About Me

Married to Zach, a general contractor and home inspector with a restoration and remediation business, and raising a son, Zahn, Paula stays busy with family events outside of work. You will likely find her at her son’s soccer games or robotics practice, playing tennis with a good friend or on a run through the neighborhood on the weekend.

With a love of real estate investing, a real estate broker’s license and a family with a long history in real estate, Paula particularly enjoys studying and comparing real estate opportunities. She enjoys employing the power of tax and depreciation strategies in real estate investing – as one asset class in a diversified portfolio.

Paula McMillan, CFP®, CPA/PFS, CGMA

Wealth Management Advisor

Greensboro, NC | 336-230-1811

Overview

Paula is a Financial Advisor with Stearns Financial Group. She is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) additional distinction, and a Global Management Accountant (CGMA). Paula has Big Four and large regional accounting firm experience, as well as Fortune 500 experience in the financial services industry. She has traveled extensively throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East to serve clients with an international consulting firm. She uses this wide lens in working with clients with varied backgrounds and aspirations.

Paula is an active member of the NCACPA, AICPA , the Greensboro Estate Planning Council and the Society for Financial Service Professionals, serving on the Foundation Board.

Seeing a need for greater financial empowerment for women, Paula founded and chairs the NCACPA Triad Women’s Initiatives Group and actively participates in Stearns Financial Group’s Financial Focus for Women to encourage women to better understand and grow their finances to achieve financial independence. Being an advocate for education, in general, she has served on local school boards.

Paula also enjoys helping owners transition their businesses successfully, including analyzing the impact of different ways of structuring the sale and how to maximize the resulting proceeds while realizing their expressed goals.

Paula has been published and quoted in national and local publications, including AICPA’s The Tax Adviser, Kiplinger’s and The Business Journal. She created two AICPA podcast series on retirement planning and financial empowerment for women. She is a TEDx presenter for TEDxGreensboro on the topic of retirement challenges and opportunities from a national perspective. Paula regularly speaks to professional organizations, industry organizations, professional firms, civic organizations and businesses on the topics of Social Security, Retirement Planning, Financial Empowerment for Women and Financial Wellness.

Education

BS – Accounting, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Credentials & Professional Associations
  • CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) practitioner

  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

  • Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)

  • Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA)

  • Society of Financial Service Professionals (SFSP)

  • Board Member, Society of Financial Service Professionals Foundation

  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

  • Greensboro Estate Planning Council

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. (CFP Board) owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design), and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.

Awards & Publications

WOMEN AND MONEY

  • A large wealth transfer to women is underway as a result of longevity, increased compensation and inheritance. What are the challenges and opportunities for women in assuming this increased financial responsibility? Women Taking the Reins: Financial Influence on the Move AICPA Women Podcast 1 of 4 

  • Amazing career. “Perfect” children and marriage. Devoted daughter. With all of these plates spinning, how is she at managing conflicting goals and responsibilities with limited finances/investments?  It can be a challenge: Breadwinner Women: Sandwiched Between Career, Children and Caregiver  AICPA Women Podcast 2 of 4 

  • Undergoing the emotional and financial challenges of a divorce is one of the most difficult life transitions she can face. What can make the difference in ensuring the most successful outcome possible?  Women Navigating Divorce, Independence and Finances AICPA Women Podcast 3 of 4 

  • Upon losing a beloved husband, she wonders how she will navigate this new unfamiliar world alone. As her advisor/friend, I have found some key things to remember in supporting her through this devastating time, shared here: Widow Can Feel Like A Four Letter Word: Supporting the Surviving Spouse AICPA Women Podcast 4 of 4 

  • As the primary breadwinners in 40% of families, women are increasingly moving into the driver’s seat when it comes to family finances. Surprisingly, instead of being cheered on by their relatives and others, most women disclose a different experience. Read about it in 

     Women Breadwinners Bear Brunt, Feel Ill-Prepared The Business Journal 

  • Enjoyed delivering Influence on the Move – Planning Nuances With Women, at the AICPA Sophisticated Tax Planning for Your Wealthy Clients in Philadelphia in November 2019. Influence on the Move – Planning Nuances With Women AICPA Sophisticated Tax Planning for Your Wealthy Clients 

RETIREMENT READINESS

  • Retirement: Longevity and Security is more difficult (and more critical) to manage than ever before with no pensions, longer lifespans and more. I touch on some of the tips and thoughts that are most compelling to me in my TEDx presentation on this rich subject. Retirement: Longevity and Security  TEDxGreensboro 

  • With 30 years of market volatility, inflation and taxes and no paycheck in retirement, will I run out of money? How much is enough? Join me in exploring these important questions!: 

     Will Your Clients Have Enough to Retire? AICPA Retirement Podcast 1 of 4 

  • How has the vision of a meaningful retirement and the tools to achieve it evolved over the last several decades? What is today’s vision and greatest fears toward not achieving it?  Join me in exploring these important questions!: What is the National State of Retirement?  AICPA Retirement Podcast 2 of 4  

  • Financial planning is not a one-time event. To accomplish your highest priority goals, it should be integrated in daily living.  Join me in exploring how we can do this to help you and those who depend on you: Making Conversations Count: Integrated Financial Planning AICPA Retirement Podcast 3 of 4 

  • What can we learn from the mistakes and successes of those who have transitioned to retirement before us? Plenty! Join me in exploring what current retirees have to add to the conversation: Lessons from the 9th Hole: What Current Retirees Have to Say  AICPA Retirement Podcast 4 of 4 

  • While there are many paths to wealth, most people who stay wealthy have a healthy respect for money – and can be very resourceful in their frugality. It was such a pleasure to work with Mary Kane, Kiplinger’s Retirement Report Editor, on this engaging, informative piece! The Cheapskate’s Guide to Retirement Kiplinger 

SOCIAL SECURITY STRATEGIES 

  • The first place most people start when planning for retirement income is Social Security. These are the Top Seven Mistakes I See When Claiming Social Security Benefits. These are 

    frequently made mistakes that can be very costly! Top Seven Mistakes When Claiming Social Security Benefits AICPA The Tax Adviser 

  • In claiming Social Security, delaying benefits will increase the size of your checks. However, it’s not the best strategy for everyone. It was such a pleasure to work with Sandra Block, Kiplinger’s Retirement Report Editor, on this engaging, informative piece! Social Security: Now or Later? Kiplinger 

  • Enjoyed delivering Social Security and Medicare Update: What You Need to Know in 2020, at the NCACPA’s largest conference, the 80th Annual Symposium, in Greensboro in November 2019. Strategic Social Security and Medicare Planning Update: What You Need to Know in 2020 NCACPA 80th Annual Symposium 

FINANCIAL LITERACY

  • We all have some form of a plan for retirement. Some could fit on a Post-It Note, while others could be in a 100 page binder. What goes into a “comprehensive financial plan”? How does it differ from what you have today?  How do you get there? Taxes: The Start of Your Financial Plan AICPA Take Charge: Your Money. Your Life. 

Community Service
  • Board Member/Treasurer, Piedmont Classical High School

  • The Guild of Family Service of the Piedmont