Financial Planning for Houston's Corporate Professionals

If you’re anything like the typical corporate executive, you probably have questions about your benefits and wonder if there’s more you could be doing with them. We’re here to help you understand each offering and maximize the elections available to you in coordination with the rest of your financial plan.

Save More In Your 401(k)

Whether retirement is around the corner or off in the distant future, you want to ensure you save in the most tax-efficient manner for you and your family. Our team of advisors helps you get the most from both pre-tax and after-tax savings in your 401(k).

How we help Executives make the most of their 401(k):

  • Annually convert after-tax money from the 401(k) to a Roth IRA, which allows for tax-free growth
  • Optimize savings each quarter to receive the full company contribution and not just a portion of it
  • Monitor investment performance and implement investment, savings, and tax-minimization strategies tailored to your long-term goals
  • Actively manage investment funds using strategies based on Nobel-laureate research—no more passive set-and-forget approaches to savings and investments
  • Access to additional funds through Fidelity Brokeragelink® accounts to coordinate your 401(k) with non-company or outside assets

Retirement is about more than just 401(k) contributions. Our integrated team of advisors and investment experts work with you to tailor your various benefits and asset allocations in them to you.

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Benefit Restoration or Excess Benefit Plans

For many of Houston’s top-tiered executives, their company may offer an excess benefit or benefit restoration plan to contribute to an employee’s 401(k) over an above the IRS’ 401a limits. Excess benefit plans like this one can have significant tax ramifications when they payout, so it's crucial to appropriately time your retirement to maximize the benefit's after-tax value.

Learn more about these plans here >>


Utilizing Deferred Compensation Plans

For some companies, high-income employees are offered deferred compensation plans as a valuable benefit to defer real-time compensation into future years when you have a greater need for it. We offer guidance to optimize your deferred compensation elections in coordination with your expected retirement income to reduce taxes today and minimize them in the future. 

 

Optimizing Your Company’s Incentive Plans

At many of Houston’s energy companies, a significant portion of your compensation can come from the varying incentive plans—your bonus, stock options, performance shares, and restricted stock, to name a few. It's important to coordinate these incentive plans alongside your other financial assets to maintain a diversified portfolio over time and minimize your tax liability. We work with you to reduce overexposure to your company’s stock in a tax-efficient manner that fits your overall financial goals.

How we help Houston's professionals with their incentive plans:

  • Annual or quarterly bonusesThrough tax planning, savings prioritization, and benefits eligibility assessment, our advisor can help maximize your annual performance bonus.
  • Qualified and Non-Qualified Stock Options – Accumulating company stock in your 401(k) over several years can overweight your portfolio with a concentration in your industry. Still, it can also offer tax optimization opportunities such as Net Unrealized Appreciation
  • Performance Shares & Restricted Stock UnitsAfter performance shares and restricted stocks vest, several mistakes energy professionals make can cause them a huge tax liability. We work to ensure that the correct forms and strategies are in place to make sure a simple mistake doesn’t amount to significant consequences.

Protecting Yourself & Your Family with Insurance & Health Plans

You care about providing for and protecting those you love most, but do you have the right contingency plan in place if an unexpected event arises? As a fiduciary advisor working in your best interest, we never sell insurance products. Instead, we help you understand the various insurance options available to you and help you decide on a plan that works best for you and your family. Our goal is to ensure that you only pay for what you need instead of all the extras you don’t.

Selecting the Right Health Plan for You

Your company may have one health plan, or they may have many from which you can choose. With each plan comes various trade-offs and opportunities. Our advisors can walk you through each plan, plan your contributions for healthcare costs and future retiree medical costs in the most tax-efficient manner. We can also help you maximize your take-home pay by optimizing your HSA and FSA accounts when applicable.


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Navigating Layoffs or Job Uncertainty

If you’re affected by workforce reductions and are “left standing,” we can provide insights on the critical decisions required for your company benefits elections and determine if retirement is a viable option for the present.
If you’re unsure about future employment or how an untimely layoff could affect your future, our team is knowledgeable about the ins-and-outs of severance packages and benefits. We can help you evaluate your goals, analyze your current financial status, and prepare for the next steps forward so you can start your next venture with confidence.

