— Originally published in FLL#36 (Fiscal Thinking #2) • Written by W.C. McClure
Running a business is hard. Creating a family legacy is a daunting task. How do you align the two? Wesley Carr and Andrew Sedora have a thorough process to help people integrate business and family legacy. When I met with Andrew Sedora and Wes Carr, I had the distinct feeling that their goal was to guide people through the fog of professional, personal, financial, and succession planning. While sitting down with these two planners, I got the sense that their passion was listening to their clients’ goals and helping them determine the best path for their businesses and their families.
Wes and Andy teamed up to combine their diverse and complementary backgrounds as financial advisors. Wes began his education and career in engineering, and transitioned over 20 years ago into financial planning. Andy pulls from a long background in corporate America and a lifetime of involvement in team sports before going fulltime with his passion of financial planning. Brought together by shared philosophies on financial planning and life, the combination provided new perspectives and stability for their clients.
Their approach begins with a strong foundation built on simple principles. “We use an engineering framework to look at the whole picture, and then dial down to the specifics to make sure that it works practically,” Wes says. He adds, “Then we can make updates over time as needed to adapt.” Andy’s team mindset dovetails into the development phase. He describes his passion for collaboration as “a brain storming session, where ideas are being bounced back and forth with your client’s attorney, accountant, and other professionals, where almost every stone is being turned over to make sure all angles are considered; that’s when it really gets exciting.”
For closely held and family businesses confused over what the future holds or wondering how to get value out of their business in retirement, planners can make a significant difference. “We help business owners discover areas of deficiency in their big picture,” Andy explains. Liberty Financial Strategies understands that a lot of business owners are experiencing challenges for the first time and have no idea what to expect around the next bend.
“Part of our process,” Andy says, “is that we take people through what we call the Unknown Unknowns. We help them to understand what to expect ten, fifteen, twenty, even thirty years down the road and help them prepare for various circumstances.”
Ryan and Zoe Horan of Resonance Audiology recently expanded their operations from New Holland by opening a second location in Lancaster; Liberty Financial Strategies helped them separate their business assets from personal assets during the transition.
“They helped us get ready from a business standpoint, different types of insurance planning,” says Ryan. “Also, as a young family we’re making sure that we have a foundation set up for the future and that our bases are covered in case anything were to happen. This allows us to focus on growing the business.”
ALIGN BUSINESS AND PERSONAL GOALS
Joshua Funk, co-owner of Annie Bailey’s with his brother Jake Funk, talks about how Liberty Financial Strategies helped them similarly.
“We walked through our shareholder agreement, and that enabled them to understand where we needed coverage from an insurance perspective,” Joshua says. “They also pointed out some things that didn’t match with the general feeling of some of the partners and we were able to make those changes. They were able to discuss these with my lawyer and we were able to make those changes in a side letter, so in the event that something would happen then it would match up with what we have insurance-wise, and with the general wishes of our partners and shareholders.”
Liberty Financial Strategies helped with the Annie Bailey’s business and succession planning to make sure they were covered and insured in the event of the death of a partner. They continue to take care of Joshua’s and Jake’s personal insurance strategies as well.
A business just starting out has different needs from a business changing hands from one generation to the next. A younger business may need guidance as to what it takes to get the second generation of ownership involved. In a fourth and fifth generation takeover, those involved grow up around the business and know plenty about it, but there is still much they won’t grasp completely because they haven’t been through it personally yet.
Brent Kreider, President of B.R. Kreider & Son, Inc. is a fourth generation owner. Brent describes his experience working with Liberty Financial Strategies. “They worked with us to help through the transition from generation three to generation four here at the company by providing us insurance products to protect us and help us through buyouts.”
Wes shares his perspective on business succession planning, stating, “In my experience, there’s usually a satisfaction for the retiring generation when they see their plan working for them; they know the family business will continue after they are not at the helm.”
During the ownership transition, Liberty Financial Strategies was one part of the team of professionals who assisted the owners. One of the roles they play for their clients is as a professional advisor liaison, collaborating with existing key members of a client’s team such as CPAs, attorneys, and institutions.
“While we want to help create a plan, we understand what it may take to get the job done,” Wes explains. “There are many areas where we work with an existing team, or suggest our client go to other consultants who will meet their needs.”
“We’re mostly in the financial and succession planning part,” Andy agrees. “Not in identifying who should be the next CEO of a company. That’s a role for a different group of advisors.” Both Wes and Andy agree on the importance of collaboration, saying, “We take pleasure in connecting our clients with other professionals who can help them.”
