WHAT SERVICES DO YOU OFFER? The simple answer to this question is that we help clients identify where they currently stand financially, help them identify where they want to be at some point in the future, then help them design a customized road map that will guide them to their destination safely and efficiently. Financial planning is a process, not product, which addresses all aspects of one’s financial life. The six core areas of financial planning are: 1) Risk management, 2) Employee benefits, 3) Investment planning, 4) Income tax planning, 5) Retirement planning, and 6) Estate planning. To create an appropriate plan, we take our clients through what I like to call the G.A.I.M. plan.
Goals: The first step of the process is where we collect data, identify goals and objectives, and create financial statements.
Analysis: In this step of the process we analyze the data and goals from step one and present alternatives, recommendations, and/or strategies for client consideration.
Implementation: We coordinate the implementation of the agreed upon strategies and recommendations.
Monitor: We then monitor the plan on an ongoing basis, continuously reviewing the G, A, and I above and make adjustments when necessary.
DO YOU OPERATE YOUR COMPANY UNDER A CERTAIN PHILOSOPHY? The planning process drives the financial decisions and product decisions. Imagine that one wanted to build a house. Would he go to a hardware store and buy a bunch of cool tools, then to the lumber yard for lumber, then build a house? Of course not! He would have drawn detailed plans of what the house will look like and all the materials and tools needed to complete the project. Then he would buy the tools and supplies as needed during the construction process. Too often we see people holding a bag full of nails and a bag full of hammers wondering what they are building.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO EDUCATE YOUR CLIENTS ON WHICH SERVICES BEST FIT THEIR INDIVIDUAL CIRCUMSTANCE? Our initial (no cost, no obligation) client meeting is designed to be educational in nature. They learn about us, our processes, our service model, their goals/objectives, and what areas of their financial planning they want to work on.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO ENTER YOUR FIELD? My father initially sparked my interest. He helped me make my first investment when I was 13, and it has been a major part of my life ever since. As time passed I learned of numerous poor financial decisions that family and friends had made which inspired me to want to help. Assisting people in making better financial decisions is my passion.
WHAT DO YOU/YOUR COMPANY DO DIFFERENTLY THAN OTHER SIMILAR BUSINESSES? We do things that seem simple like answer the phone, return phone calls, and follow through on promises. Many in the financial industry are employees of a large institution that is employer revenue focused and motivated by product sales. We, however, are an independent client-centered financial planning firm that is focused on improving financial outcomes through a prudent planning process.
Registered Representative and an Investment Adviser Representative with/and offers Securities and Advisory Services through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser.
WHEN DID YOU ENTER YOUR FIELD AND WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO DO SO? I started my State Farm Agency July 1, 1986, because I was inspired to help the Latino community that at that time had no one representing them in regards to the insurance industry. My goal was to provide a bilingual agency with a vision and dream to not only be the best choice for the Latinos, but also to grow my business working with everyone in our community.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MAJOR CHANGES YOU’VE SEEN IN YOUR PROFESSION OVER THE YEARS? Technology has to be the dominant change, followed by Brentwood’s growth in population. In 1986 we had around 10,000 inhabitants, and a large percentage was Latino or Hispanic, mostly working in the farms. As time went on, many farms were replaced by homes and shopping centers, and the percentage of inhabitants changed, making the Hispanic community lower as a percentage but still a very large group that started to transition from farm work to construction, landscaping, carpentry, and business ownership.
WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING ASPECT OF YOUR JOB? The most rewarding aspect of my job in the beginning was having the freedom to schedule my hours at work to spend a lot of time with my four kids as they were growing up. I hardly missed any of their soccer games at school or as they traveled with clubs around the state. Being around with them and my wife Martha has to be the most rewarding part. In past years, traveling to many parts of the world and meeting great people in the insurance industry was a huge reward. In 2014 I had the honor of being chosen to do a national commercial for State Farm together with famous Latino movie star and singer Carlos Ponce. The commercial aired in all the Hispanic networks across the United Sates for over one year.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO ISN’T SURE WHICH COVERAGE IS RIGHT FOR THEM? The best advice is to always accept the invitation to do an insurance review with your insurance agency at least every other year, and if you are not being asked for a review, you should call your agency and make an appointment to see them. Reviews are free and you want to know what coverages, deductibles, and limits you have on your policies and have the opportunity to make changes that you may need. “The worst time to find out if a loss is covered or not covered in your policy is after the loss has occurred.”
WHEN DID YOU ENTER YOUR FIELD AND WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO DO SO? I began my journey with State Farm in 2009 working as an office representative in my father’s agency. Upon graduation from San Jose State University, I had the opportunity to work at one of State Farm’s district offices in Pleasant Hill. This exposure contributed to the growing interest I had in this industry and to follow my father’s footsteps. Watching my dad educate and protect the community together with my mom, who is the ultimate family business anchor, both inspired me to partake in the American Dream and make my contribution to this world. Both of my parents, immigrants from Mexico, bypassed all odds and became successful through hard work, determination, and honesty - values that I will instill in every aspect of my life.
WHAT WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING ASPECT OF STARTING A BUSINESS FROM THE GROUND UP? Every business venture involves an insane amount of risk. As a small business owner I had to get used to switching gears constantly. A big challenge was realizing that my responsibilities now apply around the clock versus 40 hours a week. With so much to do running a business, it’s easy to get lost in the swamp of small details and lose sight of the real goals. The most challenging thing for me was learning how to delegate. I had to transition out of the, “If you want something done right, do it yourself” mindset. I have an amazing team that helps me with the day-to-day so I can focus on the big picture.
