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Podcast #11: Financial Planning and Real Estate

podcast 11 financial planning and real estate

For this podcast about financial planning I sat down with Scott Trent of Skylight Financial.  During the podcast we discussed financial planning in general, qualifications to be a financial planner and how a financial planner can benefit homeowners and real estate investors.  This podcast is helpful for those who may not be certain what a financial planner does and can learn how they can benefit from working with one.

I hope you enjoy the podcast and find it informative.  Please consider sharing with those who also may benefit.

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About the author: The above article “Podcast #11:  Financial Planning and Real Estate” was provided by Luxury Real Estate Specialist Paul Sian. Paul can be reached at or by phone at 513-560-8002. If you’re thinking of selling or buying your investment or commercial business property I would love to share my marketing knowledge and expertise to help you.  Contact me today!

I work in the following Greater Cincinnati, OH and Northern KY areas: Alexandria, Amberly, Amelia, Anderson Township, Cincinnati, Batavia, Blue Ash, Covington, Edgewood, Florence, Fort Mitchell, Fort Thomas, Hebron, Hyde Park, Indian Hill, Kenwood, Madeira, Mariemont, Milford, Montgomery, Mt. Washington, Newport, Newtown, Norwood, Taylor Mill, Terrace Park, Union Township, and Villa Hills.


Paul Sian:              Hello everybody. This is Paul Sian Realtor with United Real Estate Connections licensed in the state of Ohio and Kentucky. Today I have with me Scott Trent Financial Planner with Skylight Financial. We're going to talk about financial planning and add a little bit of real estate information on that. Scott, how are you doing today? 

Scott Trent:         Do an excellent, how are you Paul? 

Paul Sian:              Good. Glad to have you on. So let’s get started, tell us a little bit about your background. What do you do and how long have you been doing it? 

Scott Trent:         Sure. Well, it started in 1999. That's just wrapping up college and started working for a local retail bank back in the day that was bank one, which of course became chase bank. And uh, for about three or four years with the banking industry, had a couple of different roles started off essentially kind of right on the teller line, cashing checks and making deposits. And then within about a year I was tapped for personal banker role and was able to acquire my insurance and investment license and to be able to expand the services I provided my client. And you fast forward to working primarily in that space and the investments in the insurance space. A couple of different companies such as nationwide in western southern and was right about 2007 then I had an opportunity to expand my role into leadership and management and so from about 2007 to 2017 I've trained and developed and recruited and was in a leadership position in the financial services industry. And right about 2017 I just decided to lean back towards my personal practice and spend more time with my clients, which really is my first love is just spending the time with those clients, helping them achieve their goals and seeing their eyes light up when you give them hope that they can actually accomplish the things that they set out to accomplish when they first signed on with that first job right out of college.

Paul Sian:              Very nice. You did mention something about licenses and they in your statement there, so like I guess we can go on with that. What kind of licenses are you required to have and what kind of licenses are helpful to have in your line work?

Scott Trent:         That's an excellent question. So at a minimum you want to work with a financial planner that has an insurance license and at least one securities license. And the reason for that is because any financial plan is going to ideally holistically look at the different moving pieces of someone's life. We're going to look at cash flow and protection, risk management, wealth accumulation, tax reduction, retirement and ultimately a state of planning. And it's with those different areas, there's going to be some, some expertise needed as it relates to saving money, investing money as well as protecting your income and your assets. And so again, at a minimum bar you're going to work with someone who has an insurance and investment license. On top of that, there are other designations of the industry provides such a CFP or cou chfc is going to emit apple bet soup out there of different designations that you can achieve. But I tend to tell people you want to work with someone. Again, that is looking at from a big picture, looking at both the protection and the wealth accumulation side. And I would say just as important as licenses or designation. Do you want to work with someone that has a rather quit experience? 

Paul Sian:          Okay, great. What kind of licenses do you have?

Scott Trent:         So I have an insurance license in Ohio where where I reside and also uh, about a dozen other states that I conduct business said on a regular basis as well as uh, a series six license, the series 26 license, a series 63 license. And I'm also approved for financial planning through my broker dealer.

Paul Sian:              Okay. So it looks, sounds like some of the licenses to our state restricted just like real estate or are all of them state restricted or though some of their general that you have licensed you can work anywhere? 

