Client Profile- How We Helped a Commercial Real Estate Executive Retire Early

By Sean Gerlin, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU® 

At Envision Wealth Planners, our goal is to help our clients retire and enjoy their golden years the way they want to. As hardworking commercial real estate executives, our clients often come to us with a desire to retire early and work because they want to, not because they have to. With careful planning and diligence, we work together to make these goals a reality. This case study provides just one example of how we’ve helped a commercial real estate executive retire early, and how these wealth management strategies can be used to achieve long-term financial confidence.

The Client

Tom* is a long-term client of ours. He and his wife, Jill*, have been working with us for five years. He is a 41-year-old commercial real estate executive with dreams of retiring early. Both Tom and Jill are college-educated and Tom has a master’s degree in both real estate and business administration. 

In their spare time, they enjoy traveling, hanging out at their country club, and having fun with friends and family. Tom and Jill have three young children under the age of 8 and frequently spend time with other parents who have kids in the same sports leagues. 

*Names have been changed to protect client privacy.

The Goal

All in all, Tom and Jill were doing quite well financially but were looking for the freedom to spend more time as a family, retire early, and work because they wanted to, not because they had to. The biggest challenges to these goals were tax efficiency and finding investments that generate consistent performance with lower volatility than the public stock markets.

Tom and Jill wanted their plan to address the following objectives:

  • Retire before age 60
  • Financial flexibility to slow down in their early 50s
  • Explore private equity and investment diversification
  • Set up a qualified retirement plan to help lower tax liability
  • Ensure tax deferral would not negatively affect them down the line
  • Comprehensive insurance assessment

The Outcome

Here are the steps we took to address Tom and Jill’s needs:

  • Investments & early retirement: We helped Tom and Jill by investing across a broad spectrum of assets that go beyond the typical 60/40 diversification. This included investing in real estate, private venture capital funds, and other private equity vehicles outside of the traditional ETFs, mutual funds, and stocks and bonds. This was necessary to fund an early retirement since there will be a gap between when Tom’s employment income stops and when his qualified retirement benefits start. We developed a cash flow plan that didn’t alter from his working years, ensuring there would be ample non-qualified funds to draw from in the years prior to age 59½ when their retirement funds become available.
  • Tax deferral: We also helped Tom and Jill set up a qualified retirement plan with the option to utilize future Roth conversions when income is low. This helps keep their current tax liability down by deferring current income to retirement. We also worked with their CPA to discuss the current tax landscape, income projections, and how to balance the tax between Tom’s business and their personal return. Lastly, we reviewed Tom’s stock options, exploring the best time frame for converting them to stock, how to best utilize the dividend income, and how to minimize taxes.
  • Insurance planning: We set up a meeting between Tom, Jill, and an independent insurance broker to assess their long-term insurance needs. They were able to purchase several types of insurance, including term life insurance as well as more advanced estate planning techniques, which will help protect their family and their legacy for years to come. As our financial planning process affects every member of your family (including future generations), our meetings include all parties, not just your family’s primary income-earner.

Through our comprehensive wealth management process, we were able to help Tom and Jill create a sustainable retirement plan, one that will allow Tom to cut back on his workload in his 50s and ultimately retire by 60.

We’re Here for You

At Envision Wealth Planners, we strive to provide our clients with the very best financial tools available and unbiased guidance to maximize their wealth management strategies. If you would like to learn more about how to make early retirement a reality, schedule a no-obligation introductory phone call or reach out to me at or 407.720.6535.

About Sean

Sean Gerlin is founder, principal, and a financial planner at Envision Wealth Planners, an independent financial advisory firm founded on the core values of family, honesty, and a determination to be a master of the trade. With almost 10 years of experience, Sean specializes in serving affluent families and commercial real estate executives and brokers, providing comprehensive, customized financial guidance and services for their complex financial needs. Sean acts as a family CFO, managing and coordinating the many moving pieces of his clients’ financial lives. Sean is known for his commitment to building long-term relationships and paying personal attention to each client. He is passionate about helping his clients experience the relief that comes from having organized and well-planned strategies and portfolios, and he desires to help them by shouldering some of the financial burdens they face.

Sean has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, Chartered Financial Consultant®, and Chartered Life Underwriter® certifications. When he’s not working, you can find him cooking, eating good food, traveling, coaching his son’s baseball team, or playing golf. He loves spending time with his wife, Nicole, and their two kids, Avery and Will, and entertaining friends in their beautiful backyard. To learn more about Sean, connect with him on LinkedIn.

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