Business Planning

You’re a business owner – you made your dream a reality, with your own two hands.

You’re used to being the one who makes the tough calls. But who do you turn to when you have questions?

Our team is dedicated to helping your business thrive. We’ll help you grow and protect your assets, put together tax-smart strategies, and prepare to pass your dream on to the next generation when the time comes. 


79% of business owners plan to exit in the next 10 years.

But planning to exit isn’t the same as having a plan. We’ll help you get there with confidence.

Tailored Solutions. Trusted Advice.

We specialize in tax planning, business valuations, employee benefits and incentives, wealth accumulation models, risk mitigation and more.

Our passion at Stonebridge Financial Partners is to make the complex simple. Let’s bring your planning in line with your dreams, so you and your business are positioned to make an impact and leave a lasting legacy.


Integrated Planning

Business owners have unique needs due to the large percentage of their wealth in one concentrated position, the business. Let’s make sure your business plan and personal financial plan are aligned. Our team works with you to understand key areas, such as your corporate structure, potential tax liabilities and exit strategy, to help you proactively plan for the future and leave a lasting legacy.

Tax Planning

How will you protect your business and your personal wealth? Business owners need proactive advice – strategic planning can save you taxes and provide more assets to invest in your company and personal goals. Tax planning involves creating strategies around your corporate structure and plan for expansion, the location of your business, income/distribution planning and coordinating your plan with relevant parties.

Employee Benefits

Your goal as a business owner is to attract and retain high-quality employees. Supplying the correct benefits – including retirement, health, life and disability plans – allows your team to compete for and retain top performers. Our team will evaluate your current benefits and providers, and help you coordinate benefit plans within your budget.

Financial Management

We specialize in the complex banking needs unique to business owners. We’ll evaluate your need for bank debt, lines of credit, short-term cash flow, long-term expenditures or investments and more. It’s also key to weigh the impact of debt on your personal financial statement – we help with that, too.

Strategic Management

Our in-house business evaluation team will review your business plan and compare your measures to industry metrics. We deploy an ongoing process alongside you and your management team to develop a transformation strategy to pursue your goals. We will meet on a consistent basis to evaluate your progress and discuss strategic initiatives.

Business Structure

Our in-house Advanced Solutions team will help you evaluate whether your current business structure matches your immediate needs, growth plan and eventual succession or exit plan. The correct structure can save you in taxes and provide a smooth track for expansion or purchase.

Risk Management

Our team will complete an overall assessment of your current risk in the business, so together we can uncover solutions that take your business to the next level. By identifying key areas and the overall impact on the stability of the business, you can deploy strategies to accept, avoid, mitigate, transfer or reduce risk.

Business Valuation

Our team will complete a formal evaluation of your business using industry metrics. Establishing this baseline gives you time to establish the correct accounting, tax, and business analytics to optimize financials. The valuation can help you optimize financials and sets the foundation to leverage lending, succession, and growth opportunities.

Operational Efficiency

By increasing operational intelligence, our team will help you to create an efficiency plan to improve day-to-day business operations, as well as move your business from a reactive to proactive entity. A business with established efficiencies can adjust to dynamic, ever-changing market conditions.

Nonqualified Deferred Compensation

A nonqualified deferred compensation (NQDC) plan allows executives to defer a large portion of compensation – and corresponding income tax – to a later year, ideally when your tax bracket is expected to be lower. Through the course of your and/or your key employees’ careers, this scheduled distribution structure can cover shorter-term goals, such as college tuitions, or long-term goals, such as retirement.

Incentive Plan

The success of your business is often dependent on attracting and retaining key employees. We work with owners to create a tangible plan – one that might include stock options, partnership, insurance benefits – that incentivizes key employees to drive increased revenue, achieve key strategic initiatives and remain loyal to your business.

When Should I Start Worrying About Putting Together My Estate Plan?

Answered by Sarah Duey, JD, CFTA, CAP®, Vice President, Trust Services

Answered by Sarah Duey, JD, CFTA, CAP®, Vice President, Trust Services

Who wants to spend an afternoon thinking about their mortality? No one, which is why more than half of Americans don’t even have a will.