Evaluating Promotions

Earning a promotion can be exciting and filled with new responsibilities, a new job title, and potentially a higher salary and benefits package. What many executives fail to realize is that this also means more considerations and opportunities for mistakes. When you begin reaching certain income thresholds, there are more nuances regarding your 401(k) and other savings options, your taxes, and financial planning strategies you can leverage. If you aren’t adjusting your contributions or paying attention to specific tax forms, you could be leaving money on the table. As you climb the corporate ladder, your financial plan needs to evolve alongside you. We can help you pivot and adapt your financial strategy to ensure that you have a plan in place anywhere your career takes you.

High-Income Earners Make This Simple Mistake in Their 401(k) Contribution Calculation ALL the Time.
Learn More >>

Going Abroad for an Expat Assignment

If your career takes you beyond the U.S. on an expatriate assignment, there are many financial factors to consider before making a move. As specialists in both U.S. company benefit plans and financial planning, we can help U.S. citizens and residents looking to optimize their savings and finances on the road to retirement wherever they are in the world.

Accumulating assets in multiple countries can make it difficult to know where to seek guidance from, so our table below may offer some guidance:

Your Situation Entails:

Work With a U.S. Advisor Like WJA

Work With A Foreign Advisor

U.S. Citizenship or Resident Status

Working with an advisor in the U.S. such as Willis Johnson & Associates can help you navigate the financial, tax, and legal guidelines you’re obligated to by your citizenship.

If you're not a U.S. citizen or resident, it may be more beneficial to work with an advisor in your home country or the one in which you're stationed.

Assets Outside the U.S. Only

Due to certain legal restrictions, U.S. advisors, such as Willis Johnson & Associates, are prohibited from managing certain foreign assets. If you’re planning to return to or retire in the U.S., Willis Johnson & Associates can help you convert your assets and leverage them accordingly.

If most of your assets are outside the U.S., it may be best to work with an advisor in the country holding the assets to have the most flexibility in your options.

Assets Across the Globe

If you have assets in the U.S. and other countries, you'll likely need financial experts in each country. Willis Johnson & Associates can offer guidance on your domestic assets and help with converting or considering various foreign assets.

Work for a U.S. Employer, but Working in a Foreign Country

By working with an advisor in the U.S., such as Willis Johnson & Associates, you can avoid the pitfalls surrounding the financial, tax, and legal guidelines you're obliged to by your citizenship and your time abroad. If you're planning to return to the U.S., you'll want a domestic advisor to appropriately convert everything for your U.S. tax return upon your arrival.

Suppose you're not a U.S. citizen or resident and are working in a non-U.S. country. In that case, it may be more beneficial to work with an advisor in the country you're stationed in to get the proper guidance and education you need for your finances and taxes.

For professionals who prefer to keep their assets in a foreign country, we recommend working with an advisor in that country who's well-versed in its tax, financial, and legal guidelines. Similarly, for employees on the company's international benefit plans, we recommend reaching out to your HR department or an advisor with expertise in your benefit plans and guidelines to understand best how to utilize them.

Learn How to Avoid Common Financial Mistakes Expats Make Here >>

 

Leaving Corporate America to Become Self-Employed

After their retirement date or last day in a given company, many of our clients choose to continue working as consultants. If you plan to do this, we can help you understand how to structure your finances and retirement to fit your new role. Our team of tax and financial professionals can help you navigate:

  • Liability Protection for LLCs
  • Tax Deferral Strategies for Solo 401(k), Sep IRA and Solo Pension Plans
  • Tax forms unique to consultants, such as Form 1099 and the Correct Way to File Them
  • Negotiating Compensation and Hourly Fees with an Understanding of How Consultants Get Taxed

 Learn more about setting up a consulting practice here >>

 

Evaluating a New Role?

