Article First Appeared in the Summer 2010 Issue of Phlare Magazine
10 Important Financial Considerations when Experiencing Employer Transition
Written by Julie Brufke Wenger:
While the economic crisis seems to be winding down and while some people may be hopeful about the future, one major uncertainty remains for others: how to handle a job transition. Job transition is a time of change, challenge and opportunity. Addressing a few key points can make the process easier and, in turn, allow you to maximize the outcome. Even if you aren’t currently in the middle of a job transition, these points can help you navigate your way to success.
- Roll over your retirement plan using an advisor who can assist you in designing a retirement strategy in order to gain control of your investment options, eliminate the potential difficulties accessing your account
in the future, create the ability to access partial withdrawals if liquidity is needed while in transition, and to design a customized strategy that will address both accumulation of funds and retirement fund distribution.
- Review your options for health insurance (including COBRA). If you decide to transfer to another plan, do not discontinue your in-house plan until the new coverage begins. Continuation of coverage is important in qualifying for a new plan and minimizing rates.
- Life insurance is usually not portable and it is important to have some insurance outside of your employer. Begin research before changing jobs as the underwriting process may take several weeks.
- Inventory your existing assets and determine liquidity. Prioritize which assets you would use if you needed to access your savings while taking into consideration taxation and penalties.
- If you have not yet secured new employment, create a budget plan that includes cash flow projections using sources that may include unemployment compensation, savings accounts, and employer severance payments. This can help to make the transition period less stressful.
- If you are currently employed, review the choices available through the new benefit plan and make choices that consider the “big picture” and are also compatible with your existing portfolio structure.
- Project your tax liability for the year and adjust withholdings. Multiple jobs, large severance payments and unemployment compensation all take your tax withholdings off autopilot and shift them into proactive mode. Avoid surprises and make tax-minimizing choices by working with an advisor to make projections and adjust payments to the IRS.
- Consult an advisor if you have stock options and your company is being purchased or merged. Formulate a plan that includes a diversification strategy and determine the tax impact to maximize the opportunity.
- Review group benefits you may loose like disability insurance, pretax programs for childcare, access to a group long term care policy, or education savings through payroll deduction and determine a gap strategy.
- If you are married and were using the plans provided by your employer, gather information regarding your spouse’s plans so you can compare them to your new options and make the best choice.
Julia Brufke Wenger is Principal JBW Enterprises and Founder of Phoenix Tax Consultants, LLC. She has been a member of the Phoenixville business community since 1990 and currently serves as an active member of the Phoenixville Regional Chamber of Commerce. Julia is graduated from Villanova University with a BA in Accounting.