Scott Trent:         That's a great question. So typically what happens is any insurance side of the house, once you are licensed in the state that you reside, you can fairly easily become what they call non-resident license in other states that you wish to do business and which is essentially filling out a background report, paying a fee and they kind of stamp stamp off and approve it. And so then in that way you're able to conduct the insurance transactions in those states that you have clients that are, you know, for example, I have clients in the west coast and east coast ever where in between and I, I need to be licensed in the state that they reside as well as my own. On the security side or the investment side, you have one set of licenses that determines what type of business that you can conduct for your clients. And then the series 63 that you might've heard me mentioned that says that I can service the clients that reside outside of Ohio or I do, but you also need to be registered and approved and those surrounding states as well. So there's a bit of administration that needs to take place, but at the end of the day, as long as you have filled out the proper forms and you're mindful of your continuing education, just like you are as a real estate professional, you should have no problem servicing clients anywhere in the country. 

Paul Sian:              Okay. And we did a, you did kind of talk about, you know, one financial planner does coming, explained it in the light detail and through your intro, can you boil it down to us, boil it down to somebody who's never met a financial planning before. We never talked to a potential central planner. What, you know, what exactly you do and how can you help somebody?

Scott Trent:          That's a great question. So you're, from a bullet point standpoint, I would say it's really about the why, how, and why and the what speaks to goal clarity. What I find working with our clients, Paul, is that mom and dad or partner's, they're getting up every day. They're going to work and they're doing their job. Then they're coming home and will oftentimes doing mom things and bad things and catching their breath and then we get the little ones off the bed and next thing you know, we're waking back up doing it all over again. And you know, kind of big picture. Intuitively we're working to provide for our family and we're working to have a great lifestyle. But you'd be surprised that most often people aren't actually having a good conversation about what they're really trying to accomplish and setting benchmarks for things like we want to have x amount of debt paid off in three years, or we want to save up for a great family vacation.

                                    We've always wanted to go overseas. But yeah, we ended up just going to Florida every year because we don't take the time to plan it through. And next thing you know it's summertime. And so it's about that clarity that the conversation that needs to happen between the partners in a hole, the spouses often let's say, hey, where are we really getting up and working for a day to day basis? And so goal clarity, what do we want life to look like? If we wake up 20 years from now looking at a rear view mirror, what things would we have wanted to accomplish, make, make it feel like we've made some progress. So that's a lot of it. The houses, the strategy or the roadmap. So once we identify what a client wants and help provide, help them have that conversation of clarity among all interested parties, then it's how do we get there? And that's where our expertise comes in and that's looks like cash flow design that looks like different vehicles or products sometimes. Sometimes it's as it's a matter of saving, saving the right amount and the right kinds of buckets. And so again, that's that more technical roadmap piece of it and it ultimately the why of it is this, the accountability, it's, it's part of my job is to keep the, why are we doing this in front of them? It's what, what do we want to feel, what do we want to experience? And so if we, we've looking to the future and we can see our future selves waking up with the confidence of knowing that, that all of our financial lives are in order, that all the moving pieces are fitting together like a, like a perfect puzzle. There's total efficiency there. It's, it's making sure that we keep that in front of our coins to say, Hey, this is why we're saving this much. On a monthly basis. This is why we have that insurance in place. This is why we are investing in these types of instruments and vehicles. It's all about, it's about the experience that we want to create for ourselves and for the people that we love the most. So I guess that's a little bit more than bullet points fall, but in a bullet point, it's the why, how, and why. Otherwise it's the goal, clarity of strategy and accountability that we provide. 

Paul Sian:          Actually that's, yeah, that's very well said. So it's not just long term planning, it's not just you know about retirement. It's also about your short term. If you want to go, like you mentioned the vacation plan or even then you know, my case, I deal with a lot of real estate investors. So somebody who wants to set up a plan for investing in real estate, you can help out with that too. Correct?

