Mission Wealth's Spotlight on the Team for July 2020 is Partner and Client Advisor, Tricia Fahnoe! Tricia has been with the Mission Wealth team since 2011, and has over 30 years of experience in the financial industry. In 2019 Tricia was recognized by the Pacific Coast Business Times as an outstanding female business leader. She serves on the board for the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, as well as for Santa Barbara Middle School. Learn more about Tricia in this interview!
What are a few childhood experiences you had that formed who you are today?
I’ve always had a very supportive family that focused heavily on the balance between education, sports, and community. I was involved in soccer, track, lacrosse, volleyball, and organizations like 4-H (the nation’s largest youth development organization). From a young age, I remember my mother encouraging me to give back to the community by participating with me in the National Charity League (a non-profit organization designed to encourage community service opportunities for mothers and their daughters), which is a very special memory.
I felt incredibly fortunate to have had a close relationship with my grandmother. In the summers I’d visit her at her house on the East Coast and it would just be the two of us for 8 weeks! I’d go to sports camp during the day, but most of the evenings were spent learning to cook and playing cards. I knew it was unusual to be away from my parents for most of the summer, but it felt special to be able to have such a close relationship with my grandmother.
How do you like to spend time outside of Mission Wealth?
We do a lot of outdoor activities as a family, heading to the beach, hikes, and golfing. My husband and I share a passion for travel, and we’ve had some amazing opportunities to visit places like Africa, Thailand, Costa Rica and French Polynesia, to name a few!
When we travel we love to be adventurous and do things like sailing, horseback riding, and bicycle tours, while still seeing the popular sites. In Kenya we hiked with the Maasai; explored the Kenyan wilderness on horseback, and visited the Maasai culture. This year, as we are unable to do international travel, we’ll be taking our boys to some of the national parks, including Zion, Bryce Canyon and Yellowstone.
What’s something interesting that people don’t know about you?
I went to a very unusual high school! It was a boarding school that operated with the philosophy that it’s important to distinguish between your needs and your wants. It had the usual academics, but there were no maintenance people, so the responsibility of the school’s upkeep fell onto the students. I washed dishes, cleaned bathrooms, fed horses, and cleaned classrooms. Of course, we all had to clean our own rooms daily and every month or so there’d be a “white glove” cleaning test. One of the most memorable aspects of the school was not having running hot water. Each day a student would use an ax to chop wood and then stoke a fire for 3-4 hours in order to provide a group of 20 students with hot water. There was also no heating in the school or wood cabins that we lived in, so we’d chop our own wood for our small fireplaces. Make no mistake, each morning in the winter it would be below freezing again.
If you could offer any advice to your younger self, what would it be?
To not take everything so seriously!
At Mission Wealth we talk to people all the time about what their goals and aspirations are. So what’s on your bucket list?
I want to continue to create a supportive environment for my boys so that they are able to thrive but also experience hiccups along the way. Through this they can learn from their challenges, and confidently launch themselves into whatever they are passionate about!
Once the kids have moved out of the house and are independent, my husband and I have always dreamed of living abroad (Paris, Scotland, and Bali are on our list!). We would love to rent a place for a few months to a year, and have the opportunity to delve into the local community, uniquely experiencing the culture to its fullest. Rather than just shooting all over the place like we are often forced to as tourists, we’d love to be able to take our time to settle in to a new culture, whether that’s a new city or an entire new country. We are considering that this could be a wonderful way to start our retirement!
What do you think makes you well-suited for your current role?
I think it’s a combination of traits! I love to learn and I’m always researching and keeping up-to-date with all of the changes relating to planning, tax, investments and anything new in the financial news. This is a vital part of being an advisor since I need to be aware of any changes in our industry (no matter how subtle they may seem) in order to give the best advice to my clients. On the other hand, I also enjoy teaching! Many of the conversations I have with clients are explaining processes and giving them information in a way that’s understandable and easy to digest.
I also really enjoy the relationships that I have with clients and the people that I work with. I feel fortunate to have been a part of their lives for decades in some cases! I see the positive things that have happened to my clients’ families like college graduations, weddings, family trips, and having grandkids. Being there for people during the great times and then being able to advise and advocate for them when things are rough is very meaningful to me
Is there something about your personality that guides your approach?
