attended college and may have earned a graduate degree like an MBA. If this sounds like you, you may have student loans to repay.
No matter how large or small your student loan debt burden is, it’s smart to come up with a realistic repayment plan. With a financial advisor’s help, you can figure out whether you should repay your student loans quickly or focus on paying down other debts you may owe.
Making the Most of Your Business Executive Benefits
As a business executive, you’re likely a candidate for a number of benefits in addition to a sizable salary. You may be eligible for a company-sponsored retirement plan with a matching contribution from your employer, a supplemental retirement plan exclusively for executives, paid time off, insurance, and even stock options.
Your company may also take care of you through other valuable perks like a company vehicle and cell phone plan, an expense account, tuition reimbursement and training opportunities. With so many benefits at your disposal, you may struggle taking full advantage of them. A financial advisor can help you navigate your benefits plan and answer questions like:
- When and how should I exercise my stock options?
- How much of my income should I invest in each of the retirement and savings plans available through my employer to maximize my benefits?
- Are there special tax considerations I should know about if I buy or sell shares of my company stock?
Buying a House as a Business Executive
If you’d like to buy a house, you’re in luck. Since you probably have a history of W2s or pay stubs to prove your ability to repay a home loan, getting approved for a mortgage shouldn’t be an issue. While you may opt for a government-backed mortgage with a low down payment requirement, you’re likely better off with a conventional loan and 20% down payment so you can avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI).
A financial advisor can help you decide on the ideal mortgage situation and determine a budget for your new home. They may save you from overspending and becoming “house poor” as this is widely seen with many business executives. Just because you get approved for a sizable home loan amount doesn’t mean you can comfortably afford it and meet your other financial goals.
Saving for Retirement as a Business Executive
The more you earn as a corporate executive, the more you’ll need to save to be able to maintain your lifestyle throughout your retirement years. While you’re in your peak earning years, you’ll want to build up a substantial nest egg for your future.
In addition to funding your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan, you need to figure out how to make the most of your stock options. You generally don’t want to end up in a situation where you have a disproportionate amount of your net worth tied to the stock of the company you work for. Diversification is essential and a financial advisor can help.
With a financial advisor’s insights, you can receive answers to important retirement questions such as:
- How much do I need to save to meet my preferred retirement lifestyle?
- Where should I keep my retirement savings?
- What is my long-term investment strategy?
- How do I reduce exposure to company stock?
Expenses and Deductions: Keep More of Your Income
You’ll be able to take the standard deduction or itemize your expenses when you file your taxes. If the itemizing route is the best option, you may be able to write off some of your fringe benefits or other forms of compensation besides your salary.
Unfortunately, not all fringe benefits are deductible. To deduct a fringe benefit, you must show the IRS that the benefit was “ordinary and necessary” to the business. If you work with a financial advisor, they can help you address questions such as:
- Does it make sense to take the standard deduction or itemize?
- Which deductions am I eligible for?
- Can I deduct any fringe benefits?
Rob Lloyd, CFA
Q: I am sick of paying taxes. What strategies would you suggest to reduce my tax burden?
Rob: “It is very common for senior executives to be in the situation where they are in the highest tax bracket with few or no deductions to materially reduce their income. There are several good techniques for minimizing taxes for senior executives as they prepare for and go through the retirement process.
First, municipal bonds should be the preferred bond allocation for all taxable accounts. Municipal bonds generate federally tax-exempt interest; some interest is tax-exempt on a state level depending on the state and the bond. Second, Roth conversions in the early years of retirement before Social Security begins is a key strategy for reducing large IRA account balances in low tax years. The idea is to convert small portions of your IRA in the years when your ordinary income is low to Roth IRAs. Remember, your traditional IRA will be forced to disgorge cash every year after age 72 and it will be taxed as ordinary income. By moving some of that cash into a Roth IRA earlier, you will slightly lower your future income and place those funds in a Roth IRA that can grow without a future tax obligation. Third, taxable portfolios should be in low turnover strategies to reduce the likelihood of paying short-term capital gains rates on investment gains and if possible defer all gains until the securities are sold to meet a spending need.