Scott Trent:         Oh absolutely. And so, you know, the time frame, it has a lot to do with what their client has going on in their life and this season that we meet them in. So, you know, for example, and we hear a lot about, I've really liked to get in to real estate investing. And then we say, well, when do you see yourself doing that? And sometimes they'll say, well, you know, in the next two to five years. And sometimes they say, well, like right now I can't. And so we'll take a step back again, kind of coordinate all the moving pieces of their financial world and letting math and math have a seat at the table and not just intuition and not just kind of what we want and, and you know, let things that, you know, sometimes we see something on the internet or hear a friend talk, we're like, Ooh, I want that. And so then we just go do it. And so again, that's a big part of it. But also its let's, let's have the emotions have a seat, but also led logic and math and rationale habits. Have a seat, the tables.

Paul Sian:              Well, yeah. And you mentioned long term plan, also short term plans, looking at things. So, I mean just uh, and we can go a little situations or specific, basically you have to look at everybody's individual situations and how they're, you know, what they're doing and what their goals are. Let's say we have somebody who's a, you know, there were w two income earner, they make x amount of money per week, per month, what have you, and so they're interested in, in a real estate investing. What kind of general advice would you give to that person and you know, maybe they don't have a full down payment saved up yet and they need 20-25% for whatever they're trying to buy. What kind of suggestions would you have for them.

Scott Trent:         Paul What I would say with someone who's looking to take their first step into the financial independence or looking at that opportunity to, to start a real estate investment portfolio, it is always looking at it through the filter of what we call our four pillars of financial security or the value system, that value system that we use when it relates to financial planning. And those things are going to be making sure that you're protected against major financial risks, that you are becoming a world class saver, saving upwards of 15 to 20% of your income on a monthly basis, making sure that you have a life events fund. We have says that I have upwards of a year's worth of my income in places that I can access outside of my qualified plans such as his Iras so that I'm able to deal with not just rainy days in emergencies, but I'm also able to take advantage of great opportunities like I ain't a great property for a great price and also taking a look at the debt that I have on my balance sheet that already exist and so we would do with a client is to say, Hey, let's take a, let's take a holistic look or three 60 look about how a purchase of a real estate property, what impact these other creek cake, key critical areas of financial planning and your overall wealth strategy.

Paul Sian:              Okay, great answer. You had mentioned a debt in there. Let's go talk about that a little bit of an most people are buying real estate using that, you know, your mortgages, commercial mortgages, residential mortgages. What are your thoughts on debt? I mean a good, bad avoiding to some that's good, bad. What do you think? 

Scott Trent:         That's a great question too. I think that it is difficult especially you're right up in the Midwest to ever say Ted is good. However, when it comes to that, when I, when I'm, what's an easier answer to give is the what, what is the fat kind of debt and so bad debt is higher interest rate, unfavorable terms, excessive fees, consumer base that such as credit cards or retail store cards, things that we, that that we acquire just for lifestyle. Because a lot of times what that represents on someone's balance sheet is that they have let their once supersede their actual needs.

                                    And so what lending institutions are happy to do is to say, hey, if you want an extra money to be able to keep up with the Jones' is it will give us a call or come see us on credit and so I always caution against that kind of debt because it speaks usually to a bigger problem on the other side of things. Acquiring that for the purpose of acquiring assets like real estate, like vehicles, that can be very wise decision because it helps you leverage your own cash flow and leverage your own opportunity to earn income and your own savings and oftentimes, particularly as it relates to real estate for home purchases for example, there are, there's some tax favor ability to be found with those kinds of debt. And so what I've, what I've loved the, the good debt, Paul, the best debt is low interest rate, tax deductible kind of debt.

                                    That's good debt. But again, this kind of summarize, I would say the bad debt is usually represented by death that we were required to just improve our lifestyle, close trinkets in the house, furniture, things like that. That's usually about ego, about lifestyle as well as just as much to do with our neighbors and our neighborhoods. What does ourselves or the people that we care about the most. 

Paul Sian:          You had mentioned the taxes in there too. I do. I guess Texas do come into play as a financial planner when working with your clients.

Scott Trent:         Yeah, absolutely. And so one of the things that we've helped the client with recently is to help weed through the confusion of the current tax situation because of the tax cuts that will were implemented in 2018 and so as an example, all you brought up about, it's not just long term planning, it's not just retirement plane that we help our clients with.