I would say that I’m quite level-headed (possibly more than I’d prefer sometimes!), but I’m also a thinker so I will frequently mull over questions and conversations until I come up with something that I think is the right approach for the clients situation. It’s not a quick response, but once vetted, I feel confident that I’ve made the best recommendation.
What are your favorite kinds of clients to work with and why?
They are all my favorite clients for different reasons! I really enjoy working with couples, especially when they’re both involved — they don’t have to be experts, but I appreciate that the relationship has a dialogue of inclusion. I also enjoy working with individual clients; I feel honored to be a part of their trusted circle.
What kinds of issues do you help your clients with and what kinds of unique services do you provide your clients with to help them with these issues?
A significant challenge that many people experience is not knowing how to teach their children about finances. I frequently support clients by working with their family members, which is very rewarding. I’ve been a resource for many younger people as they learn how to manage themselves financially, such as buying their first house or investing for the first time. It is wonderful to be a multi-generational resource for families.
Can you tell us a story about a client you helped and how you changed their life in a positive way?
I was introduced to a new couple who had been terrific savers, but had never spent a lot of time strategically setting up their financial affairs. Now focusing on their upcoming retirement, I knew it was an opportunity to help them identify their short- and long-term goals and support them to make sure the steps were taken to put their plans in place. It was a team effort with their CPA and a new estate attorney also involved.
After clarifying their goals, we confirmed that there were enough assets to support their desired lifestyle, including a house project (that they finally had time to manage), annual family trips, continued charitable giving, a few more cars, and a “fun activities/adventures” allotment. Now it was time to make sure that all the assets were structured to support these goals.
First, we coordinated with the CPA to setup a plan to reduce the low basis, concentrated stock that they owned. This resulted in an annual liquidation amount as well as funding a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) to reduce the tax impact of selling the low basis stock. We purposefully funded more into the DAF during these liquidation years so that they had “pre-funded” their charitable giving for future years. Fortunately, a DAF gives them the flexibility to grant to organizations in the years they choose, not the year of the contributions.
Next, we restructured their investments to provide the income and growth needed for their monthly cash flow and long-term stability. We focused on maximizing the return for the amount of risk they were comfortable assuming. This meant, in their situation, reducing the risk now that they were going to be taking distributions consistently from the portfolios.
After reading the estate documents, I shared with them that the surviving spouse did not retain control of the assets and that the Trust was written requiring an independent trustee to take control. This was a complete surprise and they did not want this requirement for the surviving spouse. I introduced them to a new estate attorney and he updated all of their estate documents to reflect their current desires and enable the surviving spouse to maintain control of the assets. Also, the initial Trust had been setup to give a specific percentage of their estate to one charity. Fortunately, the estate had grown substantially, so the amount to the charity was no longer appropriate. We adjusted their charitable giving to come from their IRA accounts versus the Trust to maximize the impact of their giving. They also decided to add another organization versus just one.
They wanted to support their children while they were beginning their own careers and families. We agreed that an annual gifting plan could accomplish this desire. It also gave them an opportunity to talk about finances with their children that lead to meaningful discussions.
While the above does not include all of the items we worked on, it does highlight the areas they valued most.
Can you give us one piece of financial advice that you would offer clients?
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” - Benjamin Franklin
What is a subject or area of finance that not many people know a lot about, but understanding it could really help their financial picture?
Prioritizing cash flow. As humans we tend to get into patterns and we continue doing the same things over and over again, like spending the same amounts of money at the same places. We too often forget to take a step back periodically, to ensure that these purchases are adding value to your life, and that they are not just a result of habit. I like to ask the question “is there something else out there that will bring more joy to my life if I redirect where this is going?” This question reminds me that when you spend money you aren’t just gaining an item; you’re choosing one item in place of another possible alternative. Our expenditures should be constantly reevaluated to ensure that it’s in alignment with where we want to be tomorrow.
What are some important things to consider when choosing a financial planner?
Make sure that the advisor has experience in the areas that you’re looking for, and verify that they have the education and licensure, illustrating their commitment to the field. Most importantly, make sure that you select someone that you get along with and that can speak to you frankly.