Q. What led you to Argent and what makes it unique? Why do you enjoy working at Argent? What does the company mean to you?
A. Nicole Nally led me to Argent. That said, she and I had been discussing an opportunity to work together for several years before she joined Argent, but her predecessor firms weren’t a good fit for me. In 2014, I was faced with moving to Florida if I wanted to stay with my predecessor firm or find another opportunity. I was seriously considering returning to a law practice when I heard from Nicole.
What makes Argent unique is just how receptive it has been to innovation and exploring new markets and strategies. Argent has been both nimble and savvy in its choices in these areas. I feel that my expertise has been greatly appreciated and encouraged.
The people I work with at Argent are as highly motivated and determined as they are competent and experienced. I enjoy the challenges they bring to me and the many opportunities I find to contribute to Argent’s success.
Q. What is on your wish list for the next 10 years with Argent?
A. Most of our competitors have difficulty simply getting out of their own way. Argent is reaching a crossroad in its evolution where it will choose a path to continue to invest in its diverse markets in a way that encourages innovation and individuality or the more typical path toward homogeneous thought and offerings. Consistency and centralization are highly beneficial in estimating fixed and direct costs for multi-year strategic planning. But a willingness to tolerate and support exceptional activity, to experiment within controlled tolerances and to invest in and then dissolve strategic ventures if they don’t pay off, is essential to those market captures that established firms can usually only fondly recall.
Q. What’s the biggest trend you see in your field right now?
A. I’m seeing a trend toward income tax reduction strategies focused on state and local taxes. The recently passed Secure Act includes an attack on inherited IRA’s that reduces the long-term income tax deferral employees have expected by eliminating any required minimum distribution rules for an inherited IRA except for one, the entire inherited IRA must be distributed within ten years. In another blow, the TCJA limits the deduction for state and local taxes to $10,000 for taxpayers who itemize deductions on their federal income tax returns.
The most valuable planning is in establishing estate planning trusts in states that do not levy any state income tax or exempt nonresident trusts from state taxes. The trend now is on identifying all the many income-producing assets and income streams that can be transferred to such trusts in a way that still allows the current owner to benefit from the income but pay less income tax. This kind of income tax planning may be more beneficial to wealthier taxpayers than contributing to deferred compensation and retirement plans that will eventually be distributed as ordinary income subject to both state and federal taxation.
Q. If you could meet anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
A. Every once in a while, our friends’ group will discuss who we’d invite to a cocktail party if we had to choose just ten people, dead or alive, with two stipulations, the attendees must be mortal and must ensure a lively conversation. So, my last list included: W.E.B. Du Bois, William F. Buckley, Jr., Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison, Tom Hanks, Bob Hope, Karl Jung, Frida Kahlo, Thurgood Marshall and Carl Sagan.