From building homes to constructing portfolios

When Gerald Goertsen decided to attend a financial seminar he had no idea it was going to be such a definitive turning point

From building homes to constructing portfolios

When Gerald Goertsen decided to attend a one-off financial seminar back in 2000 he had no idea it was going to be such a definitive turning point. At the time Goertsen was working as a Red Seal carpenter building custom homes, but that financial seminar sparked something inside him - he had found a new passion, a new direction that he was determined to pursue.

“After first getting my license as a mutual fund and life insurance advisor, I waited five years and then wrote my license again,” Goertsen says. “That enabled me to save up, so that when I entered the industry properly I did not have to rely on it for income right away. That meant I could act in the best interest of my clients from the outset and not concentrate on looking at how I could get best compensated.”

Fast forward to 2017 and Goertsen is in his 16th year in the business and it’s fair to say the transition from blue collar to white has been a successful one. Last year he added $31.55 million to his AUM, a 28% increase. Goertsen attributes that strong growth to old-fashioned hard work and the introduction of a new fee structure. “I introduced a high-net-worth family pricing model where all family members get a discount based on the total assets of the family,” Goertsen says. “It doesn’t matter if a young person comes to me with $5,000 to invest, they get the same discount as the rest of the family who may have a lot more to invest.”

Goertsen is determined to be available to his clients at all times and doesn’t subscribe to – or follow – the modern ‘work-life’ balance. If a client calls at 8 p.m. on a Sunday night, Goertsen will be picking up his phone. “If you deal with issues as they come up, they don’t tend to escalate,” he says. “If an advisor doesn’t take a call, the client’s anxiety level increases and by the time they get in touch with their advisor they could already be totally wound up.”

“If you deal with issues immediately you eliminate a lot of those problems and client frustrations. Advisors who don’t stay connected to their clients end up losing them.”

Goertsen supports the industry’s push towards transparency and hopes it will force advisors to be upfront about fees and prevent certain advisors from taking excessive commissions. He’s aware of advisors who still offer deferred sales charges without disclosing that other options available.

“I think it’s important for clients to know all the options,” Goertsen says. “If an advisor is using a deferred charge or low load, it should be mandatory to explain there are front end charges or advisor agreements. If the client still chooses to make the investment after that, that’s up to them.”

Goertsen tries to stay ahead of the curve on regulation by updating his practice before changes become mandatory. He’s seen a lot of advisors give up their investment licenses and enter the Seg fund world because it’s less regulated, a move he does not agree with. “That’s just running away from something that advisors should be embracing,” Goertsen says. “Regulations are good when they are designed to protect a client and if an advisor runs away you have to wonder whether they should be representing a company in the first place.”

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