Retirement Planning Awards 2024

Mar24460 Financial Planning Firm of the Year 2024 - Illinois Proudly serving the financial planning needs of clients right across the US, Crystal Lake Tax & Financial is comprised of an array of wealth management experts and has been operating with a similar distinction in this space for more than 15 years now. A plan-focused firm through and through, this team leverage their published proprietary financial planning process, aptly named The Retirement Success Blueprint: How to Build the Retirement You Deserve, to address and manage effectively the six primary areas of a robust financial plan, these being income, risk, taxes, healthcare, legacy, and lifestyle. We catch up with Manging Partner and Financial Planner Michael Stewart for more. Famed for the conservative strategies it affords to clients that are in or nearing retirement, onestop-shop solution Crystal Lake Tax & Financial leverages a proven method that revolves around minimising the market risk of a client through the use of income-generated investments that will both minimise drawdowns and generate a steady return in the medium and long term. The reasons for this are simple, with the firm guided by Michael’s belief that if one can avoid a large loss, they will not have to take much risk to nurture success over a longer period of time. With more than two decades in the industry, Michael has carved out a stellar reputation for himself based on his considerable experience and proven track record. Beyond reflecting Michael’s guiding ethos, Crystal Lake Tax & Financial is distinguished through the fact that it exceeds financial planning and investment management services, with the firm also in possession of a CPA (certified public accountant), a full tax team, and an expert in-house legal team, with these assisting clients in areas such as tax preparation, proactive tax planning, and estate planning. Thus, while many businesses operating in this field are all about selling products, Crystal Lake Tax & Financial exists to address all of its clients’ financial matters, a distinction perhaps best seen in the second of its two published books, Purpose Based Investing: 9 Steps to Rescue Your Retirement from Wall Street. Commenting further on the essence of his company’s service approach, Michael tells us, “many clients over their 30-40 year working lives accumulate what we call a ‘junk drawer’ of investments - stocks, bonds, annuities, 401ks, IRAs, life insurance, etc… - but have no idea how they all work together and how they can provide lifetime income for them when the pay checks stop.” Leveraging its aforementioned Retirement Success Blueprint to realise this, the business can help its clients to understand where their retirement funds come from, and then craft a real plan that could ensure a prosperous retirement that spans more than 30 years. For Michael, “it’s easy to be a financial advisor in a bull market. Where we earn our value is when market and economic challenges present themselves, ensuring our clients don’t make the wrong decisions that could cause them financial harm.” Thus, the business considers itself to be about 50% financial planner and 50% behaviour counsellor, and it is able to achieve this through a meticulous process that involves staying ahead of industry trends, particularly relating to matters concerning finance and the wider economy. The firm’s views on this matter are clear, with Michael citing the timeless saying, “if you’re not growing, you’re dying” as evidence. This primarily refers to the increasing industry shift towards digitisation, and as Michael states, “I believe that this applies to staying on top of technological innovations like digitisation, artificial intelligence and upgrading technology platforms. Our clients deserve and expect the best breed of technology to make their experience efficient and simple”, with Michael and co. determined to provide this at every turn. Of course, technology is only one piece of the puzzle, and another vital element is the company’s staff. In pursuit of further expansion, Crystal Lake Tax & Financial seeks to double its staff every three years, while simultaneously developing its offerings related to service, investment, and marketing. Boasting clients in almost 30 states across the US, as well as clients in five countries abroad, Crystal Lake Tax & Financial strives to provide its clients unrestricted access to some of the best and brightest professionals in the fields of investment, financial, tax, and estate planning, and this award is a testament to the fact that it does just that. Contact Details Contact: Michael Stewart, MBA, RFC Company: Crystal Lake Tax & Financial Web Address: