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Syl Michelin and Stan Farmer Join Walkner Condon

Syl Michelin and Stan Farmer Join Walkner Condon

Walkner Condon Financial Advisors is pleased to announce that Syl Michelin and Stan Farmer are joining Keith Poniewaz on the International Advisory Services Team at Walkner Condon. Syl and Stan join our team after serving as financial advisors at Thun Financial in Madison, managing over $250 million in assets for clients in the United States and around the world. Their extensive expertise in working with expats and familiarity with acting as fiduciaries in a fee-only capacity made the two of them great cultural fits for our organization.

Prior to his time at Thun, Syl, a native of France, worked as an advisor for Citigroup in London and New York City. In addition to joining the International Advisory group, Syl, a CFA® charter holder, will be serving as Director of Portfolio Strategy for the firm as a whole.  

Stan, who will also be serving as Director of International Planning, worked at Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch in the United States prior to Thun. He previously worked in private equity in Dubai, Portugal, and Angola. A former lawyer and a CFP®, Stan is an expert in mixed nationality couples planning and has appeared in International Investment and Investment News.

Creative Planning LLC to Acquire Thun Financial Advisors

Creative Planning LLC to Acquire Thun Financial Advisors

In a letter sent to clients on 6/15/2020, Thun Financial indicated that they are in the process of being sold to Creative Planning, L.L.C. Creative Planning will be purchasing the assets of Thun, effectively folding Thun into the larger entity.

What Does this Mean for Thun Financial’s Clients?

According to the letter, the transaction will close in the third quarter of 2020. Relationships will be moved to the new firm and assets will transfer over under Creative Planning’s management.  Clients are being asked to sign a letter consenting to the changes, though it is a “negative consent” letter, meaning that assets will transfer if no explicit refusal to transfer assets is made.

Who Does This Benefit?

In many cases when firms move, they will change custodians or leave a more onerous broker/dealer with antiquated technology or a captive situation (such as an insurance company or a focus on proprietary products). In this situation, however, it is not the case. It appears the custodians will remain the same, with advisors also expected to be maintained. Resultantly, it is likely that the owner of the firm will benefit the most from this transaction. It is almost certain that a large payment will be made, often spread over multiple years depending on the clients that stay with the new company. Advisors may be also compensated with bonuses, although in many cases a bonus will come with strings attached such as non-solicit and/or non-compete arrangements.

OK….So Will I Benefit?

Great question, and a fair one to ask your current advisor as well as the owners (or senior management) of both firms. Items you may choose to inquire about include the current pricing for the new firm, the technology changes you may face, and how your experience may be improved. It is also not out of bounds to ask about advisor and owner compensation in this transaction as well as if your advisor will now be tethered to a new firm through an employment agreement. There is nothing wrong with an owner cashing in their proverbial “chips”, but as a client you have a right to know. Additionally, you should vet the new firm by checking out their website and the SEC public disclosure website and firm ADVs to educate yourself on any past regulatory issues and if you are comfortable with them. 

What Are My Options?

You should take your due diligence seriously, particularly if you feel the new firm does not have a firm commitment to expats. You should certainly speak to those at Thun that you feel will help you make this decision, as well as other firms that work with expat investors. In being blatantly transparent, it’s what we do, and we would like to discuss how we can improve your wealth management experience. Find our more on our expat website, or schedule an appointment.

Clint Walkner

Charles Schwab Closing Accounts in Italy and France

Charles Schwab Closing Accounts in Italy and France

Note: This news is breaking and updated as of 11/2/2019. We will continue to update this post as facts become more clear. Every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of our statements in regards to Schwab’s position on their accounts.

According to a variety of sources and emails from Schwab, it seems like Brexit has started affecting financial services in a variety of ways. Charles Schwab U.K. just sent a letter to clients in Italy and France that they will no longer be servicing their accounts. According to Schwab, they are changing their business model and “will no longer do business in your country. This change is mostly due to the U.K.’s decision to leave the E.U.”  

Accordingly, Schwab is encouraging clients to move their assets out of Charles Schwab U.K. by December 31st and will wave any transfer or wire fees before year-end. After January 1st, no new purchases will be able to be made by Schwab clients in these countries. And while clients will still be able to maintain accounts with Schwab but will only be able to perform closing activities (selling assets, etc.). This decision comes on the heels of Schwab’s decision to (belatedly, in our opinion) join all other brokerages worldwide in restricting the sales of ETFs to European clients. Whether this also affects clients who have accounts managed through U.S. investment advisors remains to be seen, but the bottom line is that clients in France and Italy have found themselves with fewer and fewer options.

Generally, the best brokerage option for investors in our opinion (as we discuss in our “Best Brokerages for Expats” blog), is Interactive Brokers. Interactive Brokers have been preparing for Brexit and do not anticipate their clientele will be affected as their business has already adapted. Ultimately, this continues to support our contention that the best brokerage for expats is Interactive Brokers – as it supports multiple currencies and exchanges and is registered globally, meaning that clients can likely continue to do business with them without issue.

This issue is still ongoing and we will update clients and the public as we learn more. For investors that would like to discuss their specific situation, we welcome you to schedule an initial no-cost, no-obligation consultation with our Director of International Advisory services, Keith Poniewaz. Keith works with U.S. expats on financial planning and wealth management. You may also email Keith as well.