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Finding Financial Freedom With Eunicia PeretWe have a very special guest, Ms. Eunicia Peret. Welcome to the show. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself? It’s such a pleasure to be here with you. Thank you for the invite. We’re going to be talking about financial or wealth empowerment, as I like to refer to it. Let’s have some fun and get our audience to think about that. I am excited. Before we dive in, do you mind giving a little bit of background on how you ended up where you are now, focusing on wealth empowerment? Years back, I was in the corporate world, specifically doing strategy consulting. The important reason is that in strategy consulting, one of the things that you learn to do is to identify problems and then figure out ways to help them. Sometimes there’s no textbook to doing so. When we were looking at our personal finances, years back, we were looking at some life insurance policies that were expiring. We were being upsold into different policies with all of these different promises that they’re going to do this and that. When I looked at the numbers, it wasn’t making sense. I told my husband, “I don’t trust the people that are constantly knocking on our doors, calling us, and insisting consistently that we have to do what they are telling us, but they are not able to answer my questions.” Because of what I did, I was asking a lot of questions. What I decided to do was to take matters into my own hands to better understand it. I didn’t do that on my own. I surrounded myself with a lot of mentors, Subsequently, long story, I went ahead, got licensed, and was able to see from behind the scenes what it was that not only they were trying to sell us, but what was happening in the industry, and how people are being taken advantage of because financial products are commission products like everything else. When I realized that everything we had been dealing with, up until that point, in terms of being pushed on products, or even financial advisors, or financial planners not wanting to talk to my husband and me because we were younger. We were invested in real estate. We love real estate. My husband is in real estate. Because we didn’t have the level of investment assets that they would then be able to take over as assets under management, we didn’t “qualify” to work with some of those top-notch financial advisors. When I looked at all of that and what was happening, I decided that if I had a situation where a high-income and high-net-worth individual was being put in the corner, there have got to be other people that were like me. Sure enough, when we started looking and subsequently started working with hundreds of clients, we realized that we were not on our own. We weren’t the only unique cases out there. Almost everybody is dealing with the same exact situation. How interesting to think of hundreds of people. Could you imagine how many people in the world are even in that position right now? It truly is the world, but when we are thinking about even the United States, everybody is impacted. The people that are impacted the most are those that are very successful. They’re making nice incomes, whether they’re working for someone else or they are successful business owners. Unfortunately, they end up siphoning money, and letting money be funneled out of their pockets without them having any idea that that’s happening. In typical America, what we’re typically raised on is getting a good job and retirement. What is your opinion or feedback on that typical cookie-cutter retirement plan? Here’s something that I’ll tell you because I’m always focused on what we can do more and how we can help our clients more. One night I was listening to an episode of an expert talking specifically about that. The wealthy don’t exactly rely on retirement plans, 401(k), IRAs, and the like because the reality is all we’re doing is we’re pushing the can down the road. For individuals that are in high tax brackets currently, I have not spoken with one expert yet that has told me that they believe our taxes are going to go lower. If we’re truly looking down the line of taxes going higher, what is that we’re doing, drinking out of this fire hose and Kool-Aid, putting it in, letting it grow big, and then you’ll deal with the taxes down the road, In essence, we’re impoverishing ourselves we’re doing away with our ability to leave a legacy to our families, or to the causes that we want to stand behind when we no longer are on this Earth. The short answer is there’s not a cookie-cutter answer. Everybody needs to do what they need to do to maximize how it is that they grow money. We have to be smart with what it is that we’re looking at and where our money goes. Otherwise, we’re the ones that are going to suffer long term. I know a lot of people look at the perspective of when you want to retire, your lifestyle, and things like that. Do you consider things like that as well when you work with clients? We 100% do, but we go at it from a very different angle. Most of the so-called experts in the industry will want to understand those things, but very topically. The client feels like they’re ordering it out. The way that we approach things is I don’t just want to know what would feel good for them in retirement. What does retirement look like? We work backward from there to understand the different things that need to be done now to make sure that those retirement goals, or even legacy planning goals, are there. We’re going to be able to meet them where we want to meet them, not where we hope they’re going to land based on what we think the market has historically done. If it doesn’t happen, then we fall behind the excuse of the market does what the market is going to do. We find that