                                    It's also short term goals. And so taxes is a great example of that because what we do know that unless there's some overall legislation that gets passed, what we can expect is that in December 31st, 2025 the current tax cuts are going to that. So another way to think of that is come January 1st, 2026 everyone's taxes are going to go up if they're earning the same income of the art today. And with that creates opportunity. It's one of the things I'm working with a family right now on is this idea of exploring, does it make sense to take advantage of after tax investing rather than what most people focus on kind of cause they told to just what they see their neighbors and their friends and family doing, which is maximizing their pretax dollars is what could happen without getting too far into the weeds fall is because of the current tax environment.

                                    We might be deferring taxes at 20 or 24% all the way to wake up and later in life and find that we're now paying taxes on those same dollars at a higher rate, 30% 32% 36% and higher. So we just have to be careful about that. And so taxation is a area of emphasis that is necessary working with any financial planner. And I would just caution folks that if their financial planner is not having a meaningful conversation about long term impact of taxation, then they might want to seek out a higher authority on the matter or maybe it might be time to start interviewing other financial planners. I think the asterisk that I would add there fall is that that's also why we partner with local professional CPAs so that they can have the kind of final say so in these matters as it relates to wealth building in financial planning in the in the area and Ronald Taxation, we are very familiar with that have very powerful tools that speak to taxes.

                                    However, what we are not as certified public accountants and so as you can imagine, we want to make sure that we always work with someone who, who is that when it comes to crossing those ts and dotting those I's. Also, I think with the financial planner, bigger picture is working with a successful financial planner also should give you access, favorable preferable access to the financial professionals that they network with. Such as personal make herself a professional real estate agent as well as an attorney as well as a property casualty specialist to CPA, a benefits consultant if it's a business owner on and on. And so it's really working with the right team, but ultimately working with someone who is going to be that can symphony conductor or that quarterback of their team, who's going to take the responsibility to make sure that all the orders are running in the right direction.

Paul Sian:              Great answer. Actually that wasn't, that answers my, uh, it wasn't going to answer my next question, which is a financial planner is not a solo person. They work with, uh, with a team as you mentioned, you know, working with the accountants, the attorneys, CPAS, what have you. So that's a great answer. We had discussed earlier you had discussed about building up an emergency savings fund. Then you mentioned a year, which is great. And that's the idea was the year, you know, we've heard online from anywhere from three months up to six months. I mean, what's, how do you suggest people go about building that savings funds? I mean, especially for somebody who thinks they're living paycheck to paycheck, I mean, where do they find that, that room, that gap to start, start that savings fund? 

Scott Trent:         SoI guess it would clarify first the difference in an emergency savings fund in a life event. It's fun. So for an emergency savings fund that's best suited typically at the local bank, and that's going to be in the form of a savings account on or maybe even a and no fee checking account. And that's going to be where you want to have about three months, maybe six at the most. A lot of it has to do with the comfort level, the individual client. But typically three months is more than fine to have on hand at the local bank. That's money that I'm an ATM card or a debit card swipe away or uh, a dash over to the local branch away from getting access to my funds. Outside of that, the next six to nine months that we talked about from a life events that doesn't necessarily have to be in cash at the bank, but it just needs to be somewhere outside of a qualified plan.

                                    Because as you probably know, and your listeners know, Paul, money that's inside of a qualified plan is largely inaccessible until I'm 59 and a half. And last I want to jump through hoops, pay interest rates to access my money or God forbid pay taxes as well as IRS penalties. And so when we talk about life events, fun big picture, we're talking about braces for the kids. We're talking about a $2,000 car repair emergency that jumps out the bushes on us. We're talking about, um, the vacations that we want to go on. So it's the experiences that we want to have in life for the people that we care about most, but it's also the things that life is inevitably going to do, which is getting, throw those curve balls. Dot Us good and bad. So as far as how do we get there, take baby steps, it's just sometimes it's as simple as going to your HR coordinator, your payroll director and saying, Hey, can I split my direct deposit between two counts right now?

                                    This is kind of hitting the checking account. And then from there it's, it's um, you know, all bets are off and it's a feeding frenzy. And ultimately, uh, fortunately for the bills and the lifestyle expenses and gas money and everything else, uh, the best way to say fall, no matter how you do it or what vehicles you use is systematically and consistently. So it's those things that you don't have to pull ever go online, go to the local branch and things that just happened. That's why good and bad, most of Americans well is in their qualified plans are the 401k because it comes out before it ever hits our bank account. It's out of sight, out of mind. It just piles up. You know, the, the, the tough part about that is, again, that's a qualified account. So there's some heavy restrictions that keep us from being able to access our funds when we might need them most.