WHAT WAS THE MOST REWARDING? As a small business owner, it makes me happy that I am able to provide career opportunities to individuals and families in my community. I have an opportunity every single day to empower my clients by educating them to prepare for the unexpected and to make sure they are saving for the future. The most rewarding thing for me is being able to repay the promise after a claim. I personally will show up after a disaster has occurred. I know I’ve done my job when I am able to visit with the family and let them know everything is going to be okay.
DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE ANY CHANGES/ADVANCES IN YOUR FIELD IN 2018? When it comes to insurance, customers want more control for personalization and technology. Expect to see more mobile apps through which our customers can view policy information, submit or view a claim, pay your bills, and call roadside assistance all at the convenience of your fingertips. Telematics will also play a huge role in the insurance industry’s future. The less you drive and the safer you drive, the more you could save on your auto insurance!
WHEN DID YOU JOIN THE MORTGAGE INDUSTRY AND WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO DO SO? I entered the profession in 2001. Previously, I was a Project Manager and oversaw the design, build, and construction of many Silicon Valley projects during the dot com boom, including projects at Google, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, KLA Tencor, and many others. At the time, I was about to become a first-time father and wanted something fulfilling that didn’t have the travel schedule. I was good with numbers and knew a lot of people since I was born and raised in the area. Surprisingly, being a Loan Officer came easy to me. So, after two years I founded Pacific Funding Group and have never looked back since.
HOW CAN SOMEONE TELL IF YOUR SERVICES ARE RIGHT FOR THEM? In this business I believe speed and transparency are the name of the game and the secret to longevity. Because we have dedicated resources and a vast supply of investors, we can approve and close a file quicker than most with no surprises or last-minute hiccups. We control the process from start to finish with a proven system that has been successful year after year.
DO YOU OPERATE YOUR COMPANY UNDER A CERTAIN PHILOSOPHY? Yes, it’s the “Golden Rule.” “Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.” This is a tough business and can be emotional for some. Unfortunately, numbers are non-emotional, so when there is an issue or something that needs to be addressed, I believe that transparency and honesty are the best methods in solving things. It is important to treat people with respect at all times regardless.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MAJOR CHANGES YOU’VE SEEN IN YOUR PROFESSION OVER THE YEARS?
There have been quite a few changes with regulations. Dodd Frank and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) have become a huge part of the mortgage industry. In a nutshell, both entities are to ensure consistency, equality, and fairness amongst consumers and banking institutions. In doing so, there have been many new rules and regulations that have been implemented, and thus the process has changed. A mortgage is typically a person’s largest financial investment, so while at times cumbersome, the rules and regulations are welcomed by those of us who still do things the right way.
WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING ASPECT OF YOUR JOB?
As an owner, the most rewarding aspect of my job is two-fold. First, after more than 6,000 transactions, I still love seeing first-time home buyers getting the keys to their first home. I remember how I felt, and seeing that in other people brings a smile to my face. The second most rewarding part is when my employees reach their personal and professional goals. We are a very goal-oriented company, and I enjoy challenging people to be their best and to achieve things they may not have thought possible. Those types of surprises are always fun!
Jennifer S. Goldsmith
WHAT SERVICES DO YOU OFFER? I focus on providing clients with services relating to estate planning, probate law and general business law. This includes wills and trusts, business entity formation, and other related services.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO THIS PROFESSIONAL FIELD? I chose to pursue estate planning and general business law as a practice focus for a couple of reasons. Both areas are very personal, and the value afforded to my clients is immeasurable. I’ve seen what the stress and impact of poor and incomplete planning can do to a person and their family, and I am very passionate about using my firm to minimize and/or eliminate these hardships.
WHO SHOULD CONSIDER ESTATE PLANNING? Good estate planning often means more to families with modest assets and young children, because they can afford to lose the least. In California, anyone who owns more than $150,000 in gross assets will end up going through probate if they have not created the right estate plan. Since that number is based on the gross value of your assets, that means that debts are not counted against the value. This means your home may be a $400,000 asset according to the courts, even if you are upside down on your mortgage! While many people believe that estate planning is something only to be considered in retirement and/or if they have significant wealth, the truth is that estate planning is for everyone.
WHAT IS PROBATE? The quick answer is that probate is the process of going to court after someone dies to have a judge tell you how to distribute everything that was accumulated during the person’s life. There are very specific rules about who gets what when someone dies without any estate plan, and the process in California is very long and expensive. The average probate in California now takes over two years and $10,000 to complete. Proper estate planning can avoid most or all of those fees and delays.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TRUST AND A WILL? WHY ISN’T A WILL ENOUGH? A will does allow a person to dictate the division of their assets, but it will not avoid probate. In fact, having just a will practically guarantees that your family will have to go to court. Once your estate is in the court system, there can be a risk of disputes and possible adjustments to your will. A trust, on the other hand, allows the entire estate to be dealt with privately, outside of court, thus avoiding the cost and time of probate. Holding assets in a trust can further preserve the value of the total estate through tax savings that a simple will does not.
IF SPOUSES HOLD THE DEED TO THEIR HOUSE IN “JOINT TENANCY,” WHY IS A TRUST STILL IMPORTANT? This is a complicated question, but the easy answer is that joint tenancy doesn’t protect the full value of your home when one spouse passes. When that happens, the surviving spouse must change the title of the home to his or her name as the surviving joint tenant. Once they do this, the property is reassessed at the current fair market value for the 50% community property share that was “owned” by the other spouse. This reassessment translates into a step up in basis, or in layman’s terms, your property taxes will increase. Placing a home in trust does not result in this same change of ownership upon the death of the first spouse, which can save tens of thousands of dollars over the course of the surviving spouse’s lifetime.