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13 mins read

Wealthcare Financial Group: Helping Healthcare Professionals Secure Their Future

Many healthcare professionals dedicate their lives to caring for others but often neglect their financial well-being. Wealthcare Financial Group, founded by Martin A. Smith, bridges this gap by providing specialized financial planning services for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers.

This article dives into Smith’s inspiration for the firm, the unique challenges faced by healthcare professionals, and how Wealthcare Financial Group helps them achieve a secure financial future.

Tell us about the work you do.

Wealthcare Financial Group, Inc. is dedicated to maximizing and protecting our clients’ wealth through personalized, strategic financial, and retirement planning and investment management. We build custom model portfolios that are diversified based on “asset class” and optimized based on where the economic cycle and our near to intermediate-term outlook of the economy.

For corporate employees and executives, we specialize in managing concentrated stock wealth and balancing growth and risk control to ensure long-term financial health. We advise on estate planning and insurance strategies to ensure that our clients are knowledgeable about Wills, Trusts, making charitable donations, and tax-efficient transfer of their estate.

For institutions, we provide robust employee retirement plans, expert investment management, fiduciary consulting, and the formulation of investment policy statements to ensure compliance and accountability. At Wealthcare Financial Group, Inc., our goal is to offer tailored, stewardship-focused strategies that meet our clients’ unique financial needs and objectives.

What inspired your decision to get into the financial services industry?

I was originally inspired to enter the financial services industry when I first visited New York, specifically the New York Stock Exchange in 1990. My late mentor, Rev. Tom Skinner, and his wife Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, including Howard University’s student Chaplain, Rev. Michael Worsley took about a dozen undergraduate students on a field trip to the NYSE, followed by a luncheon with the late Earl Graves, CEO and publisher of Black Enterprise Magazine.

I grew up in East Palo Alto, California, a predominately Black neighborhood, which contrasted in just about every way with Manhattan except for the obvious disparity of wealth and income that is on constant display around Wall Street. As a Sophomore at Howard studying Communications, I wasn’t predisposed to “finance” in my upbringing.

Needless to say, I was aware of my financial illiteracy, and this bothered me because when I saw the “suits” and skyscrapers along Wall Street, on one hand, I felt intimidated, while also having a strong sense of belonging to that professional community.

After gaining several years of experience as a Financial Consultant and Assistant Branch Manager with A.G. Edwards & Sons, including with Merrill Lynch’s Global Private Client Group, I launched Wealthcare Financial Group, Inc. in 2003 as a Registered Investment Advisor.

Healthcare professionals often face unique financial challenges. What are some of the biggest financial mistakes you see doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers make?

Healthcare professionals often lack the time and energy to manage their finances, leading to several common mistakes:

  1. Not creating a plan: Without a financial plan, managing income, expenses, and long-term goals can be challenging.

  2. Ignoring debt management: Many graduate with student loan debt and lack a clear plan to handle it.

  3. Insufficient retirement planning:

    Relying solely on employer-provided retirement plans without additional savings can be risky.

  4. Making poor investment choices:

    Rushing into investments without research or advice can result in losses.

  5. Inadequate insurance coverage:

    Many lack disability insurance or other crucial coverage.

  6. Disregarding estate planning:

    Ignoring estate planning can lead to issues in asset transfer and potential legal problems.

  7. Overspending and lifestyle inflation:

    Higher incomes often lead to increased spending, causing financial strain.

  8. Not seeking professional advice:

    Handling finances without expert guidance can mean missed opportunities and increased risks.

You mentioned retirement planning is a key service at Wealthcare Financial. What are some strategies specific to healthcare professionals to ensure a comfortable retirement?

We recommend the following strategies for healthcare professionals:

  1. Start Early and Contribute Regularly: 

    Begin saving for retirement as early as possible to take advantage of compound interest. Consistently contribute to retirement accounts, even during residency and fellowship years when income may be lower.

