“Physical wellness and financial wellness can intersect when health needs arise, when buying life insurance, and even when drafting wills. It is important to know details about your physical health when making financial decisions because that will determine your needs and wants.”
— Tamara Berley, Partner and Certified Public Accountant, Saville
How did you choose accounting as a career and how does that help you guide clients into making better decisions about their future?
I loved my 6th grade math class and teacher Mrs. Cary. She was strict but helped me see how math affects every aspect of our lives. This viewpoint informs my approach when working with clients to plan for the big picture, beyond taxes. There needs to be purpose and reason behind decisions. I ask them what they want their legacy to be, what are their goals at 3, 5, and 10 years into the future.
How do you approach the concept of “financial wellness” from a tax and planning standpoint?
I think the tax tail should not wag the dog, meaning all of your decisions should not be driven by tax savings. Financial wellness means having an emergency fund, monitoring debt, making investment decisions that fit your risk profile and your interests, and having important documents taken care of.
How do you guide clients in planning for medical and future health expense?
First, they need to have medical powers of attorney and physician’s directives in place and reviewed every couple of years. Don’t prepare the documents once, throw them in a drawer, and never look at them again. It is important to keep them up to date and relevant. Then we work through how they would pay for in home care or institutional care if needed later in life. Most people underestimate the amount of money needed to fund assisted living expenses so putting real numbers together and looking at them is very important. Then make a plan and stick to the plan.
Although people often just think about taxes once a year, how can they best maximize their relationship with a CPA?
So many times, clients make business or personal decisions without consulting their CPA before the decision is made. There are so many ways a good CPA can help clients. Things like, evaluating how assets are held for estate purposes, life insurance needs, structures of trusts for children or spouses, business structures to maximize cash flow and minimize taxes, generational wealth transfer planning, philanthropic goals, and many more.
Tell us more about the intersection of physical wellness and financial wellness.
Physical wellness and financial wellness can intersect when health needs arise, when buying life insurance, and even when drafting wills. It is important to know details about your physical health when making financial decisions because that will determine your needs and wants.
What tips or thoughts would you like to share regarding financial wellness?
One thing I think everyone should do, regardless of their level of wealth, is an annual personal financial statement. It is very beneficial to see if you are moving in the direction you want to go, to identify assets that are not always top of mind, (like life insurance or IRA accounts) and to analyze your spending levels. Also, make a list of all of your assets and liabilities with account numbers, contact information and values. If something were to suddenly happen to you, this list is very valuable to the people left behind and can make sure assets are not forgotten.