way too many individuals have historically been told that story of, “It’s going to do what it’s going to do. Historically, it has done this.” They fall into the trap of they don’t know what options they have, specifically when it comes to how, when, where, and even why money is invested. What we found is if they don’t understand how those questions relate to their own money and their own specific situations, what ends up happening is not only people lose out on growth and opportunity to build wealth and optimize wealth. They also lose sleep at night because, in their hearts, they’re not in alignment with those things or those places where the money is invested. They don’t know that they have options. It’s a lot more complex than, “What do you see in your future? How can we help you get there? Here are some products that we think would be the best solutions for you.” This is out of curiosity. Do you have the same number of women and men that you work with? Is there an equal balance of men and women? I do find that we resonate with both, specifically myself. I resonate with my male counterparts because I always worked in very male-dominated environments and industries. When it comes to the women, what we’re finding is generally, it’s the heads of households, whether they’re individuals on their own, like single moms who are truly on their own, successful executives, business owners, or they are married. Historically, they don’t get the same level of attention that their male counterparts get when it comes to, “How do we truly empower ourselves?” Whether because that’s how the industry operates or they put themselves in this box or corner of shame. They feel that they are not worthy enough. They have questions that will make them sound not as smart as their male counterparts, etc. We’re drawn to both because of our approach, and the fact that I’ve worked with many men in my career. That has helped a lot, I bet. It’s one of those things that’s brutal ground but at the same time, lots of fun. How do you become financially empowered? One of the things that we tell clients is almost everybody has this notion and questions that are spanning, whether because they need to make decisions or something is happening in their lives. It’s making them question what’s happening with their money, where should they invest money, and where should they deploy the resources. My philosophy is that for individuals to truly become empowered, they need to want to know what’s happening with their money. More times than I care to admit and let folks know, we have people that come to us and say, “I trust you. I trust the team. I just want you to do it for us.” The point here is that when people say, “I want you to do it for me,” in the back of their minds, they’re avoiding some feeling of insecurity or, “I don’t have enough time. I’m not smart enough. I don’t want to deal with this.” Whatever that is, it’s a problem. What we tell our clients is, “It can be done for you,” but without you understanding what the options are, you’re truly relinquishing all of the hard-earned money that you’ve worked hard for, and trusting somebody else will get it done. I oftentimes use this analogy. Think of a sport that you enjoy. Let’s say basketball and you got tickets to the playoffs. You are so in love with basketball and you really want to be there, but you choose the same thing. You say, “I want somebody else to enjoy it for me. I don’t want to go through the hassle of parking, walking, and then getting my way out of the arena. I’m going to give these tickets to somebody else and expect that they’re going to enjoy the game. Vicariously, I’m going to be able to enjoy the experience through them.” Is that even possible? No. That’s the same exact thing when people say, “I want you to do it for me,” without wanting to understand the different options. Which side of the field do you prefer to stay on? Do you want to be up or down? You’re relinquishing all of the different options that you have at your disposal to somebody else. You can’t expect the results you’re looking for by putting somebody else in the driver’s seat, and not giving them any direction or knowing where it is that you’re even trying to get to. I could see how it would be very overwhelming to be able to process, figure out, and see where all your money goes and what’s going on with it. You would have to learn it. You’re right. It’s not learning for the sake of doing it. We’re working with successful business owners, physicians, pilots, and super high net-worth individuals that make a lot of money and have a lot of money. They have their unique areas of expertise. The ask is not for them to learn how to do it. The ask is for them to trust the methodology. At least for the clients that we work with, trust the methodology that walks them through to understand what it is that resonates with them, first and foremost. It’s understanding what the different options are and how we can bridge the gap between where they’re at, the different options that we have at our disposal and their disposal, and how those options may or may not help them get to those ultimate goals. Without having all of those ingredients in the mix, we’re going to be missing out on something, whether it be growth, opportunity, or the ability for us to trust that we’re okay and have that peace of mind. What’s more important than having peace of mind, especially when it comes to money? That’s a big thing and a big factor for many people, for sure. What are some of the top suggestions you would say for even beginning out with financial wealth? As somebody might be growing professionally or coming into a higher level of income, what would your suggestions be for them? My suggestion would be, first and foremost, they need to make sure that they have the