  2. Maximize Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans: 

    Contribute the maximum allowable amount to employer-sponsored retirement plans, such as 401(k) or 403(b) plans. Take full advantage of any employer matching contributions, as this is essentially free money towards your retirement.

  3. Utilize Tax-Advantaged Accounts: 

    Consider contributing to a Roth IRA or traditional IRA to benefit from tax advantages. Roth IRAs offer tax-free withdrawals in retirement, while traditional IRAs provide tax-deferred growth. For those who qualify, Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) can also serve as a tax-advantaged way to save for healthcare expenses in retirement.

  4. Diversify Investment Portfolios: 

    Ensure your retirement portfolio is diversified across various asset classes, such as stocks, bonds, and real estate, to spread risk and enhance potential returns. Regularly review and rebalance your portfolio to align with your changing risk tolerance and retirement timeline.

  5. Plan for Healthcare Costs: 

    Anticipate higher healthcare costs in retirement and incorporate these expenses into your retirement planning. Consider long-term care insurance to cover potential expenses that Medicare may not, such as assisted living or nursing home care.

  6. Address Student Loan Debt: 

    Develop a strategy to manage and pay off student loan debt efficiently. This may include refinancing options or income-driven repayment plans. Balancing debt repayment with retirement savings is crucial to ensure both short-term and long-term financial health.

  7. Maximize Income Potential: 

    Explore opportunities for additional income, such as locum tenens work, consulting, or telemedicine, to boost retirement savings. Consider setting aside a portion of any extra income directly into retirement accounts.

  8. Seek Professional Financial Advice: 

    Work with a financial advisor who specializes in healthcare professionals to develop a customized retirement plan that addresses your specific needs and goals. Regularly review your retirement plan with your advisor to make adjustments based on changes in your financial situation or retirement goals.

What are some emerging trends you see in the financial planning industry?

Having worked in the investment industry for 30 years, I have witnessed the impact of emerging technologies on the financial services industry and investors, in particular.

There was a time when the notion of “online investing” was unthinkable because information was just becoming more widely available through the internet, and for too long financial advisors aka “Stock Brokers” and their respective Wall Street firms were the gatekeepers and hoarders of pertinent financial information.

Fortunately, this has since changed and today, investors are well-informed, and empowered and many manage their finances autonomously. It will be interesting to see how artificial intelligence shapes the way we approach financial & retirement planning and investing in the years to come.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing the financial planning industry today, and how can advisors overcome them?

The biggest challenge facing the financial planning and investment industry today is the same as it has always been, the lack of full disclosure, which leads to a failure of adherence to fiduciary responsibility and compliance.

In 2009, I became the first African American to earn the Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF) and Accredited Investment Fiduciary Analyst (AIFA) designations, credentials awarded by the fi360 and the Center of Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX).

The biggest takeaway for me from my fiduciary education was that brokerage firms that employ financial advisors would not allow their advisors to obtain a fiduciary designation because, in a legal dispute, the burden of proof is on the client to prove that the financial advisor is a fiduciary and therefore obligated to act in the best interest of his/her client.

In other words, having a fiduciary designation places a big bull’s eye on the back of every financial advisor and subsequently the brokerage firms that employ them.

I decided that serving as a fiduciary is not only in my client’s best interest, it is also in the best interest of my firm and the financial professionals employed by Wealthcare Financial Group, Inc.

In this regard, my motto is “A well-informed client makes for a strong and long-lasting client relationship.” Stated differently, “How much better it is to get wisdom than gold. And to get understanding is to be chosen, rather than silver.” Proverbs 16:16

For individuals with families, how can they effectively plan for wealth transfer and ensure their legacy is passed on smoothly to future generations?

The most important thing for individuals with families to do to ensure the safe and tax-efficient transfer of their estates to future generations is to come together and discuss the matter of their estate planning needs.

We have to be willing to have this important discussion because without doing so, the estate remains at risk of “shrinkage” through taxes, probate, and legal fees.

