Reader’s Perspective: Question and Answer with Brett Tushingham, CFP, Founder of Tushingham Wealth Strategies

By Paul Curley | | January 13, 2017

What is working for Brett Tushingham, founder of Tushingham Wealth Strategies and speaker at the 529 Conference 2016, in terms of college financial planning?

This article features an interview with Brett Tushingham, CFP, Founder of Tushingham Wealth Strategies. Based currently in Wilmington, North Carolina, Brett’s insight is build off of over two decades of experience in wealth management and corporate finance. After working on Wall Street for 10 years at Chase Manhattan Bank, Morgan Stanley and Royal Bank of Canada, Brett moved to North Carolina in 2003, obtained his Certified Financial Planner certification in 2006 and worked with a private wealth management firm for 10 years. Since then, he established his own financial planning business that aligns with his passion for helping families plan for college and protect their retirement. You can learn more about Brett Tushingham and Tushingham Wealth Strategies at the website of Last but not least, thank you Brett for your time, insight and support for working with me on the article, and for participating on a panel at the 529 Conference 2016. Please read the question and answers to learn about his perspective on college financial planning, and hope that the article provides you with an opportunity to learn more from your peers.

Question 1 (Paul Curley, Editor of the 529 Dash): What is working for you in terms of college financial planning?

Answer 1 (Brett Tushingham, Founder of Tushingham Wealth Strategies): College planning has allowed me to differentiate myself from other financial advisory firms and has proven to be a tremendous value added service for the people I work with. A college education is one of the greatest investments a family will make however they aren’t receiving the guidance that they need from their current advisors or elsewhere. Families need to develop a strategy to pay for college and protect their retirement and it’s nice to know that I can provide that to them.

Question 2: How do you integrate college financial planning into your discussions with a client?

Answer 2: It starts with educating clients on the costs of college and the benefits of developing a strategy to pay for it. I’ll demonstrate to them how that strategy can benefit by incorporating a tax-preferred savings component. With the price of some four year colleges costing north of $250,000 they understand the need to be proactive.

Question 3: How can product providers and states better support you?

Answer 3: Providing more online resources and delivering content through social media channels is a great place to start! Online resources for 529 plans has improved substantially, however most families I talk to still don’t fully understand the benefits. Financial advisors should also shoulder some of this responsibility as a fiduciary. They need to provide their client’s with an increased awareness of their savings options.

Question 4: What key trends do you see in college financial planning going forward?

Answer 4: All of my clients with college bound children have established 529 plans, and that’s a great start. The tax benefits, flexibility and impact on financial aid make them a very attractive savings vehicle.

Question 5: Are there any questions that we should have asked?

Answer 5: Savings vehicles such as 529 plans are a valuable component of any college planning strategy. That being said families shouldn’t stop there. A comprehensive college plan should also incorporate the best use of the family’s resources, financial aid optimization, college selection and tax aid. This strategy will not only help a family pay for college but also protect their retirement.

Editor’s Final Note: Thank you Brett Tushingham for your time and insight for this article and for your participation on a panel at the 529 Conference 2016, and much appreciated. Also, I would like to provide a special thank you to the readers for learning from your peers, for your support and your engagement.