Last week, Nutshells, Planning Strategies for a Tax-Free, High-Income Retirement, was released and immediately became an Amazon #1 New Release best seller in Personal Taxes. We spoke with the author, Jasen Dahm, Managing Director of TAG Invest about the need for this new work and his motivation for writing it. 

TAG: What was your motivation for writing the book?

JD: After reading several other books on taxes and financial planning, I felt like the content was really solid, but incomplete, and written either towards the financial advisor or the client, but not to both together. I wanted to help bridge the gap and expand upon of the concepts, mainly around Social Security planning and other accounts like HSAs and 529s that weren’t really detailed or touched on in a lot of depth.

TAG: How would you summarize what the new contribution is to the body of literature that’s out there in financial planning?

JD: I always say that the hippocratic oath, which states “first, due no harm” can be spun for financial advisors as “first, pay no taxes”. I feel like a lot of financial advice is incomplete from the standpoint of not looking sufficiently at after tax cash flows. Ultimately, we have to look at why we are saving in the first place – to have money to spend at a later date. But we don’t spend money pre-tax. So everything from the savings phase to the distribution phase of retirement really needs to put taxes as sort of center stage first, then work backwards to the decisions we can make today.

I think what’s also new about it is combining the worlds of taxes, which is kind of its own entity that has a lot of material written, with specifics of investing. Investments tend to be “pre-taxed”. We look at it through the lens of what’s going to make the most sense for building a portfolio and managing risk. But very rarely do we combine both concepts together – portfolio constructon and taxation. I’m trying to bridge that gap for advisors and for clients to make it a little bit more clear as part of the planning process.

TAG: So is this a book that’s more for clients or more for advisors?

JD: The answer is yes, it’s meant for both. I’d like clients to pick it up and read it in tandem with their advisors. I want the client to read it and go back to the advisor with more questions. I want the advisor to read it and say, “Hey, there’s some concepts in here that I’d really like to introduce to so and so client to make it easier for them to work together and see the value of the relationship. And then selfishly I’d like them to be able to both look at it and say, this is why I’m using TAG Invest to help make it all work together.

TAG: I’m assuming of course that what you do in TAG Invest is sort of an embodiment to some extent of the things that you talk about in the book.

JD: Exactly. I found a lot of times, and maybe this is going back to the impetus for writing it, for gosh, eight, nine years of describing to people, what is it you do? How do you ultimately help add value to clients? And it’s really difficult to describe in a short and concise manner. And so instead of doing it in a short and concise manner, I wrote a whole book about it.

In all seriousness, as I’m describing a lot of these things to clients and trying to gain and go deeper and deeper with them and with the advisors as well, I find that 45 minutes to an hour on a Zoom call scratches the surface but it doesn’t really give us the depth that we need. And if somebody wants to go a couple layers deeper, the ones that really want to dig into this, they really need more time with it. And so I wanted to have that sort of a support for those conversations. 

TAG: So it sounds like for advisors who work with TAG Invest, it can be a great way to not just answer the question of what do you do without the advisor having to write it themselves but also can be a great asset. You suggested advisors can share this book with clients and that way the clients can sort of get a lot more background about not only what the advisor will do, but how they will manage investments for them that would go way beyond what they might be able to do in a phone call or meeting.

JD: Correct. It would be akin to having something that’s a very in-depth long form investment philosophy and process statement saying that, hey, these are the concepts that I’m going to employ to manage your accounts. And then we can go into the more specifics on the one-on-one basis. I’ve already had a few advisors tell me, hey, I think this book will be great for a client that we’re already working with to help reinforce what we’re doing. 

The advisor feels like they’ve provided good service to their clients but this takes it to a whole other level. It puts the relationship on steroids and allows us to be able to go a couple layers deeper than what normal circumstances allow time for. It’s not even a matter of technical expertise. There’s nothing in here that’s revolutionary in terms of what’s being offered, but it’s just a matter of making it so that it can be done with scale.

TAG: What kind of a role do you see this book potentially playing or what kind of opportunity do you see this book presenting to an advisor in regard to prospects?

JD: It’s a conversation starter. I said for a long time the true information share that happens in a client to advisor or prospect to an advisor conversation doesn’t happen with the first question and answer. It happens with the third, fourth order questions that come from conversation. This gives you more to start a dialogue, but it also allows you to work off of so that if you get new information from the client you always have something to stand on, to pivot, to go into a different level. Say, for example, you start with a simple question about when a client plans on retiring, how much they plan on spending.

The next question is, well when do you plan on drawing social security as part of that? A lot of people will say, well as soon as I retire. Well does that make sense though? Does it make sense based on how that social security is taxed and then does it work in context with the investments you already have? And then how does the risk of your investments need to change to accommodate the social security? And when the risk of the overall investment allocation changes, how does that optimally get distributed amongst the various accounts you have available? And if we’re having this conversation well before retirement but anticipating it, what can we do during the savings’ years to change the available Roth vs NQ budget you have to work within? And so you have to answer those questions and go that level of depth in order to provide the optimal solution for that client. And this gives that framework for how to talk with them. But it’s just ideas to start. This isn’t a fix all, it’s not a DIY, it’s more of here’s a bunch of concepts that you can talk through and then hopefully it springs some other ideas for both the advisor and the client to come up with something that will work best for them.

You can get individual copies of Nutshells on Amazon. If you would like to consider buying them in quantity to distribute to clients or if you would like to discuss working with TAG Invest, you can contact Jasen at

Jasen Dahm, CFA®, CPA, is Managing Director of TAG Invest, the investment program available to TAG Advisors. He consults financial advisors on asset management, tax planning, liquidity management, and advanced case design. His prior experience includes running an asset management program, accumulating and managing over $1.1 Billion. He is also author of the Amazon best selling book Nutshells: Planning Strategies for a Tax-Free, High-Income Retirement

TAG Advisors is a national community of over 350 thriving independent financial professionals across the country, with over $10 Billion in assets under advisement. The management and staff of TAG Advisors represents decades of experience in all facets of financial services.

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