Karl H. Graf CPA/PFS, CFP®
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Karl’s main responsibilities include helping clients develop their financial plans, implementing wealth management strategies and managing clients’ investment portfolios.

Professional Designations

Certified Public Accountant/Personal Financial Specialist™, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™


Upsala College, honors graduate

Read more about Karl

What sparked your interest in financial planning?

My interest in financial planning was sparked early in my accounting career. As a CPA it seemed to me at that time that much accounting work is oriented towards the past, what happened and why.  Certainly, there are some forward-looking aspects but my perception then was that most clients were not that happy to see us (perhaps because I was an auditor at the time).   Personal financial planning interested me because it was forward-looking, that helps clients impact their future outcomes in a positive way with our advice.  That was a very important motivating factor that helped move me towards financial planning as a career.   Being a CPA I also only focused on fee-only planning, which was somewhat of a rarity back then. To me, that was the only way that I could provide financial planning services.

What’s the one thing people say you’re best at?

Getting to the heart of the matter, seeing the essence of an issue or problem, to be able to focus on the REAL issue and communicate that to the client in a clear, understandable way.  Then helping to solve the problem or address the issue as completely and simply as is practical given the circumstances.  

What do you enjoy most about working at Modera?

Working with a group of people in a collaborative way, always striving to improve what and how we serve our clients and how we run our business.  The focus on keeping the firm independent so that we can continue to deliver our service in the way we think is most suitable for our clients.  I appreciate being around a group of smart, caring professionals who are like-minded when it comes to the philosophy of our business.   I also appreciate that at Modera – “You always get your say, but you might not always get your way.”   That openness to differing opinions and discussion does much to enhance and improve the firm.  Ultimately I think it comes down to respecting everyone’s opinion, but then after the debate coming together around the direction that has been agreed upon.

Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?

I grew up in Bergen County, NJ. In late 2017 I relocated to Charlotte, NC to help Modera as we expanded into this market with a new location.

Karl’s Insights

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Crafting Your Efficient and Personalized Financial Plan

Individuals that come to Modera typically have accumulated significant assets or they’re on their way to doing so, and they do that because they’re working lucrative professions that require a lot of attention and focus. They have significant needs. It could be around the business, could be around the profession, risk management considerations. We have a broad range of clients across the United States. We also have a team approach. We can enlist our colleagues to assist and craft a solution that’s designed specifically for each client’s situations. We get a background, full background on the client and their family and their aspirations. Synthesize that information to develop solutions that suit their temperaments, their needs and their goals.

We try to be proactive as much as possible. That means once we gained that knowledge and historical perspective on a client and an understanding of what they want to achieve, and it allows us to always be on the alert for potential solutions and ways that we can enhance the efficiency of their financial lives. We can meet with them in any number of ways.

I love the relationships that we’re able to build with our clients and that we have built. I love the colleagues that we have. We’re all pulling in the same direction. We’re trying to be proactive, trying to be the financial adviser of choice, and I appreciate the depth of the organization and the support that they give every one of us as we try to keep delivering excellent service.

Documents: Store or Shred?

Technology is increasingly important in helping to organize our lives. But some things are still done by pen and paper.

The ABCs of RSUs (Restricted Stock Units)

Do you work for an employer that granted you restricted stock units (RSUs)? This form of non-cash compensation has become increasingly popular among start-ups and Fortune 500 companies alike that are using RSUs to lure new hires and retain senior executives to create a culture of ownership. As employers continue to grant fewer stock options than in years past, the granting of RSUs is becoming more common.

How COLA Can Affect Social Security Benefits

During 2020, an estimated 65 million people in the United States will receive over one trillion dollars in Social Security benefits, while the average retiree will get a monthly Social Security check of $1,514. That is a big financial help for many. Unfortunately, Social Security recipients are not seeing much of an increase in their checks these days. The Social Security Administration uses its official Cost Of Living Adjustment, or COLA, to determine how much these benefits increase each year

Modera and Your CPA

Chances are, you have more than one financial professional in your life. If you’re a client of Modera, in addition to your financial advisers, you may also have a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) who does your tax planning. Since your CPA has a different role in your financial life than your Modera advisors, we find it most advantageous for you if we all work together.

Have a Household Employee? Be Sure to Follow the Tax Rules

If you pay wages of more than $2,000 per year to any single household employee, or more than $1,000 to all household employees in any calendar quarter, you may be responsible for paying federal Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment taxes.

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