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Wealth Planning

For you, is it a "great resignation" or just a "great reset"?


Are you one of the many executives and private business owners rethinking your work life?

People with resources typically have multiple options. But, usually, many of us are so busy working that we don’t take the time or perhaps feel the need to consider other potential paths. 

Then something disrupts our routine. A personal life event. Work-from-home forced by the COVID-19 lockdown. We look up. And we wonder. 

Now many white collar workers and business owners are asking: “As people are returning to so-called normal, what do I really want my normal to be?” Suddenly:

  • A 37-year-old hedge fund manager wants to know: ‘Can I take two years off then switch to another career?’
  • A high-level executive, age 49, wants to know: ‘Can I leave corporate work when I’m 55 years old rather than wait for my planned exit at 60?’
  • The 62-year-old owner of an operating business that took a major hit during the COVID-19 lockdown, wants to know: “How much do I need to repair my company’s fortunes before I sell it?”

We helped these three find their answers—and you might find it helpful to see how. But the most important takeaway from their stories may be this—because they quantified their options and proactively chose their path into the future, they found renewed purpose in their work lives.

They are not alone.

Call it a “Great Reshuffling”

Headlines have heralded a “Great Resignation.” But what seems to be happening is more of a “Great Reshuffling,” as employment rates remain relatively high.

Still, the working world may be at an inflection point. Employees and employers both seem to be trying to figure out how much of working-from-home, which white collar workers experienced by necessity during the COVID-19 crisis, is desired, optimal and even feasible over the long term.   

Some employers are permitting work-from-home schedules, though many are concerned that remote work might hinder new employees’ acculturation, slow decision making and stymie creativity.

Meanwhile, there has been a sharp rise in the quit rate as many employees seek new positions, looking for, among other things, hybrid work schedules, increases in income and the ability to live in different locations. 

This phenomenon does not yet show in labor figures—we are hearing more high-net-worth individuals talk about possibly going into new careers or business opportunities, moving up retirement dates and altering timelines for selling their companies.

Despite the spike in the quit rate…most Americans still are working somewhere

How to explore your options

Altering your career path and financial plans should not be a blind leap. Instead, we recommend making an informed decision by first carefully evaluating how different changes might impact your lifestyle and family, over the near , medium and long term.

While each person’s situation, priorities and numbers are unique, the process is not. It requires looking at the complete picture of your financial life–assets, income, desired spending, etc.‚—and projecting your wealth’s potential under a variety of investment choices and market conditions.  

Here’s how such a complete analysis helped three people find their path:   

Young hedge fund manager

Selim earns $9MM a year as a hedge fund manager. After a decade of constant work in an office, he found working from home during the pandemic left him wanting to spend more time with his two children, aged 8 and 10.

He wanted to know what the financial impact might be on his family if he took two years off to be more available to his children and decide on his future. Upon his return to the workforce, what was the minimum annual compensation he needed to earn and for how many years to maintain his lifestyle, with its multiple homes, prestigious private schooling for the children and extensive travel? 

Our analysis showed that his lifestyle likely could be maintained if, after taking off two years, he worked for 10 years earning $4.5MM a year or for 16 years with an annual compensation of $3MM. 

The knowledge has liberated Selim, who’s confident he’ll be able to clear at least $3MM a year and work (if necessary) until he’s 53 years old.         

Mid-life corporate executive

Diana, a successful upper-tier executive, earns $4MM in annual compensation and is the primary financial support for her family. Her husband, Mike, is a university professor. The couple’s three teenagers attend private middle and high schools, costing about $50K per child per year. Tuitions for college and, possibly, graduate school lie ahead.

The family has a $25 million balance sheet, with about $10 million in two properties—a primary residence near a major city plus a new beach home purchased and visited often during the pandemic. Diana grew attached to their family life at the beach. The intensity of her work life in the last two years has left her feeling unwilling to stay in Corporate America for another 11, i.e., until her previously planned retirement at age 60.

She now hoped to walk away when she turned 55. What changes to her plan would enable this earlier retirement? 

The answer was, a lot. She and Mike would have to sell the beach house eventually. They’d also need to make some reductions in current lifestyle expenses and charitable giving. 

The tradeoffs gave Diana pause, so we helped her explore a variety of alternatives—and the process helped her realize that, above all, she wanted to keep the beach house. To accomplish this goal, our analysis found she’d have to work until age 58. 

That was a deal Diana felt happy to make. In fact, she’s returned to work highly motivated to put in those additional years. 

Older business owner 

Antonin long knew how much he wanted to sell his business for: $100MM. Pre- pandemic, he was close to reaching this valuation and thinking hard about his exit strategy. Then COVID-19 hit and his business took a dive. It’s currently appraised at $60MM.

This turn of events left Antonin asking two questions: “If I want to live life as I want, how much do I need to get for the business?” And, “if I wanted to build to the $100MM target, how long would it take?” 

He was happily surprised by our analysis finding that, even if he sold right now for $60MM, he could maintain his lifestyle for the rest of his life.

Freed from concerns about personal finances, Antonin focused completely on his other priorities: His responsibilities to his shareholders, partner and all the employees who’d worked hard to keep the business afloat during the pandemic.

We also reminded him that the pullback in company’s valuation created an opportunity to give to his children and grandchildren. If he put depressed shares of the business now, in a trust for their benefit, then sold the company later for more, he could transfer a sizeable portion of the business (and its expected growth) to his progeny free of transfer taxes. 

Antonin has never been more motivated. Because now he’s working hard for so many people who’re important to him—his partner, his shareholders, his employees, his children and his grandchildren.

We can help 

You too can take a clear-eyed look at your finances, prospects and priorities. And, whatever you decide--changes big, small or not at all—you just might find, as these three did, it’s empowering to choose your life path.   

Looking at your numbers can make choices very tangible and possible. Your J.P. Morgan team is ready to help you shape your future.   

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