Therefore, the families need to hire a financial advisor and request assistance with estate planning. The financial advisor should be able to recommend a capable Estate Attorney and Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Together, the financial advisor, attorney, and CPA must work to outline a comprehensive plan that addresses the families’ or individuals’ estate planning needs, within the broader context of that individual’s or family’s wealth management needs.

In 5 words or less, what’s your best piece of financial advice?

Hire a Fiduciary, and #Vote!

Don’t wait to prioritize your financial health. Contact Wealthcare Financial Group today for a complimentary consultation and learn how they can help you develop a personalized plan to achieve your financial goals.

4 mins read

Business Buying: A Potential Path to Early Retirement

As the Baby Boomer generation prepares for retirement, a vast, untapped potential emerges: established, profitable businesses seeking new ownership. This presents a unique opportunity for discerning investors, not just corporate giants, to acquire thriving businesses and chart a course toward financial independence.

No longer the sole domain of private equity firms, business buying is becoming accessible to individual investors with foresight and ambition. Imagine owning a beloved local bakery, a bustling community bookstore, or a well-established gym – businesses with proven track records, loyal customers, and the potential to fuel your dreams.

In this article, we’ll provide a high level overview of the key steps in the business acquisition process.

Step 1: Identify the Perfect Match

The first crucial step in purchasing a business is finding the right fit for you. Consider factors such as location, industry, and size. Assess whether you prefer a hands-on approach or a business with an existing manager. Initiate your search online, leveraging various platforms to compile a list and carefully evaluating each potential deal. If you possess expertise in a specific industry or skill, starting there can minimize knowledge gaps and expedite your success.

Step 2: Extend an Offer

Once you’ve identified the ideal business, it’s time to make an offer. Formalize offers using a Letter of Intent (LOI), outlining the price structure and terms. Accurately determining the actual value is crucial, as sellers may overvalue their businesses. Consider hiring an advisor for precision, with many CPA firms offering a service known as “quality of earnings.”

Step 3: Conduct Due Diligence

The third step, due diligence, involves a thorough examination of the business’s financials, operations, and other critical aspects. While this step may seem formidable, avoid going through it alone. Engage a diligence firm or a CPA to streamline the process and ensure a clear understanding of the business’s true profit.

Step 4: Secure Funds and Finalize the Deal

Securing the necessary funds is pivotal. Explore options such as small business administration (SBA) loans, allowing you to invest as little as $50,000 in a million-dollar business. Negotiating the purchase agreement is critical, and collaboration with the seller and their attorneys will facilitate the finalization of the ownership transfer.

Step 5: Grow the business

Congratulations, you are now the proud owner of a revenue-generating enterprise! The final step is to concentrate on growing the business. Boost revenue through marketing and sales efforts, and trim costs by optimizing vendor fees and eliminating unnecessary expenses. Enhance the business’s effectiveness and efficiency to pave the way for financial success and early retirement.

For those who prefer a more hands-off approach, consider negotiating with the current owner to stay involved or hire a capable manager. This ensures a smooth transition and allows you to leverage their expertise, providing you the flexibility to steer the business toward financial success and early retirement without being directly involved in day-to-day operations.


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24 mins read

Growing and Maintaining Black Wealth: Watch your Ass-ets

This is the second installment in our series around the topic of “Growing and Maintaining Black wealth through sound legal strategies and problem solving.” Let’s continue with a discussion about Assets.

Growing and Maintaining Black Wealth: Watch your Ass-ets

“Gator Boots, with the pimped out Gucci suit

Ain’t got no job, but I stay sharp

Can’t pay my rent, cause all my money’s spent

but thats OK, cause I’m still fly

Got a quarter tank gas in my new E-class

but that’s alright cause I’m gon’ ride

got everything in my mama’s name

but I’m hood rich da dada dada da”

Still Fly by Big Tymers

Even though this song came out in 2002, it’s still a club banger that many of us get excited about as soon as the first beat drops. And most of us will shout the lyrics at the top of our lungs because it’s just one of those songs that brings joy to our dancing hearts. Raise your hand if you started bobbing your head a little while reading the lyrics above. Some of us relate to those lyrics a lot. My friend, in a bid to save money, decided to change his car insurance to get the cheapest car insurance quote possible. Money Expert helped him out tremendously. But getting car insurance can be really expensive for people though, there are some deals out there which have been designed to help people when it comes to getting car insurance. For example, you could check out this cheap monthly car insurance with no deposit.