Brent Kreider continues to use Liberty Financial Strategies’ services for personal insurance as well as for his business. “They understand us and what our goals and visions are,” he says. “They don’t have just one set approach, so based upon some of our desires, they did what made sense to us. They tailored a strategy around our personalities.”
LEAVING A LEGACY
When her husband passed away, Shelley Baum had her hands full with their company, Bass Mechanical, Inc., among other properties. Her estate attorney introduced her to Wes at Liberty Financial Strategies in addition to another company.
“I chose Liberty because of their knowledge in dealing with businesses specifically,” she recalls. “We’ve been working together to focus on my immediate needs, all the way up through the next thirty years.”
Speaking about transitioning one of her sons into the role of CEO, Shelley adds, “Wes has a wealth of background and expertise using insurance in dealing with those kinds of transitional family matters. He offers guidance, like ‘These are some experiences that I’ve had. This is how it can go down,’ even taking into consideration the relationship between a mother and a son.”
Wes points out that “planning may seem like a lot of ‘what-if’ until suddenly that day arrives when the unthinkable occurs. Then you realize how crucial it is to support survivors, whether they are family members or business partners. Many times survivors are both, which leads to a discussion about familial things.”
HOW DO YOU ADDRESS THE SUBJECT OF FAIR?
“There are ways to get closer to ‘fair’ in a business and succession situation even if it doesn’t mean an equal share,” Andy says. “The end game is helping people leave a legacy, both in their business and in their personal affairs,” he explains. “Everybody automatically thinks a legacy is financial, which is a very big part of it, but it’s not always that simple. It could be leaving a business behind that employs two hundred people in the local community.”
A family with multiple children may have a profitable business where the value appears far above other parcels of land or sums of cash, but what if only one of those children is willing to work the business? They assume all of the risk and they put in the work. Their investment could pay off or, by their fault or not, the business could experience a downturn and suddenly their inheritance is not as valuable as it once was. Liberty Financial Strategies works with their clients to help strike this balance between fair and equal estate planning, serving both the business and the family.
“Circumstances are always changing and it’s easy to let stuff lay around,” Wes acknowledges. “Tasks get left in the important but not urgent category. We help bring the strategy back to the front, maybe even set up a timeline or help our clients set up a meeting with the other professionals if we need to.” So how does a business owner balance running a business while creating a legacy? I think these clients’ experiences show Liberty’s ability to help people navigate this balance.
WHO ARE THESE GUYS?
Wes worked as a mechanical engineer straight out of college until his father helped him get started in financial planning over 20 years ago. “I like going into a relatively complicated situation and having the team of advisors there,” he says. “We have discussions and go through all the scenarios and then, with the client’s input, help to guide the process of making sure all the details are taken care of in their documents, plan for income tax issues and ultimately for retirement. I am jazzed up getting out of those meetings. They energize me.”
His planning isn’t all that fuels him, though. A husband and father of two sons, Wes also rides dirt bikes, hunts, reads, and is den leader for Cub Scouts pack 184. He is a member of the Lancaster Rotary Club and feels it is important to encourage his staff members to contribute their time to charity by paying them when they volunteer at their favored charities during the work week.
Andy has a passion for all things relational. He studied Business and Marketing at West Chester University where he led the men’s basketball team to several championships. He married his college sweetheart and together they have four children between the ages of five and eleven. Andy has combined his professional and interrelational skills to serve the community by coaching youth sports, teaching a boy’s Sunday School class, and is an active member of the Lancaster Hempfield Rotary Club. His last personal athletic goal is to become a scratch golfer. However, Sedora currently likens his golf game to “long walks on the beach.”
Andy’s diverse background gives him a unique perspective on his client’s situation. He relishes the opportunity to be a part of their team of trusted advisors to serve his clients’ interests to help them meet their objectives. Provided, of course, that their objectives do not include becoming professional golfers.
Liberty Financial Strategies
114 Foxshire Drive, Lancaster PA
(717) 569-6369 • libertyfinancialstrategies.com
A. Wesley Carr, Jr. and Andrew Sedora are registered representatives of and offer securities, investment advisory and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. Supervisory Office: 5001 Louise Drive, Mechanicsburg, PA, 17055. Liberty Financial Strategies is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC. or its affiliated companies. CRN201710-197098