                                    So just like the 401k if for example, I talked to a college student this afternoon and it was as simple as go to the HR director happens, split your direct deposit into two separate accounts and just start taking out $25 a pay check and having that diverted to a secondary account just so that it starts to pile up and the idea that the money's there but really need it, but it's just that extra layer that helps reinforce the discipline to say, okay, I'm not supposed to touch that. That's for future purposes. That's for rainy days, real emergencies and not frivolous spending. And so start with baby steps. And next thing I would look at is working with an advisor who has tools to help you analyze your spending. Your cash flows ideally will help bring awareness to where those dollars are going. What I find fall is that what most of our clients, there might be 10 to 15% of their monthly income.

                                    That just seems to just disappear. It's not accounted for it. And so using the tools such as, uh, we use a tool, Claudine money for example, and we're personal financial view that will really electronically analyze someone's spending habits so they can say, oh, I wonder how much money we're spending out spending on a monthly basis eating out. Well, click, click, click. This is exactly how much that is. And we can set short term goals on what we think that should be and we can keep, we can track our progress through these financial tools. The other thing that we look at in a financial planning process is we want to analyze the cost of the services that you're currently receiving. So for example, when we work with our lending and credit specialist or real estate professionals or CPAS or attorneys or property and casualty specialist, we're making sure that our clients are getting value, not always looking for cheap.

                             In fact, the chief is not a word that I tend to use or any of the professionals and network with. We're making sure that we're getting the best value since we have a finite amount of dollars coming in. We want to make sure that those are being used, maximized and leveraged the most appropriate way. So it is taking the baby to start somewhere. It is working with an advisor to find the awareness of where the money's actually going as well as taking a look at the cost of service for the services that we're currently enjoying as well as I. Lastly, I would say looking for ways to minimize the impact of interest rates wherever possible, whether that be through right refinancing or creating a debt payoff strategy so that we are avoiding those excessive interest rates in feet.

Paul Sian:              Yeah, it takes a, an overall, you like you're, you're saying you have to look at the budget, get to look at the incoming money, outgoing money as well, and kind of build that plan. So I mean that's, that seems you to be your specialty. Very much. So. Moving on, let's go back to the topic of real estate. And I go over one of the controversial statements made by Gary Vee, Gary Vaynerchuk. I mean he had, he had say stated, uh, rather than buying a house, it's better to go, you know, go rent and I don't know that upset a lot of real estate agents too. I mean that's kind of our bread and butter. We're, we're buying and selling real estate. I'm of the opinion though. I mean I, I help a lot of buyers and sellers with the investment real estate too. So it's not that, you know, I have to own a house personally, but I can own an investment property and I'm helping somebody else, you know, live in a place. What are your thoughts on the ownership of a house or renting, renting the place to live.

Scott Trent:         Interesting and not, I read an article last week that talked about the difference in buying and renting or leasing in different pockets of the country. And as I said, it'd be four people. I work with clients all across the country and in some markets it's really hard to justify a home purchase as it, as it compares to renting a home. You know, for example, a lot of clients on the west coast where housing market is very tight and there's certainly a premium for home homes costs there in that part of the country. And so what we find is that the monthly cost of leasing a home can oftentimes when you consider the fact that with home ownership, I also am now responsible for property taxes, homeowner's insurance, as well as the upkeep of the property that that can sometimes more than double the living expenses as it relates to housing. Whereas compared to here in the Midwest where sometimes it can actually be much more cost effective to own a home rather than rent a home from a monthly cash flow outlay. Even when you add in insurance and taxes and the kind of monthly maintenance, if nothing else, it's oftentimes a break even when you consider all factors. So I think that would go back to as you say, Paul, you know, or Scott does it. Does it make sense to own or rent when you think about Gary V's advice way I would look at that is again, just like any other decision that our clients would come to us and ask our feedback on. We would take a, at the basics we'd say, okay, before pillars of financial planning or financial security or these value system that we use to build our clients' financial plans on the perfect protection, the become a world class save or having the life events fund to be debt free or have a, have a plan to get us there.