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Big Tymers and many other rap artists brag about their wealth over hypnotic beats, easily impressing listeners with what they have. Chains that cost a condo. Expensive cars with even more expensive add-ons. Couture fashion. And there is some validity to what they’re doing. We all should be able to list out what we have, how much it is worth, and whether it is in line with our life goals and beyond.

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Have you ever stopped to wonder what your list of assets would be if, per chance, you decided to rap about it or brag a little? Have you ever wondered while listening to the rappers bragging about their purported wealth, “how liquid is [insert bragging rapper’s name]” and, more importantly “how liquid am I”?

Knowing what you have and what it is worth could possibly impress others. However, in the context of growing your wealth and estate planning, it is critical that you are actually able to list your assets as fluidly as Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, and the rest. At a minimum, you should:

  • be able to list everything that make up your assets;
  • know the individual and total value of your assets and the type of ownership; and
  • know what will happen to each asset when you pass away.

If you know all of these things about your assets, you are positioned to maximize the power to make your assets do the most for you and for those you plan to give them to when you pass away. If you do not know what you have, what it is worth, and what will happen to it when you pass away, then you just might be wasting a lot of hard work and hard earned money.


The focus of this article is on creating an inventory that identifies the assets that make up your estate, their value, and whether you need to make some adjustments or additions to your assets in order for you to develop an estate that meets your needs during your lifetime and meets your goals for when you pass away. Although there is basic discussion on the different types of assets that can make up your estate, you should make the time to do additional research to get a full understanding of each of these. This includes doing research online but also meeting with professionals who have solid, reliable knowledge about different financial instruments and financial planning. One feature of financial planning that many people do not quite realise the importance of is equity release. Equity release is a financial product for people aged 55 to 95 which allows you to release some of the cash (equity) tied up in the value of your home. To release equity from your home, you need to get expert advice from a qualified equity release adviser. You can actually calculate your equity by using something like this equity release calculator, just to make sure your finances are in the state they should be.

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You first want to list everything you own, how much each item is worth, and the beneficiaries of each item. Again, an estate is everything you own from real property (house) and personal property (cash, accounts, deejay collection, and etc.). To get you started on your inventory, we provide a worksheet you can download. Link

Most people’s estates also include a combination of some or all of the following:

  • Cash
  • Savings Accounts
  • Checking Account
  • Term Deposit Account
  • Life Insurance
  • Retirement Plans
  • Investments
  • Securities
  • Business Interests
  • Notes Receivable

Let’s take a more in-depth look at some of the financial vehicles above, because it is important to be clear on what you have and how it operates.

Term Deposit Account— This is a cash investment with a financial institution such as a bank that gives you an agreed rate of interest over a fixed period of time. A common term deposit account is a CD (certificate of deposit).

Life Insurance— Life insurance can be a significant part of an estate plan. Life insurance policies come in a variety of forms (e.g. term, whole, and universal), but the basic function of a life insurance policy is to provide a cash payment at the death of the life insured. This payment is known as a death benefit.

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The death benefit from a life insurance policy has numerous advantages and it takes careful planning to ensure that your life insurance is doing for you what it is intended to do. A major benefit of life insurance is to provide liquidity for your beneficiaries. In other words, it gives your beneficiaries cash and often it is soon after your death, which can be very useful, if not essential, to a surviving spouse and children. The death benefit is typically not taxable as income to the beneficiaries and it is paid directly to the beneficiaries rather than being paid to the estate of the deceased, so long as beneficiaries are listed.

