NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - For some 20 years, the New Providence firm of Allegra & Company, CPAs and Financial Planners has been providing accounting and full-service wealth management services to individuals and small businesses through boom times and through challenging times.

Company founder and President David J. Allegra, CPA, CFP® says he wouldn’t trade the experience for anything else.

“Our professionals act as trusted advisers,” he notes. “We work closely with clients to understand where they are now, where they want to be, and then we suggest ways that they can reach their goals.”

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Doing this requires a flexible approach, according to Allegra. For a small-business owner seeking to stay afloat in a sluggish economy, it may mean trimming inventory and finding more efficient ways to operate. For a couple that’s just starting out and looking at housing, savings and other needs—or for parents that are wondering how they’ll fund their child’s education while squirreling away money for their own retirement—Allegra’s advisers may suggest investment and other strategies.

“There are no quick, cookie-cutter answers,” he observes. “Our team meets with each client for deep discussions where we identify basics like their goals and objectives, and their current and future ability to meet those goals. We’re personally familiar with a wide range of specialties, and we can also call in trusted partners if needed to supplement our own knowledge. The client’s needs, of course, always come first.”

Allegra and his staff are constantly looking at “what-if” scenarios, he adds.

“What is the client’s current tax picture, and how might that change with potential new legislation,” he explains. “What’s their net worth, and their current and projected income stream, and how could that affect their plans?”

Risk management also plays a key role, Allegra notes.

“It’s easy for people to overlook this critical component,” he says. “One of the areas we focus on is insurance, including healthcare, life, property and casualty, and disability coverage. What if something happens to the primary wage earner? What about assisted living and other issues traditionally associated with the elderly? Addressing these issues early on can make a big difference in a person’s quality of life down the road. You just can’t make assumptions, especially in this economy. But you can try to backstop your risks.”

For many people, the biggest wake-up call is the time value of money, he says.

“When you invest funds, they can grow significantly over a lengthy period of time,” Allegra notes. “For example, we often see small business owners putting all their financial resources into their company, hoping that when they sell it the business will provide them with a retirement nest egg. But what happens if your business or industry hits a snag—the value is then diminished and your retirement nest egg is now worth a lot less. So we tell them to start planning for their retirement plan early on, and put aside some money now so it can grow. We work often with small businesses setting up plans to help save for retirement while reducing their current tax bill.”

When it comes to individuals and families, many people don’t do much budgeting, Allegra adds. “They keep putting it off, saying that after their kids are out of college they can start saving—but time’s working against them. We advise them to set up a realistic budget, and then take steps to live within their means and put money away. If you start planning now, then you’ll be a lot happier in the long run. We like to keep our clients happy, and it shows in the way we retain existing clients and continue to attract new ones.”

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