right financial team on their side. Oftentimes, individuals will tell us, “I’ve got a financial planner, financial advisor, CPA, bookkeeper, or attorney.” The question is, are they talking? Sometimes the CPA or the tax preparer may say, “This is going to help you with your taxes today.” It may be something that the financial expert or planner may say, “It’s not a good idea,” or vice versa. Here is another wrinkle. When it comes to high-income and high-net-worth individuals, we’re talking about taxation. When it comes to paying too much in taxes, oftentimes, a lot of what we see with tax experts is they’ll focus on doing the taxes. Nobody is talking about, “How do we strategically plan to minimize our tax exposure?” Notice I’m not saying not to pay taxes. We absolutely have to pay our taxes. Why do so many people pay more than they should? Simply because their financial person or tax person does the taxes. Their financial planner puts them into stocks, bonds, mutual funds, crypto, or whatever it is that they get put in. Nobody is ever asking you the question, “What are we doing with taxes today? How are we going to be paying our money on our taxes in the future? What should we be paying? What does that look like?” Oftentimes, what I tell individuals in terms of where to start, they have to start by making sure they have the right team. If they have any questions, they can always ask us, and we’ll be able to provide them with some insights into what they should be looking for. One other thing that I tell people all the time is if you ever have that gut instinct or feeling of, “This doesn’t seem right. I feel like I’m being sold. I feel like I’m doing the same thing over and over again, and I’m on this hamster wheel that’s never-ending,” that’s the point where you need to stop. Regardless of how stupid or silly your questions you think they are, you need to ask them. Regardless of how stupid or silly you think your questions are, you need to ask them. Click To Tweet The response that you’re going to get from your team or the lack of clarity you will receive, or the enhancement in clarity will give you the indication of, “Am I working with the right people? Do I need to continue asking these questions?” Until you have that feeling of, “I think I got it. I think my questions are answered,” only then can you take your wealth empowerment to the next level. You’ve been doing this for a long time. I graduated with a Finance degree. I have been in the realm of finance as a function, as well as an industry for many years. Think of banks, insurance companies, etc. To have the opportunity to now work with individuals and with small businesses that are truly looking for how they can do more with less, not allow so much of their hard-earned money to be siphoned and left to chance, and see the results that they get, enlightened me. It was great doing it for Fortune 500 companies, but seeing the impact on the individual contributors and the individual business owners has been a humbling and exciting reason to get up every morning. What are the common mistakes you see people making? One of the biggest mistakes is people that say, “I have him or her.” As you know, we’re going through a rebranding exercise. The old name of our company was the Empire Financial Planner. Initially, we stood it up as a company where we wanted to help financial advisors to do better and give better service to their clients. One of my business coaches said, “You can’t do that. If you do that, you’re taking a model that you’ve built with heart behind it, and you’re putting it in the hands of an industry that doesn’t have a heart behind it. It’s a very bad proposition for the end consumer.” Long story short, we kept the name. A lot of people, when they would hear us being introduced, they would say, “I’ve got a financial planner. I’ve got a financial advisor.” After many years, I can easily tell individuals what box we don’t fit in, but it was harder for our referral partners and strategic partners to continuously represent us and dodge the same bullet. We went through the process of rebranding. We’re in the midst of it. We’re going from the Empire Financial Planner to Excelstra. I’m looking forward to seeing how that’s going to play out. I’d be willing to bet you, I’m not going to get the, “I have a financial planner. I have a financial adviser.” What I find is that when people hide behind that and we ever look at their portfolios, soup to nuts, there’s a lot of money that’s being left to chance when it comes to taxes and financial products that they are or are not in, and most importantly, when it comes to maximizing how the revenue streams in retirement or the revenue streams are optimized in the long run. Consequential to that is this idea of we want to leave a legacy. People miss out on every single one of those points when they say, “I have him or her. I trust that they do the best thing that they can possibly do for me.” That’s probably one of the biggest pitfalls. Excelstra is the name of our new company. It’s pretty simple there. Definitely go out and check it out. I know that financial planning and a variety of different avenues for multiple different clients vary. Do trusts and long-term plans play a role in that as well? It 100% does. As a matter of fact, trust in themselves has a very unique proposition both for directing what it is that we want the money to do when we’re gone. At the same time, there are so many trusts. When we’re talking about trust. I guarantee you, if you talk to ten different attorneys that all focus on trust, family planning, and things like that, you will most likely get ten different answers. When we’re looking at that, a big question that comes from clients is, “Such and such attorney told me this and that.” One of the things that we do