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Other than a will, life insurance may be the best and only financial tool a person of modest means needs in their estate plan. Regardless of the policy owner’s means, it is critical to have a comprehensive understanding and strategy with your life insurance or the benefit can be lost.

Retirement Plans— As with life insurance, there are various types of retirement plans that you may have or that you will consider getting. Baby boomers and older generations often rely on Social Security, which is a government mandated plan, and pensions (an employer-sponsored plan profit sharing plan). Nowadays there are new, more robust retirement plans. For example, a 401(k) is an employer-sponsored retirement plan and most employers will match a percentage of what you contribute to your plan. Each year you can contribute up to $18,000 of your income before taxes are taken out, per federal law. Nonprofit and government employees usually have a 403(b) or 457 plan, respectively. You can also establish an Individual Retirement Plan (IRA or Roth IRA) on your own and there is a maximum amount that you can contribute each year. And if you leave your employer, you can roll your employer sponsored plan into your IRA.

Black WealthBusiness Interests— Whether you have a side hustle as a deejay or your main gig is your own business, know what your business is worth. More specifically, know what your share of the business is worth. Also, have clear instructions for what happens to your business or share of the business when you pass away. Should it be dissolved? Do you want to leave it to someone? Ideally, any business interest should not be compromised by your death undermining the effort and money invested in it. If you have a business partner(s), you should maintain life insurance policies on each other’s life and have a buy-sell agreement, so your interest in the business is not compromised when your partner passes away.

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Notes Receivable— This is a written promise to receive money from another person on or by a set date. The note formalizes a loan you make to someone and it is an asset. It is important to have any loan you make to someone put in writing and to use an attorney to draft this agreement to ensure your interests should the debtor file for bankruptcy, die, or disagree with the terms at a later date. Notes receivable can also be passed on to your heirs.

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Next Steps

After you have listed and determined the value of your assets, add them up to see the total value. You might find yourself impressed with what you have or you might realize that you need to make some changes to either grow your estate or to make sure what you leave behind is suitable for the loved ones you leave behind. Liquidity comes to mind again. Liquidity is an important and often overlooked characteristic of one’s assets. A basic way to determine your liquidity is to find out how much easily accessible money you have in the form of cash and equivalents, which you can do on your own or you may to speak to financial professionals to get the number.

Also, take a look at your debt and ask similar questions about your debt obligations as you do for your assets. How much is each debt? What happens to the debt when I die? How does it affect my potential heirs and beneficiaries? Keep in mind the assets that will go directly to the beneficiaries you named such as life insurance. Also, certain student loan debt is forgiven when you pass away, i.e. it does not become a debt of your estate.

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Nominate beneficiaries. Many of the assets discussed in this article are set up so that you can nominate beneficiaries and alternate beneficiaries to receive the assets directly when you pass away. It is critical that you nominate beneficiaries, plus alternate beneficiaries, on any account that you allow you to do so. Not nominating beneficiaries plus alternate beneficiaries can and will likely undermine your entire estate plan. In most states, if you fail to or intentionally do not nominate beneficiaries, the asset will go to your estate and be used first to pay the costs of administering your estate and then your debts. Only after those obligations are paid for will the money be received by your loved ones.

Do not rely solely on employer-provided life insurance and retirement plans. These may not be sufficient for your family’s needs and they often do not continue after you leave a place of employment.

Do regular check-ups. Regularly check in on your assets to ensure that you have the coverage you need; that they are growing to meet your goals; and that the beneficiaries are who you need or want them to be. Annual check-ups and life milestones, such as family changes, retirement or changes in health, are good times to do a check-up too.

Develop a plan unique to your needs. It is not uncommon for people to follow the financial advice of their parents or friends. Although they can provide helpful advice, you must pay attention to your unique circumstances. Many baby boomers would advise putting your assets in a trust. Trusts are complicated and expensive. One of the greatest benefits of a trust is avoiding estate taxes and you currently need to have an estate close to $5 million to be concerned about estate taxes. Likewise, if you are single and have no children, your financial goals can be very different. Life insurance may not play a major role and the money you would use for life insurance premiums can be targeted to financial vehicles with greater growth potential than life insurance. You can also consider leaving your assets to your alma mater or a non-profit.

