From a vantage point 31-years later, it is possible for Martin (Marty) James to look back and describe how Martin James Investment & Tax Management, LLC grew from scratch into the unique firm it is today. It was an evolution and each step along the way was made through prayer and conscious decisions to remain focused on family and doing what is right, and best, for clients through financial planning.

Marty and wife, Cindy, were high school sweethearts in Plainfield. Although his original intent was to study advertising in college, he realized that meant working in a big city and
he didn’t want that. He and Cindy both wanted to stay in the area near family. He checked out what industries were doing well in the sluggish economy and saw that accountants were employed
and doing well. Accounting it would be. May, 1980 was a big month for the couple. Marty graduated from Indiana University, he and Cindy married, and a week later he started work. Despite several offers from big firms outside the area, he accepted one locally at Coopers and Lybrand. For nearly three years he worked in the small business area in real estate tax and accounting. He later moved to a smaller firm.

All hands on deck

Marty said he always wanted to be a business owner, so when a client mentioned to him that there were no CPAs in Mooresville at the time, he figured that it was a good idea. Cindy had left her job at a bank and had a daycare in their home while caring for their two sons, Kyle and Craig. Marty said, “We knew this was what was supposed to happen and we had a sense of peace, but it was scary.”

From day one Cindy has been the administrative staff. “I love business,” Cindy said. “When we got the opportunity, I thought well, why not me?” She had been a business major in college and when they opened the business, applying her skills was as exciting as it was easy for her. “This was our life and our bread and butter so we worked super hard and a lot of hours. But how do you call something work if you really enjoy it?”

The first year the couple completed 100 tax returns. Cindy’s mother kept the boys some nights and other nights the boys stretched on sleeping bags while the couple worked long into the night. Marty did return preparation and Cindy typed each one on a typewriter by hand.

Tax Jiu Jitsu

“I was really interested in the financial planning model,” Marty said. From his previous experiences he discovered that large firms were not positioned to help small business owners with the planning side of life. “They are too big with lots of overhead,” Marty said. “Their structure is not conducive to providing services to Main Street like we have here in Indiana.” And Mooresville, small town Indiana, is where they always intended to stay.

An element of the planning process that Marty felt was missing, especially for small business owners, was tax implications. “Once I got it, I really, really loved the tax side of it,” Marty said. “In each scenario I am looking for a solution to a problem and the solution informs us how to not pay more taxes than necessary so you set yourself up in a position where you are better off ten years from now. I call it Tax Jiu Jitsu.”

“No two people are in the same situation,” Marty said, “but everyone has to play by the same rules. We have to know how to use what’s there to the client’s advantage.” With constant changes in tax rules and life situations, plans must be set in very flexible ways to allow for pivots into the opposite direction. He says there are also many people who have no idea what will happen when they start taking money in retirement. “If you haven’t planned for that,” Marty said, “you lose a lot of control over your tax situation.”

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