Case Studies

While every Pillar Wealth client is unique, here are six client stories that we believe demonstrate both the breadth of our capabilities and the care we take in trying to help our clients realize their goals and dreams.

Important Disclaimer: “These hypothetical case studies are provided for illustrative purposes only and do not represent an actual client or an actual client’s experience, but rather are meant to provide an example of the Firm’s process and methodology. An individual’s experience may vary based on his or her individual circumstances. There can be no assurance that the Firm will be able to achieve similar results in comparable situations. No portion of this article is to be interpreted as a testimonial or endorsement of the Firm’s investment advisory services and it is not known whether the hypothetical clients referenced approve of the Firm or its services.”

"How Do I Prepare to Exit My Business On My Terms?"

Bill has worked hard over the last 20 years to build a successful business with more than $20 million in annual sales and 50 employees. At age 51, he understands that day-to-day control and strategic leadership of the business and continues to be a critical success factor to his business. However, that understanding gets him no closer to figuring out how to exit ownership of his business on his terms - at a time and at a value that ensures both his ability to ensure a comfortable retirement and the long-term viability of the business he created. Bill was introduced to Pillar Wealth Advisors by his attorney, after he complained to the attorney that the estate planning process in which they were engaging, while certainly important, didn't seem to solve any of the business planning issues around his eventual exit from the business. Through Pillar's Seven-Step Exit and Succession Planning process, we helped Bill embark on a six-month, rigorous business planning process to -

  • Identify his business ownership exit objectives,
  • Quantify his business and personal resources,
  • Develop a focused plan for promoting and protecting the value of his business,
  • Outline a plan for how his key employee group could finance a purchase of Bill's business
  • Stress test his plan to ensure business continuity until Bill's desired exit date
  • Integrate the entire ownership exit plan into Bill's personal financial/retirement income plan.

"How Will I Be Remembered?"

Carol has been a great Pillar Wealth client for more than ten years. While always active with her time in several community causes, Carol is becoming increasingly interested in understanding how she might leave a lasting financial legacy to those causes without putting her overall financial security at risk.

Pillar, working in conjunction with her attorney and accountant, designed a charitable trust arrangement that ensured lifetime income to Carol, provided meaningful current income tax advantages and assured a significant principal sum to her chosen charities at her passing.

"Pulling It All Together"

Aaron and Ellen are both successful corporate attorneys in large corporations. Their typical week is a blur of workday challenges and managing the active schedules of their three children. They weren't actively engaged in their financial lives, given those other demands on their time... multiple 401ks at former employers with uncertain investment strategies, significant "savings" sitting in a bank savings account, no wills, no idea whether they were adequately insured and, in general, no real roadmap toward achieving their vaguely-defined financial goals.

Pillar Wealth Advisors, using our Wealth GPS planning process led Aaron and Ellen through the development of goals and the actions needed to set them on the road to success. In the process, we were able to build their entire financial lives into the Pillar Wealth GPS platform so, at a push of a button, Aaron and Ellen can get a very clear picture of their financial lives and how their current situation "sits" on the road toward their goals. For a recent home refinancing, Aaron was even able to get a current personal balance sheet in literally minutes by accessing his Pillar Wealth GPS client site.

"What happens when I'm gone?"

Paul and Judi have been fortunate enough to develop significant personal wealth. Introduced to Pillar Wealth Advisors by a friend and current client of PWA, they expressed frustration with their current advisors who responded adequately when called, but from whom Paul and Judi felt they weren't getting any proactive thought about their financial future. During our initial meeting, it also became clear that Paul and Judi had some very specific thoughts about how they wanted to transition their wealth to their children and grandchildren. But they had no idea how to go about making that wealth transition happen.

First, Pillar led Paul and Judi through a lengthy retirement cash flow planning process that allowed for some clarity on just how much wealth they may be attempting to transition in the future. They were shocked to learn that their estate could owe more than $10 million in taxes, a significant chunk of their hard-earned wealth. Pillar then led a team of advisors, consisting also of their attorney and accountant, in the development of a life-time gifting and estate plan that allowed Paul and Judi to take better advantage of current favorable estate tax law. The planning process culminates in the creation of trusts, asset re-titling, and a wealth replacement trust which protects the full value of their estate.

"Am I Ready For Retirement?"

Dave and Brenda found themselves at what felt like a crossroads in their financial lives - three years from retirement, kids just about educated and out of the house, a sizable pool of retirement and non-retirement account savings, and yet no real idea how to approach the financial and life transition of retirement.

Introduced to Pillar Wealth Advisors by another advisor, Dave and Brenda engaged us to help devise a retirement income security plan. Using the Pillar Wealth GPS planning system, we were able to show Dave and Brenda how long their savings would be projected to last under a variety of planning/outcome scenarios. In concert with this understanding, Pillar also helped Dave and Brenda with an Investment Policy Statement designed to lower their risk profile as they headed into retirement income years. During implementation, Pillar also utilized some investment strategies to help provide peace of mind that would provide a guaranteed income that they cannot outlive. Armed with information and a greater understanding, Dave and Brenda were relieved to have a "roadmap" toward achieving their goal of retiring in three years with the income they needed to live out their retirement dreams!

"My Savings Are Going Backwards Because of Market Volatility!"

Her life savings devastated by three severe market downturns in the prior ten years, Paula approached Pillar Wealth Advisors with her confidence in the ubiquitous "buy and hold" investment thesis severely shaken.

Candidly, we had our same confidence in Buy-and-Hold Investing shaken and set about to find a better way. Out of more than five years of research emerged our "Advance & Protect" investment process. Using a portfolio of individual stocks, passive ETFs and select mutual funds derived from regular, in-depth fundamental analysis, we now actively manage Paula's savings (and all client wealth) with a primary goal of principal protection and volatility moderation. Using a sophisticated, rules-based technical approach to tactical money management, we have shown that reducing volatility in a portfolio can yield long-term improvement in wealth accumulation