For younger executives, 529 college saving plans and 401k plans are great vehicles for tax friendly savings. 529 college savings accounts allow parents and other family members to contribute to an investment account for a child’s college education. As long as the money is withdrawn and spent on eligible college expenses, there is no income tax on the investment gains. 401k and 403b plans are types of tax-deferred investment programs that allow the employee to save money in a way the delays paying taxes on gains. Younger executives should be maximizing their contributions to these programs.”
Your Insurance Needs as a Business Executive
In addition to health insurance that your company will likely provide to you and your family, you may need life insurance. Since you likely earn a high income, you’ll probably require a larger death benefit than what your employer-sponsored life insurance policy offers.
With the right life insurance policy, you can protect your loved ones and allow them to maintain their same lifestyle in the event you pass away. A financial advisor can help you weigh the pros and cons of the various life insurance options available to you.
Financial Planning is a Necessity
Not everyone has what it takes to succeed as a business executive. In fact, many people lack the work ethic, ambition, and drive required to land and keep a high-level position.
To make the most of all you’ve accomplished in your career, a financial plan is a necessity, rather than simply an option. A financial planner can guide you through the financial planning process so you can lead a fulfilling life and future.
Enjoy a Secure Financial Future
With a solid financial plan in place, you can ensure your money works for you and your family. You’ll be able to live the life of your dreams outside of the workplace and avoid many of the financial obstacles that business executives are known to experience.
How To Find The Best Financial Advisors for Business Executives
While you may find a great financial advisor to work with through the referral of an acquaintance or whose office you drive by on your daily commute, it’s important to consider several factors to improve your odds of hiring the best financial advisor for your individual needs.
As a business executive, you may decide the best financial advisor for you is one who specializes in understanding the unique financial planning challenges and opportunities common among business leaders. These specialist financial advisors may hold credentials that demonstrate their expertise along with considerable experience working with other business executive clients that could benefit your own financial planning needs.
Because many financial advisors can work with you online, you’re not limited to hiring a financial advisor in your neighborhood when the best financial advisor for you may live hundreds of miles away.
In other words, whether you choose to hire a financial advisor who lives near or far, it may be most important to hire a financial advisor who truly understands your individual needs based on their education, experience and commitment to helping people just like you.
You’ll find a growing number of financial advisors on Wealthtender who serve business executives, including advisors specializing in working primarily with business executives.
Financial Advisors For Business Executives Featured On Wealthtender
What is a business executive?
A business executive is an employee and member of the management team at a mid to large sized firm generally responsible for leadership and oversight of one or more departments. Business executives often have considerable experience working within their industry and are frequently recognized as experts in their field.
Are there financial coaches who specialize in working with business executives?
Yes. While financial advisors are generally best suited to help business executives who need investment advice and guidance, many financial coaches have considerable experience working with business leaders whose busy schedules have meant day to day budgeting and financial habits need improvement.
You’ll find several financial coaches featured on Wealthtender who have experience working with business executives.
The Best Finance Blogs And Podcasts For Business Executives
With over 250 personal finance blogs and financial podcasts featured on Wealthtender, you’ll find several that regularly publish articles and episodes with financial planning insights useful to business executives.
We’ve also curated a list of popular blogs and podcasts for business executives offering articles and interviews on a range of topics including financial and career advice:
- The Counterintuitive CEO
- HBR IdeaCast
- CEO Show Podcast
- The GaryVee Audio Experience
- Dan Pink Office Hours
Do you have a favorite blog or podcast for business executives not featured above? Let us know in the comments section below or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
About the Author
Brian is CEO and founder of Wealthtender. He and his wife live in Texas, enjoying the diversity of Houston and the vibrancy of Austin.
With over 25 years in the financial services industry, Brian is applying his experience and passion at Wealthtender to help more people enjoy life with less money stress.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to encourage any lifestyle changes without careful consideration and consultation with a qualified professional. This article is for reference purposes only, is generic in nature, is not intended as individual advice and is not financial or legal advice.