The foundation of your estate plan is a Last Will and Testament. Without a will, you are leaving the disposition of your assets and the guardianship of your minor children to a court. In Nebraska, for example, if someone were married at the time of death and died without a will, the spouse does not receive all of the assets if the person who died has children.

Even from this one example, you can see that creating and structuring a will is complex. Let’s look at a few of the basics to help you start this important conversation.

What is a will?

A will is a legal document that directs what happens to your stuff, directs who will handle your stuff (your executor) and directs what happens to your children by naming a guardian to take care of them.

Where can I get a will?

Check to see if your employer offers any kind of legal benefits. Some employers offer their stakeholders help in getting a will created. There are also online will-creation services. However, the big pitfall of the “DIY” will is that while a lawyer checks that the will complies with legal standards no one is verifying its correctness.

Hire an estate planning attorney

For most people creating a will, hiring an estate planning attorney makes the most sense. The attorney verifies accuracy and can work with your financial advisor to confirm your will coordinates with your financial accounts, your savings plan and legacy wishes. Plus, the attorney can point out things that you may have never thought of – there are a lot of angles here, and a lot you can do to make sure your loved ones are well cared for.

It’s important to find an attorney who specializes in estate planning. State laws are constantly changing and you want to work with someone who is in that area of law on a daily basis so you can ensure you have a plan that complies. Ask friends and co-workers if they know a good estate planning attorney if you don’t know anyone. You can also look up your local estate planning council or bar association to see if they can give you some names to help with creating a will.

Next, you’ll want to connect with several estate planning attorneys and determine the best fit. Ask about the process and what fees you will likely face and ask about what you need to do to prepare for your next meeting. You’ll likely want someone who is younger than you so he or she can continue to help you with your planning needs throughout your lifetime.

Your estate planning attorney might have a questionnaire to complete prior to your first visit. There are important questions that the attorney will want to ask and get answers to. Usually, an hour will set the attorney up for success in getting what he or she needs to draft a plan that accurately outlines your wishes and correctly complies with your state’s laws.

Click here to download our complimentary resource: Estate Planning Simplified

What About a Trust?

Of course, creating a will is absolutely necessary regardless of whether you add a trust to your list of estate planning documents. But a common question is “do I need a trust?” Again, not surprisingly, the answer is, “it depends.”

A trust can be an important step toward fulfilling your family’s financial goals. There are specific advantages to having a trust: continuity of asset management, privacy and tax savings are among a few.

What is a Revocable Living Trust?

A living or revocable trust provides for the organization and management of your assets during your lifetime, including any periods of disability. In addition, having your assets in a trust during your lifetime will prevent your estate from having to pass through a court-supervised process if you only have a will (or no will) at the time of your death.

Creating a trust also provides an incredible amount of flexibility after your death. For example, you could have your trust divide up your assets after you are no longer living and create new trusts for your children to protect them against creditors and divorce.

The Drawbacks to Trusts

Trusts do have a downside. Compared with wills, creating trusts comes with additional work of funding the trust and making sure all assets are in the trust. Your attorney can discuss the options for creating and funding a trust with you. Regardless, you’ll still need a simple will, as a back-up, even if you do some trust planning.

Prioritize Your Estate Plan

Whether you decide to create a trust, prioritize getting your will and powers of attorney completed. Creating a will and other estate planning documents isn’t a Herculean task. The bonus of getting it done is that you’ll sleep better at night knowing you have a plan to take care of loved ones when the day comes and you are no longer able to.

Your financial advisor can help you begin this conversation in a way that makes sense for you and your family. Knowing not just your holdings, but your style and values will help you shape a legacy that expresses your care for the people and causes you love. Let’s talk!

This is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information on the subjects covered. It is not, however, intended to provide specific legal, tax, or other professional advice. For specific professional assistance, the services of an appropriate professional should be sought. Cetera Advisor Networks LLC does not provide legal or tax advice.