Money Matters: Year-End Financial Planning? Consider Year-Round Planning Instead

2024 Material Handling Business Trend: With succession planning and consolidation continuing, the business valuation model will fluctuate along with changing economic conditions.
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By Brad Stanek and Paulina Matel

As we enter the fourth quarter of 2023, many owners and businesses find themselves in a familiar scramble to assess their financial situation, set goals and strategize for the year ahead. The notion of year-end financial planning has long been ingrained in our minds as a necessary ritual, but what if there’s a better way? Rather than treating it as a frantic race against the clock, perhaps it’s time to shift our perspective and embrace the concept of year round financial planning. By adopting this proactive approach, we can unlock greater personal and business financial stability, optimize short- and long-term opportunities and, perhaps most importantly, alleviate stress with last-minute year-end financial planning decisions.

2023 in Review

As we explore financial planning tips for this year, it’s crucial to understand the macroeconomic landscape that will shape our financial decisions. 2023 has been marked by significant economic milestones and trends that will undoubtedly impact our financial strategies.

•  Inflationary Pressures and Interest Rates: While inflation continues to retreat from the four-decade high of above 9%, we are still experiencing inflationary pressures that impact day-to-day business operations. As of July 2023, the Federal Reserve raised rates 11 times since March 2022 to fight inflation. The direct results of those actions are higher interest rates on lines of credit, inventory financing, SBA lending and even personal debt, such as auto and home purchases on margins.

•  Higher Inventory Levels: 2023 has seen robust supply chain recoveries from the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While business is back to normal, some business owners are sitting on higher inventory levels than they are used to. Closely managing your profit and loss statement, keeping an eye on the operational efficiencies of your business and shoring up your total financial picture have become a central focus for many, especially in light of a potential recession.

  State of the Buy-Sell Market: According to Pat Albero and Dan Argiro with Performance Brokerage Services, in regards to the buy-sell landscape in the material handling industry, Albero noted, “The recent years of allocation have put a strain on the industry when it comes to sales, but we have seen absorption increase substantially due to the number of parts and service orders that are being processed.” The ability to generate cash flow, in lieu of equipment sales, is also a hedge against a slowdown, continued inflation, or both. “Buyers are still hunting for good opportunities,” Argiro stated. He goes on to say, “Buyers are still willing to pay a premium for the right opportunity and are paying fair market value for others. Of course, the larger groups are always buying, but we have seen smaller groups, flush with cash, looking to expand as well. The fun part for dealers that are thinking about exploring a sale is they have essentially been given a trip in a time machine. Record profits in the last couple of years have accelerated their timeline for an exit. It’s an exciting time for everyone in many aspects of the buy-sell market.”

Planning Ahead

•  Timely Tax and Financial Planning: Engaging in a tax and financial planning brainstorm call with your accountant and financial planner on an annual basis is considered a best practice. However, this approach becomes particularly crucial during periods when specific COVID-related opportunities, like the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC), are nearing their deadline. Our team worked with multiple dealers who were initially informed that they were ineligible to claim the credit due to the absence of a decline in gross receipts during the pandemic. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that there are additional qualifying criteria that dealers can meet to become eligible for the credit. Discuss this opportunity with your accountant or consider a second opinion from an ERC-specializing accounting firm before the deadline.

•  Maximizing Depreciation and Facility Improvements: Numerous material handling business owners find themselves confronted with substantial facility improvement expenses, including building expansions. However, not every business owner recognizes the potential financial and tax planning benefits in such situations. If you are facing significant six-figure improvements to your business, it’s worth considering the possibility of a cost segregation study in consultation with your accountant. This study could potentially enable you to accelerate your depreciation expenses and effectively manage your taxable income, especially in high-income years.

•  Start with the End Goal in Mind: Last but certainly not least, we highly recommend that business owners proactively examine their tax and financial planning roadmap for a period of three to five years into the future. This foresight becomes even more critical if you are contemplating an acquisition or a business sale, as certain strategic decisions can be made well in advance to prepare for those events. Understanding the true value of your business, which likely represents one of the most significant assets on your personal net worth statement as well as knowing the implications of your corporate entity structure (C, S, LLC), and determining your walkaway proceeds needs can be instrumental in guiding you towards the right path.


As a business owner, you are dealing with many macroeconomic, political, global and even personal implications for your business. There are a lot of moving pieces constantly in flux. If you don’t update your financial plan or factor in these changes, you may be exposed to pitfalls and gaps in your plan.

The Stanek Group at Morgan Stanley helps business owners become financially independent of their businesses. Our team is happy to provide MHEDA members a no-cost, no-obligation review of their business and personal financial situation, a service we refer to as the Second Opinion Service. Contact us at group to learn more.

About the Authors

Brad Stanek, CFP® is a Financial Advisor, Senior Vice President of The Stanek Group at Morgan Stanley in Chicago, IL | 312-648-3381

Paulina Matel, CFP® is a Financial Advisor at The Stanek Group at Morgan Stanley in Chicago, IL | 312-648-3533

The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, Member SIPC, or its affiliates.

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC (“Morgan Stanley”), its affiliates and Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors do not provide tax or legal advice. Individuals should seek advice based on their particular circumstances from an independent tax or legal advisor.

The services, strategies and investments discussed may not be appropriate for all investors. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC recommends that investors independently evaluate particular services, strategies and investments, and encourages investors to seek the advice of a financial advisor. The appropriateness of a particular service, strategy or investment will depend upon an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives.

Information contained herein has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee their accuracy or completeness.

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, and CFP® (with plaque design) in the United States, which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.

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