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Mountains and Silos:

Hovering above the Earth at an elevation of 29,029 feet, Mt. Everest is truly a breathtaking sight to behold. The experience of climbing the summit has attracted thousands of experienced climbers from all around the world. 

What most of us don’t know is that there are over 300 people who have died on the mountain.

According to the book titled Dark Summit, 80% of the deaths that have occurred on Mt. Everest in the last 50 years have occurred on the descent.

Conquering the summit of Everest is a physical challenge unlike any other on earth. On the way up the mountain, climbers are motivated by viewing the spectacular peaks looming ahead and the glory and sense of accomplishment that the summit will bring. However, on the descent, they now have the gravity pulling them towards horrifying views of 10,000 ft drop-offs. Some of the deaths are the result of technical errors, but the vast majority result from climbers not wisely conserving their most precious commodity – OXYGEN. Over 130 of the 200 bodies that still remain on Mt. Everest are located in an area just below the summit commonly referred to as “The Death Zone”.

The Death Zone lies above 26,000 ft in the highest altitudes of the mountain. The oxygen level here is not adequate to support human life because the body simply cannot adapt.  At this altitude the body uses oxygen faster than it can be replaced. Therefore, if climbers linger in this region too long without supplementary oxygen, they will feel like they’re slowly suffocating.

Many of you reading this today are either nearing the summit of your working years or have already started the descent into retirement. A common thread in our conversations with clients regarding retirement issues is the anxiety generated by the realization that someday there will be a “last paycheck” from employment. Income is the equivalent of oxygen, and most of our clients have concerns about whether or not they will have enough of this precious commodity to maintain their dignity and independence as they navigate through their retirement years.

A sad commentary about the financial planning industry is that many advisors focus on having their clients reach the summit (accumulation phase) of retirement, but they spend very little time planning a successful descent. Many of these plans were greatly compromised over the past 10-15 years due to the tech bubble of the early 2000s and the “Great Recession” of 2008. Our firm employs strategies that will enhance the likelihood that you won’t outlive your resources.

The story of Mt. Everest and the current landscape of retirement planning have more parallels than we initially think.  During the accumulation phase (or on your way up the mountain), the sequence of returns in your portfolio don’t affect you as much. In some instances, they can help you. The law of averages takes over during the accumulation phase. However, the sequence of returns once you retire (or hit the summit) now become paramount for your financial descent down the mountain known as retirement years. A large market correction in the early years of retirement can have a horrific effect on our rate of success down the mountain.

Elite Tax & Wealth Advisors was founded for the specific purpose of helping clients find their “true purpose” for money and to obtain clarity, confidence, and understanding of their savings objectives in order to achieve success in their retirement planning.

In addition to helping our clients identify the right strategy, we help keep our clients’ decisions and behavior regarding their savings strategies on track for achieving the results they desire.

In other words, we help you make it safely both up the Mountain and back down the Mountain.

We were also founded to address what we view as the biggest flaw of the financial services industry.

Traditionally, the approach within the financial services world has been segregated. Ultra-high net worth families receive holistic planning. They have a CPA or accountant, a broker or investment manager, an insurance agent, and an attorney. All of these professionals work together to create a plan on behalf of that high-net-worth family.

Contrast that with the rest of America; they too work with these professionals, but they all operate in silos. There is little to no communication or interaction amongst these professionals on their clients’ behalf.

Inherently, financial services professionals sell financial products. Brokers sell investment products, insurance agents sell policies, attorneys sell legal documents, CPAs sell tax returns, without any coordination on behalf of the client. This silo-approach can expose the average American to risks including gaps in services, overlaps, tax inefficiencies, unnecessary fees, and an underperforming long-term financial plan. With a founding principle of leading with a tax focused, comprehensive, holistic plan, not a product, we work to identify and develop congruent financial strategies that consider all the areas of an individual’s financial life.

Also, as tax preparers, too many times in the past we have seen “tax planning” done by other financial advisors only to sell financial products, cost-heavy products in our clients’ portfolios, or unexpected tax bills when they file their tax returns.

In response, we address the very real need of our clients for comprehensive wealth management offered with a tax-conscious approach. Because of our President’s in-depth tax knowledge, this background allows us to coordinate wealth management and retirement planning with true comprehensive tax planning. 

We believe it is essential for everyone to have access to a well-coordinated and holistic planning experience. When working with us, you will gain the insight, tools, and resources necessary to develop well-orchestrated, holistic plans to help you reach your ultimate goals and objectives, while paying the least amount of taxes possible.


Biran Herndon specializes in strategic tax and retirement planning. He is on a mission to provide his clients with comprehensive, holistic planning services to help them feel financially confident for years to come. He sees his clients as family and loves seeing them enjoy their successes.

Biran started out as a tax advisor/preparer working with one of the nation’s largest income tax preparation firms. He became one of their youngest office managers and ran one of their Premium tax offices.

After working with the tax firm for 12 years, He joined one of the top financial firms in Orlando as their Advanced Tax and Estate Planning Director, where he helped high net-worth individuals, real estate investors and business owners legally reduce their tax liabilities and protect their wealth.

He quickly realized the issue of tax reduction was not the only area of concern for his clients.

After realizing the issue of tax planning and wealth planning are not being properly coordinated with the Client’s overall financial picture, he wanted to give his clients a more thorough, well rounded, guidance encompassing both disciplines into a client centered, holistic approach towards maximizing their tax-free income and wealth.

He left corporate America to start his own boutique tax advisory and holistic retirement planning practice with one goal in mind: To help his clients realize greater wealth and financial security, while paying the least amount of taxes possible.

A graduate of ITT Tech, he lives in Melbourne, FL with his wife Michele and enjoys reading and travel. He is a Certified Tax Master and a member of the Tax Master’s Network.