                                    If a, if home ownership or home purchase would get in the way of us living out those values or achieving those financial objectives then and renting would, then we're going to say it. We should think about writing for another year or two. However, if, if our clients can own a home and be protected well and be a great saver and be building their life events fun and have a handle on the that that's already existing on their financial balance sheet, then by all means we've been encouraged folks to take, take ownership of a home so that they have acquired an asset. They're building a liquidity in the form of equity and they're also able to take advantage of the things we talked about earlier, which is having the tax deductibility from interest payments on the mortgage and so on and so forth. And so the other astronauts that I would have there is the sense that if someone comes to us and says, yeah, you know, my job, we're an up and coming or a rising star and you know, are two of the five year goals are too.

                                    And we want to, we want to be really nimble because we're very likely to be transferred across the country, maybe Chicago or San Diego here in the next two to five years. Again, why would attend to encourage those folks is and can be consistent with say, nimble homeownership home purchase, maybe a terrible idea. This is because it's, it's easy to, it's much easier to give a landlord a 60 day notice that you're moving out than it is to be able to sell a home in 30 to 60 days regardless of the market. Also the fact of course you gotta be careful that we're not holding an asset that we're going to look to sell or relinquish in the next 12 to 24 months or even three to five years. Knowing that it's not often, but every so often the housing market can regress such as 2007 and eight and we have to be careful that we didn't make a 30 year decision based on 24 to 48 months factors, if that makes sense.

Paul Sian:              Yeah, definitely makes sense. And it's a a great point. I mean just like real estate, you know, when you brought up earlier the cost differences, you know, living in California versus living in Cincinnati, Ohio, it's location, location, location is agency. So, I mean when you get over here for you know, $250,000 you know, in California you can easily do the, be able to get 1.2 million depending on the location you're at. So same, same thing for the individual person. I mean it's the, it's the individual that matters. What's your life goal? What's their life plans? And you know, somebody who's going to be here in Cincinnati for two years, it doesn't make sense. It might not make sense. The, you know, there are high transaction costs, you know, where they're from, your, your real estate closings, closing costs, your, your mortgage closing costs. So I mean that that kind of adds in and you might not get that pay off in two years. Especially if value state stay flat or decrease.

Scott Trent:         That's an excellent point perspective. If I could leave your listeners with one nugget of wisdom for what it's worth, I would say the sooner that you can let go, other people have expectations of you and let go of what other people might think of you and the perception others have of you, the better off you'll be. We find so often that the pressure to keep up with the Joneses that use that expression again or to to everybody else is doing it just kind of like kids in grade school. That same peer pressure exists with hardworking families, grownups, parents here in adulthood and the idea that we've got a finite amount of time and a finite amount of resources and at the end of the day being able to look in the mirror and have satisfaction about the progress you're making it for yourself with people that you love, making sure that you have a plan that works and offer seen circumstances, good days, bad days, sunshine or rain.

                                    Knowing that you've prepared a path for yourself and for your family. That is a general one that reaps benefits for generations and that we're teaching the generation coming behind us about financial responsibility. I think if we can find joy and peace in those principles and those ideas and the visions of that kind of a future rather than making sure that, you know, we look good when we pull up to the company picnic or the family or a union or making sure that we form to the right neighborhood with the right car and the right toys in our garage. No, I think we'd be much better off as Americans because sadly enough, the statistics say that the average American to saving 5% or less of their income or an overwhelming majority of folks are not even prepared to deal with a thousand dollar emergency if it were topics that out of the bushes.

                                    And so I think that what I'd like to leave your listeners with this idea of we can do better and one of the best ways to start doing better is to think a lot less about the perception and approval of others and really start thinking about the idea that the stakes are high and when, when we consider the magnitude of the impact of our financial decisions, not just for our lives but the lives of the generations that follow, I think we can make the best well informed decisions and whether that includes home purchase or renting or if it includes real estate and investing or for or not. I think that working with myself and my team, we really work very hard to make sure that we keep the main thing, the main things and minimize the distraction of other things I've mentioned. 

Paul Sian:          We've talked today, plan for now and plan for the future. All very great and solid advice. Thanks Scott. Appreciate you. Haven't you on the show here and I will chat with you soon. 

Scott Trent:         Thanks Paul.


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