I have spent over 20 years helping business owners and corporate executives navigate the complexities of wealth concentration. I have taken the time, energy, and education to gain the experience and knowledge that is required to help clients implement the monetization strategies. During this process I will take the time to help you determine a course of action based on your specific goals and objectives. I coordinate this effort with the appropriate legal, tax and investment banking team to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated approach is taken to achieve your stated goals. Without a coordinated approach I have seen too many individuals going through these types of events leave millions of dollars on the table.

I am a regular panelist at Merger & Acquisition events, speaking to the strategies employed by business owners and executives to create liquidity and preserve wealth for themselves, their family, and employees.
Services Include
  • Business Planning1
  • Trust Services2
  • Wealth Management3
  • Estate Planning Strategies4
  • Business Succession Planning5
Securities Agent: AZ, CA, DC, FL, MA, MD, MI, NC, NJ, NY, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA; Investment Advisor Representative; General Securities Representative
NMLS#: 639038
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Ownership of a business frequently represents years, if not decades, of hard work and entrepreneurial savvy. Exiting your business too early could leave you in an unintended, long-term financial position; too late could result in lost opportunities. Whether you’re contemplating transferring your business interest to family members, liquidating assets, or selling your shares to current management or an outside party, you have decision to make and complex issues to address. The goal is to provide clarity when you need it most. I, and my team, focus on working with business owners and corporate executives before, during, and after their transition.

Our implementation is a four-step process:

1. Corporate and Family Planning
2. Business and Market Evaluation
3. Implementation
4. Wealth Management

We know that you have invested a lot more than just money in your company. Ideally, we believes that you should start planning for this major life event at least two years before it actually occurs. We also think it is also important to be supported by a team of financial specialists versed in succession planning process – and it is vital that your support team operates with a full understanding of your personal vision and comprises the acumen and experience to help you achieve it.

Our goal is to serve as your Financial Advisors to help solve your business and personal finance issues, turning your needs and obstacles into potential opportunities, and it starts with a conversation.

“He who fails to plan is planning to fail” – Winston Churchill
    • Corporate Planning
      If your wealth is the product of a business or company in which you have an interest, you will confront a wide array of estate planning issues and opportunities. Strategic thinking of a different order is key to realizing and passing on value. Many techniques and structures are available to help you preserve and pass on a business and your wealth. Planning is the process of aligning corporate and family aspirations in a way that reflects not only your financial circumstances, but also the vision and commitments that drive your success. Your legacy is the opportunity to pass on the material rewards of your life in the way that best fulfills your goals and reflects your values. Touching the future in this way can only be accomplished by thoughtful planning.
    • Preparing for Your Exit – Corporate Succession Planning
      As a business owner, when should you start planning for transition? Or, what you might have heard called “business succession planning”? Well, it’s never too early. Don’t put it off until you’re thinking about retiring or selling. Depending on your personal financial situation and the quality of life you desire, it can take years to get all the pieces in place. Like any form of wealth creation, the more time you have to build your assets the more wealth you can accumulate. The same principles apply to your business, but rather than simply relying on dividends or other investment income you should focus on building the value of the business, so that when you are ready to transition out you can fully monetize your asset. In our experience, many business owners believe they know what they want and have a strategy to get there, but typically haven’t sat down to align it with their goals and dreams. A successful transition is the last, ‘crowning’ achievement for many business owners, and there are many complex issues to manage along the way. We have found that a structured process is the key to preparing for transition. The level of planning involved requires considerable experience and skill because planning is the key to your transition success. Whether you plan to hand your business to family or employees, or to sell it on the open market, you need to take the right steps to maximize your business’ value come sale time.

      Ownership of a business frequently represents years, if not decades, of hard work and entrepreneurial savvy. However, even the best business owners are often unfamiliar with the complexities and meticulous preparation that must go into a successful sale. Put another way, owners are preparing for the deal of a lifetime, with potentially no prior experience. The Russo Group will help you formulate strategies and planning considerations at different stages in the selling process. While each deal timeframe will vary, we break the timeline into four distinct phases: Long Term, Short Term, During Negotiation, and Post-Transaction.
      Find out how you can successfully transition your business
    • Family Planning
      Your business is a critical element of your personal wealth plan. We can help you make decisions that one complement the other, so that personal wealth and business wealth work together to increase the value of both. The need for estate planning, particularly among individuals and families whose assets are significant and complex, as they are with small businesses, is widely misunderstood and often neglected. Estate planning is a process of answering questions not only about your assets but about your life and values, often with the guidance of a trusted advisor. Through the planning process, you have an important opportunity to think through your goals for your wealth, map out ownership transitions and work with your attorney to detail those decisions in well-crafted documents.

