Fred Hackney, CEO of Hackney and Associates has worked in the financial services business for over 30 years and has been a member of the Portuguese Club in Palm Coast Florida for the past 6 years. The LusoAmericano Newspaper correspondent in Palm Coast, Maria Elizabeth Frazão Pereira, recently interviewed Mr. Hackney to find out more about his company and how he became so involved with the Portuguese Community.
Q. When and how did you become involved with the Portuguese Community in Palm Coast?
A. I have worked in Palm Coast since the mid 1994 but did not realize there was such a large Portuguese community here. In 2010 Fernando and Yvonne Carneiro owners of Palm Coast Signs became clients and invited me to an event at the club. I ended up becoming a member and since that point have become very involved as a corporate sponsor of many of the club activities and charitable events including the North vs. South Golf Tournament which provides scholarships to students of Portuguese ancestry. What started out as a social membership has evolved into much more.
Q. I noticed that Hackney and Associates is a "Wealth Preservation and Legacy Planning Firm", what does that mean and how do you help your clients?
A. Our firm's goal is to help our clients protect their estates from the many risks that can affect their financial security: Tax, Legal, Market, Beneficiary and Health Care. I began my career as a stock broker but in the late 90's no longer felt comfortable placing my client’s money in Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds and Variable Annuities due to the risk of loss that could occur. That's when I decided to venture out on my own and specialize working with clients who were approaching or already in retirement. Since that time not one client of mine has lost any of their money due to market risk. Over the years I developed relationships with CPA's, and Law firms that help my clients with legal and tax planning strategies for their estates.
Q. Why is it important for your clients to be concerned about tax and market risks in their estates and what assets are most vulnerable?
A. For instance many of my Portuguese clients retired from or are still employed by unions in the Northeast: Road and Bridge, Longshoremen, the Auto Industry to name a few. They have accumulated significant "Pre-Tax" assets in their 401K plans during their working years. Many of the plans are invested in assets that are at “Risk of Loss" via Mutual Funds or Variable Annuities. These plans are also vulnerable to severe tax risk when the client dies and the assets pass to a non spousal beneficiary. The assets can suffer a “Tax Loss" of up to 40% if not planned properly and unfortunately this occurs frequently. We transfer the assets to programs that grow the money without risk of loss and then design wealth transfer strategies to minimize the tax impact at death.
Q. Do you work only with clients that are in Florida or can your firm help those in other states?
A. We can work with anyone regardless of where they live, every month I get referrals from my Portuguese clients to their friends in the northeast that are at or near retirement.
Q. What if someone has already retired and rolled their funds to an IRA, what can you do for them?
A. When meeting with a new client, I do a "Risk Profile" to determine their long and short term goals. We show them how to remove the risk from their assets and often transfer their existing IRA's to eliminate the market risk in the asset.
Q. It sounds like you don't like the idea of investing in the Stock Market or in assets that are market related, why?
A. It's not that I am against investing in the stock market; I am against the "Risks" associated with investing in the stock market. I am no longer licensed to advise people concerning their investment choices. My goal is to place my client’s assets, that they can't afford or don't want to lose, in a place where they won’t lose! No one knows what the market is going to do from one day to the next; therefore you can't plan a client’s financial future based upon uncertainty. My ultimate goal is to protect my client's assets while they are living and to help them design plans to transfer their estates with the least amount of tax and confusion when they pass.
Q. I visited a Portuguese business in Palm Coast recently and noticed they were displaying your company brochures there, how did that happen?
A. After joining the club I met many members who were still working and owned businesses in Palm Coast. Over the years I decided that if my existing clients needed other services why not refer them to those owned by the Portuguese. I am so blessed that almost every Portuguese owned business in the Palm Coast area now displays my company brochures and promotes my business as well.