Being recruited is exciting, but how can you know if accepting a new position is the right move? It is often difficult to directly compare the value of two compensation packages and all the benefits on the table. With our expertise in corporate benefit plans, we can map out the difference in value between your current job and the one you're considering to help you decide between them or leverage for a better offer.

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Easing Into Retirement

Most people only retire once, so they don't have prior experience to draw from—we've helped hundreds of Houston's energy professionals navigate retirement without leaving money on the table. We will walk you through the complex options and timelines to correctly handle your elections, so you avoid losing any benefits and minimize taxes.
We’ll also help you answer common questions like:
  • Which savings account should you draw from first, and when should you take Social Security?
  • Should you take the annuity or lump sum payout of your pension, and when’s the right time to start taking it?
  • If you want to consult before winding down, how can you start a consulting business?
  • How should your investment strategy change in retirement?

Leveraging the Savings in Your 401(k)

As you think about retirement, you might be asking the question: From where should I take the money I need for expenses? Our team can help rebalance your 401(k) for your transition into retirement while considering your full financial picture. We can also help you understand the various sources of contribution, including after-tax contributions, and how to get the most of your employer contributions without spillover into Excess Benefit Plans to maximize tax-efficiency when these plans payout. The transition from accumulating assets to living off of them can be tricky, so working with an advisor can help you understand which assets you should be pulling from and in what order to minimize taxes for a smooth retirement.

 

Benefit Restoration or Excess Benefit Plan Payouts

For many of Houston’s top-tiered executives, their company may offer an excess benefit or benefit restoration plan to contribute to an employee’s 401(k) over an above the IRS' 401a limits. Excess benefit plans like this one can have significant tax ramifications when they payout, so it's crucial to appropriately time your retirement to maximize the after-tax value of the benefit.

Learn more about these plans here >>

 

Utilizing Deferred Compensation Plans 

For some companies, high-income employees are offered deferred compensation plans as a valuable benefit to defer real-time compensation into future years when you have a greater need for it. Upon retiring, it's crucial to evaluate these elections' payouts when determining your expected retirement income to minimize taxes in your early retirement years.

 

Maximizing Your Pension Payout

If your company offers a pension, there are many decisions to be made leading up to retirement. One of the critical choices you make with your pension elections is how and when to receive your pension benefits. It is crucial to understand the trade-offs between lump sums and annuities, how changing interest rates can affect lump sum values, and the implication of timing and taxes. Before you make an irrevocable election, let us give you a second opinion.

 

Setting Up Your Consulting Practice

Upon retirement from Chevron, many of our clients choose to continue working as a consultant. If you plan to do this, we can help you understand how to structure your finances and retirement to fit your new role. Our team of tax and financial professionals can help you navigate:

  • Liability Protection for LLCs
  • Tax Deferral Strategies for Solo 401(k), Sep IRA and Solo Pension Plans
  • Tax forms unique to consultants, such as Form 1099 and the Correct Way to File Them
  • Negotiating Compensation and Hourly Fees with an Understanding of How Consultants Get Taxed
Learn more about setting up a consulting practice here >>

When Should I Retire?

When you decide to retire after a long career can have a significant impact on your retirement income. Sometimes, waiting a few weeks or retiring just a month earlier can be a difference of tens of thousands of dollars. By understanding the timing of the payouts and tax implications of your benefits, along with the segment rates, we can determine the most tax-efficient retirement date for you that optimizes your income into your retirement days.

 

Getting More From Your Finances Doesn’t Have to be Difficult.
Meet with one of our experts to get started >>

Our WJA Executive and Professional Advisor Specialists

Willis Johnson, CFP®

CEO

Nick Johnson, CFA®, CFP®

PRESIDENT

Alexis Long, MBA, CFP®

DIRECTOR OF WEALTH MANAGEMENT
SCHEDULE YOUR COMPLIMENTARY BENEFITS REVIEW

Why Willis Johnson & Associates?

Since 1996 we’ve been helping Shell executives and professionals with their comprehensive financial planning needs. Our thorough understanding of the transitions in your corporate life allows us to appreciate where you have been and assist with where you are headed.