So your business is just ducky these days, and the good times have never been better. The common wisdom says that you ought to be making the most of the situation -- building up your company's net worth, investing in expansion programs, riding the tide of prosperity. That sounds reasonable enough, until you talk to Alan Goldstein, a partner in the Boston office of Touche Ross & Co.
Goldstein is extremely worried about the volatility and uncertainty of the U.S. economy -- so worried, in fact, that he is giving anything but upbeat advice to some of his clients. Instead of counseling them to build up their balance sheets, he's been recommending the opposite, saying, in effect, "Take the money and run."
Goldstein concedes that some people cringe at the suggestion of draining a company's profits. Many bankers, he notes, insist that their corporate customers upgrade their balance sheets whenever they have a little extra cash.
But that's not a wise course for every company, argues Goldstein. Recently, for instance, he convinced the two owners of a 15-store retailing chain to reorganize their company as an S corporation, thus allowing each of them to receive $1.2 million in dividends. S corporations can do this more readily than regular corporations, he notes, since they need not pay corporate taxes on profits distributed to shareholders.
A more conventional approach would have argued for leaving the money in the business. But Goldstein contends that the owners are now much better protected against the possibility of trouble in the months ahead. "They can always decide to put money back in," he says. "And if the company goes down the tubes, their lives won't go down with it."