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Don’t let debt undermine the value of your estate. Many people prioritize paying off their debt paid during their lifetime and when they pass away. Having no debt or keeping debt low certainly gives you more financial freedom. However, this is not a reality for most Americans, especially for people with student loan or mortgage debt. It is possible, though, to grow wealth in spite of debt. In order to do this, you need a plan and this plan involves a good estate planning attorney, a good CPA specializing in taxes, and good financial professionals. These professionals will help you build a strategy to grow wealth and sufficiently address debt to meet your individual needs.

A good estate planning attorney will assist you with creating an asset protecting estate plan. The cost for this is minimal compared to what you could lose to paying off your debt. A good CPA can assist you with tax planning strategies that allow you to put more of your income towards growth and reducing your tax obligations based on your debt repayment. Then financial professionals can address your specific circumstances and provide advice on financial vehicles that work for you.

Black WealthDeveloping a team of professionals to aid you will likely require a lot of work on your part in getting referrals, interviewing people, and doing research. This effort is needed and in the long run, benefits are priceless. Just remember: your ultimate goal should be growing enough wealth to take care of yourself while you are living and to take care of you any loved ones you leave behind or building a legacy.

Consider inexpensive life insurance policies to cover some debt. Inexpensive life insurance policies can cover some of your debt at your death or the death of a co-borrower. Your car loan lender may offer a policy that pays off your vehicle loans. If you have student loan debt, find out what happens to your student loan debt when you die. It may make sense to get an inexpensive policy to pay off the debt if you have a co-borrower. For example, it may make sense for you and a co-borrower on student loans to get policies each other’s life to pay off the loans when one of you dies. The same holds true for business loans and home loans. With student loans, though, you and your co-borrower should also seek removal of the non-student co-borrower as soon as possible, which is usually a few years into repayment of the loans. Many lenders will not tell you that you can do that. You have to be proactive.

Balance your funeral wishes with transferring your wealth regardless of its size. Historically and presently, many people have “funeral insurance” which is either a standard life insurance policy for which the policy owner wants the death benefit used to pay for their funeral or it is a policy very similar to a life insurance policy that will direct the death benefit to the funeral service provider to pay for funeral expenses. The difference is that with the standard life insurance policy, the beneficiary is legally under no obligation to use the money to pay the funeral expenses. It is merely a promise. In either case, if you have or plan to have a life insurance policy to pay for your funeral expenses and even your debts, consider whether doing so is really helpful to those you leave behind. Traditional funerals are expensive. The average funeral is in the ballpark of $6,000. Could $6,000 make a difference in the lives of your loved ones if it could be used for something other than your funeral? There are many options less expensive than a traditional funeral. Some options are better for the wallet and the earth. Go green!



Hopefully by now you feel encouraged to take an in-depth look at your assets. The goal is not to be able to brag like the rappers or even to see if you have something to be proud about. Regardless of your asset level, whether it is modest or very high, it is important to know what you have, how it operates, how it will transfer on your death, who it will go to, and the various scenarios of what can happen with all that you have worked hard to earn.
At the very least, you need to have a basic understanding of the financial assets you may have. Then, try to take it one step further and find out if what you have meets your needs and goals. Do you have the right type of assets? Also, find out if your assets are set up to meet your goals (i.e., have you nominated beneficiaries and alternate beneficiaries on accounts that allow it?). And once you have taken a good look at your assets, work with your loved ones to do the same by sharing this article and even sharing what has worked for you.

– Contributed by Mavis Gragg

Mavis Gragg is an attorney at the Gragg Law Firm, PLLC in Durham, North Carolina where she specializes in estate planning and estate administration. She is very passionate about maintaining and growing Black wealth through sound legal strategies and problem solving. When she is not being a justice girl, she can be found at an art gallery, trotting the globe, or on the dance floor.