      Documenting your decisions is important. Regardless of your circumstances, you should consider making a Last Will and Testament (Will), and you may want to set up various types of trusts. Moreover, you should consider drafting documents to provide guidance to those responsible for your affairs if you become ill or injured. This step is of personal as well as legal importance, because your family may be called on to make difficult decisions on your behalf at a very emotional time. If anything, the process of planning and documenting becomes even more important if you are in a permanent relationship but not married. In these circumstances, uncertainties can become magnified and contentious — and especially trying for your partner.

      An important part of the planning process is selecting the individuals and institutions that will carry out your instructions. While these decisions are often among the last in the planning process, their importance cannot be overstated. Executors, trustees and the others you name are likely to have a lasting impact on your legacy — perhaps for generations.

      The Russo Group believes that estate planning is a recurring process that we will help you revisit as life evolves and the need to revise your goals arises. Each change is a chance to work with your advisor and attorney, refine your strategy and codify your answers in key documents that will control the distribution of your assets — and the shape and content of your legacy.

      The Russo Group at Morgan Stanley plays an important role in helping you develop and execute your estate planning strategy. We understand the interplay between decisions you make for your business and the impact they can have on your future financial security. We act as a quarterback in coordinating conversations with your investment banker, CPA and attorney. In our experience we are the one advisor that sees you through all stages of your business transition: before, during and likely 30+ years after your business succession
      Find out how to begin the estate planning process
    • Conduct Market Analysis and Construct A Marketing Plan for Exit Strategy
      Using an Investment Banker to conduct a market analysis can help everyone understand the current buyer pool, what valuations are reasonable and I believe most importantly... what buyers are looking for. Running the business from this point on should be done within the context of what will be the most attractive to buyers, not necessarily what is the most desirable for the owners.

      We, as part of your team, can help connect you with a Morgan Stanley investment banker or third-party affiliate based on factors such as transaction size and type, likely purchasers, your industry and geographic focus.
      Fill out our Business Owner Questionnaire to start your planning for exiting your business. (Link to Business Owner Questionnaire)
    • Explore and Evaluate Multiple Exit Strategies
      Engaging an investment banker early in the process can allow for owners to evaluate multiple exit strategies through a “strategic alternatives analysis.” For example, instead of simply looking for a strategic buyer, a business may decide to evaluate the possibility of a sale to a financial buyer, or private equity group, or an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). These professionals allow for multiple options to be explored in an attempt to seek the most value in a transaction, and may create a larger pool of potential buyers and/or investors to approach.
      Learn more about the Ten Exit Strategies that may help you in your decision making process.
    • Begin Cleaning Up the Company
      Once everyone is committed, it is time to begin forming the company that buyers can see themselves owning. Think of this process similarly to how you would sell a car (albeit a really expensive one). Cleaning up the company is like taking the car to the detailer before selling it; you want to be very meticulous so that you can ultimately show the company in the best light possible. While it seems like common sense, many owners delay or simply ignore common obstacles and red flags. At this stage, identify the issues so that they can be addressed in the upcoming year. Ask yourself:

      • Who are the key employees? Is Key Man Insurance in place? Is there a retainer on the key employee?
      • Have the financials been audited?
      • Are there any key customers or clients? Are there contracts in place?
      • Are all the processes formalized and efficient?
      • Are the key suppliers and contractors in place pursuant to a contract?
      • Do all contracts contain change of control provisions?
      • Is the management structure clearly divided and efficient? Is it transferable?
      • What are the top strategic priorities? Are they in line with what buyers want?
      • What threats are there to the continued success of the business? How are these threats mitigated?
      Our document (Preparing to Sell Your Business Timeline) will help you understand the necessary time frame of when processes should occur.

    Integrated Advice

    Wouldn’t it make sense if your financial advisor, investment banker, CPA, tax attorney, and estate planning attorney all communicated with each other? We thought so, too. The Russo Group coordinates services and communication between your financial and legal advisors. We bring all of the relevant information from each of your advisors together for you. We also proactively send tax documents related to your accounts to your accountant, and documents needed to update your estate plan to your estate planning attorney. As a liaison between your financial and legal advisors, we bring cohesion to your financial world and help simplify your life.


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      1Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC (“Morgan Stanley”), its affiliates and Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors or Private Wealth Advisors do not provide tax or legal advice. Clients should consult their tax advisor for matters involving taxation and tax planning and their attorney for legal matters.

      2Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC does not accept appointments nor will it act as a trustee but it will provide access to trust services through an appropriate third-party corporate trustee.
      Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC (“Morgan Stanley”), its affiliates and Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors and Private Wealth Advisors do not provide tax or legal advice. Clients should consult their tax advisor for matters involving taxation and tax planning and their attorney for matters involving trust and estate planning and other legal matters.

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