because of the quarterback approach is, “Who is on your team?” Sometimes you might need to potentially talk to two different attorneys, depending on what’s happening with your business or on the personal side. From there, spans the question of, “Which trust or which trusts are better for the individual based on what they’re trying to achieve?” High-net-worth individuals aren’t just looking at trust as a means to protect what’s happening there. They’re looking at trust as a means to continue to grow their legacy and leave a different kind of legacy to future generations. One of the big things that I like to tell clients is, “It doesn’t mean that if you’re not uber-wealthy, you cannot take advantage of some of those same strategies.” Oftentimes people will say, “I’m not wealthy. Why would you say to think like the wealthy?” Let’s change the idea of “Think like the wealthy” and replace it with “How would you think or how should you think if you wanted to see the next level of success?” Wealth is relative, as we know. What we found is that when people think about it differently, we can now have a better discussion about trust and estate planning. How are we going to leave that legacy in a meaningful way, and it doesn’t feel weird because, inherently, we’re going to talk about death? I don’t know anybody that has left out here alive. I’m not going to lie. I updated my will and my trust. We’re driving home and I’m like, “This is awkward having to lead a conversation about when we die, and to sit down and talk about what items you want to go where or whatever.” Those are the small little details. We went through them all and went through the process. It is a unique process when you go through it. Doesn’t it feel so much better once you’ve gone through it? I do feel secure in the sense that I know that if anything ever happens to me or my husband, everything will continue to run. My son is only eighteen. He will be taken care of. I have executors in place, highly vetted and trusted. I wanted to wait until he is 35. People throw it out that it’s crazy in the trust. The beautiful thing is that you get to dictate. This is one of the big things that come to us. You asked a question about protecting their wealth. They come in and ask the question of executors, for example. What are the different ways potentially around that? What they don’t know is that there are options where they can truly be more impactful in directing their actual estate versus trusting it in the hands of others. It goes back to what is the right answer. To give you an example, one of our clients said, “We’re meeting with our attorney.” Finally, they did. “Here’s what they’re proposing for a trust.” I sent them back a couple of questions for them to noodle on and think about. We got in touch with the attorney. I said, “Why are you looking at this type of trust and not the other type of trust?” It broke down to the client’s net worth, and how they were proposing to shift things or decline down the road to then with the whole idea of it’s not just the trust, but we need to also find a way to minimize the tax exposure for the heirs as well. That’s the stuff that needs to happen. Once it does, you feel much more relieved because now you know that, God forbid, if something happens, you don’t have to think about it. It’s no longer taboo. It’s no longer top of mind in a negative sense. Meaning I’ve got to do it. I didn’t want to deal with it but I did it. It feels good because now I don’t have it in my soul. For everyone, you can go to FullerWalletMedia.com/excelstra. Eunicia, thank you so much for being a guest on our show. You have shared some incredibly valuable information. Do you have any closing notes or anything you’d like to share before we close? No other than the fact that I would strongly encourage individuals if they have questions, make sure you get them answered. You’ve got a ton of resources at your disposal, ourselves included. The only thing that I would ask is if you ever end up on our calendar somewhere, let us know that you heard about us on The Fuller Wallet Media Podcast so that we can get back to them, and let them know that this episode was awesome and people got empowerment out of it. Thank you. It was such an honor having you on. It was an honor being here with you.
About Eunicia Peret
Eunicia is a highly accomplished wealth strategist and seasoned business owner, with over 15 years of experience in the financial services industry.
She honed her expertise by delivering significant financial improvements to the bottom line of renowned global brands and executive leaders across multiple industries.
Eunicia’s core mission is to equip multi 6 and 7-figure individuals with the tools to optimize their wealth-creating efforts beyond conventional 401(k)s, IRAs and savings accounts.
Her specialized program, the Wealth Freedom Formula, offers tailor-made wealth strategy consulting and end-to-end wealth optimization strategies that have traditionally been exclusive to the ultra-wealthy. By taking a holistic, quarterback approach, Eunicia and her firm minimize financial leakage and ensure the client’s financial team works in harmony to maximize growth, reduce taxes, and increase income streams.
Eunicia’s one-of-a-kind approach is grounded in years of experience serving hundreds of satisfied clients. The personalized strategy Eunicia delivers goes beyond the typical starting point for financial planning and extends far beyond where CPAs and attorneys typically leave off. Besides managing her own successful business, Eunicia serves as a strategic advisor to various business-oriented groups and female leadership programs. Her passion for financial success and her skills as a public speaker enable her to deliver financial empowerment and wisdom at conferences and events.