It's all about preservation of capital, says elder planning counselor Gerald Goertsen
Although his overall advice is to always stay focused on the long term, with a range of senior clients —the oldest of whom turns 106 in March — Gerald Goertsen has to put some other strategies in place as well.
“You have a focus on preservation of capital,” says Goertsen, financial planner and elder planning counselor with DeThomas Wealth Management. “Younger clients can handle more volatility, senior clients like to have a stable, steady statement when they get it — they don’t want to see huge fluctuations.”
Though Goertsen does still stress to his older clients that it’s been proven staying the course is the best course of action, if they’re nervous — and understandably so given the current uncertainty — he ensures they have a year’s worth of income set aside in a high interest savings account. These accounts have seen significantly increased rates, with GICs paying just over 5% and high interest savings accounts sitting at 4.66%, making them a valid and more stable option.
“There are alternatives for their short-term cash, so they don’t have to worry about the money for the longer term having a little bit of volatility,” Goertsen says. “What they need for this year’s spending is totally safe.”
Starting his career as a red seal journeyman carpenter, it didn’t take Goertsen long to realize he was in the wrong field. Every night after work, he’d get home and check the stock markets — and he began to look forward to that hobby in a way he never felt about his day job. As he gained more knowledge, people would ask him financial questions and he’s look up the answers for them, always happy to help out and learn more about the industry in the process.
After a while, people suggested he switch careers and make his living from his passion, which he defines as “helping people get financially literate and make decisions that will improve their wealth long term.” Put simply, Goertsen says he agreed: he had “a knack,” so he followed everyone’s advice and has loved what he does every day since, adding he “intends to do it for another 18 years.”
As he advanced in the industry, he decided to pursue the elder planning counsellor designation because he wanted to be in a position where he knows what he’s talking about when he’s engaging with more senior clients. This cohort has specific and nuanced needs, for example when they pass, Goertsen wants to make sure they’re leaving everything to loved ones rather than “going through probate and paying the government a lot of money they’re not entitled to.”
Specializing in that specific area allows Goertsen to walk alongside clients from the dreams and goals of the first financial plan to the strategic plan on what they want to leave behind as a legacy, providing tailored advice at every stage — and as much as he prioritizes delivering sound counsel at the end of the journey, Goertsen is always eager to partner with clients as early on as possible.
“Most people make mistakes that cost them their future, but by making a few good choices early on they can have a lot of wealth when they retire.”