forbes_2012 coverYou’ve been getting ready for years, faithfully putting away money in 401(k) plans, IRAs and other investment vehicles week after week, year after year in anticipation of the time when you would no longer work. Now comes the hard part: managing your retirement money so it meets your needs and lasts your lifetime.

“People are retiring sooneror would like to—and living longer,” says Mark Roberts, owner and president of Affinity Asset Management, in Overland Park, Kan. “So it’s more important than ever that they do everything possible to maximize their net income in retirement.” In addition to their many retired clients, Roberts and his team work closely with many pre-retirees to help them prepare for retirement.

In Roberts’ experience, while choosing the right investment vehicles is important, taking steps to minimize taxes and implementing the right distribution strategies are even more critical.

“We help our clients not by getting more aggressive with their investments, but by helping them be smarter with their tax strategies and distribution design,” he says. Roberts and his team feel so strongly about this, they develop a blueprint for each client spelling out tax and distribution strategies before they even consider recommending any portfolio changes or products.

As far as reducing taxes, Roberts says, “it’s not about the product, it’s what you do with the product,” whether it’s a stock, a bond or a mutual fund. How you hold it—in a taxable, tax-deferred or tax-free account—can make a world of difference. “We show people how they can gradually shift their assets from one tax bucket to another for maximum efficiency, with the goal of having more money grow tax-free for the rest of their lives. While CPAs typical focus on saving on income taxes for the previous year, we design strategies to reduce taxes over the next 10-20 years.”

At the same time, the right withdrawal techniques can minimize losses and help a retirement portfolio last longer. “The underlying principle to our withdrawal strategies,” Roberts explains, “is that not every investment grows every day.”

Clients Come First

A sought -after speaker who has helped educate thousands of insurance agents and financial advisors about retirement tax strategies and distribution designs, Roberts has owned his own wealth management firm for 16 years. He stresses that Affinity is an independent firm that works for its clients, not a company. “There’s no company telling us what to sell, when to sell or how to sell.”

“The word Affinity is a synonym for relationship, and my relationship with my clients is the most important thing to me. That’s why I decdided to name my company Affinity.”